The pros, cons, and twisted logic of advertising your books
While battering my way through a raft of “how to advertise your book” information, sure enough I found a few problems. There are some good sites for advertising books, but they come with a few added costs for writers.
These costs aren’t obvious. The best example is Goodreads.com, a good site in its own right, which allows you to advertise your books- At 50c per click.
Think about that for a second:
· 50c is way up on the average 10c per click for Google.
· Goodreads.com is a good site, very diverse, with a lot of motivated readers.
· If you’re selling a Kindle book at $1.99, that’s most of your profit gone if you assume every click is a sale.
· In practice, for every click, the sales will be a percentage of the number of clicks. You can expect about 4-5% of clicks to actually result in a sale.
· So- for $50 x 100 clicks you’ll sell say $10 worth of your Kindle books.
Breakeven point is inevitably based on the price of your books.
For example- My Threat-Hamster books sell on Amazon for around $25 for the paperbacks. To pay for advertising, I’d have to sell 3 books to pay for 100 clicks with 2 books as profit.
Selling cheaper books would blow out the numbers and raise the sales numbers for the breakeven point.
Any other result is just a cost, with nothing to show for it.
Bear in mind that this is a very good site, probably the best for selling to a very wide and eclectic audience. Exposure on Goodreads.com is at least in principle a very good marketing idea, but look at the economics.
Other sites aren’t quite as good in terms of audience, from what I’ve seen so far. They’re, well, blah. Many of these sites look dated, old-blog style, visually undernourished in terms of presentation.
You can budget an ad, then pull it when you hit the cutoff figure.
You can set the bar low, test out the click responses, and see what happens for your $50.
You can dither around forever trying to make up your mind, which is what authors do about making a piece of toast, let alone spending money which many of them don’t have.
I’ve been spectacularly unimpressed by a lot of the promotions I’ve seen for books. I sell a few books despite myself on Amazon, and am looking forward to making a down payment on a brand new lentil sometime in the next century or so.
The trouble is that promotions for any kind of book can easily get lost in the crowd. There are literally millions of books, why are readers going to see yours?
If you search “advertise your book on Amazon”, you get this cyclical bit of round the corner stuff. I write on Amazon, so I find this on Goodreads.com.
Go to Amazon itself, and you find a lot of How to Promote Your Book materials.
The problem is that this is a highly competitive market. The typical advice is sound enough and basic enough:
· Sell on social media
· Sell through personal networks
· Personal marketing (Making yourself more visible- An acquired taste for authors)
This dovetails into a more mainstream approach using media for promotions, regardless of the competition for attention and time and the very short attention span of any media outlet on any one product or author.
The fact is that promoting your books can be an expensive, thankless task. I’m looking at Goodreads.com on the basis of its audience, more than its cost, at this point. I know at least one of the regular users, who’s a very wide-ranging reader indeed, which is very encouraging for me, because my books aren’t mainstream.
There’s another side to this- The sheer amount of work involved in marketing. Authors have become office boys. We do all the schlepp work. That’s time consuming and expensive. It also takes us away from production. There are still, for some reason, publishers which only accept hard copy. That’s just ridiculous. It’s an extremely inefficient, costly and irritating. Why waste time on some damn bureaucratic process, particularly one which requires you to do the marketing basics like “What audience do you see for your book?” rubbish.
Publishing is in a hole, writers are wasting time not being productive, and book marketing is literally a fire and forget exercise.
To see the current state of American publishing check out this quiz on The Book Doctors.com and see how many books the average American buys per year, question 10.
Say anything about the state of the industry?
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