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The pros, cons, and twisted logic of advertising your books

Updated on February 28, 2013
The endless vortex of writing a book- Too damn bad if anyone just wants to write, isn't it?
The endless vortex of writing a book- Too damn bad if anyone just wants to write, isn't it? | Source

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, 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.

· 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 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

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

· Blog

· Website

· 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 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 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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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      When I get a round tuit I'll see how that works, Paul. Thanks.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia


      From memory of how Kindle works, I think you can include the historical notes as a separate section added on to the Kindle file, sort of like a bibliography. This also reduces the organizational drag of trying to put things in to the text directly, which is a massive job. The result is a bit like one of the old history books where all the explanations are at the back, but of course you need your citations, etc.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      PS, by the way I put my books on Amazon Kindle as soon as they were out in paperback. Problem is, the books are minus the historical notes and glossary that are in the books and I haven't worked out yet how to rectify that.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again Paul. A lot of horse-sense here. I started a web-site of my own for nothing on Webeden. There are of course options to open web-sites that you pay for, but I've got Yorkshire in me. Pay? Getting 'owt for nowt' is a pastime of mine.

      My own advertising is on Hub-pages on ny RAVENFEAST and NORTHWORLD SAGA SITE hub-pages, my sales pitch and 'bio' is on page 2 of my site. I bought a media package from my publisher, New Generation, which included postcards, business cards and book marks as well as e-mail addresses for selected newspapers and periodicals. Additionally I have an 'outlet', one of the places I stayed on holiday in Yorkshire. The lady I'm in touch with puts out my cards in the self-catering accommodation and in the main farmhouse lounge. I even sold a few of books I took with me last year, one at breakfast one morning whilst I was there, the others to friends of mine.

      I used to be one of the 'backroom boys' in newspaper advertising when I was in the print, and did an advertising course back in my early 20's (that was when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth).

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, xstatic. Good luck, watch the cents and the dollars will look after themselves.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Great hub Paul, very informative. My wife just published an ebook on Amazon and has done nothing yet to promote it. I will pass this along to her. It is a book that will appeal to religious and AA groups I think, about her grandfather.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the thoughts. I have some books in that genre. Might be worth following up for those, but you see what I mean about marketing.

    • mactavers profile image


      5 years ago

      If your book is non-fiction, another way to sell your own book is to offer to speak to those service clubs, retired groups, clubs relatiing to your book topic that have monthly or weekly meetings and always are looking for speakers. If you aren't perfect at speaking, each time gets easier, and I've managed to have some very good sales this way.


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