Marketing for You, the Indie Writer – Part 8, Advertising

| June 16, 2014 | 10 Comments

2013-Portrtait-400x400It’s time to discuss advertising as part of your marketing strategy. Traditionally, advertising came in three forms: direct response, awareness or saturation, and image ads. The rise of the Internet created new opportunities for marketing in conjunction with ads. Over the next three posts, I’ll look at these different advertising types, what to expect from each, and which venues give the best results based on anecdotal information and personal opinion*. In this post, I’ll give specifics for direct response advertising venues I’ve experimented with and have seen others use effectively.

If you’re new to this series, here are the highlights of previous posts: In the first four posts, we discussed the basics of Indie Marketing.  Guest blogger Nick Stephenson gave us a great post about growing your email subscribers. And last week guest Beth Jusino exploded myths and relieved marketing stress in 5 Marketing Tips.

The three types of ads, in broad strokes, break down like this:

Direct Response – The advertiser expects the consumer to buy something when they see this ad. In the olden days, these appeared in your mailbox from magazines and clubs, or late night TV ads, “Call now and save $10!”. For today’s indie author, these are email lists dominated by Bookbub. I examine three direct response sources below.

If you click here, and you're a subscriber to my email list, I will send you a free ebook version of this book!

Free eBook?

Awareness – These ads do not expect you to respond immediately, but they do expect to make you aware of the product and its value. Think Geico ads on TV. These ads are often purchased in large blocks to saturate a target audience. Eventually, they will wear you down. For Indies, think about banner ads on websites. We will discuss these next week.

Image – On TV, you’ve seen ads about how great a company is or how they sponsor the Olympics, etc. These ads are designed to make the consumer trust the advertiser thereby creating a long-term customer. Most indie authors promote image via social media but the day is not far off when you will see authors advertising themselves as writers without a specific book in the ad. Look for more about this in two weeks.

Specific experiences for direct response ads are what you used to get in your mailbox from Columbia House Book-of-the-Month Club and magazines, etc. It was a flyer that elicited a direct response from you: act now to save $10!  Today, these are emails that have morphed from true spam to lists you subscribe to for special deals. The reason these are the most effective use of your money is due to the people receiving them have specifically asked to have information about books sent to them.

BookBub – These ads are hideously expensive. As of this post, $460 will get me on an email to 1 million people who asked for information about special deals for thrillers. With rare exception, everyone I know who has placed an ad for this service has made more than the $460 (see their price list here) back. Still, very few report a corresponding jump in reviews.**

Book Gorilla – The second start up to challenge BookBub in the same space, I tried it a long time ago with no noticeable increase in sales to show for my $50. The reach of this list is connected to Kindle Nation Daily, a respected website (see their pricing here). Unfortunately, I heard from a small number of people while preparing for this post and they’ve had the same experience, unnoticeable sales bump, no reviews.

Fussy Librarian – A new, upstart competitor to BB, it is small but appropriately priced. $6 will get my thriller in front of 13,500 subscribers. I’ve done two of these and broken even both times. That is a value worth supporting and keeping an eye on for the future.

What have you used and how did it work for you?


Peace, Seeley


* I’d like to offer statistical analysis, but at this stage of indie publishing, it isn’t realistic to gather consistent, repeatable numbers from anyone.

Category: Marketing for You the Indie Writer

Comments (10)

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  1. Alexes Razevich says:

    A comment on BookBub, I gained 50 or so reviews that I felt confident saying came directly from a promo with them. That’s a good number of reviews to come in over a week or two for me.

    • Seeley James says:

      Thanks for offering that, it’s higher than some. If you don’t mind sharing: What was your price point and how many did you sell?

    • smanke says:

      Thanks for sharing! One more question. How recently did you run that promotion? Results seem to change over time, from what I’ve been reading. For example, success a year ago might differ greatly from what a promotion saw two months ago.

      Thanks again!

  2. I’ve used the Fussy Librarian twice – once when it was free and once at the $6.00 cost – broke even for sure on the $6.00. Can’t get near BookBub due to cost and criteria. I’d thought about Book Gorilla but I’m very reluctant to put out $50.00 and see no return. I’m relatively new to this self-publishing game but I have found out quickly how fast one can be parted from $ for social media advertising that doesn’t amount to much in the way of sales (blog tours, Facebook boosts etc.). I have a number of positive reviews but I’m sitting in the position of having no idea how to raise awareness of my novels above the Amazon masses. Well, except to just get writing on the next book and that’s what I’m doing.

    • Seeley James says:

      Thanks for sharing Francis! I’m going to cover Facebook/Twitter ads in the future but I’ve not seen anything that tells me they work :) As for writing the next book – that is your best marketing effort!

  3. smanke says:

    Another great post, Seeley! The real world examples and results are extremely helpful. Thank you!

  4. ggiammatteo says:

    Seeley, re: advertising. I have found that the best is still by far, Bookbub, but it is more difficult to get into. The others that deliver good results, IMO, are POI (Pixel of Ink), though I have never been able to get listed there. Perhaps you need to be exclusive with Amazon???? Does anyone know?

    ENT (ereader news today) It used to be great and the best bang for the buck, but the last two ads I did with them did not do well. I normally sold 300-400 at 99c. The last two were less than 150.

    Kindle books and tips — this is a good one for a shot in the arm. I have tried both the featured spot for $100 and the $25 spots, and both delivered a break-even or slightly better ROI. (again, at 99c)

    In the future, I think the sites that deliver to multiple retail channels will give better ROI.

    I did not find Book Gorilla to give me much benefit. It didn’t pay for itself.

    • Seeley James says:

      Jim, thanks for the numbers! I’ve tried getting into Pixel of Ink for years and always see the “no vacancy” signs. I think it’s like one of those hipster clubs, I’m too old and funny looking for them. :)

      At least ENT has a fair billing system for their ads. They have a vested interest in your success.

      KBandT is my go-to ad spot as well. I’ve always broken even with them..

      Thanks for the info, and good luck with your books!

  5. I did a free promo with BookBub, cost was $280 in Contemporary Romance and I more than made my money back….had my best month ever! Also generated a lot of reviews, over 300 additional reviews in the three weeks after the ad ran.

    I’ve had good luck with ENT, usually good for 300-500 sold. Just did a free promo and there’s no charge for that, and it generated over 3000 downloads.

    Kindle Books and Tips, also very good, always make a profit.

    Kindle Nation Daily/BookGorilla Not great for paid, but I recently did the $29 Free book Highlighter and that was pretty good, definitely more than broke even with additional sales generated.

    BookSends is ok, good for raising visibility and ranking, not for earning a profit. Only broke even one out of three times. Ad is $50.

    Have had some good luck running $5 FB ads to my free book. Usually good for an additional 10-20 books sold.

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