I was reading some comments around the Internet on the topic of paying for advertising for your eBook. A few people had very strong opinions on how paying for ads is a waste of your money and won't bring in any extra sales. I suppose that may be their experience, but my experience has been different. I do think that some paid advertising, in the right places, can actually add to your sales. Here is what I've found out over the two months that I've been actively advertising my eBooks.
Paid Advertising is an Investment
Just like any new venture, you won't always see a huge return right away for the money you invest. But in the long run, the investment into the project can pay off. Let's say you are starting a clothing store. You can't start selling anything until you pay to stock the store with merchandise. After that, you need to let customers know where to find you. If you just sit in an empty store waiting for customers to give you money so you can start investing into your business, well, let's just say that you won't be earning a cent.
It's kind of like this with your eBook. You've taken the time to write a beautiful, interesting book for people to read. You may have spent money on creating an interesting cover image and having your book formatted for different eBook formats. You've already invested time and a little money into your product. Now, are you just going to sit and wait to see if anyone finds your book on the big, world-wide Internet? No, of course not. You will spend hours promoting your book to friends on Twitter, Facebook, book sites, and anywhere you can spread the word. But will that be enough?
I see paying for advertising as a way to tell the world that my book is here and I want you to see it. While you may not see a huge return the first few weeks or even months, you will eventually. The rule of thumb is that people have to see your product advertised at least 7 times before they actually click on the ad. But if there is no where for people to see your book, then how will you ever get them to make that first click?
Advertise on Sites Where Your Audience Is
If you are thinking of paying for a few ads, make sure to advertise where your audience is. That means, if your book is about aliens from Mars, you will want to advertise on Sci-Fi sites, not on a woman's shoe blog. It doesn't matter if the woman's shoe blog gets 100,000 hits a month - these are not your customers. Good places to advertise are book review blogs (in your genre), book sites, and blogs that fit your genre. Look for places where people are actively searching for books. But be discriminating. Just because a site gets a lot of traffic, if they are charging you $25/day or more, then think twice. Will you really sell more books in that one day of advertising than if you spend $25/week or month on another site? Bigger isn't always better.
Where I Advertise
My eBook journey started fairly recently, so I've had a crash-course in everything eBook. In November 2011 I decided to format and self-publish two books I'd previously written and get them out on the main sites. By the last week in November, the books were out and I began actively promoting them. My very first month of promoting my eBooks, I sold 40 copies. No, this isn't enough to retire on but I thought for a first month, it was pretty good since only 30 days before no one had ever heard of my books. Now, into my second month, I am selling books at a nice pace. I do believe that my consistant sales have something to do with the places I've paid for advertising.
Where do I advertise? First and foremost, if you don't have your books listed on Goodreads and you are not active in the community there, then you should be. Your audience is at Goodreads. Readers are on Goodreads, actively searching for books to read. Having a profile there is FREE - so you have no excuse not to be there. Next, try advertising your book with one of their "self-service ads". I have one ad for each of my books there and that is where I am sure most of my sales have come from. People actively search those ads - more days than not, my ad for "Widow, Virgin, Whore" is on the first two pages because it is clicked so much. Over 40 people have added my book to their "to-read" list and several have already purchased it. My children's book, "Outlaw Heroes", has also had many "to-read" adds by readers, even though it doesn't get as many clicks as the other book. In other words, people are seeing my book, reading what it is about and adding it to their lists. And best of all, their friends in the community see this too, which means more clicks for me.
Is it expensive? It doesn't have to be. You can set your monthly limit and click rate yourself. If you only want to spend $10/month - that's all you have to spend. I have mine set at $3.50 a day/.35 cents per click. This is higher than some people do and a lot lower than others, but it works well for me. Some days I reach my limit, others I don't. It really is worth the try to get more exposure for your books.
Advertising on BlogAds
Another place where I've purchased advertising is BlogAds. You can choose to spend as little or as much as you want. You choose where to advertise from a long list of blogs that participate, and they give you their monthly unique visitor stats. Then you create the size of ad you want or can afford. Be very picky when choosing a blog to advertise on, however. I had a few ads that did very well and a couple that were duds. But all in all, I was pleased with the service. Can I say for sure that I sold a book because of these ads - no. But I don't think it hurt to have my book featured where thousands of people saw it.
Of Course, Don't Discount Free Advertising
If you have a large presence in the blogging community, then don't hesitate to swap ads with other bloggers and friends around the net. There are also quite a few book sites that will list your book for free, and they earn their money by placing ads on their blogs. List your book everywhere you can - the more people see it, the bigger chance they will eventually buy it.
So, is it worth it to pay for advertising? You tell me. I'd love to hear about your experiences promoting your eBooks. :)