Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Online Book Advertising - Does It Even Work? + Giveaway!!


Last week I had a surreal moment. I was working away, clearing emails, when I happened to glance to the sidebar on the right hand side of my screen and saw my own soon-to-be-released book, Can't Help Falling, being advertised to me. I laughed about it, mentally congratulated whatever robot it was operating in cyber space on picking up from an inbox filled with emails about this very book that I might be interested in it, and moved on.

A few days later, an email landed from my agent talking about marketing Can't Help Falling. You need to think about spending some of your marketing budget buying online advertisements read one of his recommendations.

Really? I thought. Does anyone even pay attention to those? I mean sure, I've paid for the occasional Facebook post from my author page to be boosted if I'm doing a giveaway or I have something that I wanted all of my page followers to know about but real advertisements? The kind that pop up on websites and irritate people rotating on the side of their screen? I know nothing about this world, least of all how to know that I'm not throwing my limited marketing budget straight down the virtual toilet.

So, since I thought I'd turn to the great minds here. For those of you who are writers - have you ever used online advertising for any of your books? What worked and what didn't? Readers? Do you ever pay attention to online book advertising and if so, in what context? What do you like and what do you hate? (for example Facebook ads, Twitter promoted posts, advertisements on GoodReads, random ones just showing up on websites you happen to be visiting etc.)

One commenter will win a copy of their choice of my debut novel, Close To You, or my upcoming release, Can't Help Falling :)

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. Her sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, is about about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac


34 comments:

  1. As a reader - I pay very little attention to the ads I see. However, I pay a lot of attention to my friends who recommend books to me. So - how do we increase numbers of people recommending books and where? I like Good reads

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    1. Hi Christine. Thanks so much for dropping by! I agree. Or I'm more inclined to try a new author if someone said to me "Hey, you like Becky Wade, you should try Jo Jones!" Goodreads has recently introduced a feature where you can target your ad to readers who like (rate 3 stars of above) authors that you nominate. I think that might be one of the first things I experiment with. At least that way I know (a) the people on Goodreads are there because they love books and (b) my ad is being seen by people who have a higher than average chance of being interested in my book than the general population.

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  2. Putting my marketing hat on ... it's not about whether I'd click or not. It's about where advertising fits into your marketing plan for this book, and what's your strategic objective in advertising.

    If your marketing plan doesn't include advertising, is there a reason for that? (No, the too-hard basket is not a reason). If you're not advertising, what other promotion are you doing instead?

    If you are advertising, why? To build awareness? To make sales? To grow your email list?

    Your objective in advertising will affect how and where you advertise. Facebook? Goodreads advertising? Goodreads giveaway? Amazon giveaway? Amazon advertising?

    And what advertising is your publisher doing? You don't want to duplicate their efforts e.g. through Amazon advertising.

    If you decide to embark on Facebook advertising, do you know how to do it properly? Are you directing people to your website, or to a retail site? Which retail site? If you're directing them to your website, have you got the retargeting pixels set up?

    Who are you targeting with your advertising? Why? And I'm not an advertising expert. There are a bunch of other technical details you'll need to consider.

    Yes, there is a lot to think about. But now at least you can tell your agent you've thought about it!

    (As an aside, I don't click on your FB ads when I see them, because I know I'm going to buy the book locally, and if you're advertising on a pay per click basis ... well, I don't want to click and have it cost you money.)

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    1. Hi Iola,

      That's all really helpful, thanks! (even though I have no idea what retargeting pixels are let along if I have them set up!)

      I guess for me the main consideration isn't the too-hard basket so much as it is that with a very limited budget I want to have some kind of sense that I'm going to get a return on investment. Not necessarily an immediate sale (as nice as that would be) but something that piques the potential readers interest and registers with them as opposed to just being an annoyance. For example, with a Goodreads giveaway my aim is to get an increase with people adding whatever the title is to their "Want To Read" list.

      If I'm doing some kind of giveaway then my goal in the past has been to get more newsletter subscribers. At the moment it's encouraging pre-orders for Can't Help Falling.

      I'm very open to experimenting. I just want to narrow my options down first so I can be more targeted in how I spend the money I do have :)

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  3. I think I clicked once on a sidebar ad then changed my mind. I am most likely to get a new book from an unknown author from BookBub. Goodreads is an influence too.

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    1. Hi Rebekah. Thanks for dropping by! I often pick up unknown authors from BookBub or other similar sources too. Especially if it's one that has crossed my radar previously but for whatever reason hasn't made it to my "must buy" list!

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    2. Congratulations, Rebecca. You're the winner! Drop me an email at kara (at) karaisaac.com and let me know what book you'd like and preference for e-Book or paperback :)

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  4. Hi Kara, Dan Walsh has written a few posts (at Novel Rocket) about using FB advertising successfully. You can probably search them on the Novel Rocket site. I had a good chat with Jandra Sutton from PRbythebook at ACFW who specialises in FB advertising. She's also an author. I'll shoot you her contact details on email. She provides various options for using her services.

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    1. Hi Ian. I will definitely make sure I look up Dan Walsh's posts and PR By the Book. Thanks for the tips!

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  5. I don't click on book adds infact I rarely get them I get things like clothing or medical stuff. Wonder if I should feel unloved by the robots who think I don't search books. Or maybe I am getting them and ignoring them. Oh wait I have Facebook Purity and it removes all the extra adds from here. Which would explain why I am not getting adds.

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    1. That's is very true, Jenny! For the people with their ad blockers enabled it doesn't really matter how well targeted the ad is, they still won't see it :)

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  6. Hi Kara. Great question. It's not something I've experimented with yet (though do plan to when I release my first novel) - I do know that targetting is key & I like Iola's suggestions - especially know what your objective is in running the ads (exposure, sales, subscriptions etc).

    As for responding to ads myself - rarely (and I mean rarely) - unless the content really does interest me & the timing's right. But I do take note of some Facebook Ads - less likely to do so with Twitter & must admit, don't really notice the Goodreads Ads. I generally read books through recommendations with friends though do sometimes buy if the title, subject, cover, blurb (or any combination) grab my attention. Though often I wouldn't click on the ad - I might search it first on Google and Goodreads to see if I really am that interested.

    The other thing to consider is that they say it takes 7 (or is 9) times seeing something before it begins to register - so visibility and exposure are valid goals - and maybe a combined approach (Ads, blog posts, reviews etc).

    All the best with your decisions and campaigne.

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    1. I'm like you, Jeanette. I can't think off the top of my head the last time I responded to an online advert when it came to books. Though maybe I had on something like GoodReads ones appearing in my feed and just didn't even know it!

      I've heard that to 7-9 times for something to register and then often up to 20 times before someone is compelled to act. Hence why unless you had a crazy huge budget online advertisements could only ever be one of the tools you use to try and get exposure.

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  7. Hi Kara,
    I haven't really experimented with online ads as a writer, so we'd love to hear your findings as you go along your way. As a reader, I tend to generally ignore them since there are so many popping up on every social media all the time. I mostly choose my books through reading reviews, blurbs and personal recommendations.

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    1. Hi Paula. It will definitely be interesting! I'll keep a track of what happens and use it as a future blog post!

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  8. As a reader, I never click on ads. I am mostly influenced by book recommendations- I particularly like the ones by Paula Vince- I am gradually working my way through them.

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    1. So happy to hear you find them helpful, Rosie.

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    2. I'm so glad you've found Paula, Rosie. She is fabulous!

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  9. Hi Kara, I agree with what Iola has said. If you're spending money, your advertising needs to be targeted and also welcomed by your target audience. Bookbub ads work because readers select the genres they're interested in reading and request a daily email from Bookbub. The same for ENT and the other newsletter subscription book advertising services. Author newsletters sell books for this reason, too.

    We had a very successful Bookbub ad for my soon-to-be retired boxed set, Love Blossoms. We boosted Facebook posts and did other advertising eg. ENT when we discounted Love Blossoms to 99 cents for Bookbub. We covered our costs and boosted our overall book earnings.

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    1. Hi Narelle! I'm also a BookBub subscriber and agree they seem like one of the best options because they subscribers have actually signed up for your "ad"! I did look into them but alas it was a bit beyond my solo budget :)

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  10. There are definitely occasions where I click on Facebook ads, but those are rare. So too are any other sidebar ads. But goodreads? Most definitely yes! Or if it's a giveaway from a friend's blog, then yes. I choose those routes most often. (Getting excited to see Can't Help Falling out in the world very soon! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Kara! I'm getting excited too :)

      And I totally agree re giveaways. I'm going to be running an experiment in a month or so on GoodReads running an ad and a giveaway for Can't Help Falling at the same time and seeing which one gives me the better results for my spend. I'm putting my money on the giveaway being by far and away the most effective!! :)

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  11. Wow! I've learned a lot from these answers. Thanks for asking the question Kara :)

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    1. Glad it is helpful, Andrea. I'm learning a lot too!

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  12. I ignore ALL ads. I get my book recommendations from friends and bloggers that I trust!

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    1. Fair enough, Caryl! I agree - paid advertising can never get close to the impact of word of mouth!

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  13. Not a fan of clicking on ads, but I have been known to search out what I see in an ad, through Bing or Amazon.

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    1. Hi JJ. I have done that as well. In fact, just tonight I saw online for a sale at a store I shop in and rather than click on the ad I just automatically Googled the store without even thinking about it. Interesting!

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  14. I generally don't pay much attention to ads I see. Especially promoted ones (like on Twitter).... For some reason, they often tend to rub me the wrong way, haha (probably because they're usually ads I really don't want to see)! :) I'm much more influenced by recommendations from authors and other readers. :)

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    1. Oh, Amy. It's not just me on Twitter! Honestly, I don't know where they are getting their data from that makes the ads appear on my feed but they are NEVER relevant!!

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  15. I think I've clicked on a book ad before, but didn't make any purchase because of it. If I click on a book ad, but don't purchase the book, does the site owner get any money from my click? Does the site owner get money from my subsequent purchase? If the site owner gets paid I would probably click to help them out!

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    1. Hi, Sylvia. Thanks for dropping by! It really depends on the model that the site the person is advertising with uses.

      For example, with Facebook if I "boost" a post then I pay a flat rate for the boost and Facebook gives me a range of how many extra people that boost should be visible to. The way that the FB algorithm works means that most posts only get shown to a small % of my followers organically so if I have something that I want to promote like a giveaway then I'll do that. I usually only boost it though to people who have liked my FB page because I know they actually want to hear from me!

      For advertisements (like the one you see on the FB sidebar) they usually operate on a charge per click basis. So every time a person clicks on that advertisement Facebook charges the advertiser a set amount. That's why you want your ads to be really well targeted - because you're paying for every person who clicks on it. If the person then went on to purchase whatever it was then FB doesn't get any of that money.

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  16. I don't take much notice of book ads but, like some, will occasionally explore further. I purchase usually when a book is recommended by someone. Have learned a lot from the answers above - thanks!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Karen! Like you I usually purchase a new author when they've been recommended to me by someone else which is why this whole paid advertising thing is so foreign to me! :)

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