Wow, these last few posts on changing your business paradigm and building your global empire (you can read them HERE) brought in tons of questions. I’ll be answering them during the next few weeks.
Please post any new questions in the comments here on the blog rather than sending them to me via email, otherwise I’ll never be able to keep track.
Okay, today’s question is all about advertising:
I’ve subscribed to your newsletter for the past year and save all the back issues because I find them so valuable. I am an indie-author with two books under my belt and two more on the way this year.
I have begun advertising on sites like E-ReaderNewsToday’s bargain book day. I’ve tried blog tours with other groups. And I’ve considered buying advertising on Kindle Nation Daily.
The problem is that all of this can get out of hand with costs…what works and what doesn’t and how much is enough versus too much?
From my perspective the questions are:
• How to choose among the many advertising options?
• How to decide how much money to devote to advertising?
• And frequency: Monthly adverts, or less, or more?
As the indie-publishing field gets more crowded every day, I wonder how an author can gain traction for their books? For instance, in my case, both of my books have very good reviews, but I struggle to maintain unit sales.
The easy (and hard) answer is to write another book. That’s the best way to both please your current readership and expand to a new readers.
Cheaper than advertising but it takes more time and effort.
Advertising makes us feel like we’re doing something or solving a problem but then we get frustrated because no one knows what really works without taking a lot of time and energy (and money) to analyze it and come up with a true targeted campaign.
Where and when will vary significantly according to the readers you want to reach (which means doing a lot of research on what readers each advertising venue IS reaching, at what price point, which days of the week are best, etc, etc) and then you need to measure your outcome after you run an ad.
I’ve done very little advertising, although once or twice have bought something–honestly it was fulfilling an emotional need to try to control something rather than a business goal. None of those ads had any longterm impact on my sales. Most didn’t even have a short term impact, longer than 24 hours.
However, I will be trying a major ad campaign (yes, it does feel like prepping for war or at least a battle!) next month simply to objectively measure if advertising CAN reach new readers for my books…will report back once it’s done, but even if it works, it will be a secondary strategy far lower in priority than writing the next book or connecting to my readers via email, etc.
You might sell a few more books via ads but I don’t think you actually grow your longterm readership thru advertising…for that you need more than an impression, you need to establish a connection.
Which means writing the next book and spending your time and energy in communication with your audience whether it’s via social media, your website/blog, or a newsletter (or some combination).
It might not even feel like communication–your way of connecting might take the form of writing short stories or flash fiction that people can subscribe to or writing more books and getting them out to your fans.
No amount of advertising can replace an excited, engaged reader telling their friends.
But we like advertising because we can control it…we can’t control what readers are telling their friends.
I think like any business decision it boils down to where your priorities are and what your goal is.
Priorities would probably be something like:
*paying yourself first (that keeps a roof over your head and the family fed)
*taking care of the items that keep the business well-maintained at a high quality (investing in editors, cover artists, website)
*budgeting for items that will expand the business.
Too many people start with the last…makes no sense to expand if you don’t have a high-quality product and enough of it (for authors that means more books, each one better than the last) and a way for new readers to find you.
Then if you want to try advertising to see if you can reach new readers beyond the core you’ve established, I would treat it like any other expense–look at your budget, research the most effective places, have a clear goal, and a way to measure your outcome.
Advertising is just one more business tool…do your research, have a clear goal, then measure your results. But remember, nothing is more important than writing your next great book.
Hope that helps,