Is it necessary to pay to promote your books?
Every self-published author asks this question, and the answer should be, yes of course.
In any business you can think of, the cost of advertising and promoting your product is the very first financial decision that is taken to help start generating sales.
However, selling ebooks is not easy, and if you think that simply paying out a lump of cash for advertising and promotion alone will immediately increase your book sales, then perhaps you should read on.
When you pay for book promotion, this does not mean that you will magically get sales.
Of course, if you consider self-publishing only as a hobby, and don’t want to invest, there are many free promotion services and tools available, so there is by no means a necessity to pay for book promotion.
The only factor to consider is that free services usually perform in line with the price, and are normally making money in some form. Here is an article on how free ebooks make money for promotion sites.
No matter how much you spend on book promotion, a bad book with weak presentation and poor reviews will struggle to sell.
Don’t waste your money. Like any other product, you need to project a degree of quality and existing customer satisfaction, which paid advertising can then leverage to increase sales.
If you have a few published titles, select your best ranking title or titles. But if you only have one or two, you may have to do some preparation first.
Don’t pay for book promotion, and waste money, until your book is ready.
So before even considering spending money on advertising, make sure your book has at least the following attributes.
- A professionally designed and attention grabbing cover.
- Is well written, and error free.
- Has at least 10-12 positive reviews.
- Has a star ranking of 4 or better.
- Has an attention grabbing book description. (Refer here for help on using HTML to improve book descriptions on Amazon.)
Once you have your book looking its best, the choices of paid advertising and promotion are almost endless, so unless you want to break the bank, you will need to be extremely selective, and research which options are best for you.
Personally speaking, I never see the logic in spending money on promoting free or discounted ebooks, as these are promotions in themselves, which are designed to lift a book’s sales rank.
These promotions can both be done with KDP Select and Smashwords (coupons) for free. If these are successful, then use targeted PPC (pay-per-click) paid promotion to take advantage of the higher ranking, and of course, the full book price to hopefully recover some of the advertising costs.
With regard to long-term promotion, look for reasonably priced promotion that will keep bringing attention to your books.
So what are the best pay for book promotion options?
This is a very individual choice, and depending on your budget and goals, will differ from one author to another. There are literally hundreds of options, so do your own thorough research. But here are a few possibilities.
Bookbub is probably the most well-known book promotion site, but it is also very expensive, and selective. Books must be accepted before they will be promoted, and books must also be heavily discounted or free.
Prices vary for a one-day promotion but range from $150-$2,000. You can check the price list here. While very expensive, Bookbub is also very popular.
Facebook Ads are quite economical if used judiciously. You need a Facebook Page to be able to use the service, but ads can be finely targeted to suit your book’s potential appeal.
My experience has been that my average cost per click on Facebook is around $0.30, which is cheap by comparison to other PPC providers.
The other advantage is that you can set very low daily budgets, and when your ad is approved and running, you can turn it on and off at any time, such as mornings, Mondays or any other time that you feel will not be profitable.
KDP Select PPC Ads. This is a PPC advertising service from Kindle but is only available for those who are enrolled in KPD Select. While more expensive that Facebook at around $0.70 per click, the ads are where you want them –right in front of book buyer’s eyes.
The one important fact I have noticed, though, is that product targeting works much better than category or interest targeting.
So much so that I only gained sales from product targeted ads. Here is a link to a great post by Roger Packer about how to use KDP Ads. Similar to Facebook ads, once your ad is running, you can pause it at any time.
For very economical long-term book exposure, Whizbuzz Books offers one year of book promotion for a modest set fee.
Focus on value for money when selecting paid book promotion
Whichever means you choose; the most important factor is to get value for your money and stick firmly to your budget.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to gain good exposure, and increase book sales.
A modest budget of say $50.00 per month on either Facebook or KDP Ads can be very successful if narrowly targeted.
Always remember that with PPC, it is not how many clicks you get, but how many of the right type of clicks you get, so always target a narrow potential audience to get the best results.
So should you pay for book advertising?
There is no definitive answer, as it is up to each individual author to decide. But with an ever increasing number of ebooks, in particular, being published each year, more effort is required to keep a high book ranking – and high book rankings are of course what are needed to sell books.
Paid advertising is definitely not a guarantee to success, but used wisely it can help lift and maintain higher sales rankings.
To answer the question, you may be asking; yes I do use paid advertising to promote my own books. I have a small set budget which I use every second month, and combined with KDPS promotions; I find this pairing keeps both my ranking and sales moving along nicely.
It certainly hasn’t made me a #1 bestseller, but for my modest investment, I am more than pleased with the return I get. Steady sales and borrows, and a royalty payment every month.
One word of advice, however. If you are new to paid advertising, you will need to experiment to see what works best for you. So set very small budgets initially while you learn, and take your time.
Disclaimer: Whizbuzz is owned by the author of this article.