paid book marketingThere’s a whole bunch of paid book marketing opportunities on the web today, from paid blog tours to free book notification ads. Whether it be Twitter-blasts or advertising spots, the rise of social media and availability of independent digital content has resulted in the birth of entire new businesses, dedicated to helping content providers (such as authors) reach wider audiences.

I’ve sampled quite a few paid promotional opportunities in the past. I’ve taken a blog tour, had a couple of Twitter shout-outs, and advertised my book after coming off a KDP Select free period.

The main question on every author’s lips is: does paid book marketing work? I mean, some of these sites charge in the hundreds, so it’s got to have some kind of an impact, right?

Well, at risk of sounding like I’m copping out, it really depends on what your definition of ‘work’ is.

Visibility vs. Sales

A question you really need to ask yourself before you consider a paid ad spot, say, with WLC, is whether your goal is to boost sales or expand visibility? Of course, I’ve gone on record in the past saying that visibility boosting is one of the key advantages of paid book marketing, but I really believe there has to be some sort of line drawn somewhere.

If you’re paying for an ad spot following a KDP Select promotion in order to maintain your expanded visibility, then I think that’s absolutely fine. It’s an effective way of keeping your name out there and turning your fifteen minutes of fame into twenty-five. I’ve mentioned before why it is wise to put aside £25-50 per KDP Select promotion, primarily investing that fund pot in post-free opportunities. That’s wise paid book marketing.

On the other hand, if you’ve got one book out and you’re splashing hundreds of pounds on blog tours, guest spots, Twitter blasts and expensive ‘Daily Deal’ exposure, I believe this is foolish paid book marketing. Why? Well, if you slip into this sort of mentality, you’re never going to cover your costs. You’ll be playing catch-up from day one, and that’s not a healthy way to start up. It’s kind of like taking a massive loan out from the bank that you know you’re not going to be able to pay back for a load of years. Or a student loan, for that matter, but let’s not go there just now…

Covering Costs vs. Making Profit

In the early days, after delving to the dark recesses of our wallets for editorial critiques and fancy cover design, I think the vast majority of us are well aware that we’re going to be covering costs, at least initially. And sure — that great paid book marketing advertising opportunity looks really great, and promises to boost your sales by, like, 100!

But really, is it worth it?

How much money is 100 sales? For me, that’s roughly £200. It’s a lot of money, but this advertising spot costs £300, so when framed like that, it’s all about playing catchup. Would it not be better to earn £200 organically over a longer period and for that £200 to be pure profit rather than cost covering? Food for thought.

Before you invest in any paid book marketing, calculate your costs and potential returns. You might just surprise yourself.

When should I pay to market my book?

To summarise — use paid book marketing opportunities wisely. Sure, there’s a great site out there called eBookBooster.com, offering you an easy way to submit to over 50 Kindle sites for your free days. But why not take an extra hour out of your day and submit to all the sites yourself? That way, twenty of your book sales won’t just be mere cost coverers. Just something to think about.

As for blog tours – I found this a helpful way to acquire some early reviews. I’m not sure how many sales this resulted in, but it can’t have hurt. Next time, I’ll try to gather reviews more organically, but I feel this was a perfectly fine investment in the early days. Be realistic about what you want from your paid book marketing and you’ll encounter a lot of success.

That said…

Being a blogger who primarily specialises in publishing, marketing and promotion talk, I like to try things out. Which is why at the end of the month, What We Saw will be advertised over at BookBub. BookBub send out your book details to an audience in the hundreds of thousands, and I’ve heard nothing but praise, even from the previously ad-reluctant J.A. Konrath. I’m interested to observe the results and will have more info for you in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Progress update

Bit of a stall in my rewriting of novel 2 due to lots of university obligations, but I’m going to get straight back on it today. Still rather confident predicting a summer release, so hold me to that.

On another note, it’s just come to light that this very post is my hundredth on the blog! If I’d known earlier, I’d have thrown a party or something. So yes — thank you to all of you who have helped with the growth of this blog over the last nine months. When I started out, I had no idea that in a matter of months, I’d be getting hundreds of hits on a non-blog day, so really, I appreciate it. Here’s to another hundred posts!

Ryan.

Have you ever used any paid book marketing? What have your experiences revealed?

Image courtesy of 401(K) 2013 via Flickr

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