A Small-Budget Advertising Experiment

Haole Wood by Dee DeTarsio

Today’s guest post is by Dee DeTarsio. While it is more of a brief advertising anecdote than a serious ad campaign with strong conclusions, many authors ask me about online advertising (where, why, how). But I find it difficult to offer concrete advice on the matter since so much depends on the place where you advertise, whether or not your target audience sees your ad, what ad copy or images you use, and what your landing page is like. Still, I think this anecdote offers a nice peek behind the veil. On a related note, check out Elizabeth S. Craig’s recent post about her thoughts on what impacts her sales. (Hint: It’s not advertising.)


Chick-lit author Jen Weiner (The Next Best Thing) is my idol. I’ve reread everything she’s ever written, including her recent post that started out, “What if you were a novelist, hoping and praying for your new book to take off?”

Hey … that’s just about everyone I know. She mentioned her ads that were posted on literary websites, which is where I met Largehearted Boy.

Hearkening back to my old marketing professor’s three rules of advertising—KISS, hunt where the ducks are, and circulate to percolate (I told you he was old)—I pushed the go button. I acted Now! For a limited time only! and paid people ($200 for the first week of July) to pay attention to me, as I hoped and prayed my new book would take off.

“Take off” is such a strong phrase, but it was cool to see my book hanging out with the goddess:
Tarsio & Weiner ads

Below, you can see the spike on the right side of the graph–Haole Wood made it all the way up to 21,000 on Amazon’s chart. (And I’m only being a little sarcastic.)

Tarsio Amazon graph

I published Haole Wood on May 15. For the month of June, I sold 87 copies, with 15 borrows. I also offered it FREE from June 7-11 (by being part of KDP Select) to the tune of 5,301 downloads. For the first two weeks of July: 32 sales, 14 borrows.

Just as I am not a wine connoisseur (and choose from the emptiest bin, relying on greater palates than mine), I followed the amazing Jen Weiner and her marketing gang to Largehearted Boy. Who wouldn’t love to have a few of her readers sample their wares? (Largehearted Boy has been an award-winning music, literature, and pop culture blog for the past eight years.)

My one-week run got 18,312 impressions, 22 clicks and five tweets. I’m pretty sure I was three of those tweets.

Would I do it again? Advertising is way more fun than abusing Facebook and Twitter (Holla! @Porter_Anderson!). There’s just that pe$ky little $ituation that sent me back to the drawing board.

I don’t have any idea why the book tanked on this chart on June 28. Was Mercury in Retrograde again?

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Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion.

At risk of going all Gladys Kravitz on “real” authors, Dee DeTarsio is a writer living in southern California.

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