Of all the tools available to authors to promote their books, advertising may be the most challenging.
It seems so appealing: set up a campaign and watch the money roll in. It rarely works like that. Advertising is tricky. Many authors have blown their budgets on print or online ads with little to show for it.
While advertising helps you reach people beyond your immediate sphere of influence, the key is to use it strategically. Advertising should support your book marketing strategy, not replace it.
Many authors use Facebook and Amazon to advertise their books. If you’ve tried these platforms without success or hesitate to spend the money, consider experimenting with BookBub ads.
About BookBub Ads
First, don’t confuse BookBub ads with BookBub Featured Deals. These are different things.
BookBub Featured Deals are book promotions sent by email to the service’s many subscribers. You have to apply for them ahead of time, discount the book steeply, and pay a hefty fee. The price tag and selectivity put Featured Deals beyond the reach of many authors.
BookBub ads, in contrast, are more egalitarian. You can run them at any time. The ads appear at the bottom of the Featured Deal emails. Even in this less-compelling territory, they generate clicks and sales.
Why I Love BookBub Ads
BookBub gives you a high degree of control over your ads. You can specify:
- When your ads appear: If you set up your campaigns correctly, BookBub will show them (unlike those tetchy Amazon Marketing Services ads).
- Which readers will see the ads: You can target people who follow specific authors.
- How much you spend: Determine your budget and whether to pay per click (each time someone clicks on your ad) or per impression (based on how many times BookBub displays the ad).
- Which platforms and geographies see the ad: Want to reach people in Canada who read on Kobo? Apple Books readers in Australia? You can do that.
They’re flexible. For that reason, BookBub ads can serve several roles in your marketing plans.
Support a Book Launch
Unless you’re a celebrity, getting attention for your new release is challenging. Book tours and signings are costly and impractical. Try a burst of BookBub ads instead, using the platform’s author-targeting capabilities to put the book in front of readers who might enjoy it.
BookBub subscribers love a deal—that’s why they subscribe. You don’t have to discount your books to run ads. But if you’re doing a concentrated, short-term campaign, a lowered price drives sales.
For the release of my most recent book, Writing to Be Understood, I discounted the ebook to $2.99, then ran a week-long BookBub ad campaign to send readers to Amazon. (I focused on Amazon for the initial launch week.) Multiple versions of the ad targeted readers of various nonfiction authors.
With an investment of about $200, this campaign met my two main objectives:
- It sold many books, briefly propelling the book to #1 in a competitive category. The Best Seller label offered important “social proof” for a new book.
- It populated the early sales data for the book with the right kinds of readers. (You can see clues into the sales data in the Amazon page section labeled “Customers who bought this item also bought…”)
I didn’t rely on ads alone; I also sent emails and did other launch activities. But the ads definitely found buyers. Because sales remained elevated after the campaign ended, the advertising soon paid for itself in royalties. (Sometimes you have to be patient to see a return on your investment.)
Genre matters. I’ve run a similar advertising campaign for a friend with a memoir that had been published for a year but wasn’t selling. Again, BookBub delivered results. Your mileage may vary; success can be tougher in competitive genres.
To support your launch:
- Decide on a budget, knowing that you may earn much of it back in royalties over time
- Consider a short-term discounted price
- Test a few combinations of ad copy and images
- Create multiple campaigns targeting possible “also-bought” authors. (Hint: it costs less to advertise to fans of less well-known authors than the big names.)
- Watch the campaigns, learn what works, and adapt as needed, shifting budget to the best-performing campaigns.
Target Specific Geographies or Platforms
Say that you’re giving a talk in the UK next month. You’d like to increase the visibility of your book on Amazon UK ahead of the event.
Many of Amazon’s international platforms are less competitive than Amazon.com. A well-timed BookBub ad blast (using pay-per-impression ads) could make your book a bestseller on the international site before your appearance.
Perhaps your book is set in Australia. Consider creating an ad that highlights the location and putting it in front of readers in that market. You might run a longer-running, pay-per-click campaign that generates enough sales to pay for itself in royalties.
Support Your “Wide” Ebook Sales
BookBub lets you reach readers on ebook platforms beyond Kindle. You can advertise to people who read on Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, or Nook. See which platforms offer the best sales results for you.
Experiment and Test
A quick trial costing $10 or $20 can deliver valuable data about which messages resonate or which authors’ fans click on your ads. Use insight from these test campaigns to inform your other marketing strategies. For example, if you find that Canadian readers click through more often than people in other markets, consider reaching out to libraries or bookstores there.
If you approach it with an open mind and a well-identified strategy, BookBub advertising can be a valuable addition to your book marketing skills.
Have you tried BookBub Ads? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments.
Anne Janzer is an author, nonfiction book coach and unabashed writing geek. Her writing books include The Writer’s Process, Writing to Be Understood, and Get the Word Out: Write a Book That Makes a Difference. Today, Anne works with business writers and nonfiction authors to communicate their ideas more effectively. Find her work at annejanzer.com.