Someone send coffee. (Plus cost-effective advertising tips.)

The female (still) isn’t supposed to be drinking coffee, but she’s been mainlining it this week. Between a serious case of tired, annoying mouth stitches of doom, and more excitement and stress than any sentient needs, it’s mandatory. Just like me investigating the new box of toys the human provided yesterday was mandatory.

These ones are still my favorite, and she buys them in bulk from Chewy.com. Chewy’s the best! The female goes onto the glowy clickie box, hands them currencies, and they send me toys!

I have more than thirty of these toys now, and they are all mine because they are my favorite.

So. As I’ve taken over the blog to talk about the female’s sales drive this week, we’re going to do that again! This time, I’m going to focus on cost-effective advertising methods. This is for those who want to start fiddling with ads and don’t know where to begin–and want to make money doing it.

As explained before, the female is doing a “loss lead” campaign. This means she’s going in knowing she’s spending more than she’s earning to reach new readers. The point of a loss lead campaign isn’t to make money–it’s to connect with readers who want to read her stuff.

The other type of advertising is a ROI-centric campaign. ROI stands for “Return on Investment,” and ROI is king when you’re trying to make money.

ROI campaigns are challenging. Most authors don’t have sufficient tools to track the productivity of their clicks. Even when you use affiliate tracking, Amazon prunes out any leads they feel came from friends, family, or acquaintances. (This is especially easy for them to do on facebook, as facebook and Amazon share user data. Please note that anything you click, look at, or otherwise investigate on Amazon does get reported to facebook for advertising purposes. It’s near to impossible to shut off, and it will color your advertising efforts as an author.)

That’s okay, though. Why? This data is what makes you able to advertise to actual readers.

Here’s how it works:

Reader Bob goes onto Amazon and buys 25 fantasy novels, 5 science fiction novels, and 1 romance novel. Reader Bob has now been entered into facebook’s algorithms as liking these things. It also recognizes he really likes fantasy novels, and will be a valuable target to authors who write fantasy novels.

When you set up an ad, and you select fantasy as a target category, your ad will appear to him.

Otherwise, you would be stuck advertising blindly to random people–people who might not even like books! (Yeah, I know. That thought makes us sad, too.)

So, I’m going to showcase one of the best performing ads for volume and for cost. Ironically, while advertising was open to men and women, women clicked on this ad so much more than we expected.

The distribution was 75% men and 25% women. It’s worth noting that she does not usually target men because the female writes romance-heavy books; their clicks tend to be far more expensive. So, this ad was shown to a high number of people who hadn’t seen her books before.

The ad worked out to $0.26 per click. Here’s what the demographic breakdown looks like:

So, you’ve seen what the ad actually looks like, you’ve seen the demographics. Why did this ad work? Well, sex sells, I guess–despite there not being any actual sex within the pages of the female’s books.

That leads us to why this ad set actually did well. The image and the creative were important… but the targeting is the real reason it performed.

Here’s a peek at the targeting she used.

Using market research that she hired her PA to do for her, the female created this list. It consists of three tiers. In tier 1, she defines readers in bulk. This is anything to do with e-reader devices, reading, and so on.

Next, she only wanted people who liked humor or romantic comedies, so she narrowed the audience.

Then, to make certain she’s hitting people who are interested in speculative fiction, she used her market research data, which consists of about 1,000 spec fic authors, the vast majority of them writing urban fantasy or paranormal romance. There are some other authors sprinkled in that may or may not work, but for her purposes, they worked fantastically.

For this specific list, she left off most of the broad keywords, instead using mostly author names for refinement.

This worked out to a pool of 14,000,000 readers, with a shocking number of them men. This ad was made with men in mind, but the human was very pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.

Targeting is critical. If you advertise to the wrong people, you are wasting your money. When the female does reader outreach campaigns, like the one with this set, she wants to hit the highest number of readers possible while still focusing on decent targeting. In ROI campaigns, the more specific you can get, the better off you are. Smaller advertising pools can help you get better leads for the purpose of cheap sales. (The issue with this lies in volume. You can get a really good ROI campaign, but you’ll only get a handful of sales per day on a good day.)

That’s fine. It’s cost efficient, and you may earn new readers more efficiently that way, but it will be a very slow and long battle. Volume is more expensive, but you can reach a substantial number of interested readers who may become buyers later.

The trick with advertising of any sort is the long game.

How much can you spend and still make a profit down the road if your books are good enough to make people want to continue reading?

Not all books are created equal, and if you’re able to get the first sales but you aren’t enticing the readers to continue reading, as the author, you need to evaluate what you’re doing wrong.

If you’re targeting to the wrong audience, your book could be great but it’s in the wrong hands.

Or you may need to go back to the drawing table and work on improving your writing. (And in reality? Working on improving your writing is a process that never ends. The great writers go into every book wondering how they can make this one even better than the last.)

The female creates lovely little mental breakdowns for herself worrying about this stuff all the time. There is a fine line between “wanting to improve” and “slaughtering the book through unnecessary editing in the quest for improvement.”

There’s also a line between “wanting to improve” and “no longer telling the story you wish to tell for the sake of the almighty dollar.”

The female often writes books she just doesn’t think will work well on the market, but she loves the story, so she writes it anyway. Even knowing there will be readers who just won’t like it because it wasn’t written for the market, it was written for herself.

Any time you do advertising for a book, it’s important to remember there are so many factors at play in earning a sale. The cover has to attract the reader. The description needs to lure them into checking the sample. The sample needs to engage them. Only then will they buy.

And it begins with your first impression, your ad.

In her past experiences, while the CPC is higher, she finds ads with snippets of the writing and a related, textless picture work the best at landing the actual sale.

They clicked after being exposed to your writing style, and they’ve already decided they’re intrigued by what they’ve seen.

Most people will wander off. At a $0.26 CPC rate and a $1.99 cost per US sale rate, that’s a 1 in 7.6 conversion rate approximately. (The female wanted her ads to be between 20-30 cents during this campaign, so using the 0.26 CPC figure for estimates is fairly legitimate.)

This means that for every 7.6 people to click the link, 1 purchased.

Some may have downloaded samples to decide if they want to buy later, too. That’s always a possibility.

As of this point in time, the female has spent approximately $11,000 across all advertising networks for a grand total of 5,024 US sales. That’s $2.18 per sale. (SQUEE.)

She hit her basic numbers (close enough!!) for her acquisitions; some sales were more expensive than others. The only ads she’s running at this point are the really cost-effective ones, which will (hopefully) bring the total cost per sale down.

It’s worth it to the female. She really wants to reach many new readers and continue to build her career.

In reality, if 500 of these readers go on to become fans, she will consider this to be a screaming success. It’s not about the profit in the short term. It’s about finding the low number of people who love her style of books. That’s the entire point of advertising: to reach those readers who will love what you write as much as you loved writing it.

The female is looking to start new relationships with more readers–hopefully readers who will begin to trust her to entertain them every new release.

Decide for yourself how much a new reader is worth. The female picked $2 because there is a decent chance enough people will buy at least one book to cover the cost of the advertising campaign. Will 5,000 people buy another book? Bloody unlikely!

That’s okay, though. Over time, her efforts will pay off. It just might take a few months–or a few years–for that to happen.

And the female? She’s okay with that.

She whole-heartedly welcomes those of you who are reading her books for the first time, and we hope that you have a blast.

Happy reading!

The Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack will be on sale for $0.99 until Sunday.

Edit: Human can’t math. Human’s math has been corrected. See note about needing coffee.

Leave a Comment:

3 comments
Harriet says May 3, 2019

I’ll never be an author. I’d rather read. I think Null and Void was the first one I tried. Like it very much, so.of course I had to hunt down everything. Amazon has it all together. (so convenient). Unfortunately they no longer hang pirates. Looking forward to whatever you put out. Love that they are flirty, not explicit. You keep doing you. I’ll be ready to buy.

Reply
Melissa says May 3, 2019

I’ve been trying to spread the word about your books, and I may have gotten you a sale today! A broke college student was fussing about not being able to afford fun books to read, so I immediately called up the Starter Pack on Amazon and, um, strongly encouraged her to get it. I may have pointed out that the set is normally $10 and remarked on the amount of snark and humor in the books a few times.

If she gets it that’ll be good because she is active on Facebook. Maybe she’ll be able to get you more readers! 🙂

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    The Sneaky Kitty Critic says May 3, 2019

    Thank you! <3 I really appreciate the effort you put in!

    Reply
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