Is it worth paying for advertising?

Depending on where you look there are authors reporting wonderful sales increases after paying for the advertising of their book on various different internet sites.  Whether through simple email blasts or pay per click, there are several authors who advocate spending a healthy budget on such promotional activity.

But for every one of those who say that it has worked, there are those that say that it didn’t.

The biggest issue for an unknown indie writer is the simple fact that they are unknown.  I wrote a book. I spent time, and lots of it, putting the story that has been in my head for years down in print.  I then decided to send the story out into the world.  I didn’t do it for money (if you’re in it for the money then quit now) or for the recognition.  I did it because I like my story, love my characters and want to share what I wrote with the masses.  But how do the masses know that I’m even here?

Carved in Stone cover

You publish your book.  You get friends and family to download it, read it and give it a review.  This goes well.  Everybody loves it.  They tell their friends and they read it too, some even put up a review.  They love it too.  You think you’ve made it and then you notice two things.  One, the sales fizzle out as everyone you know has already read it.  Two, amazon only puts UK reviews on the UK site.

I live in England and therefore, so do all my friends and family.  The reviews that I have (and those that amazon deleted because they thought the people too close to me!) were all posted on the UK site.  How do I go about getting reviews, or even sales, in the biggest marketplace in the world – the US?

For an unknown author like me there appears to be only one solution-Advertising!

Advertising your book, especially for a new indie writer like me, is something of a maze.  There are so many sites out there offering book promotion that you can spend days, possibly even months finding them all and checking out what they claim to do.  I’ve already dabbled a little, asking for my free book days through kindle select to be advertised for free, but for every ten sites I’ve asked I’m lucky if one actually puts up the post.  They do guarantee a listing if I pay a small fee though.  A small fee can range from $1 to $200 for a day.  So what do these sites offer?

Well all of the sites claim to have a following in the hundreds of thousands through twitter.  But we all know that many of these twitter names will be simply false.  The sites also claim to have vast mailing lists-again, how do I know if these are legitimate readers who have signed up for these lists of not?  The simple answer is that I don’t.  The sites also claim to have thousands of hits a day.  I have no way of checking this.  I don’t know any of these sites.  I could trawl the internet all day looking for opinions on them and I would find good and bad in all cases. The only way to see if advertising will work is to try it.

Working with a tiny budget initially (lets say £10) I am going to pay to advertise my book on as many sites as I can before my money runs dry.  To recoup my initial outlay I am going to have to sell 10 books more than I would normally expect during the same period.  That formulates the bare bones of the plan, but I have a couple if issues I need to work out first.  Of course the first one is to choose the sites I’m going to use so watch this space to see what I decide and the second is that my book is due for its last kindle free days on the 11-12 November.  Having now experienced the highs and lows of the free book promotion that kindle offers, I know that any increase in ranking through sales before a kindle free day is wiped out after it i.e. if your book was ranking at say 65,000 (trickling) after the kindle free days it suddenly drops to 250,000 because you haven’t had any sales in that time period.  However, this is an experiment, and a small one at that, so I shouldn’t really worry about it.  The timing may well be dictated by the sites I sign up to anyway.

So the plan

  1. Find the sites
  2. Upload the details
  3. See the sales (I’m not holding my breath)
  4. Report back

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Well we’ll have to wait and see!

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