Advertising Your Books - Part One: BookBub Ads
We often discuss the free ways to achieve attention for your books through social media and traditional media publicity. But what about paid advertising? Is this ever a good idea?
Yes, paid advertising can give your books a sales’ boost. Particularly, after the buzz of your book launch has died down and you’re trying to gain some traction with sales. However, there’s a lot to know, and it’s important not to spend your advertising dollars before you’ve done your homework.
The SIX most important things to do or know before you start spending money on ads:
1. REVIEW YOUR COVER COPY AND BOOK DESCRIPTION
Make sure your book description and cover copy are enticing and well-written. (Ideally, you will have done this before hitting the publish button; however, before spending money on ads, it is a must to double check these details. Compare your book to other bestsellers in your genre to make sure you’re hitting all the right points with your cover and description.)
2. READ/WATCH THE TUTORIALS
I can’t emphasize enough that you need to take your time to read or watch tutorials for each type of advertising you’re considering. There’s a lot to learn, and it’s important not to rush. (I’ll include links to the best tutorials below.)
3. TAKE THE TIME FOR AD TESTING
No matter which platform you’re advertising on, you will be testing different ad copy and images alongside different target audiences to see which works best. It will take some time to get the right combination.
4. BE PREPARED TO LOSE A LITTLE MONEY (AT FIRST)
And, unfortunately, you need to be prepared to lose a little money during this testing phase.
5. SERIES CONCERNS AND READ THROUGH or SELL THROUGH RATE
If your book is part of a series, don’t jump into spending much on advertising until your series is complete and then focus your advertising dollars on book one. WHY? Because you can afford to lose a little money drawing readers into your series because of something called the “read through” or “sell through” rate, which is the percentage of book one buyers who will then buy book two and three and so on.
6. WHERE AND HOW YOU ADVERTISE IS INFLUENCED BY WHERE YOUR BOOK IS FOR SALE
If you are exclusive to Kindle, Amazon ads might work better for you than the author who has their books available across a wide variety of ebook platforms. WHY? Because with Kindle exclusivity your book is available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers as part of their unlimited page reads each month. However, if your book is available widely on other platforms such as Kobo, iBooks, or Nook, your advertising on BookBub and Facebook can be targeted to readers who have identified which platform they use.
David Gaughran has a great overview of book advertising that you can access HERE. Additionally, he has a BookBub Ad tutorial video that gives stellar advice along with this article: BookBub Ads: What the FAQ? For any serious book promoter, I highly recommend subscriber to all of David Gaughran's content. He knows what he's talking about!
In this three part series, I will look at BookBub, Facebook, and Amazon advertising. (To jump to Part Two on Facebook Ads click HERE.) Today, we start with BookBub, which has two advertising options: Deals of the Day or Paid Ads.
DEALS OF THE DAY/FEATURED DEALS
Deals of the Day are featured deals where (if accepted) your book wins a coveted position in the BookBub email which is sent out to millions of readers each day. You pay for this placement, but you will likely have thousands of downloads. Most of the time you will be offering your book for a lower (sale) price as you’re competing with other books that are on sale or free.
There’s a deal-of-the-day price grid which shows the varying costs by genre/book category and price point, so you can see how much your placement will cost you depending on the price you choose for your book during the featured deal date(s). This grid also gives you the number of downloads (for free books) or purchases you can expect for each genre. You can see the whole grid here: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing
First, however, you must set up your author profile/partner account on BookBub and add your book information. (I'm providing links to tutorials on how set up this partner account HERE and HERE.) Then, you can submit the request for a BookBub Deal (of the Day). Here’s a general list of how those work: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/how-it-works
And here are the tips that BookBub gives for maximizing your chances to get a featured deal: https://insights.bookbub.com/tips-on-optimizing-your-submission-for-a-bookbub-featured-deal/
And finally, if you're not selected, you might wonder why. (Believe me, I'm a pro at NOT being selected.) BookBub provides a list of why books are frequently not accepted for a deal. You can try for a Deal of the Day once every 30 days. Keep doing this.
Given that the deals of the day are so elusive to acquire, many authors (me included) have used paid advertisements on BookBub. The cool thing about this is that the advertisements appear in the same emails as the Deals of the Day at the bottom of the page. You will need to create your own advertising image that includes limited copy, and you’ll be targeting fans of a certain genre or book category and/or fans of certain authors. Jane Friedman's blog has a good article about the way BookBub ads can support your overall sales' goals HERE. The BookBub blog also has an excellent article that details nine different book sales' goals that can be supported by BookBub advertising along with 6 BookBub Ad Features you may not know about.
The ad’s cost to you is based either on the number of times it is viewed by people (CPM or Cost Per 1000 Impressions) or by the number of times it is clicked on (CPC or Cost per Click). You choose which of those you’re using (pros/cons of each are in the tutorial or you can read this BookBub Partners article which details when it is better to use each method.) You also bid on how much you’re willing to spend on either of these (there’s guidance on the range for the audience you’ve selected). Additionally, you’ll be setting the date range your ads will run and the overall budget for each ad. Initially, set short date ranges and low budgets until you find the right combination.
Here's a snapshot of my BookBub ad dashboard as I started a new testing campaign this morning, so you can see how this looks. If I want to see more information on each ad, I simply click on it to pull up a full screen.
David Gaughran has recently released a book called BookBub Ads Expert that is extremely helpful. The BookBub Partners Blog has many great articles including a User Guide to BookBub ads. If you scroll through the articles on the partners blog, you’ll see a lot of topics that are targeted to making your ads more effective. Definitely take the time to familiarize yourself with the details.
For all advertising, you’ll rely on a list of authors with whom you share a similar audiences. Once you generate this list, keep it handy. You’ll use it again and again. Also, make a note of the genre(s) of your book. You’ll need to look at the BookBub categories to determine the best fit for your story. You’ll use these genres/categories to further target the audience that will see your ad. (For instance, my books fall into three categories: supernatural suspense, fantasy, and young adult.) When targeting different authors you may want to group some of them together because their readership or following is not significantly large enough to support an ad campaign on its own. Previously to summer 2019, you were not able to see the performance of individual author targeting when grouped like this; however, that has changed, and you can now view the ad performance of each targeted author name within a bigger group of authors. Cool!
Inside the tutorials, you’ll find the best advice for not only creating your ad image, but also how much copy to include on the ad. Look at a lot of samples before designing your ad. Your book’s cover should be displayed as large as possible. Once you’re ready to give it a try, the free online design software at Canva.com is a great place to create your ad. Mock-up shots might also help you create the base image for your ad. I use this website to create glamour shots of my books in different settings frequently. (Here's another nifty website I found where you can convert your book covers into 3D or e-reader/tablet images: https://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/)
Be patient as you test different audiences and ad images/copy to come up with your winning combination. Additionally, here on BookBub you can test different sales' audiences beyond Kindle/Amazon if your ebook is widely available. I've played around with focusing on non-Amazon audiences with some more promising results with Kobo, even though the audience is smaller.
Below is the first ad I tested, the second phase of ad testing (ads #2 and #3), and my current (most successful) ad (#4).
AD # 1
AD # 2 & # 3 (testing simultaneously--some audience prefer #2 and others #3.)
AD # 4 (testing different authors separately and like-author groupings, along with different mixes of Amazon/Kobo/B&N/Apple readers.)
A note here about the challenge of creating an eye-catching ad: I spent a lot of time scrolling through BookBub ads, best practices, and tutorials to come up with this new ad that I think grabs your attention a little more. My best-seller status was from when my book first came out, but you're allowed to use that forever once achieved.
Monitoring Your Ad Campaign and Analyzing Your Results
If you're new to ads at all, it really helps to familiarize yourself with the terminology used. Take the time to read this BookBub specific article on understanding your ad campaign results.
Ideally, I'm hoping to see a minimum Click-Through-Rate (CTR) of 2%. I'd prefer this to be closer to 3% if my book's price is $.99 because my royalty rate is lower at that price point. If you’ve spread your ads out over a longer period of time, you can turn off the underperforming ads after a day or two. (Or in some extreme cases with 0 results, maybe even after a half a day.)
While Click-Through-Rate will tell you if an ad is enticing readers to at least look at your book sales’ page, what you really want to know is if they BOUGHT the book. So you’ll be heading off to your sales’ dashboards to see how many purchases were made during the period when your BookBub ad was running. Now, this is not 100% accurate, because you won’t know for sure that all the sales that you had in a certain period are attributable to your BookBub ad. For the best correlation possible, be sure that you’re not running different promotions/ad campaigns simultaneously.
While all my attempts fell short of the 2% CTR and the first two attempts fell short of even nearing a conversion rate that could make for a profitable ad, with ad #4 I finally found a winning combination when I targeted readers who like the author Deborah Harkness and the supernatural suspense genre. I had 7 click throughs (a .9% CTR) . . . 6 on Amazon and 1 on Apple and sold 4 Kindle ebooks. (That's an AMAZING conversion rate of 57%!) Here's how the math looks 4 * 2.99*.70% = $8.37 in royalties; $10 ad cost - $8.37 = -$1.63 Now, that's a loss I can live with, because this is book one in the series. I only need one of these readers to buy one other book to begin making money, and hopefully, those readers will do more than that. While this is an incredibly focused sample, you can see that patience with ad tweaking and audience targeting can pay off. Now, I just need to figure out how to deliver my ad at a higher rate to the Harkness fans. Her fan base is large, so there's room to keep trying with that group.
Here's that formula again:
* Multiply your sales by your royalty amount = to come up with your overall royalties
* Compare overall royalties with your ad spend.
* Don’t freak out if this number is negative. What you’ve learned has value, but of course, you want to make money.
* Take your best performing ads and tweak the ad copy/image and run again to see if you can improve upon those results, possibly trying new audiences as you identify them. Repeat as necessary. But remember during the testing phase, to only introduce one change at a time--that way you'll know which change either improved or worsened your ad performance.
The tutorials referenced above give good advice on analyzing your statistics and determining what you can do to make an ad work better. Don’t forget the read-through or sell-through rate. Keep an eye on the sales of the rest of the books in your series. That will help you determine if an ad that is barely breaking even or maybe even losing a little money is worth it because it is driving sales of book two and three and so on. BookBub provides a handy article on troubleshooting your ads to make them more effective.
If this is your first foray into paid advertising, I know that it will seem a little intimidating, but hitch up your britches and get to work. I know you can do this! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment field or by emailing me through the contact form on this site.
If you’d like help setting up your BookBub campaign, this is one of the author services I provide whether you want me to run your entire ad campaign or simply provide tutorial advice to get you started. See more on my author services website at www.LostLakePress.com.
Submitted by Christine Keleny (not verified) on May 15, 2019 - 11:14am
Great info, Val. I'll repost for sure!
Submitted by valeriebiel on May 15, 2019 - 11:22am
Thanks, Christine! Glad you found this helpful. There's so much to know. I'm still testing to see if I can get my click-through-rate up. I will likely need to do a follow-up to this article once (if) I find the winning combination. - Val
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