Book Promotion: The Struggle is Real

Buckle up, buckaroos, this is going to be a long one. If you don’t care about online advertising as it pertains to independent book publishing, I’ll see YOU at the Parks this or some other weekend.

Okay person who stuck around, as you may be aware, there is no shortage of marketing advice out there, and sooner or later, the topic turns to online advertising. Well, here we are.

The back story: Crossed Out: An Ana Lode Thriller had a good start out of the gate, then didn’t sell in any way, shape, or form for ~30 days. That’s not very encouraging! In a vacuum, it’s easy to come up with all sorts of explanations for it, such as the book sucking, people not knowing about the book to have an opinion about its suckiness, or feelings of utter failure. As for that last one, I went into this knowing my first book had a vanishingly slim chance of taking off, even if I clubbed Oprah over the head with it. (Note: Oprah-clubbing not condoned or endorsed by this author.)

I read somewhere that maybe the book wasn’t selling because my advertising was crap. Admittedly, I wasn’t throwing good money after bad at it, partly because I don’t have a lot of it to throw around anyway, and partly because I’m writing more books, and supposedly a halo effect would form in a few years (!!) and dang if my earlier titles weren’t selling like hotcakes! Well, living closer to the “now”, I decided to up my advertising game.

On March 1, I beta tested CPC (cost per click) ads on BookBub.They average about $1 per click. It’s cheaper to buy groceries at the mini-mart, basically. However, BookBub’s reach is massive and targeted, so you’re paying for qualified clicks. My ads ran in the USA, Canada, and the UK. Nobody in the USA clicked my ads. 6 people in the UK did, and 1 in Canada. 0 bought the book in any way, shape, or form.

Next, I put Crossed Out on sale for $0.99 USD for this week only (Note: if you’re reading this on or after March 12, 2018 the sale is over, sorry) and ran another BookBub ad, this time for US readers only. I got one click for $1. No takers. Epic fail.

On a side note, this is NOT the famed “deal of the day” which costs mucho dinero.

I’ve been running Amazon AMS ads off and on since the book launched. Here’s how that’s going:

Amazon ad report

Let’s zoom in, shall we?

More amazon reporting

Hey, at least the clicks are cheap.

Despite all the nay-saying I’ve seen about this, I got a $30 credit from Facebook to entice me to try boosting a post on my author page. The nay-sayers are against boosting because it’s not as full-featured as a regular Facebook ad. (Note: Isn’t it funny how Facebook was anti-ads for so long, and now people are experts about which of their ads to use?) Anyway, I decided to give it a try, because I made a nifty book trailer for Dead Shot and posted it to my Facebook Author Page. Click through to see the video, and turn your sound ON.

Neat, huh? Well, I boosted that in 10 cities, targeting people 18-65+ who like to read action/adventure. Here’s how that’s going as of this morning:

Facebook report

I really like how Facebook breaks it down by age and gender:

Facebook report

Encouraged by the video stats, I posted a blurb about my $0.99 eBook, and boosted that as well. Bonus: You can lump as many boosted posts as you like into that $30 credit.

Facebook report

And the demographics:

Facebook report

Astute observers will note that I am getting close to eating up my ad credit. When it spends down, I can decide to let it roll and pay the difference, or cut the ad run short.

All that is well and good, but how’s business?

You tell me!

Amazon sales graph

To clarify, that’s 27 days of NOTHING, followed by 3 straight days of sales, via various sources. I can only rule out BookBub and Amazon AMS as likely sources. I have high reason to believe Bargain Booksy and Facebook Boost were my prime sales drivers.


I’m very interested in Facebook ads for the Dead Shot launch. Jaime was just saying it’s my best book yet (by a wide margin) and I really want it to take off. I’m glad Crossed Out is getting some much-needed exposure but I have much loftier ambitions for Dead Shot and beyond.

Online advertising is expensive and a crap shoot, where “expensive” is relative to sales. I’m reticent to go spend-crazy, but I’m glad I ignored the nay-sayers and tried things out for myself.

Thanks for reading!

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