Is it necessary to pay to promote your books?
Every self-published author asks this question, and the answer should be, yes of course.
In any business you can think of, the cost of advertising and promoting your product is the very first financial decision that is taken to help start generating sales.
However, selling ebooks is not easy, and if you think that simply paying out a lump of cash for advertising and promotion alone will immediately increase your book sales, then perhaps you should read on.
When you pay for promotion, this does not mean that you will magically get sales.
Of course, if you consider self-publishing only as a hobby, and don’t want to invest, there are many free promotion services and tools available, so there is by no means a necessity to pay.
The only factor to consider is that free promotion services usually perform in line with the price, and are normally more concerned with making money from some form of affiliate marketing.
It might be a better idea for you to leverage your social media accounts to try to connect with more readers. You might want to read some of our articles containing book marketing tips for more help.
However, no matter how much you self-promote or spend on advertising, a bad book with weak presentation and poor reviews will struggle to sell.
Don’t waste your money.
Like any other product, you need to project a degree of quality and existing customer satisfaction to increase sales.
If you have a few published titles, select your best ranking title or titles. But if you only have one or two, or you are planning your first book launch, you may have to do some preparation first.
Don’t pay for promotion, and waste money, until your book is ready.
Before considering spending money on book marketing and advertising, make sure your book can tick all the following quality criteria.
1. It has a professionally designed and attention-grabbing book cover.
2. It is well written, and error free.
3. It has at least 10-12 positive book reviews.
4. It has a star ranking of 4 or better.
5. It has a fantastic book description. (Refer here for help on using HTML to improve book descriptions on Amazon.)
Once you have your book looking its best, the choices of paid advertising and promotion are almost endless for every genre. So unless you want to break the bank, you will need to be extremely selective, and research which options are going to work best for you.
Personally speaking, I never see the logic in spending money on promoting free ebooks or even discounted ebooks, as these are promotions in themselves, which are designed to lift a book’s sales rank.
These types of promotions can be achieved for free by using KDP Select to offer free Kindle books. Or, if you are published with either Draft2Digital or Smashwords, you can discount your book price, or offer it for free.
If these campaigns are successful, you can then use targeted PPC (pay-per-click) paid promotion to take advantage of the higher ranking, and of course, the full book price to hopefully recover some of the advertising costs.
With regard to long-term promotion, look for a reasonably priced promotion that will keep bringing attention to your books.
What are the best paid promotion options?
This is a very individual choice, and depending on your budget and goals, it will differ from one author to another. There are literally hundreds of options, so do your own thorough research. But here are a few possibilities.
Bookbub is probably the most well-known promotion site for books, but it is also very expensive, and quite selective about the books it promotes. Books must be accepted before they can be promoted, and must also be heavily discounted or offered for free.
Prices vary for a one-day promotion but range from $150-$2,000. You can check the price list here. While very expensive, Bookbub is also very popular.
Facebook Ads are quite economical if used judiciously. You need a Facebook Page to be able to use the service, but ads can be finely targeted to suit your book’s potential appeal.
My experience has been that my average cost per click on Facebook is around $0.30, which is cheap by comparison to other PPC providers.
The other advantage is that you can set very low daily budgets, and when your ad is approved and running, you can turn it on and off at any time, such as mornings, Mondays or any other time that you feel will not be profitable.
KDP Select PPC Ads. This is a PPC advertising service offered by Amazon but is only available for those who are enrolled in Amazon KPD Select. While more expensive than Facebook at around $0.70 per click, the ads are where you want them –right in front of book buyer’s eyes.
The one important fact I have noticed, though, is that product targeting works much better than category or interest targeting.
So much so that I only gained sales from product targeted ads. Here is a link to a great post by Roger Packer about how to use KDP Ads. Similar to Facebook ads, once your ad is running, you can pause it at any time.
For very economical long-term book exposure, Whizbuzz Books offers one year of promotion for a modest set fee.
Focus on value for money when selecting your paid promotion service
Whichever means you choose; the most important factor is to get value for your money and stick firmly to your budget.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to gain good exposure and increase book sales.
A modest budget of say $50.00 per month on either Facebook or KDP Ads can be very successful if narrowly targeted to book readers who are interested in your genre.
Always remember that with PPC, it is not how many clicks you get, but how many of the right type of clicks you get. So always target down to a narrow potential audience to get the best results.
So should you pay for book advertising?
There is no definitive answer, as it is up to each individual author to decide.
But with an ever-increasing number of ebooks, in particular, being published each year, more effort is required to keep a high book ranking – and high book rankings are of course what are needed to sell books.
Paid advertising is definitely not a guarantee of success, but used wisely it can help lift and maintain higher sales rankings.
To answer the question, you may be asking; yes I do use paid advertising to promote some of my own books. I have a small set budget which I use every second month, and combined sometimes with KDPS promotions; I find this pairing keeps both my ranking and sales moving along nicely.
It certainly hasn’t made me a #1 bestseller, but for my modest investment, I am more than pleased with the return I get. Steady sales, and a royalty payment every month.
One word of advice, however. If you are new to paid advertising, you will need to experiment to see what works best for you. So set very small budgets initially while you learn, and take your time.
Disclaimer: Whizbuzz Books is owned by the author of this article.
Further reading: 10 Free Book Promotion Ideas For Your Self-Published Book