You successfully self-published your manuscript. But how do you advertise a book? Learning how to market your book is an ongoing part of the indie journey. You have to promote as much as you write; that’s just the nature of self-publishing. Using book advertisements can be a powerful way to gain exposure and reach more readers. Here’s your overview of the tactics to know.
We go over:
- Marketing essentials to know before advertising a book
- Book advertisement tips to start with (Amazon, Facebook, BookBub, & other paid options with PublishDrive)
- How to promote a book for free
Marketing Essentials to Know Before Advertising a Book
Before spending any money on your book advertisement ideas, it’s important to establish a solid foundation of marketing essentials. Let’s say you’re executing an advertisement for a book, but fail to convert your audience due to having zero book reviews. See how that would be a waste of your money and efforts? You want to ensure you got all the essentials down first.
The essentials of marketing self-published books include having enough book reviews, a dedicated author page, and more –
In the world of self-publishing, where most of your business occurs online, you need some kind of online hub or home base for people to find and connect with you. When someone sees your book advertisement and wants to learn more about you before making a purchase, your author page should be able to provide that.
Consider setting up a professional author website. Tools like WordPress and Wix are great for building a website with minimal web-building skills. You can also find freelancers on sites like Upwork and Fiverr to build one for you.
If a website is not feasible, start a dedicated social media page where you can regularly share your updates on new releases and beyond. This is about establishing your author brand. Consider creating an account for at least Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Facebook is still the largest social media platform in the world. It’s also a popular option for running book ads (more on Facebook ads below).
An email list helps you directly target readers who enjoy your books, update your fans with new releases, and boost your leverage for professional collaborations. Trends in marketing may come and go, but a mailing list remains one of your most powerful marketing tools.
Place the sign-up link to your email list on your website and social media bios. You can also add a call-to-action link at the end of your book.
Book Cover & Book Description
You also want an amazing book cover design and book description. When you run an advertisement on books, these ads will direct viewers to your book cover and description. You can have a fabulous ad that generates a bunch of clicks, but then lose out on actual sales due to a poor book description. These elements should be as enticing as possible.
For a high-quality cover design, transform your images with an AI photo enhancer or opt for a professional designer (search for freelancers on sites like Virtalent, Upwork, or Fiverr). You can also optimize your own design with this guide on book cover designs.
For your book description, ask yourself if it’s catchy enough to convince people to click buy. Are your strongest hooks in the first few sentences? How about cliffhangers? Check out these book description hacks.
How to market a self-published book? Treat book reviews as your top priority. As a prerequisite, aim to land at least five solid book reviews. People are less inclined to buy any kind of product when there are no reviews (this is the rule of e-commerce!) Even just a handful of reviews will increase your conversions. Ask your family, friends, and network to leave a review for you. Contact influential bloggers in your genre. See this list of book reviewers to reach out to.
With the online self-publishing platform PublishDrive, access a suite of marketing tools to request reviews, advertise books, and more. Plus, get all the self-publishing support you need with distribution, royalty reporting, and more.
Book Advertisement Tips to Start With
After assembling the essentials, you’re ready to run some book publishing advertising campaigns. If this is your first time handling book ads, here are the terms to know:
- Impressions: the number of times your ad gets displayed.
- Clicks: the number of times someone clicked on your ad.
- Click-through-rate (CTR): the number of clicks divided by impressions to gauge how well your ad converted from viewing to clicking. The higher your CTR, the better.
- Advertising cost of sales (ACOS): how much you spend for every dollar you make, calculated via total spend divided by total sales. The lower your ACOS, the better.
Knowing these metrics should help you understand and analyze your performance for most book ads out there.
Also, the art of book publishing advertising depends on what genre you’re in. With all tactics, look at what bestselling authors in your genre are doing for better ways to craft your book promotion ideas.
Let’s go through the most popular book advertisements to know –
Amazon is the mecca of online books. By using the Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) platform and running an advertisement for a book, you can get your content in front of visitors based on related products, keywords, and consumer interests.
- Start with a budget as low as $5 a day. Every time your ad is clicked on, your daily budget will cap the maximum spend. Raising your budget doesn’t always mean your ad will perform better. That’s why you want to start with a low-cost test campaign.
- Be patient with book ad results. Amazon counts sales in a 14-day window, and it will take a minimum of 60 days–up to 90 days–to get paid by Amazon for the sales made.
- Learn how to interpret your results. If your ad has low impressions, focus on improving your targeting method. You can use automatic targeting, which helps get more impressions and optimize your conversions (getting someone to buy) from there. If your CTR is low, you may have to work on your book cover. If overall sales are low, your ACOS may be too high.
- Check out this complete guide to Amazon book ads.
Facebook is the #1 social media channel in the world. That’s an audience of almost 3 billion monthly users. Facebook ads can help create the buzz you need with a small investment, too. You can set your book advertisement budget for as low as $1 a day (perfect for testing). The key with Facebook advertising is targeting the right group of people and crafting your ads to appeal to your audience.
- Use an image that captures the vibes of your book along with a 1-2 sentence hook. Your copy should be concise and easy to read. It should resonate with your target audience as well. Once people click, it’s up to your ad copy to make the sale.
- Experiment with your targeting options. Try setting the goal to have people like and follow your Facebook author page. Building a following for your brand can reap the rewards in the long run.
- Engage with the comments. Responding to people not only bumps up the relevancy of your ad but lets people know you’re an actual human.
- Get creative. Run a contest and run ads for that. Or promote a post about signing up for your newsletter and/or email list.
- Check out this list of creative book campaign ideas.
BookBub is a favorite place for indie authors to advertise books. It allows authors and book marketers to tailor their book advertisement campaigns to reach custom audiences of readers.
- Use a free or discounted book sale advertisement campaign to boost your sales. Your image should appeal to your target audience and emphasize your special price.
- Use author targeting. It’s proven to have 61% higher click-through rates than targeting by category interests.
- Use your strongest hooks in your image. For a new release, you want to maximize your exposure. Got awards or mentions from reputable organizations? Showcase them.
- Read everything you need to know on how to promote your book with BookBub ads.
Take a look at some of BookBub’s highest-performing ads. Pay extra attention to the images and copies used in these book advertisement examples:
Krista Sandor’s The Nanny and the Nerd brought in thousands of new readers to the first book in a series. As you can see, the design and copy highlight the tropes that romance readers enjoy. It also quoted a solid review. Targeting included Amazon US readers who were fans of similar romance comedy authors.
Scott Bartlett’s Supercarrier Box Set proves that a simple design and copy can be just as effective as more elaborate ads. This ad was able to generate thousands of clicks in over three weeks. The sales price of $0.99 for an entire series was a great offer worth promoting.
Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet used two ads. The one on the left was used for a week, mainly for experimenting with different targeting options. Then once the $2.99 sale price went live, the ad on the right used the targeting elements that generated the best results from the first test. If you land a quote from a reputable org like The New Yorker, be sure to use it in your ad. When it comes to sales campaigns, use words like “for a limited time” to create urgency.
Other Paid Options With PublishDrive
Besides the main book ad platforms mentioned above, there are other paid advertising options you can use. PublishDrive is one of them. Thanks to PublishDrive’s partnership with Written Word Media you can access four main channels to help advertise your book:
- Freebooksy has over 368,000 registered users looking for free book deals.
- Bargain Booksy has over 277,000 registered readers looking for titles priced at $3.99 or below.
- NewInBooks has over 576,000 readers looking for new titles across genres.
- Red Feather Romance is the #1 site for romance books, with readers looking for steamy romance books.
Consider releasing your book at a special price (or free) to promote with channels like Bargain Booksy. These types of price promotions work. PublishDrive’s partnership with Written Word Media helped some indies generate 10x more sales by running discounted price campaigns.
With PublishDrive, you can easily schedule price promotions and then hop on Written Word Media to advertise your sales event – all from one dashboard. Learn more about these book promotion services:
- Access both paid and free marketing options.
- Schedule price promotions for multiple books and stores.
- Send out review copies to Apple Books, Google Play Books, Kobo, and many more. Send ebooks straight to reader devices.
- Get featured on book promotion sites, newsletters, and more – with numerous retailers.
- Use a built-in Amazon ad tool to improve your performance.
- Get shout-outs on social media about your new book releases and other publishing news.
How to Promote a Book for Free
Now you know how to advertise a book. But, yes, book ads do require a budget. If you’re under a tight budget, here are other ways to promote your book entirely for free:
- Plan a social media book launch event around your release day. Send out emails, post on social media, and ask people to post their reviews.
- Join reading and writing groups in your genre to build your brand. Share your own tips, chat with others, and get engaged. Check out Reddit for groups like Self Published Writers. Join PublishDrive’s Facebook group for indie authors.
- Self-publishing veterans will tell you one thing: write and release as much as you can. To maintain a rapid release schedule, try co-writing with other authors.
- Publish a bundle of your books. This is a great way to not just release more content but reward your readers with an entire set of books.
- Try cross-promoting by reaching out to blogs or podcasts.
- Participate in book festivals to meet readers as well as industry pros.
- Distribute your book in multiple formats like ebook, audiobook, and print-on-demand. This way, you can tap into all audience types.
- Distribute your book in multiple spaces (not just Amazon). Sell in other large retailers like Google Play Books, Apple Books, and Kobo. Plus, don’t forget about niche markets like Dreame. (PublishDrive can distribute your book in thousands of stores.)