I get very, very tired of hearing people talking about how (paid) advertising doesn’t work. Some of these are from successful authors who don’t do it at all, and who then decry that advertising doesn’t work, you don’t need it and it’s all garbage.
I also get very tired of hearing from authors who talk about how we all need to be on social media all the time, pushing ourselves, etc.
Now, mind you, I have a decent online presence in social places. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Heck, we even have a TikTok account. Something you will quickly realise (outside of Twitter) is that most of those accounts are purely advertising / brand accounts. They’re not even very cool brand accounts (like Wendy’s Twitter account); but basically ‘sales accounts’.
That is, I do new releases, writing updates, push kickstarters or remind people of my older work or even tell them of other work by other authors. It is, by far, not a very social thing.
Well, outside of my Twitter and Reddit (which I don’t use much anymore) accounts. Twitter is mostly to talk to other authors though, so it’s not a great marketing platform.
Now, why do I bring that up? Because, like many, I’m not very good at the entire ‘build a fan base / rabid fan’ thing. I just… don’t like it. I know it’s effective, I know it’s the smart thing to do, and I probably should… But I just don’t. It’s not me.
Which is why I really, really like paid advertising.
Here’s the thing about paid advertising:
– it’s effective. If you are willing to put the time, the effort and the money into learning how to do it well, it can work. You need all the basics lined up (a good genre, a good cover, a good blurb – and preferably some degree of success with sales already) but if you have those, generating an ROI of 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 isn’t impossible.
If you don’t have a book that is already doing well, your advertising expenses might be more like 70% of your revenue rather than 30%, but that can still be worth it (depending on cashflow and strategy obviously, and personal risk-reward numbers).
– it’s often platform specific, so you can reach multiple different audiences, some (or a lot) who don’t cross-pollinate. This can be important if your genre is particularly focused on one platform and/or you have issues with one platform.
– it is significantly less time intensive. You can often set-up ads to run and forget. Some of my AMS ads have been running for years now, with minimal additions or updates.
Facebook requires more work, but it’s like a few hours every 3-4 weeks (used to be every few months).
That’s really the same for a lot of paid advertising, where you often make 1 or 2 changes and let it run for 3-4 weeks minimum to see if it works before shifting to the next iteration to improve upon it.
– consistency and social drain is significantly less. For those who have issues with being consistent, who have concerns and/or dislike of showing their face on social or being social, paid advertising allows you to have the same level of reach (if not more!) with less work. Fixing up ads can be done in the middle of the night, in the morning as you get up, or whenever it strikes you (though some degree of schedule is good so you don’t end up going 6 months without checking).
Whereas with social, the need to be updating and posting regularly is quite high. After all, part of the algorithms and need of social is to be present, to be ‘social’.
– less personal by far. I don’t have to talk about my family, about my cats or pets or weird hobbies to interest people when I throw an ad at them. I don’t have to try to be interesting to readers.
So, if you’re an author struggling to make headway, have the funds to test out advertising… give it a shot. It’s a long haul game, but it IS viable.
(And yes, I know these blog posts are somewhat social stuff too, but they – like my Twitter account – are horrible social accounts for an author. In the sense that they are VERY unlikely to generate me enough sales to live of, because I’m not selling author services, but books. So they don’t line up, and the audiences are wrong).
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