Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

What Works for Online Advertising for Books

Everyday I log into my gmail account, I see a text link for NobleRomance. I’ve seen it so often that I’ve started wondering about it when I wasn’t even online. Last week, I finally gave in and clicked on it. It’s a nice site offering standard romance epublishing fare (read: erotic romance). I haven’t bought anything, but the name has been flashed in front of me so many times that it’s embedded behind my eyelids and now, I’m blogging about it. So obviously it’s Google AdWords is paying off, a little bit, at least.

Carolyn Jean commented at Meljean Brook’s blog that “The rule of thumb in the world of advertising is that it is cumulative. So you’re right in your instinct that you are being “worn down’ toward a purchase.”

We held a viral blog campaign early on in the inception of Dear Author for Nalini Singh because I really loved her debut mass market, Slave to Sensation, and wanted to spread the news about her awesomeness.   The response was varied. Some people were critical of the blog posting because it wasn’t new content but it did raise Nalini Singh’s name recognition online. This is not to say that we had anything to do with Singh’s success. I am not claiming that at all. Anyone who has read her books recognizes that she brings something unique and special to the romance genre.

It does seem, though, sustained presence can lead to a click through and that enough penetration into a reader’s psyche can lead to a sale. I have no idea whether Michelle Moran or Colleen Gleason had any positive benefits from having their “ads” run on our sidebar or whether the ads at sites like SmartBitches or Romancing the Blog have a positive effect on sales.

As a reader, I have responded to frequent text ads (like the NobleRomance ad). I noticed in my search last week that LiquidSilver epublisher showed up alot as a paid ad on Google Search results but I’ve rarely clicked on any flash ad or picture ad on a blog.   I might have noticed from the ad that a book that I was thinking about getting was out now but I don’t think I’ve bought a book based on a picture ad.

Many authors seem to be committed to blogging as a form of online advertising. I’ve heard that agents and editors are strong proponents of this. Many authors have also jumped on the book trailer bandwagon.   Most DearAuthor readers have said that book trailers rarely have an impact but many like the low production, self effacing AuthorTalk videos. Still book trailers have a significant presence online.

Meljean’s blog post that prompted Carolyn Jean’s comment was about whether a cost per click ad campaign versus a cost per impression ad campaign made the most sense for her November release, Demon Bound (older woman, younger man for what it’s worth). The cost per click was more expensive but apparently drove more people to click through to her site. The cost per impression (how many times an ad appears on computer screens) was getting nearly triple the impressions at the same price. Meljean decided to go for cost per impression reasoning that

Clicks are awesome, but I’ve realized that my book-buying patterns aren’t really all that impulsive (and will probably become less so as my belt tightens in this economy). Instead, I’m worn down by repeated mentions of a series or an author’s name, so that when I’m at an online bookstore or a brick-and-mortar, I’ll pick up a copy and look it over because, “Oh, yeah, there’s the one I’ve been hearing about.”

In light that at least one up and coming epublisher thinks to blow our socks off with a national media campaign.   I’m interested in hearing from readers and authors what they think works in terms of online advertising. Are you in the “worn down” category? Clearly I am as I’ve clicked on the NobleRomance site, blogged about it, and will probably end up over there by the end of the day looking for a book to buy.   Is it book trailers, text links, flash ads on romance blogs, blogging or something else that seems to induce you to buy, even perhaps against your will?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Teddypig
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 06:49:20

    What has drawn me to buy from ePubs outside my normal list…

    Decent reviews and sales on Fictionwise.

  2. Fae Sutherland
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 07:26:29

    We’re actually having this discussion currently on Romance Divas and I’ll repeat what I said there. I haven’t noticed any boost to sales regardless of the promo I do. I had an ad on Smart Bitches, no boost (though it was fun to see our book cover up there every time I went lol). Had an ad in RT magazine, no boost yet (might show up this month, doubtful though. Also very cool to see our book cover on a magazine in the store, though). Had front page placement and a feature article on EC’s online magazine, no boost. Guest blogging, author interviews, etc etc etc. The sales remain steady and unaffected regardless.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the old adage really is true: The best way to sell your current book is to write a new, even better one. So that’s what I’ve been doing and will continue to do. No more wasting money on site ads (thank god the RT ad was paid for by Ellora’s Cave lol, I don’t have 4 grand to drop or whatever insane amount of money a full color, full back cover ad costs these days) and no more wasting time hopping around the internet trying to pimp myself and our books. I maintain our website, and try to keep up with a blog. That’s about it.

  3. Mireya
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 07:50:40

    I am pretty much immune. I tend to look closely at a book before purchasing it, so no amount of advertising is bound to change that. I do check reviews though, and I do make lists of any books I may have seen advertised. But I don’t purchase until I’ve had a chance to look closely at the book. Additionally, if I keep getting the promos over and over again, and I know I didn’t subscribe to a newsletter or anything from the site, I just set the email address the ads are coming from as Spam and have all of it dumped into the spam folder automatically.

  4. Kimber An
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 08:08:13

    I ignore banner ads almost always, but one day I was searching for Time Travel Romance and they were all either Highlanders or cowboys with swooning boobs and washerboard abs. I like Twinkies too, but I gag after the second one. Anyway, I spotted a banner ad for a Robin Hood-looking one and the banner conveyed the message that it was lighthearted and fun. I clicked on it at once. In the Endless Parade of Sameness, I’ve noticed it’s important to find a way to demonstrate how your book is different. This can be one way.
    Secondly, some authors are effective on-line and others are not. Third and most importantly, an author should consider if her *audience is on-line.* A book like GAMER GIRL by Marianne Mancusi, for example, would benefit hugely from on-line advertising because her audience is among the most Internet-saavy that I know of. So, if you don’t know if your audience is on-line, it’s in your own best interests to find out!

  5. Ginger
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 08:46:35

    I’m motivated to buy books by reviews online (I’ve purchased a decent number of books that fall outside of my normal buying patterns because I liked a review here or at SmartBitches or sometimes Advertisements don’t tend to motivate me much at all. There are a few authors whose books I regularly buy in hardcover because I love following their writing journey on their blogs and am excited to see how the finished project relates to the details of the journey that they’ve shared.

  6. Jennifer Estep
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 09:22:51

    I’m with Fae. I’ve done tons of advertising for all my books (RT ads, RWR ads, Google ads, mailings to bookstores/reader groups, etc.), but I just can’t tell how well or effective it’s been. There needs to be a spot on royalty sheets that says 10 readers bought your book because of X ad or the Z interview you did. :-)

    But seriously, I haven’t found any way to quantify what X ad did for me or if X ad versus Y mailings did better or worse. If anyone out there does have a way, please let me know.

    As a reader, advertisements do very little for me. If something has an interesting blurb, I might go to Amazon and check it out. But I mainly look at reviews and what folks are talking about online when deciding what to buy. Not ads.

    I’m starting to wonder if any advertising I do is effective or just a waste of time/money. Because in the end, I think selling books is just a crapshoot. It depends on so many things. Your story, your cover, your blurbs, what your publisher is doing — and that’s just on the product end.

    I think books sell and series/authors blow up because of one reader who loves a book so much she tells all her friends about it, buys copies as presents, and just demands folks try this book. That’s the best advertising. Unfortunately, it’s something authors have no control over except to write the best books that they can.

  7. Keishon
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 09:24:58

    What sells the book is the book itself and maybe one or two comments from readers whose tastes align with my own if I am on the fence. Otherwise, book trailers, ads, text links, etc, so forth have no effect on me.

  8. Barbara Sheridan
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 09:59:37

    Jennifer summed it up perfectly at 9:22.

    The very best advertising and the one I know drives me crazy because there’s no way to make it happen is word of mouth. The strong reader reactions of I love it to pieces you must buy it or OMG this is so twisted stay far away!

  9. Anion
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:30:20

    Like Fae, I’ve never noticed any sales boost from ads, or especially from those abominable Yahoo loop chats where no one shows up except other authors (usually self-published or from tiny micro epresses; I don’t see authors with the Big Five pulling this sort of crap) who constantly try to work their own books into the conversation, or the few die-hard readers who come to chats just in order to get a free book.

    I should add here that I have on occasion done chats where actual readers show up, and really enjoy them; it’s not that I dislike interacting with readers. I love interacting with readers, even when they’re not MY readers; I love talking about books! But I dislike people who, for example, join my multi-author promo group before chats, then quit when they fail to win free books, or when a prize is offered, ask to be given a free paperback instead of a download or even, on two occasions, the ladies in my group have been asked to provide Amazon gift cards for the dollar value of the book instead of free downloads; or join chats under several different accounts to increase their chances; or, as one person did, quit the promo group and tell us it’s because she thought she’d get free books by joining and that’s the only reason she joined.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a rant, but I think this is an important thing to mention, I really do. All those contests we think are going to get people excited about our work? They generally don’t. All they do is attract predators, and the shame in that is it means the real fans have less of a chance of getting something that would actually be important to them, and that upsets me. A lot. I don’t do contests much anymore; instead I keep my reader emails in a separate folder in my email, and on occasion randomly pick one to send a gift or prize to. I’m happy to give my readers things; I love giving gifts to anyone, and I do believe that the right promo item in the right hands is great publicity for me and a lot of fun for them.

    So in a nutshell, the only good promo is writing a good book, and following it up with a better one. Ads are a waste of money, chats tend to be a waste of time, contests are a waste of both.

    JMO, of course.

  10. Meljean
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:39:12

    I agree that ads won’t make a person buy a book — for example, in three days I’ve gotten about 70 clicks through the ads, but no one has ordered through Amazon yet. I don’t consider the ads a failure, however, because that means there are likely 70 or so people who just learned that my books exist (or if they already were readers, were reminded that the next one is coming out.) And there are also those who read the ad, but didn’t click through.

    So the point of the ads definitely isn’t to sell my books at that moment — it’s to let potential readers know about them, and to get my name out there. One thing that I’m certain of is that the majority of paranormal romance readers don’t even know there’s a Meljean Brook with a series called the Guardians. They wouldn’t know to look for a review of the books in the series. They wouldn’t know to ask anyone what they thought of my work. It’s the whole ‘winking in the dark’ concept — you know what you’re doing, but no one else does.

    And the majority of the people who do see the ads won’t even register them, I realize that. But some do glance at the ad, and it’s better to be consciously put aside when they decide not to click through than not exist to them at all.

  11. Statch
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:50:50

    I’m afraid advertising doesn’t affect me at all. I don’t even notice it. Likewise, I’m also not affected by author interviews online. I am definitely affected by reviews on reader blogs, Amazon, Librarything’s Romance group, and All About Romance. I’m also affected by sales at Fictionwise and their rating system.

    However, those things have a pretty specific effect on me. They’ll rarely persuade me not to buy a book that I already planned to buy, unless they reveal a plot device that I know I won’t like. For example, I’ve found that there’s a pretty low correlation between the rating a book gets from an All About Romance review and whether I like the book or not when I read it, but they do nice detailed reviews that give me an idea whether I’m going to like the story line.

    What reviews do best is persuade me to try new authors, and that’s how I find most new (to me) authors. I also find new authors from reading descriptions on Fictionwise.

    I’m afraid there’s not much an author could do to affect my reading habits. I tend to shy away from anything that looks like self-promotion, whether it’s the author doing it or proxies. (If I see only a few reviews for a book on Amazon, for example, and they’re all very positive, I tend to be suspicious.)

  12. Meljean
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:50:53

    So in a nutshell, the only good promo is writing a good book, and following it up with a better one. Ads are a waste of money, chats tend to be a waste of time, contests are a waste of both.

    I agree that the good promo is writing a great book, but getting it into the hands of new readers is important, too. I just ran a contest where I gave away copies of my latest anthology to new readers, and I’ve heard back from a few who’ve already picked up my backlist. That, to me, is worth every dollar I spent shipping the books, even though the royalties earned are a tiny percentage of that cost. (Time writing up contest rules and widget? 15 hours. Ads on Facebook? $5/day. Picking up the one reader who didn’t know you existed, but who now loves your work and will tell everyone they know about it? Priceless.)

    Maybe it’s an issue of scope and what we expect our advertising (whatever form it takes) to do? What is a good return for money/time spent?

  13. MB (Leah)
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:51:04

    As a reader, I mainly stick to other readers’ reviews and recommendations who I know have the same taste as me. And or promos from authors’ group blogs that I visit.

    Author group blogs work for me because I’ll like one author and then go to the group blog and get introduced to the other authors’ books. I’ve bought quite a few books that way.

    Other than that, I do buy books of authors who I see posting and commenting around on the blogs I visit because their names become familiar to me. I’m more apt to check out or buy a book from a familiar name. Maybe that’s a lame way of doing it, but it’s what works for me.

    It’s rare that an advertisement or banner ad will grab me. Once in a while a cover or blurb from an ad will attract me, but I rarely get that book right now. I just make a mental note of it, which I might or might not remember down the line.

    Contests don’t work for me either unless I happen to get a free book. I’ve gotten turned on to authors from winning a free book and loving it. Other stuff, like bookmarks and such, I could do without and won’t get me out there to buy a book.

  14. Anion
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 10:58:30

    Sorry, Meljean, you’re right. I should have clarified that for ebooks contests tend to be a waste. I’ve had a few ARC contests and such and I think that has made a difference in getting word out etc.

    It is more effective for print books, but then, most of my email comes from readers of my print books, too.

  15. Jenre
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 11:06:59

    I bought my first m/m book as a direct result of an advert on the Smart Bitches site. It was ‘My Fair Captain’ by JL Langley. The hairy chest of the model on the cover caught my eye and I clicked on the link, found the book premise to be interesting and bought the book. Since then I have bought more of her books and read several other m/m books. So it just goes to show that the adverts do sometimes work.

  16. Shanna
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 11:10:07

    I pretty much have the opposite reaction to “wear down” style campaigns. Nalini Singh’s book was a perfect example. It seemed like every freaking blog had a post about it. It just made me not want to read it more because it didn’t come off as genuine but a planned marketing blitz. I’m much more swayed by one person saying “hey, this was a great read” rather than 50 bloggers all trying to convince me to buy the same book.

  17. ME
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 11:38:42

    Writing a great book is your first step. Word of mouth is the second. I have bought books in the past because I came to know the authors in cyber world, I’ve seen their blogs, or read their posts on different forums. I also have a list of authors, whose books I wouldn’t read if they were given to me…directly as a result of reading their comments on various blogs…authors need to be aware that what they say on these public forums can also directly affect their sales.

  18. veinglory
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 11:48:51

    My main thought in this area is that if the promo method costs money, the publisher should pay for it. Paying to advertise a book is an expense of publishing–and effective promotion required a very high level of expertise that a publisher staff member is more likely to possess.

    I think Noble might be onto something, personally. I am seriously considering submitting a manuscript to them. Some of the more idiosyncratic publisher are at least bringing something new to the table (also Mojocastle).

    In my case I blog because I have things to blog about–I seriously doubt that it has more than a 1-2% effect on sales of my books. I stopped spending money on advertising because I never saw any of it even pay back the investment.

  19. Ann Bruce
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 12:00:13

    I notice a bump in sales with RT print ads and reviews. Online ads do drive up the clicks to my web site, but I haven’t seen a correlation between them and increased sales. Online reviews…seriously depends on the review site.

    Personally, I’m not influenced by ads, book trailers, or blogging (unless I really, really want to support someone whose opinion I admire). I am, however, influenced by reviews–good and bad. Yes, even bad reviews can make me buy a book because the reviewers’ peeves’ might be pluses for me.

    Of course, as others have mentioned, writing a good book helps.

    On a side note:

    I also have a list of authors, whose books I wouldn't read if they were given to me…directly as a result of reading their comments on various blogs…authors need to be aware that what they say on these public forums can also directly affect their sales.

    Thank goodness for the Clark Kent job! I’m one of those authors who’s willing to forgo sales to speak my mind.

  20. Meljean
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 12:01:23

    Anion said:

    I should have clarified that for ebooks contests tend to be a waste.

    The scenario you gave did sound incredibly frustrating, suggesting that because ebooks aren’t tangible, they’re easily interchangeable. I think it does show up in contests for print books — that some will enter, though they don’t really want the prize — but maybe because I don’t see them put it straight on eBay or paperbackswap it acts as a blinder, saving me that frustration. (Nothing against eBay or paperbackswap, because I’ve used both. It’s rather the question of, “why did you enter if you don’t want the book being offered and it could have gone to someone who did want it?”)

    Shanna said:

    I'm much more swayed by one person saying “hey, this was a great read” rather than 50 bloggers all trying to convince me to buy the same book.

    Ironically, I would have probably reacted the same way if it hadn’t been a reader reaction (in this case, DA Jane giving it an A) that prompted the campaign. But if I hadn’t known it was reader-driven but thought it had been author-driven? It might have taken me longer to pick up Nalini’s books. There’s a thin line, I think, between advertising and irritating. I’m never sure where it is (which is why I probably jump over it all the time :-D )

  21. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 12:04:47

    The issue is essentially moot for me, since I can’t afford most advertising. So I pretty much just write my butt off, post excerpts where and when I can, and keep my blog current. (By the way, I linked to you, Teddypig, in my latest one. Well . . . not you, personally, so you don’t have to check your pants for some alien tentacle!)

    As a buyer, my mantra hasn’t changed: thoughtful reviews and excerpts; thoughtful reviews and excerpts. Even word-of-mouth isn’t terribly reliable, since people’s tastes don’t always mesh with mine.

  22. Meljean
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 12:05:05

    “My main thought in this area is that if the promo method costs money, the publisher should pay for it.”

    That’s what my husband says :-D

  23. Jill Noelle Noble
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 12:38:16

    The amount of money we’re spending on Google AdWords each week is literally obscene. We’re not recouping all of our investment with direct sales, but we are building our brand, gaining newsletter subscribers and attracting repeat customers.

    I recommend spreading your advertising dollars/efforts around. A few suggestions:

    Choose a limited number of Yahoo! groups and get involved with those groups. If you’re an author, no one is going to look kindly upon you for only popping in once a month or so to brag about your new release. The more involved you are with the readers on the loop(s), the more you’ll build reader loyalty.

    Blog consistently – even if it’s only once a month, and keep it interesting. Offer free content on your Web site, geared toward readers and authors.

    Become a “professional” in your field, and blog or write articles on a specific topic once a month. Think creatively. Do you write historical romance set in Scotland? Then put some of that research material you’ve gathered to further use by writing non-fiction articles on Scotland/Scottish tradition/Scottish folklore. The point is to get your name out there – associated with thoughtful, intelligent, well written content – as much as possible.

    Give back (pay it forward), be kind (even when you disagree), and always, always try to be professional when you’re interacting online. The Internet has a long memory. :-)

    Those are just a few ideas, but as someone pointed out, you need to write the next book, and the next book needs to be better than the last. You can spend all the time and money in the world to advertise your work, but if your books aren’t appealing, you’ll receive very few sales.

    Thank you, Jane, for mentioning Noble Romance.

  24. LDB
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 12:40:08

    Well I am of the exception a few a very small few adds have gotten me to look up the books, though book description caused me to pass them by. Adds that are bright and different from the normal naked body usualy make look, especialy some of the ones at AAR, but if it’s a naked chest which I see everywhere or dark colors I’ll usualy just ignor it, too much of the same.

    Lately though I’ve found that publishers sites that are well done can get me interested in author’s I’ve read. My last two books I found on the new Harper Collin’s Avon site, the covers, one of which was Under The Blood Red Moon which was just reviewed, are the biggest things that appeal to me. I deliberatly go to publihsers sites because I know that I’ll get a long list to look at and I can get what information to start from there, I realize author’s don’t have any say in this but if there’s a forum attached I’ll usualy remember the names of author’s I see there.

  25. Jane
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 13:00:14

    I wonder if we respond to book advertising differently than other products. I know that sponsored Google Search Result links can lure me to the advertiser’s site when I’m searching for fabric, electronics, or something that is non book related.

    I know that I have clicked on some t-shirt ads or some retailer banner ads at other sites (I’m thinking crafting sites right now) so maybe because I’m not hooked into those other areas as much as I am hooked into the romance book world so maybe ads work on those less familiar with the item being advertised?

  26. azteclady
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 13:03:19

    As a reader, I think this:

    The point is to get your name out there – associated with thoughtful, intelligent, well written content – as much as possible.

    Give back (pay it forward), be kind (even when you disagree), and always, always try to be professional when you're interacting online. The Internet has a long memory. :-)

    is key. Name recognition–cummulative–will make me pick up the book, or click on the link. But I’m more likely to buy when name recognition has also positive personal associations.

    Example: I started reading Meljean Brook *waving* because of an anthology review at SmartBitches, but by then I recognized her name from her comments.

    I started reading Shiloh Walker’s Hunters because of her online presence.

    I started reading Nalini Singh because so many reader blogs I enjoy sang her praises.

    I continue reading them because of the quality of their writing.

  27. MS Jones
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 13:20:18

    Online adverts, book covers, author blogs and/or websites don’t persuade me to buy. I’m with K.Z. Snow: the most effective hooks are reviews from reliable reviewers, and excerpts. When I’m in a bookstore, I do my own excerpting – I flip around, read a few random pages, give it the Ford Madox Ford page 99 test, and if I like the author’s voice and the plot resolution, I’ll try it.

  28. Bev Stephans
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 13:21:24

    I’m afraid that I don’t buy books based on advertising. Since so much of it is self-promotion, it makes me gun shy! I do rely on reviews to try a new author.

  29. Janine
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 13:41:39

    I’m most persuaded to buy books by a combination of reviews, excerpts and word-of-mouth from friends. I’ve clicked on banner ads before, but then I go directly to the excerpt at the author’s site and it has to be good to sell me on a book. There have been many times when I got all excited about a book based on a plot description, only to read the excerpt and feel the opposite of hooked (unhooked? :)). I think the best thing an author could do to sell me on a book is send out review copies to blogs and review sites, and polish that excerpt to a bright gleam.

  30. Pepper E
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 15:18:09

    I don’t do anything for promo except write books. My writing partner has paid for a monthly banner and cover ad at TRS. She’ll occasionally pay for ads/reviews in RT.

    Ultimately, I think it’s important to have a good, professional webpage, to respond quickly and professionally to an remarks from readers (note: NOT reviewers, but readers who contact me personally), and to remember the advice I give my students–make it easy for your audience! I tried to blog, but blogging distracts me from writing, and it’s difficult for me to think of things to write about on a regular basis.

    I basically think that if I have a good, regular output with a decent variety, I’ll reach a wider audience. Reviews don’t appear to make a huge difference sales wise, but people do trust their friends and their own experiences. So I just have to write the best I can and hope to build up a returning audience. It’s slow going, but it’s paying off now.

  31. Miki
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 15:19:02

    When I first discovered the independent ebook publishers, I bought lots of books because of author visits to Yahoo Groups. I entered contests, won some free books, and bought others that I didn’t win. And if I won a book and loved it, I bought the book anyway, just to give the author the benefit of a sale.

    But I learned to be more discriminating…quickly…after reading some real clunkers! Eventually, my ebook buying became limited to known-to-me authors or those with reviews from sites/reviewers I trusted.

    Ads do not tempt me to buy, although they rarely have tempted me to check out an author’s site. (And there was one ad on SmartBitches that had a guy’s torso in a pose that made him look pregnant that made me avoid the book!)

    And I don’t even understand the point of book “videos”.

  32. SonomaLass
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 15:25:30

    I didn’t used to be an ad-clicker, but the Smart Bitches site changed that. The book ads on that page catch my eye, and I frequently find myself clicking to see what lies behind the blurb/graphic. Will that translate to sales? Not that anyone else could see. If I like what I find, the book and its author go on my list. I’ll check the library catalog to see if I can sample something by that author, I’ll look for excerpts and reviews, and if I do decide to buy, it will probably be a week or more after I clicked on the ad. My TBR list is always so long that I’m not in a hurry about adding to it, at least when it comes to new authors.

    Author blogs are tricky for me. If I encounter an author on line, before reading any of his or her books, then I know a little about attitude and personality. I might look for their blog then, if I find their online persona engaging, or I find myself saying, “yeah, what you said!” a lot in reading discussions. That gets me reading excerpts and freebies, and that quickly translates into buying if I like what I read. I also have read author blogs and said, “nope, that person is not someone whose career I want to support,” and I don’t go back.

    The worst thing for me has been checking the web site of an author whose work I love, looking for when the next book would be out, and then making the mistake of reading his (in this case) blog. Oh no, he’s a right-wing conservative ass-hat (no, the three are not ALWAYS linked in my mind), whose political and social opinions are the antithesis of mine, and who bases his arguments in favor of those opinions on flawed logic, lame “evidence,” and false premises. Now I can’t buy his books, and so far I haven’t even been able to re-read the ones on my keeper shelf.

    Lesson learned. I don’t look for blogs by authors whose work I already read — don’t wanna know! I feel like an ostrich sometimes, but I can’t help it. I have always felt that the value of art is separate from any judgment one can make about the artist, and some of my favorite literary works are by authors whose personal lives or political views I would have abhorred. If I go to their web site to check for a backlist or a release date, I don’t look at the blog, and I cross my fingers that the blog’s content isn’t posted so prominently on the main page that I can’t avoid it.

  33. rebyj
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 15:53:48

    Banner ads I rarely click on , if however I’ve read a good review and the ad is handy I’m more likely to click on it right then. Not so much just any banner ad that I don’t know author, publisher or sometimes even what genre the story is .

    Also SALES ! If I can stretch my monthly budget to 5 new books instead of 2 then I am a happy gal. I’d also love to see more websites like that offer one book of a series free as an ebook download. My honey found a few there he liked and wanted to buy more of the series but oh to have a site like that with romantic fiction!

    Good reviews along with good discussion comments work too. If it’s a firey discussion such as with JR Ward’s addhiction fhiction I want to buy and read just to jump in with my brilliant 2 cents. The more comments, the more I want to buy it just to see what all the fuss is about.

    FYI Credit for finding the goes to teddypig’s stanza blog post.

  34. Val Kovalin
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 17:05:10

    Fascinating discussion! I have to admit that I’ve clicked on Google ads for people’s fiction that come up around my gmail over a period of time as well: the wear-down effect.

    But the little one-sentence blurb has to be eye-catching: one I remember said something like, “Top-secret scientists find a gateway into hell!” Just to say, “A good book for children” is not interesting enough to make me click. I’ve heard that it’s good to word a Google ad for fiction or whatever someone is selling as a question: e.g., “What would YOU do if …”

    Otherwise, I’m mostly swayed by reviews, the detailed type. And people’s online presence can make me curious to visit their website and add them to the to-be-read list.

    Anion, you said

    Sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a rant …

    That’s some good information you provided. It confirmed my suspicion about the yahoo groups.

    Jennifer Estep, you said

    But seriously, I haven't found any way to quantify what X ad did for me or if X ad versus Y mailings did better or worse. If anyone out there does have a way, please let me know.

    I know what you mean. I’d like to know, too. That’s THE problem people face when budgeting for advertising: getting measurable results. One trick in used, say, in local product advertising is to have the customer clip the ad and bring it in or to mention, “I saw your ad in the Yellow Pages” to receive 20% off whatever the product is.

    I don’t know how that could be adapted for online ads and books. Maybe place a number or phrase in your Google ad and if people email you with the specified number/phrase, then they get a free download of the first book in your series? Or they get entered into a contest?

    And Jill Noelle Noble, thank you for those specific suggestions — the nonfiction article thing in particular. What a great idea!

  35. kirsten saell
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 17:29:13

    As a reader, I think this:

    The point is to get your name out there – associated with thoughtful, intelligent, well written content – as much as possible.

    Give back (pay it forward), be kind (even when you disagree), and always, always try to be professional when you're interacting online. The Internet has a long memory. :-)

    is key. Name recognition-cummulative-will make me pick up the book, or click on the link. But I'm more likely to buy when name recognition has also positive personal associations.

    I think the whole “I’ll never read so and so’s books because they act like a tool online” thing is something authors get frustrated with, but it happens. And even readers who don’t consciously think that way, well, if you see a name and automatically get a bad taste in your mouth, how likely are you to want to buy a book by that person?

    For me, it’s word of mouth and reviews, blurbs and excerpts that will get me to purchase a book. Not much else is very effective.

  36. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 17:30:52

    So in a nutshell, the only good promo is writing a good book, and following it up with a better one. Ads are a waste of money, chats tend to be a waste of time, contests are a waste of both.

    That pretty much reflects my attitude. Although I occasionally participate in chats, they make me think of a classroom full of over-enthusiastic kids, all of them waving their hands to get one teacher’s attention. It’s kind of pathetic, actually. My only hope is that lurking readers do, sooner or later, peruse the excerpts.

    Another thing I find dispiriting is when a reader wins a book directly from me, the author, and then never bothers to provide any kind of feedback — good, bad, or indifferent.

  37. Ann Somerville
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 17:58:19

    when a reader wins a book directly from me, the author, and then never bothers to provide any kind of feedback -‘ good, bad, or indifferent.

    I got that with ‘Interstitial’, but I’m delighted that the winner of ‘On Wings, Rising’ not only thanked me (a rarity), but some of them gave me feedback. On the whole though, people consider free products worth what they pay for them, which is utterly crappy. I honestly don’t know if giveaways work for ebooks or not. There’s no way to tell.

    On the subject of personal recs, it can work the other way – if I find someone whose taste is decidedly pedestrian and whose politics and opinions I find reprehensible, reccing a particular author over and over, I can’t help but associate the author with that unpleasant person, and it deters me from even looking at their excerpts. It’s more often that I’m deterred by reviews by reviewers with low standards. I treat those as anti-recs.

  38. MB (Leah)
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 18:36:28

    Although I occasionally participate in chats, they make me think of a classroom full of over-enthusiastic kids, all of them waving their hands to get one teacher's attention. It's kind of pathetic, actually.

    Um…wow. Remind me not to ever join in any of your chats. I wouldn’t want to be part of all those pathetic readers who might think about buying your book because you allowed me to interact with you in any way.

    Actually, my experience is that authors, especially new ones trying to get established, need readers to show up at these chats. I don’t need to buy your book, you need me to buy yours. If you think it’s so pathetic that readers might want to interact with you to get to know you and your work better then you shouldn’t do that and be so insulting.

    If I totally misread what you said I’m sorry and I take it back. But how you came across in that statement is really rude to readers all over.

  39. Fae Sutherland
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 18:40:09

    MB, I’m going out on a limb here and guessing she meant the chats where there’s bunches of authors and they’re all vying to get the readers’ attentions. We don’t like pimping ourselves usually any more than readers like being pimped to.

    I think she meant that, not that the readers are pathetic. Normally it’s 90% other authors, and a small handful of readers if any at all on those loops.

  40. Ann Somerville
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 18:46:20

    Normally it's 90% other authors, and a small handful of readers if any at all on those loops.

    That’s my problem with them and the blogs/LJs for authors and readers – mostly you’re pitching at your competitors. Very few non-publisher affiliated people seem to participate.

    TBH, I like the community I built for myself first on LJ and now with my blog. I’d actually hate it to be bigger. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of a mass audience, and I hate the idea of the work involved. I want my stories read, sure, and that was the impetus to go pro in the first place – to widen the number of people who’d hear of them. But more than a few hundred? I actually know quite a lot of my readers by name because they send me feedback and chat to me. I really like that. If I had to manage that kind of contact with thousands of readers, I’d feel overwhelmed.

  41. Lori
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 19:29:32

    I’ve actually found a lot of new authors via DA and Smart Bitches. And I have clicked on some of the Smart Bitches ads because they had an interesting hook to me. Otherwise finding new writers is very hit and miss, and I have to admit a lot of times I go to paperbackswap to try a writer out before I invest.

  42. MB (Leah)
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 19:51:47

    Fae said:

    I think she meant that, not that the readers are pathetic. Normally it's 90% other authors, and a small handful of readers if any at all on those loops.

    OK, I can see that and I’m sorry to you K.Z. Snow, if you read this, that I misunderstood. I’m a reader not an author, so I read that through the filter of a reader’s perspective. I guess when I’ve been involved with chats where there are a few authors, I didn’t experience it as authors vying for readers’ attention. I can see where that would be the case from an author’s perspective. Actually, I’ve gotten turned on to other authors showing up for one author. But in doing so, it didn’t take away anything for me of the first author. So I don’t experience the competition angle.

    I actually know quite a lot of my readers by name because they send me feedback and chat to me. I really like that. If I had to manage that kind of contact with thousands of readers, I'd feel overwhelmed.

    Actually, if you did make it huge, you’d probably attract more the type of reader who couldn’t be bothered with interacting with authors.

    As a reader, I only interact with authors because they are not yet huge and, simply, they interact back. I have no interest in interacting with authors who are already big and established, and like that just fine. I have no desire to get to know them. It’s a nice easy relationship.

    Interacting with authors on a more personal level is a two way street because on the one hand, it’s nice to have a more personal intimate type of thing, getting to know them as people. But then it can also be a responsibility in that because you’ve become more friendly, you feel some desire or obligation to support, be loyal and help them as much as possible, which I can imagine could turn into a burden for both the author and reader at some point if it’s not handled well or if both parties aren’t clear about expectations.

  43. Tina Burns
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 20:55:10

    Great topic and one we battle with as a publisher on a daily basis. How do we spend our advertising $$ wisely? Where do we put advertising that’s going to have the greatest impact? Is it really worth $50 to have an ad at one place for one month? It makes my head hurt. Not only do I want to promo LSB but our authors as well, so how do I do that best?

    One of my biggest suggestions to authors who ask how they can increase their sales, is to write another good book. But I agree wholeheartedly that word of mouth is key. When I was actively writing I did a chat on a large Yahoo group to promo a book that was releasing the following week. I was floored when I saw the first week sales, and I totally contribute that to the chat from the previous week. It’s also proven to be my biggest seller so far.

  44. veinglory
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 21:52:04

    I have also noticed venues where it was 90% other authors and 5% the ‘anything I can get for free’ demographic. I think the answer in these cases is to seek other venues. I don’t go for the ‘authors are readers too’ etc excuses. For the most part we wanted to reach readers who are readers first and foremost, a.k.a. the public.

  45. Carolyn Jean
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 21:59:33

    Oh wow, look, my comment from Meljean's blog! Just to clarify my comment, however when I said advertising is ‘cumulative' and people can be ‘worn-down' toward a purchase' I didn't mean via advertising alone. It's more, advertising can get things on people's radar and develop a certain presence, but not necessarily make them buy.

    Like if I open a new sushi bar, I want to advertise with a nice sign out to tell people it's there, or maybe some announcement in the paper or something, and then a certain amount of people might pay more attention if it gets good reviews because they've seen my announcement or my nice sign, and have this subconscious familiarity with my place. Maybe six months later I put up a billboard and somebody remembers the review and other (hopefully good) stuff they've heard about my sushi and think, oh yeah, I was going to go there, and the next week when their date wants sushi, they're like, let's go to Carolyn Jean's sushi bar. And if you asked them, they might say it's because of the review, not advertising, and maybe it's true, but maybe it's really in the accumulation of encounters with the whole Carolyn Jean Sushi Bar thing and they just don't know it. (And when you get into national brands, like Crest or something, it's even more about accumulation.)

    That said, I too, consider myself a review and recommendation based purchaser and not somebody swayed by ads. Then again, I think of that Anya Bast campaign, and I know I paid more attention to things I heard about her book because my curiosity had been sparked by that campaign of hers.

    I also agree that you can advertise the heck out of a bad book and it won't do much, and a good book can catch fire off reader excitement.

    Anyway, “cumulative” is the prevailing thinking. I mean, otherwise, why are there ads for anything? And so how does that translate to book sales? I wish I knew. I'm not trying to come off as the expert here because book sales is not my realm, but it's a topic I think about a lot since I, too, have a book coming out in 2010 and very-little-to-zero money for advertising. Now looking at this thread, I can definitely say I'm going to start paying more attention to those Smart Bitches ads, and also be smart about contests. I so appreciate reading all of these comments. I so appreciate this community of authors being so generous to each other with advice.

  46. DS
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 22:11:46

    Reviews will appeal to me and an occasional Amazon recommendation will cause me to buy a book.

    I have to say something about online ads. I try to be a safe surfer. I try to avoid overloading my machine with cookies, malware and spyware– hence, I am very cautious about where I go. I browse with updated Firefox with Adblock Plus, AVG Safe Search and NoScript running. I don’t see a lot of banners or active content simply because it is blocked. I have to visit a site repeatedly before I will trust it enough to unblock it permanently. I also have something called Cooliris previews that lets me preview the content of a link without pulling up the entire page.

    Putting a lot of scripts and links in an online ad may be making it less effective not more.

  47. Ann Somerville
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 22:38:47

    I don't see a lot of banners or active content simply because it is blocked.

    That’s an excellent point, actually, as I’m the same – I don’t even see the ads on my own sites. I’m also pretty good at focusing on content over advertising, and distinguishing infomercial kind of material from the real thing. Which might not be an argument so much against advertising, but for persistence of advertising.

    I still think reviews and recommendations are much more important to an author. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book in my life based on an ad.

  48. Jane O
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 08:09:55

    Speaking strictly as a reader:

    Decades of practice have enabled me to read any publication without even seeing the ads.

    I once tried to look at a book trailer, but it didn’t work on my computer. I can imagine that they would be fun to create, but I can’t imagine that they would boost sales.

    The things that influence me are reviews and comments on sites like this and recommendations from friends. Not ads. I would imagine that the hard part for an author, especially a new author, is getting that review in the first place.

  49. veinglory
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 08:11:44

    I think the idea that ads *can* be cumulative is fine. So long as you realise they also can be (in fact generally are) completely ineffective. I hear writers say all the time “you have to believe it is working”. No I don’t. The null hypothesis is my default. If I don’t see in effect in sales, clicks, googles of my name, or anything at all… I do not just assume the advertising worked.

    The psychology of small ads is that they will tend to work, or not work. Contrary to most fictional accounts, the human memory just dumps most of what it sees out of the buffer after a very short time. It take a huge campaign making multiple impressions over a shortish time to build anything up. (E.g. large brand, large budget blitzes).

  50. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 08:31:15

    From when I was in marketing – companies spend bazillions on advertisements and marketing. It’s a known fact that when asked directly, a consumer of whatever will almost always say that advertising doesn’t affect them. But those bazillions are spent for a reason. Advertising really does affect the consumer. For a start, he or she has to know the product exists in order to buy it, and secondly, a regularly seen brand or product tends to add to consumer confidence.

    But you definitely get what you pay for. I’m on an extremely limited promotion budget, and I can only do a teeny amount of what’s really needed. For instance, if I paid for a primetime advertising campaign on TV, backed with a few billboards and radio ads, I know for sure my sales would go up. But there is no way I can afford that, so I do what I can.

    My website, and blogging on one of the romance community’s major blogs has done the most for me recently. I don’t blog about my books (well I do when I have a new release, but usually it’s about the state of the market, the books I’ve read etc) and I started doing it because I enjoyed it so much. Sybil is a doll and I love the other people on the site. And I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t enjoy the hell out of the site anyway.

    I do other stuff as and when I can. I do a newsletter and write for the group blog for the UK Regency people. I blog with Mavens of the Pen. I’m an active member of a few yahoo groups. I can’t do forums, never got the hang of them and Facebook and Myspace are mysteries to me, although I do have pages there I haven’t a clue what to do with them.

    I go to Romantic Times every year. That’s my main expense, but every year I’ve been, my career has advanced a little bit more. Not to mention having a blast every time.

    I write and I try to do it as well as I can. That’s what brings readers back, when they know you will give them a good read. That’s about all most of us can do.

    For the rest – yes I do contests for free books, I do giveaways. I’m just sorting out my giveaways for Romantic Times next year but I don’t see these as promotion per se. They’re thank you’s and speading a bit of happiness because I love doing what I do and I want to say thanks and have some fun.

  51. Jill A
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 10:23:13

    I’m a very picky reader because of time and (lack of) wallet size, so ads alone will not make me buy a book. Also, a lot of the online time I spend on book sites is at work (please don’t tell my boss!) Because of this, I block pictures, so often I don’t even notice the ads.

    I do read reviews on this site, SBTB, and AAR. A good review combined with the story sounding like something I’d like will have me trying to remember the author’s name. Then if I hear more about them, or see them in the bookstore, I’ll likely pick the book up and check it out. That might result in a sale.

    Advertising by itself is unlikely to make be buy. That being said, advertising helps to keep an author’s or book’s name in the top of my mind long after first hearing about it on a review site. It also helps to remind me of an author that I haven’t read for a while. With the million other things that are in my mind every day, having my memory jogged can be very helpful.

  52. Monica Burns
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 11:58:09

    My degree in PR/Marketing has taught me that advertising is about name recognition and presence in the market. It is NOT about sales. Sales are hoped for as an end result, but it's not why you advertise. When you're an established author, advertising becomes about notifying your readers that you have a new book and continuing to maintain a presence so readers don't forget you. Again, it isn't about driving sales, it's about presence.

    No matter how many people say they're not affected by advertising, they are on a subconscious level. They often don't even realize it. Everyone recognizes the Clydesdale horses. They automatically know it’s a Busch product (although who KNOWS what the new owner will do with that century old name. Grrrrr). People don’t have to drink beer to perhaps buy beer to serve at a party.

    An author example: I haven't bought a Helen Kay Dimon book yet, but I know her name because I use the little note pad that came with her name emblazoned on the magnet piece that's on my frig. I see it a lot, because I'm at my frig two or three times daily and I walk by the frig when passing through the kitchen. I don't necessarily see Helen's promo magnet every time, but I've seen it enough to recognize her name. So the next time I'm in B&N or Borders, and if I see her name on a book, I'm definitely inclined to pick it up to read the back cover. If it piques my interest, then I'll buy. The promo effort may or may not result in a sale, but the advertising created a continued presence to make me familiar with Helen's name. While this is a promo item I'm talking about, the same thing holds true for advertisements in magazines and on websites.

    Advertising isn't always affordable for authors, so it's important to pick where your limited dollars are going to get the most bang for one's buck. A website with high click throughs is generally a good deal if you’re limited fund wise, but it has to be a steady presence. You can’t do it for one month and move on.

    P.T. Barnum offers up the Rule of Seven, meaning that a potential customer has to see the product at least seven times before they’re likely to buy. In today’s current age of advertisement overload, that 7 has multiplied to about 21, but the principle is the same.

    The next best thing to Advertising is writing a great book so word-of-mouth does your advertising for you.

  53. Branded! « The thing is…
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 12:50:19

    […] yesterday, as if reading my mind, Jane at Dear Author put up a post; What Works for Online Advertising for Books.  Very interesting and informative and if you take the time to read the comments, extremely […]

  54. MaryK
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 13:23:51

    Offer free content on your Web site, geared toward readers and authors.

    Free website content is about the only advertising that will get me to buy ebooks. It’s so hard to find reliable ebook reviews and most of the time there isn’t any review, useful or not. But if an author has free short stories on her website, I can clearly tell whether or not I like the author’s style.

    Just this week, I discovered a new ebook author because she has a short story on her website that I really enjoyed. Can’t remember how I got to her website, can’t really remember her name at this moment; but I have her site bookmarked at home and next time I buy ebooks I’ll be buying hers.

    I also continue to be ambivalent about another ebook author I’ve had my eye on. The book’s blurb sounds good, but there are no reviews, and only a tiny excerpt on the publisher’s website. No sale.

  55. veinglory
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 14:55:23

    The point of advertising is ultimately sales, in that if not sales are going to result–I would not advertise. I understand about building brand but I still assert that small budget advertsing very rarely achieves this end, and if it does this will be seen in sales, albeit after a delay.

    So, good advertsing may build recognition, but just because you do advertise does not mean you are having this result–I think a lot of authors are encouraged to fall for the ‘church of advertsing’ and spend more money than their ebook will ever make in its adverting (IMHO, that’s carzy) as an ‘investment in their brand. If, even taken over many years, the heavier advertiser is not selling more books then they have effectively given away net profit for nothing.

    Advertising well on a small budget is difficult. And I beleive that good small budget advertising does in fact focus on immediate sales. Because you can’t guarantee reaching that potential reader ever again with your $100 budget for that book, so you need to soft sell and make the sale in one or two clicks. Brand oriented small budget campaigns only make sense of you focus on a narrow channel with a lot of repeat traffic.

  56. Kris Eton
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:38:05

    I’m a very new, very small epublished author who writes the dreaded contemporary romance! (although I am writing paranormal stuff as well)

    I jumped off the cliff and spent some money on an SBTB ad. I didn’t really think about getting more sales out of it. But I saw it as ‘name recognition.’ The number of impressions I am getting is just staggering for little old author me. Whether or not it does any good, I don’t know yet. But I have had a decent number of click throughs and most of them don’t just look at the main page and leave. They click around, read excerpts, look at a couple of blog posts, etc.

    I just wasted about 7 or 8 hours of my time in the last week making my very first book trailers. I’ve never bought a book after watching a trailer. However, I was creating them more for website content than anything else. My readers and writer friends will look at them. It’s something different than reading a blog post or an excerpt. I’m all about having interesting and varied content on my website.

    As for Yahoo groups, I have sold books by posting to Yahoo reader groups. And for those who don’t know, some NY publishers have promo dates on these Yahoo groups, too. So it’s not just us little epubbed writers who seem to feel we get something out of it.

    I still go back to the idea of getting your name out there. The more people see your name and your book titles, the more likely it is you may get a sale from those people one day down the road.

    Meanwhile, I continue to keep writing and hoping that I’ll get more readers little by little.

    Great topic!

  57. Kris Eton
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 16:51:03

    Oh, MaryK, the worst thing ever is to release a book and end up with NO reviews or maybe just one small one. I know how important it is to have them…but there is very little an author can do to *get* one besides beg and plead with the review sites.

    Sadly, they tend to pick and choose the books they want to read. And who can blame them? They don’t get paid. It’s all free books for the reviews.

    I guess I’d just like to say, don’t write off a book just because it doesn’t have a review somewhere. :-)

  58. MaryK
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 17:16:14

    @Kris Eton – Having no reviews is bad from a readers perspective, too. I really want to try this particular book, but I can’t justify spending $6 or $7 in a vacuum when I also have a want list of authors I already know I like. My point though, is that the other author filled the vacuum with a sample of her writing which shows me that I like her voice and that she can write engaging characters and follow through with a plot arc. That small, complete (not an excerpt) sample of her writing is worth more than any number of vague, rah-rah reviews.

  59. Kris Eton
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 19:30:17

    MaryK, I completely understand where you are coming from. I just hate to think writers are losing out on sales for something they have no control over, really.

    I always look for Fictionwise reader reviews as a more likely way to gauge quality. Sort of like Amazon. I trust the overall impression of many readers vs. the impression of one reviewer.

  60. Terry
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 20:15:18

    I wish there was an answer. I’m with a small press, both digital and print, I’ve tried most of it. The fact that my books have finaled in some contests alongside Big Names tells me I have a quality product out there, but distribution is limited in brick and mortar stores, so I have to direct people to on line sites — and the publisher prefers to keep most of their books on their own site. For print, I direct people to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I have the first chapter of my books on my website and figure if a reader isn’t drawn in, they don’t have to waste their money buying the book.

    I’m not into trailers at all. They’re like tv commercials to me and tell me nothing about the quality of the book. I know they’re the rage, and might give a boost to name recognition, but I’d never buy a book based on a picture, moving or otherwise.

  61. roslynholcomb
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 11:34:45

    I have no money for advertising, so that’s a moot point for me. However, I do the best I can with things that I can afford to do. I keep my website updated. There are lengthy excerpts from both of my books. I also have a free novella readers can download. I post frequently on websites where my readers congregate, talking not only about my books, but other books and topics as well. I don’t think of my blog as a selling point, but I have a little bit of a following as far as giving relationship advice. People seem to like it, and I get a lot of hits when I put up a relationship post. Does that translate to sales? I haven’t a clue, but I suppose it couldn’t hurt. I try to get as many reviews as I can, and I like to have contests.

  62. MCHalliday
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 13:41:36

    Regarding Terry and Roslyn’s posts, publishing contracts allowing entire first chapters or lengthy excerpts are extremely rare, even though many readers appreciate substantial samples when investigating a new author.

    It would also seem advantageous to read hefty excerpts in a selection from an author of various genres or subgenres, in the event a different voice or tale might appeal more.

    As MaryK indicated, short stories can offer a sample of voice and plot development…the shorter the short, the harder to get right.

    Kris Eton mentioned reviews; one review on a high profile site that I know is aligned with my tastes will influence my decision, similar I imagine to Jill A. Whereas, reviews on Fictionwise and Amazon mean nothing to me, an author can ask 50 friends to post 5 star ratings and excellent comments.

    Ms. Veinglory knows of what she speaks, I see Emily everywhere and have long visited her blog. She receives reviews due to name recognition and consistently great writing, and I am certain Emily must work every hard at both.

  63. ME
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 15:08:16

    There is some wonderful information regarding this very subject up on Nathan Bransford’s blog…guest author providing very real information.

  64. Sheila
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 01:25:03

    I agree with Monica that advertising isn’t really about driving sales. We all hope that it will, but if that is your main goal you’ll find yourself perpetually frustrated.
    An old saying that has been used for years in marketing is- “50% of all marketing works. You just don’t know which 50%.” Decades later and that saying still holds true.
    Personally, I think marketing is about awareness, opportunity and perseverance.
    When I start a campaign I always look around to see what’s happening in other entertainment and pop culture. I check the news for any trends or opportunities. I’ll match niche markets to the book’s location, author, storyline and genre.
    I create a strategy two months before the release date of the book. I concentrate my efforts the first week the book is out.
    I’ve been very happy with the results of social media site ads. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 using a service called $250 got me 90,000 impressions and increased website traffic x10 normal traffic the days the ads were up.
    MySpace now has a way you can advertise directly-

    You can do your own press release and have it put on a newswire service for free here-

    It seems that most of the readers here don’t care for book video, but Google search loves it and it absolutely helps your SEO ranking. And over the last 6 months Transit TV started playing book trailers in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orlando, Atlanta and Chicago. That’s 10 million viewers per video. UCF is working with schools and libraries to put kiosks in high schools to show book trailers. YA authors have got to love that! Digital opportunities, whether video or audio, continue to grow in venues and popularity.

    There are a variety of tools out there for online marketing. Find one you can believe in. Find one you enjoy doing. Why invest in anything that takes the joy out of what you love? IMHO

    I just got an error when I tried to submit this, so if it shows up twice I apologize.
    Gotta love technology. ;-)

  65. Monica Burns
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 09:12:55

    And over the last 6 months Transit TV started playing book trailers in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orlando, Atlanta and Chicago. That's 10 million viewers per video. UCF is working with schools and libraries to put kiosks in high schools to show book trailers. YA authors have got to love that! Digital opportunities, whether video or audio, continue to grow in venues and popularity.

    I heard recently that there was a book store/chain somewhere testing out using book videos in their store(s). I can’t remember where I heard that, but it made sense to me. If the book video is well-done, then the odds are that you could have an advertising opportunity in a KEY location with an audience predisposed to buy. It’s not going to guarantee a sale, but if it drives a reader over to the section to pick up the book, it ups the likelihood of a sale, and that’s critical.

    Book videos might not seem to have effect, but if they’re informative and provide enough info about the book, they work just like a movie trailer. But they have to be well done to even make a reader want to click through, and that’s something I need to figure out how to do. Setting the video up so that it takes the viewer right to the

    I think book stores will eventually use book videos in the same way Blockbuster, Best Buy, etc. use movie trailers to pique people’s interest. It’s one of the reasons why I buy full licenses for all my music and photographs and check restrictions. Eventually COS will get my business when I can justify the cost. Their videos are well done.

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