Tips & Tricks

Affordable online advertising for authors

More than 2.34 billion people are using social networking, and there are more than 3.6 billion internet users worldwide. Online marketing is integral to building your author platform to reach your target markets and promote your book. One of the best ways to boost your online presence is advertising.

As an independent author, you may not have the budget to invest thousands of dollars into online advertising, but don’t rule it out just yet. Here are some affordable online advertising options to consider:


Facebook Advertising


Facebook advertising is open to anyone who has created a Facebook Page, to promote their business, product, or brand. Facebook ads are broken down into three parts: the campaign, the ad set and the ad itself.

When setting up an ad on Facebook, the first step is to identify the objective or goal of the campaign. Authors can use Facebook advertising to promote their Facebook page or their website, boost a post from their Facebook page, or promote an event. Facebook ads are most effective for driving traffic to you page or website, to boost your subscribers. They can be a great tool to develop your online following.

Once you’ve selected the campaign objective, you’ll need to specify the parameters of your ad’s scope to determine who will be seeing your ad. Facebook advertising can be broad, or quite specific depending on the demographics you select. As part of the ad set, you can choose to target people based on their location, age, gender, language preferences, or even their interests and behaviours.

These demographics can be quite useful for authors to directly reach specific target markets. For example, if you’ve written a young adult fantasy novel, you could target teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 who are interested in Harry Potter.

Finally, you’ll need to put together the content and creative visuals of your advertisement. This can include text, images, videos, or links to other websites. Keep your audience in mind when developing the messaging and visuals of your advertisement.

Once the content is ready, you’ll determine the duration of your ad and your budget. This budget can be set as a daily limit, or as a ‘lifetime budget,’ which is the total amount you’re willing to spend throughout the duration of the campaign.

After your budget is set, Facebook will automatically calculate your advertiser bid – i.e. the monetary value of showing your ad to your audience. The visibility of your ad is then determined by this bid, the quality and relevance of your ad, and the estimated action rate from people who see your ad. Learn more about bidding and pricing here.

Throughout your ad campaign, you’ll be able to monitor insights to gain a better idea of how effective your ad is in generating traction. So, for a flexible budget, you can experiment with the demographics and ad content to determine an optimal combination to connect with your target market.

Learn more about creating a Facebook ad here.

Goodreads Advertising


As an author, Goodreads is a great network to engage readers and grow your following, especially if you plan to write more books! Beyond the Author Program, Goodreads also offers a variety of advertising options.

The most common advertising option is called self-serve advertising. The process to set up this type of ad campaign on Goodreads is quite similar to Facebook. First, you’ll create a title, a description, a destination URL, and add a small image to accompany the text using the advertising dashboard. You can create multiple variations of an ad for the campaign, to test what content and target works best to reach your audience.

On Goodreads, you can target your ad based on book genre or author preferences, location, gender or age. Though the demographics aren’t as broad as Facebook, Goodreads is a literary community, meaning that it can be more effective than Facebook if your goal is to gain readers and reviews.

Goodreads ads are run on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, which means you only pay for your ad when it’s been clicked on. First, you’ll determine your budget and pre-pay the amount to your Goodreads account. Then, you’ll determine the bid rate you’re willing to pay for a click. Each time someone clicks on your ad, that amount will be deducted from the balance you’ve paid.

You can launch an ad campaign for as little as $10.00, but Goodreads recommends investing between $50.00 and $150.00 for an initial campaign. A campaign usually lasts around 3 months, however your ad will continue to be shown until your pre-paid budget has been spent.

The visibility of your ad is determined by an algorithm predominantly based on daily click-through rates. Based on the first few thousand impressions each day – i.e. the number of people who have been exposed to your ad on Goodreads – the more clicks the ad generates, the more prominence it will get throughout the day. The amount you bid for a click will also weigh into the prominence of your ad on Goodreads’ site.

Once launched, your ad will appear on all book discovery pages including the homepage, search pages and when users browse books. You’ll also receive daily reports which highlight impressions and click-through rates to show you how your ad is performing. That way, you can modify your ads based on what’s generating the most action from your audience.

Learn more about Goodreads advertising options here.

Amazon Advertising


Amazon advertising is also run on a pay-per-click model, and is a great way for authors to advertise their books on a platform where users are already apt to purchase products. To advertise with Amazon, you’ll need to have an e-book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP.)

There are two types of advertising options available to authors – a Sponsored Product ad or a Product Display ad. The Sponsored Product ad is displayed below the search results when someone searches a key word or phrase, whereas the Product Display ad appears on the sidebar of relevant product pages or listings.

In either case, the set up and pricing are quite similar to Goodreads. For Amazon advertising, you’ll either set a daily limit (minimum $1 dollar per day) or a campaign limit (minimum $100.00 per campaign.) Next, you’ll set the bidding limit on the keywords or genres and products you’ve selected to reach your target audience.

Amazon recommends choosing specific keywords and bidding higher for the ones most relevant to your target market. It also helps to switch the keywords every few days to track which ones engage the best click-through rates.

Learn more about advertising on Amazon here.

Which platform is best for you?

Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon all offer flexibility in pricing, duration and customization of advertising. So, what it really comes down to is: what platform is your target most likely to be using? In addition to that, consider what your goal for the ad campaign is. For example, if you specifically want to boost sales, you’ll likely have the most success on Amazon, where people visiting the site are already apt to purchase products. But, if your goal is to boost your online following in anticipation of your next book, you may have more success with Facebook or Goodreads.

All three options also allow you to set your budget on a daily limit, so the advertising can be a great way to experiment with what content and visual is most appealing to the markets you’re targeting. This could even provide valuable insight on what branding will be most effective for your other marketing efforts. So, even if it doesn’t lead to an influx of sales, consider online advertising to boost your online presence and gain insight on what piques your target markets’ interest.


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