Very rarely does advertising work exactly as you want it to. Even harder is being able to track return on investment (ROI) directly from a specific action. But when it comes to eBook advertising services, we haven’t found a better, more predictable way of getting our books in front of new readers.
What is an eBook Ad?
For the purposes of this blog, we’re talking about advertisers who maintain large newsletter subscriber lists (50,000+ or so) and then offer space to authors on said newsletter for a fee. The cost can range from free to $500+, depending on the advertiser.
These are your BookBubs, your Book Barbarians, eReader Today, and more.
When we talk about return on investment, we’re talking apples-to-apples: how much money did we invest (i.e. How much did we pay for the ad?) and how many book sales did we get in return on that particular series during that month? We have found a three-month “tail” of follow-on sales, longer if it’s a first in a series free book. And, of course, we usually always see backlist purchases from folks who want more from our authors.
Since 2014, we’ve been testing different books and different eReader ads. Now, even though we’ve seen fairly consistent results, there’s always an outlier that over or under performs. When you’re scheduling eBook ads, keep an eye out for holidays, weekends, and other large events that impact overall sales, such as political elections.
In general, we have found that eBook ads work the best when you can offer the first in your series for free. That’s not to say you won’t see a bump in sales from your $0.99 eBook, but we have actually found a higher ROI when we promote the first book, and leave the rest of the series at full price.
Speaking of series, they do better than standalones, from our experience. We’d recommend using that as a newsletter freebie versus spending money on advertising. You also might find different success if you’re utilizing KDP Select (versus going wide).
The other thing we’re coming to find out is that your eBook advertising can also result in higher audiobook sales. So if you haven’t already taken a look at ACX and how to create your own audiobooks, it’s worth a look.
Best Ad Services
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and we welcome you to put your own experience in the comments. Keep in mind that these are trends over a three year period, and that the market is always changing. It’s best to test your own books with each service.
We’ve been big fans of this service for a long time, which has given us as much as 250% ROI on our space pirate series. At $25, it’s a cheaper option, and they require a 3.5 or better rating and 90 days between promotions.
Don’t let the website fool you; eRNT is one of our favorite sites to promote our books. We consistently make back our money and then some. At $30 it’s well worth the cost, especially as they don’t have a minimum number of reviews to qualify.
This is a newer service we’ve been piloting, but we’ve seen positive ROI for all that we’ve tested so far. At $29 per ad, it’s another one that’s provided us over double what we’ve put into it–even using a $0.99 ad versus a free book.
Another service we’ve been piloting, and this one has a unique twist: You can add your Amazon affiliate link to the book you’re promoting. This is huge, especially if you’re promoting a free book. We almost paid for our eBook ad based on affiliate sales when we tested it last year.
This one can be a little pricer, with $125 covering the Free Book of the Day (well worth it, in our opinion) or $10-$120 depending on the genre and price of the book.
Another one of our go-to options, this one we find to be a little difficult in the form entry process, but well worth the money. At $25, we’ve seen double our ROI for every book we’ve promoted.
BookBub is one of the most popular eAd services, and as such, they are incredibly picky about who they accept and in which genres. They also come with a heftier price tag ($200+), depending on your genre. Since we’ve yet to crack the BookBub nut, here’s a lovely blog from author Lindsay Buroker with some great tips on how to maximize your chances of getting picked.