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 Newsletters?
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.
Another option that’s growing in 2018 are author newsletter swaps. We’ve also been experimenting with author newsletter swaps, where authors have been able to cultivate and grow their own lists, offering space in exchange for hosting their book in your newsletter. We’ll talk more about those in a future blog.
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.
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.
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. We were granted an international Bookbub for our Madion War Trilogy eBook box set, made twice what we invested in the first month alone, and continued to see buy-through for six months.
Our way in: We went to Bookbub the first time we discounted the book, and used their comment section to say so. Bookbub has the volume to be picky with which books they run, so if you’ve never discounted your book before, it’s a wise idea to try them first.