A Necessary Evil — Part V

Unless you can wrangle an appearance on “Oprah!” or some of the late-night TV shows, your best bet for alerting the public to the publication of your book is a press release. That’s not to say you shouldn’t contact radio and TV stations in your area. Depending on the market size and the degree to which your subject matter matches the interests of a given host’s audience, you might make a connection. It’s certainly worth a try, so give some thought to including local broadcast media in the mailing list for your press release. The information will be the same for both.

While you’re building that list, think about other geographic areas to which you can claim some connection. There’s a lot of truth in the old saw that “All news is local.” If you’ve lived in more than one town, use that to your advantage; call attention to the fact. Hometown heroes are a staple of local papers. As an author, you might just qualify as one.

Now, am I going to tell you how to write a press release? No. The internet is loaded with excellent articles on how to format them and what to include. Not only that, but you’ll find links to resources like BiblioScribe or Free Press Release which provide distribution services for your write-up. If that’s a cop-out, I apologize. Things change quickly in the self-publishing business, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when there are upheavals in the self-promotion biz, too.

And then there are social media advertisements….

This will not be a comprehensive discussion. There’s just too much information to cover. When it’s time for you to start advertising, you’re going to have to study the process involved for each provider. Fortunately, there’s plenty of information available for free on the Internet.

While there are significant differences between the service providers I’ll discuss, when it comes to advertising books, there are enough similarities to make a general discussion worthwhile. The biggies in this regard are Amazon, Facebook, and Google. For this discussion, I’ll ignore services that aren’t geared toward getting a potential customer to click on an ad which leads to a sales location for a book.

Ad providers have one of two methods for selling their service: cost per impression and cost per click. They don’t all work the same way, but there are similarities. An impression simply means your ad appeared when someone used the provider’s service. For instance, a Facebook ad which became visible thousands of times in the 3rd quarter of 2016 cost the advertiser an average of $7.19 per thousand appearances. It may have been ignored every time it popped up. There are no guarantees.

The alternative is cost per click. Let’s say an ad appeared exactly 1,000 times and 26 people clicked on it to learn more. The average cost per click for a Facebook ad in the same period was a little over 27 cents. Total cost: $7.10.

The ad service computes the cost per click (or cost per 1,000 impressions) based on how many advertisers want their ad to appear and how much they’re willing to pay. It’s an auction, and you’re bidding on who gets to see your ad. For Facebook, you determine what demographics are important: age, residence, schooling, etc. Facebook figures out which users best match that profile. The amount you bid is up to you, as is the total amount you’re willing to spend per day. Facebook then uses a proprietary algorithm to determine whose ad appears.

Google and Amazon ads are similar but instead of bidding on user profiles, you’re bidding on the keywords potential buyers enter when trying to find something. Again, how much you’re willing to bid is entered into an algorithm which determines whose ad appears first, last, and everywhere in between. Unlike Facebook, Amazon and Google have unlimited ad space. They can produce as many screens of ads as needed. As a result, you can bid much lower and still have your ad appear. But then, who’s going to wade through 30 screens before they find something or give up? A higher bid will get your ad better placement.

Billing and payments differ between providers as well, so be prepared for some confusion. For example, Amazon is typically two months behind when paying authors for book sales, but they somehow manage to charge you twice a month for the ads you buy. All three are great at sending out tax forms in January to show how much you’ve earned. Now you get to share it with Uncle Sam!


PS: Yep, the letter I posted above is as bogus as the name on the letterhead. I’m not eager to get sued.


About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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6 Responses to A Necessary Evil — Part V

  1. dorisreidy says:

    I think online ads are the most effective way to let readers know we’re here. Thanks for sharing this info.

  2. Thanks, Josh! What timing… I’m studying up on all of this as we speak. Don’t scream and roll your eyes, but I bought KDP Rocket and it has opened my eyes about AMS ads. JM

  3. Ahem, also I sent three press releases to Alabama newspapers, etc. Haven’t heard a thing. I think they only look for authors represented by traditional publishers. and that’s too bad. I could be wrong. Maybe my press release wasn’t good enough. : (

  4. polinto says:

    Or get chosen as one of Oprah’s top favorite things. It did a lot for Josh Groban.

    • joshlangston says:

      I’d probably be willing to kill to have Oprah saint one of my books. Since that ain’t likely to happen, the miscreant population can breathe a sigh of relief. I’ll have to be happy nailing ’em in a book.

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