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Goodreads Advertising Results and Tips on Creating Campaigns

| Posted in Advertising, Book Marketing |

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Warning: this post is long and rambling. Read at your own discretion.

There are a lot of challenges as an indie ebook author, but perhaps the biggest is being found. As I’ve mentioned before, nobody is going to stumble across your work at the bookstore, and, with Amazon’s millions of books for sale, it’s unlikely on-site searches are going to lead people to your work either. That will change if you start selling enough for your ebook to show up in various bestseller categories, but getting to that point is a challenge.

I’ve written about my Kindle Nation Advertising Results, which helped me sell a bunch of ebooks in one day, and today I’m going to talk about Goodreads, which has led to a small trickle of continuing sales.

I’ve run pay-per-click advertising campaigns for my day job, and I was leery about getting anything except a high credit card bill out of Goodreads, but they’ve proven more effective than I expected. Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t tell you where sales originate, so it’s hard to say anything with 100% certainty, but I believe I’m spending less on advertising there than I’m making from books purchased through the ad campaigns.

In other words, it’s profitable.

Let me give you a breakdown of how Goodreads works and what I’m doing to achieve my results. (Just to be clear, these are not staggering results. Right now, I’m spending in the neighborhood of $4-$5 a day there and making $10-$14 in royalties–selling 5-7 ebooks a day at $2.99 each. Not all my book sales are from Goodreads, since I still sell some on days when GR clicks are low, but I’ve definitely noticed a correlation between higher click days and higher sales days. Because I’m very new as an ebook author–you can read my recent Indie Ebook Publishing Results After Six Weeks–and my books aren’t being mentioned left and right all over the web, I suspect this isn’t a coincidence.)

How Goodreads Advertising Works

As I mentioned, Goodreads is a pay-per-click advertising system, meaning you pay every time someone clicks your ad. If nobody clicks, you get charged nothing, but Goodreads also won’t show your ads much. Here’s a blurb from their FAQ:

We use a complex algorithm to determine which ads are shown on the site. A major factor in this algorithm is initial click-through rate– that’s the click-through rate for the ad in its first few hundred impressions for the day. The ads that generate more clicks in those first few hundred impressions are shown more frequently throughout the day, while those that don’t generate as many clicks early are given a lower priority. This is how we make sure that the most relevant ads are shown most frequently. How the ad was performing the day before has no bearing on this, as each ad gets a fresh chance each day.

You can choose how much you want to bid per ad, with the minimum being ten cents. Here’s another blurb to explain how the bidding works (sort of):

All self-serve ads are sold at a default rate of $0.50 per click, but you can bid anywhere from $0.10 to $300.00 per click. While higher bid amounts are given higher priority, the initial click-through rate is still more important in determining which ads are shown the most frequently.

In my experience 10 cents doesn’t end up getting you many page views a day, whereas 50 cents gets you plenty, so I don’t think there’s a need to go higher than that. If you’re an indie ebook author like me, and you’re only charging $2.99 per ebook ($2 royalty, give or take a few pennies, depending on the retailer), you need to be careful about how much you bid. At 50 cents a click, you’d only break even if one in four people bought your novel, and that’s asking a lot from an ad.

You can do some things in the ad copy and with the targeting to make it very likely only people who read your genre and have an ebook reader will click (any other clicks are a waste of time), and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

On slow days, I tinker with my campaign, and I’ve found I get a reasonable return on my investment coupled with a reasonable number of clicks per day when I bid around 30 cents. I’ve got a $15 daily cap on my campaigns, but I’ve never come close to spending that much (because I do target my ads very precisely). I’d be happy to spend more if it resulted in more sales, but, as big as Goodreads is, there’s a limited number of people who fall into the target audience for my science fantasy romance novel (someday I’m going to write a book in a popular genre just for kicks!).

Before I move on, I want to say that I believe paying for Goodreads advertising on a novel you’ve priced at $0.99 is going to be a waste of money. Since ebooks in this price range only earn the author $0.35-$0.40, you’d have to bid very low and have a ridiculously high conversion rate to break even. If you want to throw money around to increase visibility and get your name out there, that’s your call, but, like I said, it’s easy to waste a lot of money quickly with pay-per-click ads. I’d probably choose banner advertising where you’re paying a flat monthly fee for exposure if that was the goal.

Creating an Ad Campaign

Okay, you’ve read this far, and you’ve decided to try Goodreads yourself. What’s Step #1, you ask?

First, sign up here: Goodreads Advertising.

You’ll fill in all your personal information and give them a credit card number and say how much you want to spend. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I’d get billed right away or after I’d burned through some clicks (right away is the answer), so dumped $300 in. In retrospect, that was pretty high, but if you write in a popular genre, you may go through money (and sell more ebooks!) more quickly than I.

Next it’s time to set up ads. It’s a bit like Twitter in that you don’t get much space to woo people. I’ve never liked selling, and I’ve never studied copywriting, so I won’t presume to advise you here. Nothing is permanent, however, so you can experiment to your heart’s desire.

I do recommend creating a campaign for each book and trying several ads within each campaign. There are a couple reasons for this:

Split Testing to See Which Ad Copy Works Best

Goodreads-Advertising-Split-Testing-Ad1Goodreads-Advertising-Split-Testing-Ad2

If you create two ads where all other factors are equal (destination URL, book price, audience targeted, etc.), then, after a while, you’ll be able to tell which book blurb is drawing more interest. Eventually you can eliminate the poor performer and swap in a new ad and start the comparison process over again.

I’ve definitely had instances where the ad copy I thought was best didn’t turn out to be the best performer. I’ve got one running now that’s, in my opinion, a little cheesy, but it gets a lot of clicks, so it stays.

Using Different Destination URLS

Goodreads recommends you make the destination URL (or web address) your book’s Goodreads page. I have mixed feelings about this. I was on Goodreads two months before I even noticed book pages had buy links on them. Even if other Goodreads members are swifter than I, you’re putting extra steps between the buyer and the purchase if you send them to the GR page and hope to earn a sale from there.

I’m not saying you should never do this (I have an ad in each of my campaigns that delivers the clicker to the GR page), but you may want to pay less per click, as you’re probably going to see fewer direct sales. That said, there are some less tangible benefits. Goodreads members can add your book to their shelves, which are seen by their friends, who might add your book to their shelves and so on and so forth.

Aside from using Goodreads as a destination URL, if you are an ebook author, you will probably want to set up an ad for each of the places your book is for sale. This is because people with different ebook readers shop at different stores. If they’ve got Nooks, they go to B&N. Kindle people go to Amazon. Etc. etc. etc.

Yes, you could send people to Smashwords, where all ebook formats are available, but a) not many people outside the biz are aware of Smashwords yet and b) you know people already have accounts at the store their e-reader is linked to so there’s only one single solitary click between that reader and a purchase of your ebook. Compare that to some store they’re visiting for the first time and where they have to set up an account and enter in credit card information. More steps means more places from them to bail out and decide they don’t want the book so badly after all.

So, long story short, consider setting up an ad for Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Apple if your ebooks are available in all these places. They can be the same ad (though it wouldn’t hurt to put the name of the e-reader in the title or the description) for each, just with a different destination.

Note: The least effective thing you could probably do is send people to your author website. I’ve seen a few ads that do this on Goodreads, and unless you’re snagging the person’s email address for your mailing list, this will likely lose you money. Internet marketers will give away free ebooks in exchange for email addresses (once you’re on their list, they can try to sell you other stuff), but this is beyond what most of us are doing with our marketing campaigns. In most cases, you’re just going to be putting extra roadblocks between the interested party and the actual act of purchasing your book. Simple is almost always better. Interested person clicks ad and interested person is delivered to place to purchase book with one click. Author success story!

Crafting Your Ad to Attract Your Target Audience (and nobody else!)

Still reading? Good, because this is the section that’s going to keep you from wasting money and make it possible to profit from running a Goodreads advertising campaign. The other stuff is important too (everything I say is important, duh!), but this is key:

If all you have available is an ebook make sure it says ebook somewhere in your ad.

This is common sense, but easy to overlook (I see people overlooking it on Goodreads right now). A lot of people don’t have e-readers, and they’ll only read paper books. That means it’s pointless to have them click your ad, because they’re not in your target audience.

Consider mentioning the price.

Ad space is finite, but you may also want to list the price of your ebook in your ad. I do this because, at $2.99, Emperor’s Edge and Encrypted are both low compared to traditionally published ebooks. A low price tag alone may make a book more appealing to a Goodreads member.

If your ebook is higher priced, it may still be worth mentioning, because you don’t want bargain-seekers clicking your ad if they’re never going to pony up $10 for an ebook.

Only target people who read in your genre.

After you’ve inputted your title, ad, url, and uploaded a little picture of your book, it’s time to select your audience. This is pretty easy. Click unselect all, and then check the boxes that match your ebook (i.e. science fiction and fantasy or young adult and romance). This means your ads will only be shown to people who’ve indicated they read in your genre.

The downside of precise targeting:

A possible downside to being this precise is that your click-through-rate may be so low that Goodreads won’t display your ad every day. I included the blurb above about how they choose which ads to display (if yours doesn’t get a click early on, it’ll get shelved for the day), and I never have all my ads running full throttle, because some days they just don’t get those early clicks. I do always end up with at least one or two ads from a given campaign running, but this is a big reason as to why my Goodreads bill isn’t very high each day.

From our point of view it’s good not to waste money, but from GR’s point of view, they only want to show ads that are making them money. It’s admittedly a balancing act.

The nice thing is that every day starts anew with Goodreads, and it’s easy to tweak ads and keep trying to see what works. Once you’ve got things down, this system is very “set it and forget it.” Compare that to all the other promotional stuff we try as indie authors, and I think you’ll see the benefits of having a campaign running quietly 24/7 without you having to do anything.

What if I’m a dead-tree-book author and don’t sell ebooks?

Ah, who let you onto this blog? Sorry, kidding. Everything above can apply to you as well, but it’s probably going to be harder to track your results. With the digital publishing platforms, you see sales the same hour they’re made, so you can more easily see the correlation between a bunch of clicks one afternoon and a few sales that afternoon. You can certainly give things a try though.

If you’re published through a traditional press and getting a much smaller royalty than indie ebook authors get, then Goodreads may not be cost-effective for you. Success really depends on you being able to make a profit, and you have to assume it’s going to take multiple clicks to sell a book.

Good luck to you with Goodreads!

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Comments (55)

I’ve been dabbling with Google adwords with results that range from “meh” to “so so.” I can get sales that way, but almost always at the break even level. I kind of disregarded trying out GR’s pay-per-click. Heard mixed things about it, didn’t want to waste money and effort. This post kind of turns me around on it, though. It’s as close to a “HOW TO DO IT WITHOUT POKING YOUR EYES OUT WITH A PEN” guide as I’ve seen anywhere. For one, I would have used the default click rate of .50 and I would have used my website book page as a landing point. But the research laid out here (it didn’t feel rambling at all, thank you) makes a solid argument for going another way.
I also would have presumed that funds for the campaign would be taken out at the end of the given month, like Adwords. I’ve probably been saved from embarrassment at the grocery store because Lindsay took the time to research for us.
Good stuff. I don’t think pay-per-click will ever be more than a just-above-break-even compromise, but its got its appeal as a way to bump up sales and get word-of-mouth rolling.

Wonderful break down. Unlike other advertising programs, I love that Goodreads is focused on readers only.

Reena, thanks for the comment on tweet on Twitter. :)

Mark, I made some money with Adwords when it first came out (I’d bid pennies and direct people to DVD sets on Amazon and make $7-$10 a sale for the affiliate commission), so I do know Adwords can be great for certain things.

I don’t think people generally go to the search engines to look for books though so it may be less than ideal for authors. I like that people on Goodreads are book people, so we know they’re always on the lookout for “good reads,” and they’re probably willing to pay for them! :)

Thanks for the tips on Goodreads ads. I must be very slow because I didn’t realize they even existed, but this morning I created my first campaign there. Here’s hoping it goes well!

Thanks again,
Jennifer

And did it work?

About setting up ads for Amazon, BN, etc: if I make two or three, will they rotate? Or do I set up a daily limit for each of them? I’m learning. Sorry if that’s a dumb question.

Thank you for this compelling article. You make it sound so easy. You’ve convinced me to try GR clicker ads. ~ Reiki Nurse

Jennifer, if you make several ads, they should all get a chance to run for the day. The exact number of page views tends to be uneven, as how often GR shows them depends on how often they’re getting clicked, and some days some ads do better than others.

The daily limit will be for the campaign, and you can have multiple ads in each campaign (I have a campaign for each of my novels).

Meredith, thanks for commenting. I hope you have some luck with GR. There’s certainly some trial and error involved, but you can experiment without spending a fortune, so that’s nice!

I’m curious as to what kind of click through rate you got with your ads. I’m just starting to play around and my CTR is fairly unimpressive so far.

Mark, my CTR is unimpressive too. Right now the avg for Feb is 0.03%.

In part it’s because I write the copy so only fantasy-loving people with e-readers will click, but also Goodreads places the ads off to the side and often “below the fold” (people have to scroll down to see them). Their pages are very crowded with images and text, so even if you wrote the most awesome, most click-worthy ads, most people wouldn’t notice them. It’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately, though I’d rather have fewer clicks if it means only people who are really interested are clicking.

Yup. The conclusion I came to, as well. A high click rate would very likely mean a lot of wasted clicks and thus, wasted money. Thanks.

I’ve been running GR ads since the day this was posted (Lindsay has power over many hearts and minds) with mixed results. One campaign went very well, at least from a click through rate point of view. Probably just above the break even point. The second campaign, the important one, is having trouble getting views. I constantly adjust it, but I get the feeling Goodreads algorithm (from the Latin for ‘word nobody really understands’) have deemed this particular campaign a poor performer so it will never get a lot of views. I may start another campaign and go in fresh.
One observation: Goodreads doesn’t take your money on a click to click basis. When you fund a campaign, the full amount comes out of your account so in a sense, it’s spent from the get go. Just a cautionary point in case someone decides to throw big money at it believing they can halt it later.

Thanks for posting your results so far, Mark! I tend to get a lot more clicks and views with my Emperor’s Edge campaign than my Encrypted one, despite various tweaks. I agree on your definition of algorithm. :P

Awesome post, thanks! I’m working on my campaign now. One comment/question – when you say it wouldn’t hurt to put the name of the ereader in the ad, I imagine that would really be a requirement, right? If I put a kindle link in and don’t mention that it’s a kindle link, I’ll get Apple, B&N etc people clicking and reduce the number of sales per click because most of them won’t buy.

At first I’m going to take your advice and just do a kindle and a B&N link (book hasn’t propagated to ibooks yet). But I have a page on my web site that has the Kindle sample widget for my book embedded, as well as one click to get to any of the stores where it’s available. I’ll see what my conversion rate is and then decide if I want to experiment with linking to that page with one ad for comparison. You have identified the downside to that – one extra click to get to buy the book. But the upside of course is that I won’t have B&N people clicking on the kindle ad and then have nowhere to go.

Thanks again!

This is an invaluable post! Full of information, ordered in exactly the way one needs it. Enough detail, clearly presented for a beginner in this business to get up the courage to have a go. Thank you very much!

[...] Goodreads Advertising Results [...]

What an informative post! Thanks! I’m going to share it with my followers on Twitter. Thank you for putting the time in to list such detail. Very, very helpful!

Wow, this has to be one of the best explanation on advertising for indie writers I’ve come across. Thanks so much for putting all this out there. Now I’m off to dig through your archives and see what else I can learn. :-)

Scott

[...] have had luck running a Goodreads campaign (the link will take you to a meaty 2,000-word post I wrote up about it, including lots of tips for [...]

[...] also like advertising on Goodreads because it doesn’t cost me much, but it’s resulted in book sales and, more, it’s [...]

I just funded a Goodreads ad campaign based on your very informative post, and I have a few questions:
1. How do you know whether increased sales are due to advertising vs. other factors–a new 5-star review on Amazon, a blog interview, word of mouth, etc?
2. I currently get 95% of my sales from Amazon and the other 5% from Barnes & Noble. Goodreads only lists “Ebook” (as opposed to “Kindle” or “Nook”) when we click boxes to target our ad audience. If I make two separate ads with destination URLs for both Amazon and B&N, aren’t I essentially paying way too much to reach the rather limited B&N group, or am I missing something?
3. I can appreciate the value of setting up a third ad with a URL destination of the book’s Goodreads page. But Goodreads only lists Amazon as a vendor for my book (not B&N, even though it’s also sold there). I’ve noticed this is true for ebooks of even bestselling authors. Do you know how to get Goodreads to list other vendors?

Many thanks.

@Mike Great questions! Let me take a stab at them…

1. It’s a best guess thing really. When I got started, I didn’t have that many regular sales, so it was easy to see the increase. If you love the math, you could make a chart and see if higher-than-average sales days correlate with days where your ads got a lot of clicks. But Amazon, B&N, etc. don’t let you know where sales originated.

2. I put “Kindle” or “Nook” into the ad copy itself, based on the destination URL. You’re only paying for the clicks you receive (it doesn’t cost anything extra to add another ad to a campaign), so everything should even out. If you’ve mentioned Nook in the ad, only the Nook people should click.

3. It’d be nice if the “buy” links were more prominent on the Goodreads book pages (I can see Smashwords, B&N, and Amazon on mine, but people have to click the “more” button), but I think most of the value in sending people to that page is to get them to add your book to their lists where all their friends will see it. I’m sure people could go on to buy, too, but I do bid less for those internal clicks.

Thanks so much again, Lindsay!

Wow, thanks for this and the article about Kindle ad’s. These were so helpful. I was just thinking about tying ad’s and so this really helped.

Thanks for the wonderful info, Lindsay. It was a huge help in figuring this out. Just started a small, limited test campaign on The Storm Dragon’s Heart.

Also, thanks for the direct link to Self-serve Advertising. The only advertising I could find on the site was the… not self-serve.

I set mine up for my young adult fantasy novel, Sidhe’s Call, and it estimated with my selected audience that I should spend about 50 cents per click. I figured that if I went somewhere between 10 cents and 50 cents, I would have some new eyes looking at my title. . . at least. . . I hope.
I took your advice and linked it to my amazon selling page, but I also like that you advise people to place “eBook” or “Kindle” in their ad title. Very helpful!
Here’s to seeing how it goes, and thank you for the links and the informational article!

You’re welcome, Christy. Good luck! (I’ve found that I can always get away with paying less per click than the outfit suggests, whether it be Adwords, Facebook, or Goodreads. They, of course, want to suggest what’ll earn them the most money, heh.)

Thanks for the info! I’ve shied away from GR advertising but this makes it seem like it might be worthwhile!

Excellent post. Thank you! I’ve been wondering whether GoodReads advertising is truly worth it. I’ve decided to give it a go, thanks to your article. :-)

Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for – your post answered all my questions. Thanks. :)

Thank you for a great run-down of how the goodreads ads work. You mentioned that you do per-click stuff in your day job – do you think goodreads version of it is better than your run-of-the-mill stuff? What makes it different than other pay per clicks?

thanks much!
Alex

Thanks Linda, interesting articles. I’m using goodreads ads to promote my new poetry book (I’ve had my bid @.30 then .10, & now have settled @ .15 and still get clicks). I like how people can add it to their to-read list, though I’m not sure it has led to any sales yet! I found facebook and adwords too expensive, but at least with goodreads ads I feel like progress is taking place. ;)

I’ve run a couple of GR ads in the past–a few months ago–and am going to start some new ones next month. All of my novels are available in both eBook and paperback. I am debating having separate ads for the different formats or a single ad that leaves out mention of format and price. Even though I sell two or three paperbacks a month, I’m really skeptical that it’s worth advertising those separately. They are connected on the book page so if someone goes to the eBook page they can click to the paperback one with one additional click.

You have some excellent suggestions here which are very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

I just recently figured out that it’s better to have my Goodreads ad click through to my Amazon page. I bid .10 (since my book is 1.00) and now have 79 people who added or read my book. Some of them read it and rated or reviewed. The problem is that I noticed many of those people have from hundreds to thousands of ‘to read’ books on their lists, so I’m not sure how useful it really is.

The other problem is that I don’t see any way to contact all those people when my new book comes out. I’m thinking it’s better to direct them to a facebook page, where you can contact them via their ‘likes’. What do you think?

Hi Susan,

Yes, I think you get more sales if you direct people to the bookstore page. I’ll even break things down and have separate ads for Barnes & Noble and Amazon (you don’t want to send a Nook person to Amazon).

As for people adding your book to their to-read piles, it may or may not mean they’ll get around to it, but I figure that the more places your book appears on Goodreads, the more chances there are of people stumbling across it.

In regards to Facebook and contacting people, I wouldn’t do that with advertising. The only people you want to contact are ones who read the book and liked it enough that they want to hear from you again. The way to find those people is to mention that you have a newsletter in the afterword of your book and invite folks to come by to sign up.

[...] Goodreads Advertising results and tips by Lindsay Buroker [...]

This was incredibly helpful. It may have been a fairly long post, but I think that with the amount of information it contained, it was surprisingly concise. Thank you!

[...] prevent huge losses without any actual results, I decided to follow Lindsay Buroker’s advice and go with a targeted market campaign. Whilst you can advertise to everyone, you pay for [...]

Hi Lindsay, I love your blog, it’s soo helpful!…& I’m having a problem.
This page: http://www.goodreads.com/advertisers/new_ad

I only have an ASIN, & there’s no place for it on the above pg. I’ve clicked, searched, tried every workaround, & can’t find a way to create my ad. Yet there seem to be other just-Kindle-ASIN books on Goodreads.

How did they do it?
Many thanks!
Joyce https://twitter.com/JoyceSchneider1

Hi Joyce,

It’s been a while since I made a new campaign, so the details are fuzzy, but if it requires an ISBN, I’m sure I used the free one Smashwords provides (I know I hadn’t put together paperbacks yet at that point). If you haven’t put your ebooks up there yet, it’s a good idea to do so anyway, as Smashwords can get you into the stores that don’t have self-publishing portals for authors yet.

Many thanks, Lindsay! My book is only on Kindle & Nook. I have just an ASIN for creating an ad on Goodreads.

But I’ll figure it out. Thanks again!
Joyce

Where it says ISBN, all you need to do is enter you ASIN from Amazon. It will treat them the same. So you’re good to go. It just doesn’t tell you that.

[...] blogger by day and an indie fantasy author by night. You can visit her site to find that article on Goodreads Advertising and lots of other posts on e-publishing and [...]

I was getting really interested whilst I was reading this, but – and it’s a big but – I only sell iBooks or dead-tree-books (I love that description) and I have neither ISBN nor ASIN as I can’t afford to sell on Amazon. Will that mean that a/ I can’t utilise this in the first place and b/ if I can my chances of selling are alsmost zero?

It’s a great article though. One of the best I’ve read about marketing. Thank you.

Really useful post many thanks for the homework assignment!

Thanks, you’re a star. I just finished running a Facebook ad campaign which got me page likes but no sales at all. I hadn’t thought of running a Goodreads ad campaign ’til I read this. Can’t afford one atm, but will definitely come back to this in a while. Yoi’ve encouraged me, and taught me how! Great stuff.

What do you say to the idea of including the book’s price in the Goodreads ad (or heading)?

That way, anyone looking in a price bracket lower than yours would not bother to click on the ad – saving you some wasted clicks.

Thanks, Lindsay. I am looking for ways to promote my new historical romance novel, For Love of A Cause. Will give GR a try and keep you posted on the results!!

I wrote a blog post two days ago on a recent Goodreads ad campaign that really was quite effective. It was for a KDP Select free promotion, but still… If you want to know what my evidence was, here’s the post: http://johnbdutton.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/goodreads-usa/

One thing that people who use Goodreads self-serve ads should keep in mind is that views might be as important as clicks. It depends what you’re trying to achieve. I’m currently marketing Silent Symmetry, the first novel in a YA trilogy. I have a long-term marketing plan that involves building visibility and brand recognition for the trilogy. Therefore correctly targeted Goodreads ads will still fulfill a branding function when viewed, even if they don’t produce clicks or sales.

Think about offline marketing – regular advertising works even though it doesn’t produce clicks. The great thing about Goodreads ads as opposed to buying a billboard on the highway is that you don’t have to pay every time someone sees it (Goodread’s “views”, or what ad industry pros call “impressions”). So you can easily get thousands of free impressions that help build your book’s brand just the same way as that billboard you saw on the way home from work does for the brand featured on it.

Of course, just like with offline advertising, the ad itself has to be well written (this is actually my job; I’m an ad copywriter) and targeted. To reach my potential audience for Silent Symmetry I ran three different ads, each with a very different message, and targeted each of them in two ways (making 6 ads in total). Each of the three ads was targeted by age and genre in one version, and then toward fans of specific authors in the other version.

I achieved a click-through rate (CTR) of 0.08% averaged across all 6 ads, which is fairly high, and of course it’s impossible to tell whether this was because my targeting was good, the ads were well-written or the book itself appealed naturally to viewers of the ads. But the point of this post is that my ads had over 26,000 views at a cost of $10, and to me that is amazing value for money all round. Believe me, any professional marketer would be happy to receive that much bang for their buck.

If you read my blog post linked to above, you’ll see that Silent Symmetry has been downloaded over 6,000 times across basically 8 KDP Select days (I wasted the first two by doing zero promotion). It hit #1 in more than one Amazon free ebook chart. And now I believe that Goodreads ads played a big part in that success.

As Lindsay mentions above, creating ad copy is tricky and difficult if you’ve never done it. You have so little space with PPC ad copy and you have to write copy that is not only compelling to your target audience but that discourages clicks by those who are not in your target audience.

The key is to understand the emotional hot buttons of your target audience. What are they looking for?

Don’t think about tricking them. Think in terms of helping them find what they want. If you write the kinds of books they read, you must understand what draws them to that genre and write your ads with the words that speak to that need and desire.

Also, learn the power of the word “you” in PPC ads. Once you know what your audience is looking for, speak directly to them.

For example: “Your next fantasy obsession…she was his enemy…now she is his only hope to help her save the world.”

Learn to think like your target audience. Learn short-form writing. Practice writing book blurbs in Twitter but use other peoples’ books.

Great article–thanks.

Tips for composing ad:
-LOOK at what other people are doing in their ads–see what gets your attention and what is blah.
-Your title in the top line is not always the best choice. I saw one ‘title’ that said, “Like a great paranormal romance?’ THAT got my attention. If the author had just put the title ‘Beyond the Pale’ or whatever, I would have passed right over it.
-In my top line I will put a ‘hook line,’ Kindle & price
-Careful use of all caps and underlining can be effective.

Are you aware of any marketing companies who help writers set themselves up on Goodreads? I keep trying but the whole Goodreads experience remains a mystery to me. I know I need to be on it and I am on it but I cannot draw it all together to make it work. I notice there are ready and willing experts to help with twitter, facebook, linkedin etc but not Goodreads.

Very good Web site, Keep up the useful work. Thanks a lot!

Lindsay, Thanks, this is a great intro to Goodreads advertising. I noticed a big ad by Thomas and Mercer today and that made me think if the big boys are advertising on GR, it might be a good bet. Even tho your post here is three years old, the principles are still valid and I will check current rates and rules.
I have a e-book of mystery flash fiction for sale now and a mystery novel coming out in a few months from an Oregon publisher. I will test first as you suggest.
My background is in marketing and copywriting (my most successful book so far was on do-it-yourself marketing) and I recognize the value of tailoring your copy to a specific audience. As you say, you only want to attract the people most likely to buy. Sci-fi romance lovers likely will not buy my mystery.
I would guess you also know a thing or two about SEO as your blog came up second in the Google search for GR advertising. Do you have an advice blog about SEO, too?
Thanks again.

Thank you, I’ll have a go at that. Best wishes.

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