My Book Advertising Misadventures

Unhappy young woman with questionable gesture

I thought I had this.

I studied marketing in college. I have been involved with online marketing for the past ten years. But I have to admit something…

When it comes to successfully advertising my first middle-grade novel, “The Mirror of Doom,” online, I’m officially stumped.

Notice how I slipped the link to my book on Amazon in that last sentence? Yeah. I’m at the point I’ll try almost anything. You see, here’s the dilemma…

If you’ve written a children’s book like I have, you need to market it to kids, right? They’re your target audience. The problem is… they don’t have credit cards. So you also need to get your book in front of their parents and convince them to buy it for their kid.

Sounds simple? Yeah. But it turns out it’s easier said than done.

But, there is a silver lining in this marketing cloud. I can tell you what has NOT worked. Ready? Okay, here goes…

1) Advertising on Goodreads.

I’m not bashing Goodreads. I think it’s a great place to reach out to readers. But, I do not believe my advertising dollars there were well spent.

The click-through rate (CTR) is a mere .05% to .5%, which is really low.

How low? Prepared to be depressed.

With a CTR of .05%, your ad would be viewed 10,000 times – and only 5 people would click on it! And, when they do click on it, they go to your book page in Goodreads, which is not where they can actually buy your book. They would have to click again on your Amazon or Nook link to make a purchase. And, the chances of that happening are small.

That said, I do recommend Goodreads Book Giveaway Contests. It gets your book in front of potential readers – and many of them add your book to their “To Read” lists. All it costs you is the wholesale price of your books and postage.

2) Advertising on Amazon.

You can run two different types of ads on Amazon:

Sponsored Products Ad – When a customer searches for an item, these ads show up below their search results. Plus, they appear “below the fold” on product pages. They are targeted by keywords only.

Product Display Ads – This type of ad shows up on related product detail pages and on Kindle e-Reader screensavers. It’s targeted by interest (for example, book genre) or by keywords.

I’ve tried both. This is just my opinion, but I don’t believe Sponsored Products Ads are a good fit for selling children’s books. My CTR was a dismal 0.035%. Specifically, with 92,639 impressions of my ad, only 33 people clicked on it. OUCH!

I’ve had better results with the Product Display Ads. My most successful ad has a steady .875% CTR. (I will throw a party if I ever get that number above 1%!) I have had 8 sales from the ad, which isn’t great. I’m disappointed with my results, but the cost-per-click is low. So, it’s worth it to me to keep the ad running for now.

3) Blog Book Tour

Right after Christmas, I went on a 5-day blog book tour. The organization I used booked me with events on 9 different blogs. They ranged from interviews… blog posts (written by me)… and reviews. I was also encouraged to raffle off Amazon gift cards to “lure” people to my posts.

Every day, I checked in with the blogs and responded to comments. I had quite a bit of interaction with people interested in my book, but I have no idea if my efforts resulted in any sales.

Where to go from here:

I’m stepping back from spending money on advertising to pursue some other ideas:

A. Posting regularly to my blogs.

The more I can interact with my potential readers, the more they are likely to purchase my book.

B. Requesting reviews from “Mommy Bloggers.”

I need to get my book in front of more Moms. And, it just so happens that quite a few of these resourceful and industrious ladies have blogs where they review children’s books for other mothers. The drawback is… they get bombarded with review requests, so it’s difficult to get your book reviewed. It’s still worth a shot.

C. Reaching out to schools through local teacher friends.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime…

If you have self-published a children’s book and have successfully marketed it – or if you simply have an out-of-the-box idea for me to try – I would LOVE to hear from you. Just leave a comment in the box below.

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