All right, so, I have made my first tentative forays into the world of advertisement this year. I’m not trying to learn all about the Big Three Ad Platforms all at the same time, because (a) I don’t have time, and (b) learning about every aspect of marketing, ugh, please, no. One at a time is all I can tolerate.
I took a cursory look at Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and Bookbub ads and picked the latter to explore first because it looked like the simplest platform. I’ve poked at Facebook ads a little and seriously, ugh. It’s complex: it’s not intuitive AT ALL, as least not for me; it’s actively unpleasant to try to deal with it, and no thanks. I tried one Facebook ad without any particular enthusiasm or success last year and then set that platform aside for the present. Ditto with Amazon ads, except that platform doesn’t look nearly as difficult or unpleasant as Facebook. BookBub looked like the easiest interface.
So I read David Gaughran’s book about BookBub ads, and watched his video about using Canva to create BookBub ads, and looked at ads he says have been successful — all this in between waves of revision and proofreading and whatever else — and finally put together a series of ads I’m going to try out later in August, when I run a sale on the TUYO series.
Wait! You may be saying. A sale on the TUYO series? Should I have waited to get TASMAKAT? If that question occurs to you, the answer is no. I really don’t think it’s fair to early buyers to drop the price dramatically soon after releasing a book, so that’s one thing; plus it’s going to be a good long time before I get over wishing I’d brought it out as three books. I’m going to drop its price by a whopping one dollar and even that is just so Amazon puts a “lowest price in thirty days!” banner on it.
However, I’m going to discount the rest of the series heavily, run an aggressive ad campaign on Book Bub in conjunction with promotion services, and see what happens. Have I followed all of David Gaughran’s advice? No, I have not. I don’t have time to test each and every author whose followers I’m targeting. Would I have had time to do that earlier this year? I mean, maybe, if I’d jammed that kind of thing in with everything else. But I have genuinely been super busy this year, so if the ads don’t work as well as they might, fine. At least I understand the kind of testing he recommends, why he recommends it, and how to do it, so maybe later. For now, I’m skipping that step in the full understanding that this is possibly unwise. I am, however, following a lot of his other advice. Here, if you’re interested, take a look:
And this one
It’s exactly the same except the background is a little more faded. Maybe I should redo them all this way because this does make the book covers pop a little better, doesn’t it? But check out this one:
I have five iterations of this same basic ad, and let me just mention that honestly, Canva really is a great tool. Your image has to be 300×250, which you can specify, and you know what is especially helpful? You can copy a correctly sized template, erase everything you don’t want and add different elements. I did all this over the weekend, and it wasn’t awful. I’m far from a graphic designer, but if I saw some version of this ad, I’d probably click through. The tiger would catch my eye for sure. I’m making it as easy as possible for people to click through by making the first book free, so we’ll see how it goes.
Here’s what Gaughran says:
1) Use a background pulled from your bookcover. Drop the transparency of the background.
I wasn’t sure how far to drop the transparency of the background, so I tried different levels of transparency.
2) Put your actual bookcover on the ad. If you’re doing a series sale, put every single book in the series on the ad.
This seemed like a good idea, and thank you to the cover artist for automatically including 3D images which were perfect for this.
3) Put a big, obvious box on the ad that says “FREE” or “0.99” or “NEW” or whatever. Make the box red with white letters, black with yellow letters, or yellow with black letters. Don’t worry about whether that clashes with the book covers; statistically, ads with those colors of boxes and letters work better.
I couldn’t quite disregard all possible artistic judgment. I could not make myself use neon yellow or red. I tried, but it was really hard to disregard how awful that looks. I guess I should make a version with neon red and try it one day, then this more aesthetically tolerable red a different day.
4) Try different versions of the same ad because tiny tweaks can make a big difference.
BookBub ads are easy to adjust on the fly (says Gaughran). You can switch out the ad image every day, drop more money into the ad if you like, and changes are practically instantaneous.
5) Use Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) rather than Cost Per Click (CPC). Bid high-medium to promote a sale, and bid uneven amounts. That is, if you want to bid $12, don’t, bid $12.06 instead.
I don’t remember the reasoning for the first bit of advice, except it’s supposed to work best if you do author targeting and testing the way he wants you do, which I didn’t. The reasoning for the second bit of advice is obvious: you’ve just outbid everyone who bid $12 even or $12.01 or $12.05.
6) If you’re running a series sale, take out all the automatically generated links to the first book and drop in links to the actual series page. Do that for the US, UK, and maybe CA Amazon pages.
Canada is not included in countdown deals. If you’re going to manually lower the prices, you can include Canada, and now I get why Gaughran spent some time explaining how and why to target different countries that are not the US. Canada is included in free deals — every country is included in free deals.
Either way, targeting the series page is a very good idea! I wouldn’t have realized that was possible, but it’s actually easy.
Final note: What does Gaughran mean by “testing authors?”
When you’re setting up Book Bub ads, you can tell the ad to target readers of fantasy AND you can tell it to target readers who follow, say, Guy Gaviel Kay or Kate Elliot. According to David Gaughran, you should look at Book Bub through the reader interface, not the author (“partner”) interface, and take a quick look at all the authors whose readership should reasonably overlap with yours to see how many followers (not readers) they have. You should then pick out ten to twenty authors, each with 1000 to 20,000 followers, then test each author by dropping your book to $0.99 and running the same exact ad targeted to one author at a time, one day each, dropping $15 or so into each ad. I’m sure the point of this exercise is obvious. What Gaughran says is that once you find out which authors’ followers work best for you, that result tends to remain consistent long-term. That may be, but as I say, I haven’t done this. Maybe later this year, maybe next year. I’m willing to go to the trouble when I have time and attention to spare.
Which authors’ readers ought to overlap with mine? Well, I think Kate Elliot is a good choice, Guy Gaviel Kay, Sharon Shinn, Robin McKinley, CJ Cherryh, maybe Robin Hobb. I came up with twenty names or so, including pulling some by looking to see whose books are recommended on TUYO’s page on Amazon, and dropped a lot of them into the targeting for the ad.
I guess it also makes sense to ask you all, anybody who has read this post: Who are some of your favorite authors? Because maybe I should add them to the upcoming ad targeting.