If you are a writer and looked into the craft for more than about three seconds, you probably have an idea of how important book advertising is. Writing your book is a huge step in your writing journey, but without proper advertising, your book is unlikely to gain traction.
Even if your manuscript is the best in its genre, it's not destined to be the next bestseller if readers aren’t aware it exists and don’t know to purchase it. This is where advertising comes in.
Knowing how to advertise and why it matters are two key factors in the overall success of your book.
In his book, Published: The Proven Path from Blank Page to 10,000 Copies Sold, Chandler Bolt breaks down book advertising into the three Ts of a successful Amazon campaign:
In this article, we'll use that framework to extrapolate exactly how to advertise your book, and how to do it in a way that can benefit you, your book, and your readers. Let’s start with the first T.
Ad Type: Where your ad shows up
The type of advertising you conduct helps you hone in on your target audience, the readers who are most likely to purchase your book. When it comes to Amazon ads, they are everywhere. In fact, Chandler encourages you to look for ads next time you find yourself on the site.
Specifically looking for ads:
- Shows you how prevalent they are
- Reveals places for you to put ads
- Helps you ideate your own ad campaign
For instance, Chandler explains that if you click on a book listing, an entirely new section of ads will pop up on the side of the page. Have you ever noticed the “products similar to this item” box when you scrolled down?
Well, you guessed it. This is also an area where authors can pay for ads and feature their books. Consider your own buying habits. When you search for a book on Amazon, it’s likely because you like specific aspects of the book:
- You want to learn about the genre
- Think business or self-help
- The characters are the ones you fall in love with
- The plot captivates you
If you like the book, seeing other options targeted to your personal preferences will encourage you to make another purchase.
As an author, you can take advantage of this knowledge and pay for ads in this particular area of Amazon. The type of ads you run can drastically impact your sales. Be specific.
3 questions to ask:
When it comes time to purchase ads, make sure you ask yourself the right questions. What you know is more important than how much information you know. Chandler breaks his questions down into three parts:
#1 – What are similar books my reader reads?
#2 – What are the most popular books that are similar to mine?
#3 – Who are the authors that write most directly to my ideal readers?
Answering these questions will help you know exactly how to target your ads, and do so efficiently.
Ad Targeting: WHO you show ads to
Just as it’s crucial to firmly grasp who your audience is when writing your book, it’s essential to understand who to target your ads for. In his book, Chandler shares the Pareto Principle. This principle states that for the majority of businesses, 80% of purchases are made by only 20% of buyers.
- Related: Perry Marshall on 80/20
This is a critical fact to employ in your ad targeting. The Pareto Principle goes on to describe how the 80/20 Rule can also apply to how you determine to manage your time. It states that 80% of your results come from the 20% of how you spend your waking moments.
That said, spend quality time understanding who you should target your ads for and articulating why this is the case. The better you understand the person behind the computer screen, the more efficient you can conduct your ads.
Chandler also points out that while Google is the world’s largest search engine, Amazon is not only a search engine for buyers but much easier to rank on. While you may fight to land on the first page of Google, it’s possible to rank well on Amazon.
This is important to note because when searchers go to Amazon it’s because they want to make a purchase. If you rank well on this search engine and target your ads to the correct potential buyers, you’re likely to make more sales.
Ad Tactics: Measuring / Getting your ads to convert
The last, but certainly not least important, aspect of Chandler’s trio is your ad tactics. Knowing the type of ad you need to create and who to target are important steps, but knowing the steps needed to convert into purchases might be the most important.
In order to convert your ads, there are three areas to consider. You should already have a good understanding of the first two, but don’t forget to put them into practice. And of course, end strong with number three:
#1 – A cover and title that grabs attention
#2 – Good reviews: quantity and overall rating
#3 – Ad copy (the words you use in your ad)
If the cover or title of your book doesn’t capture a potential buyer, they’ll keep scrolling. But, if they notice your book and do in fact judge it by its cover, they will likely scroll down and look at reviews.
This is where good, quality and many reviews come into play. (If you had a book launch team help you with your initial publication, you likely had them leave reviews.)
Last, ensure your ad copy is strong. If you feel you’re more of a creative writer than an advertising writer, you may want to consider hiring this part out to a professional copywriter. There’s no shame in knowing you excel in specific areas and need to rely on other types of writers in other lanes.
This simply means you are self-aware. This awareness can go a long way in helping you succeed in the long run and avoid burnout as well.
Combine the power of ads with the strength of your book
Writing can create an extraordinary impact on the world, but it takes two key factors to expect successful book sales:
- Solid creative writing
- Powerful, targeted ads
Now that you understand the three Ts of advertising, it’s time to put them into practice.
Creating and maintaining a writing career is not just about accumulating knowledge, although a proper understanding of the craft is important.
It takes a well-researched and executed promotional campaign to see your knowledge convert into sales. If you are just setting out on your advertising journey, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. It takes time to learn, process, and put your findings into practice.
Yes, it can be intimidating, even scary, to buy your first ad and target it to a specific audience. However, just like writing, advertising takes trial and error. Do your best with what you’ve learned, and never hesitate to keep growing.
With good research, knowing your audience, and a strong book at the end of your ad, you may bring in more purchases than you expected. You never know when a particular ad will take off or when your consistent work will bring in the numbers you’re looking for. Keep marketing!