It’s no mistake that one of the top forums (on Yahoo) for mystery writers is called Murder Must Advertise. Book advertising belongs in a fiction writer’s marketing toolbox.
You’ll see ads for fiction in the review pages of the New York Times and some national magazines, but purchasing those ads is a high-priced and broad-based way to promote a book. Indie authors need something lower priced and more tightly focused.
Advertising that works effectively for indie fiction writers, without breaking the bank, mostly falls into two categories: book promotional web sites and social media.
Among the book promotion sites (with their associated services), probably none comes more strongly touted among both indie and traditional authors than BookBub. Each day it sends out targeted emails to thousands of readers (I’m one of them), listing book bargains with prices up to $2.99. Many authors have reported big spikes in sales after their book appears in BookBub.
Authors can easily and without cost, submit their books for consideration there, but acceptance is a steep climb. BookBub’s standards are stringent, and even many well-established traditional authors have seen repeated rejections from BookBub. If your book is approved, be prepared to pay substantial fees, which vary by genre and by book price. The most costly currently is “crime fiction,” with 3.3 million subscribers; a book in that category priced at “free” will cost $470 for placement, and a $2.99 book, $2,350. (BookBub said that the average number of non-free books sold in that “crime fiction” category as a result of the listing is 3,930.) The lowest ad rate is $40 for a “humor” book priced for free.
Many young adult and adult fiction authors reported good results with the popular Midlist, which operated in some ways like BookBub. In October, the big publisher HarperCollins bought it, and Midlist, at least under its old name, apparently has vanished from the web.
The firm that sold it, Libboo, is still active, however, and now offers an innovative tool for free eBook giveaways called Instafreebie. It integrates directly with the author’s email list . Basic service is free with more options available in plans for $40 or $50 per month.
Another popular book promotion service is Ereader News Today, which like BookBub charges varied rates (according to genre and book price) for a spot in its newsletter. There’s also a more expensive, and higher visibility, book-of-the-month program. That monthly program is popular enough that all spots available for the first quarter of 2016 have already sold out.
The Ereader Cafe, which also leans heavily toward fiction and has some similarities to the News Today, has a $35 program for book-of-the-day.
If the cost of book advertising on these sites seem roughly in your ballpark but not quite the right fit, there are plenty more to check out, including several that have yielded good responses from authors. The Fussy Librarian (which matches people and books something like a dating service) lists eBooks only, and charges relatively low listing prices (but again, these vary by genre). Robin Reads, which offers a $30 package, has loaded its site with statistical information about exactly what kinds of readers frequent it and what those readers look for.
These book promotion sites allow fiction writers to hone in on readers looking for books in their specific genres, which is helpful. Social media, used carefully, can offer even more precise targeting.
Fiction Book Advertising on Social Media
“The best advertising is word-of-mouth, reader-to-reader, friend-to-friend,” BookWorks contributor Carla King pointed out, and that is where social media shines.
Not only Facebook, but most other social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat, offer targeted advertising options. They usually scale widely, and can be inexpensive at the low-entry level.
“A $99 investment in the socially-connected and mobile friendly Aer.io Flyer service to deliver samples and run giveaways can really give your book a boost,” King said. “The service is so good, it was recently purchased by Ingram as I mentioned in my year-end piece for MediaShift.”
“I also like Facebook ads. They’re very inexpensive and you can target particular audiences. An IBPA (Independent Book Publishing Association) membership gives you access to their marketing programs, which will advertise your book in periodic theme- or target market-based IBPA Cooperative Catalogs for bookstore buyers, librarians, and book reviewers and IBPA Trade Show Exhibits for domestic and international trade show participation.” (Note that BookWorks offers a discount on IBPA membership to our premium subscribers).
When other forms of book promotion aren’t quite enough to generate strong sales for your book, carefully chosen advertising in book promotion sites and social media can help.
Next: Book advertising for nonfiction indie authors/self-publishers.