Advertising on Goodreads

 Boxing Day, 2012, and still full of mince pie, turkey and Christmas TV specials, I was feeling a little flush, having received a small amount of cash from a generous, and generously white-bearded chap with a penchant for red suits and scaling chimneys.

Anyway, with two novels selling sluggishly, I decided to invest some in a Goodreads advertising campaign. Just $40 to begin with. Not a vast amount. Childs, Rowling, King et al probably get a marketing budget that’s a bit bigger.

First task – write some ads. I’m a copywriter. Do it every day. Should be easy, right? Hmmm. The word limit was tricky. What do you say? How do you distill tens of thousands of words, several twists and turns, and dozens of characters into just 140. Do you need to get the name of the book in somewhere, even though it’s on the image beside it?

What about the call to action? If I send people to my Goodreads page (as recommended) they might not buy it. If I put a link straight to Amazon, they might not even bother clicking it. Then there’s the targeting, blah blah blah.

To abridge a post that could easily turn into an epic, a month on, I haven’t sold any extra books (and yes, that may be down to their quality, or lack thereof).

Out of 120,000 views of my ads (I wrote 5 variants), there’s an average clickthrough rate of 0.05%. Working in advertising, I know this is pretty much par for the course. People don’t often click web ads, I know I don’t.

But one ad outperformed all the others, with a stratospheric 0.12% clickthrough rate. If I were a marketing guru I’d probably say ‘PayPal me $10 and I’ll tell you the secret of my success’ or somesuch crap.’ But I’m not.

The ad simply had the name of the book as the title, then a couple of quotes pulled from (good) reviews it’s had, together with 5 stars and a link to my Goodreads page. That’s all.

It hasn’t generated loads of new sales, but the number of people who have the book ‘to-read’ on Goodreads has shot up. Although a lot of them have thousands on their to-read list. Maybe they’ll get round to mine before the next century.

In conclusion, I don’t see advertising on Goodreads as a quick way to boost sales. And I’m not going to get a return on my investment. But some advertising is always better than none at all. And at least a few more people know my books are out there.

So thanks for that cash, Santa. Now come back and clear up that mess you left around my fireplace.

Happy New Year of Delusion

As the regular reader of this blog will know, I believe self-publishers like myself have to be seriously deluded to think their novel can be the next million seller.

Every single person who uploads their book to Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc believes what they've written is worthy of a place on a bestseller's list.

It's going to take a professional editor to tell them their intro is dull, their character's cardboard, their concept unbelievable, their ending just plain shit. But, like me, most can't afford the £500 / $1000 it takes to hire someone who knows what they're looking for to look for it. So they'll just re-read their book and run another spellcheck to make sure there's no glaring errors.

BUT, enough of this negativity. Because, some self-published novelist will rise out of the pack this year, making waves, headlines and a useful income. Someone will be branded 'This year's E.L. James,' their book "2013's Fifty Shades Of... whatever."

It could be me, it could be you. And that's why, like the lottery, we keep doing what we're doing. Because someone's got to win. And even though it's a million to one shot, we'd give everything to be that one.

Here's to a successful 2013 for someone out there.

No January Mails This Year.

Usually, January is spent thumbing through the thick pages of the latest edition of The Writers And Artists' Yearbook, looking for agents to whom I've yet to send an upbeat, slightly grovelly covering letter together with a synopsis, and the first five chapters of my surefire bestselling thriller.

Can't be arsed this year.

And that's not me giving up. It's me giving the whole situation a much needed reality check.

How many other authors as deluded as me spent their Christmas telling themselves next year will be my breakthrough year?

How many have then gone on to mail out their manuscripts in betwixt Christmas and New Year, bemoaning the price of stamps, yet hoping their delusions turn into reality?

I reckon slush piles will be at their peak this time of year, giving whoever has the onerous task of wading through the piles of paper even less time to give each submission their divided attention.

Given most agents try to get back to you with a rejection, I mean a reply, within three months, surely that makes Easter the best time of year to start the mass mailing?

I might give it a try, only if I'm not a multi-million bestselling author by then, of course.