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.