Advertising you can afford: Goodreads Self-Serve Ads

As any other writer, I dreamed of seeing my book published. That dream came true. Now that my book is on sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, I’ve come face to face with the fact that when my book entered these retailers’ massive databases, it became the proverbial needle in a haystack. How do I help readers discover my work now? This is probably a common “problem” for first-time indie authors with no-name recognition (yet) and perhaps limited or non-existent marketing funds too. And if you’re an introvert like me who’s content to blend with the background and is reluctant to engage in public appearances and readings, you have added another layer to the “problem.”

There is no shortage of suggestions on how to promote a self-published book out there though. I’ve tried a few: Cold-call requests for reviews to top reviewers. They’re usually busy people and have long waiting lists. Friends and family. You can always count on them. But they can’t make their friends of friends buy something they might not be interested in the first place. Websites that promote free/bargain e-books. The ones I have visited require the book to have at least 3-4 reviews under its belt already before they’ll accept it for inclusion.

These coming weeks, however, I’m going to try Goodreads Self-Serve Ads. This is a pre-paid service. It’s still in beta form but I like to experiment. With Goodreads Self-Serve Ads, you create an ad for your book and for a price, Goodreads will place the ad on its website. The thing is that you determine the price and in a way, the period of time the ad will appear in Goodreads. To sign up for this service, first, you have to be a member of Goodreads. Then, navigate to their Authors Program and to Self-Serve Advertising and fill out the form. In the form, you pick the amount of money you’ll pay for the service and the monetary value that a click on your ad will be worth. This is what Goodreads calls “a bid.” The higher the value you assign to a click, the more prominently displayed your ad will be. Goodreads will calculate the maximum number of clicks per day based on those two amounts. Next, find your book by its ASIN or ISBN number in the Goodreads database. Goodreads will automatically load the book cover and the URL for the product page. Determine the date you want your ad to start running. Now you get to write your ad. Since space is limited, you are forced to make it short and enticing (and it must conform to Goodreads’ guidelines too). Once you’re happy with your ad, it’s time to get your credit card out and pay. By the way, you have the option of using this service once or have Goodreads charge your credit card automatically as soon as the first payment has been spent. This is how the service works: every time somebody clicks on your ad, the bid you set for the ad will be subtracted from the total amount you prepaid. Once the money runs out, your ad will be removed and the service will end–unless you’re renewing automatically, of course.

I don’t know yet how good this service is, but I hope it will give my book some much- needed visibility. Besides, I think it is an affordable way for new authors to market their books since they can control how much they want to spend on it.

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