Advertising Books In 2019

One of my main goals this year for my author business is to advertise books in a cost effective way and increase profits. (Books includes ebook, audiobook, and paperback editions.)

As I talked about in The Good, The Bad, And The In Between Of Advertising Dollars Spent In 2018, last year I spent a lot trying different types of advertising. Thousands of dollars, in fact. While I did see some sales from some of the ads, I feel sure at least half of what I spent did nothing to increase sales.

That’s why I decided this year to be diligent about tracking what works and doesn’t and to spend far less–unless or until I figure out what ads are generating an overall profit.

Today I sat down to figure out specific goals and dollar targets. By sharing them I hope I’ll inspire you.

Setting Specific Goals

While in early January I set a budget to keep spending in check, I hadn’t really thought about exactly what result I wanted other than to earn more than I spent.

That’s the kind of fuzzy thinking that led me astray last year. I basically threw money at the wall (okay, at Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, and a whole lot of enewsletter listings). So long as my overall royalties per month exceeded my ad spend I figured I’d sort it out later.

(Not a great plan but, to be fair, I was recovering from a fairly serious injury and a little overwhelmed.)

What saved me from doing the same this year but with a spending limit was a  brand new podcast by Bryan Cohen called Relentless Authors Advertise. Bryan asked listeners what their goals were for their ads. I realized I had a budget but not a goal.

The Basis For This Year’s Goals 

I set my goals based on these theories and data:

  • My ratio of ad spend to sales was about 1:2 last year
  • By looking at what worked best last year and eliminating platforms I’m certain added no sales I should be able to spend less and earn more
  • If I monitor the ads carefully, I ought to be able to tweak them, increase my spending, and increase my profits throughout the year
  • Starting much lower than last year and increasing my spend gradually based on results should help me keep my expenses reasonable
  • I like setting ambitious goals

My initial idea for the entire year, after looking at last year’s results, was to limit my spending to $180 a month ($2,160 a year). I planned to split this among Amazon Ads, Bookbub Ads, and enewsletters, averaging $60 per month for each category.

After listening to Bryan’s podcast on scaling up his ad spend, though, I decided I ought to do that if I can figure out over time what’s working best.

I’m used to thinking about the amount of work and profit on a quarterly basis, which is what I did with my law firm. For that reason, I’m aiming to increase spending and profits each quarter.

Last year I spent 50 cents to earn a dollar in sales. That doesn’t mean I doubled my money, though, because I earn between 30%-70% of the sale price for each book. So this year my goal for the entire year is to spend 30 cents to earn a dollar in sales.

My ambitious sales goal is to double the average monthly sales each quarter by gradually increasing my ad spend but keeping it to 30 cents on the dollar.

In Dollars And Cents

In dollars and cents, here’s the plan/goal:

1st Quarter

  • Average monthly ad spend: $180
  • Average monthly sales: $540

2nd Quarter

  • Average monthly ad spend: $324
  • Average monthly sales: $1,080

3rd Quarter

  • Average monthly ad spend: $640
  • Average monthly sales: $2,160

4th Quarter

  • Average monthly ad spend: $1,296
  • Average monthly sales: $4,320

In addition, any time I can get a Bookbub Featured Deal I’ll take it regardless of the spending budget. Those deals always pay for themselves for my books and earn a profit. Because I can’t count on getting one, though, I haven’t factored them into the average monthly ad spend.

Stay tuned for updates once a quarter.

Also, I encourage you to check out Relentless Authors Advertise if you’re doing any advertising of your books or plan to in the future. Bryan includes useful tips and information. And he shares in detail how much he’s spending compared to his total sales, which is invaluable information.

That’s all for today. Until next Friday–

L.M. Lilly 

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