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  • Writer's pictureFlorence Osmund

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can be an effective way to attract people to your site (or wherever you are doing your marketing), so you can strengthen your brand, gain fans, and increase sales. I’m a firm believer in the adage that you have to spend money to make money, but if you aren’t careful, you can end up with a paid-advertising money pit into which you quickly pour dollars with no ROI.

WARNING: The reason many authors don’t use paid advertising is because some aspects of it are a little difficult to understand and complicated to use. In this chapter, I try to explain the process in simple terms.

Online paid advertising comes in many different forms. The main categories include:




Display ads

Video ads

When you choose pay-per-click advertising, you are essentially competing for advertising space with other advertisers. The way the bidding system works is that the amount you bid for a click isn’t what you’re actually going to pay—it’s the maximum amount you’ll pay to win the bid. If you’re the highest bidder, most ad networks will charge you $0.01 more than the next highest bidder. The more you’re willing to pay, the more likely you are to win. It’s a tricky business: If you bid too low, your ad campaign may not get the exposure it deserves because the higher bidders will have won the space; and if you bid too high and others bid high too, you’ll end up paying too much per click and blow your budget in a hurry. Each ad network has a different way of determining the winning bids. For example, some may favor a $0.10-per-click ad that gets clicked a thousand times over a $5-per-click ad that gets clicked only twenty times.

With pay-per-impression advertising, an author pays a certain amount each time the ad is displayed regardless of whether anyone clicks on it or not.

The pay-per-download method is for when you want to offer a free download of your book and you pay each time your book is downloaded.

Display ads have been around for centuries—you see them in newspapers and magazines and on billboards. It works the same way online—you create a static visual image of your product and are charged a one-time fee to have the ad displayed.

Video ads are similar to display ads, with a video of the product replacing the static image.

What method of paid advertising is most effective for one author may not be for another—it’s all about trial and error. Keep in mind how many books you will need to sell to recoup the cost of the paid advertisement, which approach will result in a positive ROI.

There is a long list of ad networks that want you to pay for advertising, and that’s because it’s an easy way to make money off you. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing…as long as you profit from it too.

Here is an overview of the most popular ad networks for paid advertising. For more specific details on how they work, you will need to visit their websites.


Google’s AdWords paid advertising pay-per-click platform (their main source of revenue, by the way) relies on the premise that people who click on the ad will be interested enough to buy the book, and even though most people will not click on it, at least many eyes will have seen the ad.

It is basically a five-step process:

1. YOU SPECIFY A BUDGET—the maximum amount you are willing to spend per day.

2. THEY ASK YOU WHAT GEOGRAPHICAL AREA YOU WISH TO REACH—U.S. only, other countries, specific cities, etc.

3. YOU ENTER KEYWORDS RELATIVE TO YOUR AD. This is a very important step that requires a certain amount of research to determine the most effective ones to use.

4. YOU DETERMINE YOUR BID—the most you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad.

5. YOU CREATE YOUR AD. Each ad is composed of a link, a headline, and two lines of text—a concise, informative call-to-action.

This link will take you to Google’s paid advertising page.


Amazon offers five options for paid advertising:

1. SPONSORED PRODUCT ADS—pay-per-click, keyword-targeted display ads

2. HEADLINE SEARCH ADS— pay-per-click, auction-based ads that let you feature up to three different products

3. PRODUCT DISPLAY ADS—pay-per-click ads that appear on Amazon product-detail pages, customer-review pages, on top of the offer-listing page, and below search results

4. NATIVE ADS—ads that you can place on your own website 297 Paid Advertising

5. VIDEO ADS—ads that you can place on Amazon-owned sites like and IMDb, Amazon devices like Fire TV, and various other places

This link will take you to Amazon’s paid advertising page.


Goodreads also offers a pay-per-click advertising option that involves three steps.

1. Loading the book into the Goodreads system and writing a short description

2. Setting a daily budget, total budget, and bid amount (the amount charged each time someone clicks on the ad)

3. Choosing which Goodreads users will be able to see the ad, depending on age, gender, country, and genre

This link will take you to Goodreads’ paid advertising page.


Pinterest offers a variety of ad options.

1. PROMOTED PINS—appear in the home feed and search results just like a regular Pin except that they’re boosted to target a wider reach

2. ONE-TAP PINS—user clicks are taken directly to your landing page

3. PROMOTED CAROUSELS—multi-image ads

4. PROMOTED VIDEO PINS—appear in the home feed, search results, and the “more like this” section y PROMOTED APP PINS—allow users to download your mobile app from Pinterest

5. BUYABLE PINS—allow users to find and buy products directly from your Pin

6. STORY PINS—allow up to twenty pages of images, text, and links

The steps required to create a Pinterest ad are:

1. Choose a preexisting ad group or create a new one. Each ad group is independent and can have a different budget and targeting.

2. Determine the target audience.

3. Select placement for the ad.

4. Add keywords.

5. Set the start and end date for the ad campaign and a daily or lifetime budget.

6. Set the maximum bid for the ad.

7. Determine at what pace you want your ads to show throughout the day—standard or accelerated.

This link will take you to Pinterest’s paid advertising page.


BookBub offers an auction-based advertising platform their readers see at the bottom of their daily e-mails. Steps required include:

1. Create the ad.

2. Choose where you want readers to be directed when they click on your ad.

3. Set your target audience based on combinations of author interest and book categories.

4. Establish a budget and schedule.

5. Choose a bidding strategy—cost-per-click or cost-per-thousandimpressions, keeping in mind that you are bidding against other authors who are trying to reach the same readers you’ve targeted with your ad. The higher you bid, the more clicks or impressions you are likely to win over the competing authors.

This link will take you to BookBub’s paid advertising page.

Social Media

Social media advertising is another way to potentially drive sales to your website and grow your fanbase. The most popular social media sites are:











All offer paid advertising, each with a little something different in pricing and the way they structure their campaigns. The most common billing options are:

  • COST-PER-VIEW (CPV): You are charged every time someone views your ad.

  • COST-PER-CLICK (CPC): You pay for the ad each time a viewer clicks on it.

  • COST PER ACTION/CONVERSION (CPA): You are charged when someone completes the action you specified when optimizing the ad (for example, when someone downloads an app, signs up for an e-mail newsletter, or makes a purchase).

  • COST PER LIKE (CPL): You pay for each follower gained through the ad campaign.

Whichever paid advertising network you choose, consider tracking results on a spreadsheet so you can see trends, as daily results don’t really tell you very much. Weekly and monthly trends are better indicators of whether the ad network is working for you.

If your results aren’t very good in the beginning, try tweaking the various settings provided by the particular ad network. Try different keywords, cost-per-click, or target audience. If it’s still not working, 300 How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Nov e l don’t keep pouring money into it with little or no ROI and expect it to miraculously bring in a profit one day. Know when to try something else.

Paid advertising is not a quick, guaranteed way to make a profit selling your books. It requires understanding how it works, patience, and knowing when to stop

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