In today’s segment, I’m going to list the newsletters I used to advertise my free book, Stranded with the Cyborg, book one of a science fiction romance series. During my campaign I discovered a few newsletters that delivered an awesome return on investment, others that did so-so, and many I will never use again. The way I determined the ROI was to compute the cost per download (CPD) by dividing the advertising cost by the number of downloads I got. (Ex: $100 ad ÷ 1000 DLs = .1 or 10 cents per DL).
In general, but not necessarily, the more expensive an ad, the more downloads you can expect. I found one inexpensive gem that delivered great ROI, but also booked one expensive dud. After my two-month campaign, I would consider a CPD of .1 as the norm. A .05 CPD (5 cents) or lower is awesome, .20 or higher isn’t worth booking the ad.
However, the cost per download isn’t the only criterion. The quantity of downloads is important, too. If you only paid $7 for an ad, and you got 96 downloads (as I did with one ad), your CPD will be low, but you aren’t getting many downloads. You’ll have to book a lot of $7 ads at that rate to get the numbers you need. Also, without any advertising, you’ll still get some downloads. When I did nothing, Stranded still got 30-90 per day. So that 96 downloads may not even be that high. If I didn’t see a boost at least into the 200s, I considered an ad to be a dud. That’s why in my list, you’ll see some lower CPDs in the “skip” column and some higher ones in the “good column.” To be considered “okay” for my purposes, an ad had to deliver at least 250 downloads and 500 or more to rate as “good.”
Results will vary by author, book, genre, cover, and how long your book has been free. For instance, I advertised Stranded (a science fiction romance) with both Book Barbarian and Red Roses Romance. They’re the same company, but BB does SF only and RR does romance only. I had more downloads with BB. Just because I didn’t get good results from a particular ad doesn’t mean you won’t, but definitely ask around. If many authors are saying an ad site isn’t any good, it probably isn’t.
The best advertising venues target their ads. Either the newsletter only deals with certain genres OR readers must sign up to receive notification of specific genres. Just because a newsletter has a mailing list of 50,000, doesn’t mean that those readers are interested in your books. Your romance probably won’t sell to a thriller or nonfiction audience.
Drum roll please….
The newsletter list!
Good – I would use them again
- Robin Reads (.05)
- Love Kissed Book Bargains (.02)*
- Freebooksy (.09)*
- Book Barbarian (SF only) (.06)
Okay – I might use them again, as a supplement
- Ereader News Today/ENT (.06)
- Red Roses Romance (Book Barbarian’s sister site for romance) (.08)
- Many Books (.11)
I won’t use these again – Skip
- Sweet Free Reads (.07)
- Genre Pulse (.1)*
- BKnights (.04)
- Book Kitty (.1)
- People Reads (.16)
- Hot Stuff (.06)
- Book Sends (.22)
- Ebooks Betty (.12)
- Fussy Librarian – not even a blip in downloads
- Space Kissed (a multi-author paid promo campaign) – (.12)
Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
- Books Butterfly (.63) (this was a $100 ad!)
My opinion is, if an ad is cheap ($25 or less), I can afford to take a chance. If an ad is $100 or more, it has to deliver.
Things to know: Many newsletters have limits on how often they’ll run an ad for a book and/or author. Some advertising venues book up fast, and are booked out a month ahead (or more). Others won’t book out more than two weeks ahead. Some newsletters are choosy about what they accept and curate their ads. You can’t count on getting a slot even if a date is open. With others, if you play your money, you’re in like Flynn.
Some newsletters only advertise Amazon links. However, others will include other booksellers, too. If you’re looking to boost your visibility on iBooks or BN, that’s something to consider in your choice of newsletters.
That’s all, peeps! If you followed all three parts of this series, thank you! You’re a trooper! Stranded is still permafree. I’ll keep submitting to BookBub, continue to advertise, and test different newsletters. I have a pie-in-the-sky download target in mind, and I’m just crazy enough to think I might achieve it. Besides, sales of the other Cy-Ops Books are on a nice upwards trend and have more than paid for the cost of the ads and then some, so why not?
What advertising venues have you tried that delivered the ROI? Which ones would you avoid?
* I booked Genre Pulse, Freebooksy and Loved Kissed twice. I had such great results with LK in April, I booked them again in May. Same good results. Amazon screwed up my first Freebooksy ad (read part 1 about the debacle), so I booked them a 2nd time and had great results. I tried 2 different subgenres with Genre Pulse (PNR & Romance). Both were lackluster.