You want to sell more books, so you’re looking into running ads.
But the whole idea makes you a little nervous.
You’re scared you’ll spend a ton of money and get ZERO sales. You’ve heard it happen to others and you don’t want your hard-earned dollars to go to waste.
That alone is enough to make you never invest in book advertising.
But you’ve also heard about authors who got incredible returns from book ads.
How can you make sure your ads actually work?
That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.
At Best Seller Publishing, we’ve run book ads for ourselves and our clients for years.
And I distill my experience in this guide so you can make the best possible investment decisions to get more book sales.
The Big Question: Should You Invest in Book Advertising?
Yes. When done well, book ads will help you sell more books and grow your business.
We’ve grown to the point where we spend several thousand in advertising each day and turn a massive profit.
But there are a ton of moving parts with advertising, so it’s important to understand how to do it well before investing heavily.
What does “done well” mean?
Broadly speaking, it means finding the balance between these 3 factors:
- Budget – You have to have enough resources available to make a significant investment in paid ads. The specific budget depends on your unique situation, but it needs to be big enough to handle several tests so you can refine your campaigns over time.
- Offer – You need a proven offer to succeed with advertising. If you don’t, ads can help you solidify your offer, but it will cost more money because you’ll need to test more. As authors and business owners, we want to use our books as the offer – usually as the entry point of a “free plus shipping” book funnel.
- Numbers – As you test your offers, targeting, and more, advertising becomes a numbers game. It will only make sense if you make money. So, you need to know your margins and have well-defined goals before starting an ad campaign. In our case at Best Seller Publishing, we know we can offer my book Publish. Promote. Profit. for free because we’ll make our money back on bigger offers like our done with you and done for you services (more on this in a minute).
Finding the right balance between these factors means a lot of testing.
You need to test everything from your targeting to your ad creative to find your sweet spot–where you can profitably run ads.
But there’s another HUGE factor that determines whether or not book advertising will be worth it for you…
The #1 Situation Where Ads for Authors Aren’t Worth It
Book ads aren’t worth it if you’re hoping to generate an ROI just by selling your nonfiction book.
That’s nearly impossible to do…
Book advertising usually only makes sense if you have several higher ticket offers to sell.
At Best Seller Publishing, for instance, we use my book Publish. Promote. Profit. as the entry point for our funnel.
Our funnel is profitable even though I offer my book for free at the beginning (buyers just pay for shipping).
We sell online courses, done-with-you services, done-for-you services, and more.
In doing this, we spent $92,000 more than the book sales alone brought in over 6 months…but made $2 million in revenue from other sales.
How to Create Book Advertisements That Drive Revenue
This process assumes you’ve already…
- Edited, refined, and made your book as good as it can possibly be
- Identified your target audience and know what kind of message they’ll respond to
If you haven’t, don’t invest in advertising until you do these two things.
Step 1. Create Your Book Funnel
A “free plus shipping” funnel is your best bet as a nonfiction author.
I have an entire post dedicated to book funnels, but the general idea is to create “tiers” of offers that build off your initial offer…a copy of your book for free if they pay for shipping.
Start with low-priced products and work your visitors up to the highest-end service you can provide.
At Best Seller Publishing, we offer a $47 workshop to people who bought Publish. Promote. Profit.
Anyone who buys that gets an offer for a higher-priced course. Then, people who continually show interest end up getting an offer for our done-for-you services where we guarantee becoming a best seller.
Creating your funnel is the first step in this process because it creates a complete plan for how you’ll attract, nurture, and pitch your leads.
If you don’t have a plan (or in this case an automated system) for taking your prospects through the 5 stages of awareness, it’s going to be very difficult to make money from your ads.
Sending people to random places like your book’s Amazon page is a recipe for disaster.
Step 2. Determine the Best Ad Platform(s)
With a fully-fledged plan in mind, it’s time to pick the platforms you’ll advertise on.
This is simple.
All you need to do is determine where your audience hangs out online.
What websites do they frequent?
What social media platforms do they use? And what kinds of accounts do they follow?
What other books do they read?
These answers will inform the best platforms to advertise on.
As an overview, here are some of the most popular platforms authors advertise on and what they’re best for from my experience:
- Amazon (best for selling your book – not always profitable for nonfiction authors)
- Facebook (best for attracting buyers for your higher ticket offers)
- Google Ads (best for targeting very specific types of buyers based on keyword searches)
- LinkedIn (best for attracting high ticket buyers like Facebook – more geared towards B2B markets)
- Goodreads (best for selling your book – likely won’t attract high ticket buyers)
Step 3. Make the Creative
Your ad creative will be many people’s first interaction with your brand.
If it looks cheap or doesn’t communicate effectively, you’ve already lost. That’s why hiring a graphic designer is a good idea unless you have that skill set.
You get what you pay for here. I don’t recommend hiring a designer off Fiverr, but sometimes a marketplace like Upwork can work. Just make sure you don’t pick the cheapest option. Go for quality–it will be well worth it.
There’s one main thing you need to keep in mind when designing a book advertisement.
It needs to position your book as the solution to your target audience’s problem.
Everything in your creative must be carefully selected in order to appeal to your specific prospects.
And if you’ve done your market research, you should already have a great idea of the types of ad creative that will stop them mid-scroll.
Step 4. Write the Copy
On most platforms, you’ll also have to write copy to accompany your ad creative. This copy will play a HUGE role in whether people click through to check out or buy your book.
This, too, needs to position your book as the solution to your target audience’s problems.
Keep it short and simple.
While longer ads can work, short pain-point-driven ads will generally work better for the free plus shipping funnel.
Highlight one of the key problems your book solves, preview how your book solves it, and make the pitch for the free book they just have to cover shipping for.
Step 5. Test and Iterate
The most important part of book advertising is approaching it like a science experiment.
You need to test different ads, offers, creatives, and even platforms until you find a mix that gives you the best ROI.
Your testing and iterating are never over.
Ad platforms change their rules all the time, ads eventually stop working, and massive economic and societal changes (like COVID-19) impact your performance.
So, it’s crucial to begin any sort of book advertising campaign with a scientist-like mindset.
Book Ads Are Just the Beginning
Book advertising can work wonders for your business when done right.
But you shouldn’t expect to get massive ROI (if any) from book sales.
Your book ads should be the entry point of your funnel–where prospects get your book for free (plus shipping)
And if you set this up right, you can grow a multi-7-figure business from your book.
That’s exactly what we’ve done at Best Seller Publishing–both for ourselves and our clients.
And we can do it for you, too.
To get started, you can get a FREE copy of my bestselling book Publish. Promote. Profit. which will show you more about this entire system.
All you have to do is cover shipping. 🙂