Advertising, Book Promotion, Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Writing Business

Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors Part 4: Advertising

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Image from Pixabay

For the past month, I’ve been talking about affiliate marketing as another stream of income and also about using it as an opportunity to promote your book. Today, I’ll talk about approaching affiliate marketing as an advertiser. Yes, you can pay an influencer to promote your book to their audience. However before you get excited, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.

Why Use An Affiliate?

If your platform is small to nonexistent then you’ll probably need to borrow someone’s audience. I talked about this in my post: “How to Pitch and Approach Influencers” last year. A large platform takes time and hard work to not only build but also to maintain and most authors don’t have the time or know how to do it. This is why it makes sense to seek out influencers to promote your book.

How Much Are You Willing To Pay Them?

This is important because price will matter significantly when it comes to interest in your product. If you’re selling a 99₵ eBook, there will be little interest in it, even if you’re splitting 75% of the profits. However, if you’re selling a print book for $8-$20 and splitting 75% of the profits, that may generate more interest. If you’re selling other products like eCourses, or workshops it will generate even more interest because those usually cost more and more money, means bigger profits for the content creator.

Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

Dellani
A meme I created for author Dellani Oakes

As convenient as hiring an influencer is, it doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to promotion. You still have to plan because wishful thinking doesn’t sell books. You need a release date (or rerelease date in some cases), a good price, a social media strategy, blog posts, interviews, etc.  Yes, you still have a responsibility when promoting your own book.

Things To Consider Doing During Your Campaign:

1. Create a script for the content creator: You can be as formal or as informal as you want to be.
2. Create social media posts: If social media is part of the deal make sure to supply them with the info they need like; links, prices, sales dates, etc.
3. Create: Graphics such as memes.
4. Hold a giveaway or contest on your site.
5. When you get those people to your site, make sure you get them to sign up for your newsletter. You do have one right?
If all goes well, you’ll get a few sales and a few new subscribers for future promotions.

The Takeaway

Yes, affiliate marketing can be hard work no matter which side you’re approaching it from. It takes study, planning and not to mention, guts to succeed at this. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you that affiliate marketing isn’t a get rich scheme. Like with most things, it takes time to learn and it takes time to build trust with advertisers and content creators.

Affiliate marketing isn’t just profitable monetarily but also in the sense of platform building. If you want to make a career as an author, your thoughts should be more on the long term rather than on the next sale. But that’s another post for another day…

If you missed the other 3 parts here they are listed below in order:

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Advertising, Marketing, Writing Business

Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors Part 2: Rules & Expectations

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Pic via Pexels

Last week, I talked about the basics of affiliate marketing and today, I’ll be discussing the steps a indie author can take for a successful and hopefully, a stress free campaign.

When selling someone’s product, it’s obvious you should put as much effort into it as if it were your own product. That means learning the rules and laws concerning selling products, yes, there are rules and if you don’t follow them there could be serious consequences. We’re talking about being banned as well as getting fined by the government in extreme cases.

Today, I’ll be discussing why you need not only a large following but an engaged one to sell anything. So let’s get started…

Rule #1: If They Don’t Make Money, You Don’t Make Money!

Affiliate marketing shouldn’t be something taken lightly. If your campaign is a disaster, you could lose long term opportunities. That means future advertisers won’t touch your platform with a 10 foot pole. Your goal should be to make the advertisers some money. That’s why it’s important to be choosey as to which products you’ll endorse. This is a job and not a get rich quick scheme so treat it like you would any professional project.

Rule #2: Platform Is Vital

In order to get sales, you’ll need to get a significantly large audience. Marketers know for a fact that a website needs a large number of visitors before someone converts (clicks buy). It’s not unusual for a large company to require bloggers have an audience of at least 10,000 unique visitors per month before they will consider doing business with them. Keep in mind they will require you prove your stats through a service like Google Analytics or Clicky.

With social media it’s worse, you not only need a large following but an engaged one before you can make a conversion. That means conversations where you’re not talking to yourself and lots of likes on your posts.  This is important because your sales will be tracked with a special link. If you don’t make any money, it’s unlikely you’ll get another shot with that advertiser.  So there’s no faking it till you make it here.

Rule #3: Share Those Links

If you are going to promote a product be sure to use those affiliate links everywhere. However just be sure not to spam people and don’t be too annoying. Also, if you’re a traditionally published or indie author, you can make more money promoting your own book so why not share those links on your blog, and social media accounts? Amazon and most retailers make that possible now.

Rule #4: Know the Law

Recently, reality television star Kim Kardashian, got in hot water with the FDA when she promoted an antinausea drug for pregnant women on her Instagram account. Apparently, the drug company she was affiliated with didn’t list the correct warnings by failing to mention the drug was never approved for pregnant women with a severe type of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. Sadly, that fact wasn’t addressed in Kim’s post and because of that, it had to be taken down. Though this wasn’t Ms. Kardashian’s fault, it was still a faux-pas that could have been avoided. If you’re promoting prescription drugs, alcohol, adult products, or cigarettes, you need to know what the laws are concerning those products.

Another important law to remember, if you live in the U.S., is that you need to let others know you’re a paid affiliate if not, you can be fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There is a PDF file you can download if you want to know more.

Rule #5: Know The Rules

As if that wasn’t enough, they are also the rules concerning social media sites like Facebook, who forbid selling anything on personal accounts. You must have a business or a fan page for that. Also keep in mind that Facebook likes to lockdown accounts that post nudity or sexually suggestive images. So if you’re selling erotic books, be careful about the images you’re posting. If in doubt, go to Facebook’s community standards post and to their ad policies.

Every social media site from Pinterest to Youtube has its own rules and it’s your responsibility to find out what those rules are least you find yourself locked out of your own account.

Now if all this has you scared, be assured that most affiliate marketing campaigns go off without a hitch. However you do need to be educated about what’s expected of you.

Rule #6: Know Where To Look For Legit Opportunities

Did you know there are actually two ways to get affiliate deals?  Many entrepreneurs look for companies with large marketing budgets and directly pitch them.  The second way is through an affiliate website which is kind of like a dating service for affiliates and advertisers. However be warned, many sites take a percentage of all sales made through them. This is why pitching direct is the best way to go for some business owners.  The percentages vary from site to site so be sure to read any contracts or agreements before signing. Here are the more popular sites used by bloggers and website owners.

  • Social Fabric
  • Tap Influence
  • Flex Offers
  • eJunkie
  • Link Vehicle
  • BlogHer
  • SITS Girls
  • Sponsored Tweets
  • CJ Affiliate
  • Influence Central (accepts small blogs)
  • Weave Made (small blogs)
  • IZEA (small blogs)

These are just some of the sites you should investigate if you are considering affiliate marketing.  There are more targeted ways for indie authors to approach affiliate marketing and that’s  something I’ll address in part 3 of this series.   Yes, there’s a part three because as you may have already guessed, this is a complicated subject.

If you missed last week’s post check it out here.

Advertising, Book Promotion, Book Reviews, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing

How to Increase Your Book’s Odds at BookBub

HomepageScreenMany indie authors call Bookbub the golden standard of online book advertising and I can’t say I disagree. Over the years their competitors like Pixel of Ink have either stopped accepting submissions or have gone under. Meanwhile Bookbub has only continued to grow with no signs of slowing down.  In fact just two weeks ago, Bookbub announced they’ve secured seven million dollars in funding to take their company global. This is great news for indie authors who want to reach more readers and make more money from advertising.

Facts You Need to Know

  • BookBub has a subscriber base of over 5 million members
  • BookBub subscribers are spenders.
  • BookBub has strict standards accepting only 10-20% of submissions
  • They are not the most expensive place to advertise
  • Most indie authors who use their services get an ROI (Return on investment)
  • Even indie authors who don’t get an ROI, report a small boost in sales

Reviews Are Critical?

Author Brian Cohen, from the Sell More Books Show wanted to get his YA book, Ted Saves the World a Boobkbub ad however, that proved to be more difficult than expected. After several rejections, he wanted to know what the problem was.  Determined to get answers, he studied BookBub and particularly, their YA list then noticed that many of the books in his genre had over 130 reviews, at the time, his book only had 115.  Meanwhile, the bestsellers had anywhere between 200-300 reviews.  He’s not the only author to notice this, many indie authors have also had to secure more reviews before Bookbub gave them the nod. However Bookbub claims  reviews aren’t a deal breaker but I doubt they hurt your odds.

Tip: In February, BookBub held a discussion on the Kboards and answered many questions for indie authors.  It’s very informative for those considering buying an ad.

Blurb

Next to editing, writing a blurb is the most hated of tasks according to most authors. In fact, there are books and online courses devoted solely to helping authors nail this craft. However your blurb is not only important for your book’s Amazon sales page but also to BookBub.  If your book sounds boring, why would they want to promote it? This would hurt their reputation with their subscribers. You have to remember this site is oriented toward readers, not authors. They don’t just take anything that comes in the door.

Your Cover

Many authors believe that they need to like their book cover but that couldn’t be farthest from the truth. This year at IndieRecon, bestselling author H.M. Ward, talked about how she didn’t necessary like all her book covers. In the beginning of her career, when her romance novels weren’t selling, she did some careful investigation and realized none of her book covers matched those on the market. Hers were more artsy and whimsical, while the books that were selling had pictures of attractive people in sexy poses.

It was a harsh lesson in marketing but she learned, romance readers expect a certain type of product.  BookBub is no different, they expect your book to look a certain way whether it’s a sci-fi novel, or an erotic book.  If the cover looks bland or weird, they may just pass it up.  Remember presentation matters in this industry.

Price

Price is a big deal on BookBub, if you read the page written exclusively for their subscribers, you’ll see they promise free and deeply discounted books.  This means you have to compete and either go low, or even free.  For those of you who are concerned about going too low, BookBub claims that 65% of their readers have reported recommending books they got for free on the site. Who knew?

Be Flexible

Some authors have been willing to forgo advertising on major holidays and weekends in order to get their book in BookBub. There is a comment section of the application that allows you to alert them to the fact that you are not particular about dates. P.S. This didn’t work with our friend Brian Cohen. 😦

Study BookBub’s Patterns

In every genre there is a pattern or theme that BookBub is favoring at any given time. Now ask yourself, does your book even come near that? For example, if you’re looking to advertise your romance novel, are they favoring historical romances or contemporary ones? It would be wise to sign up for their newsletter (for readers) and see if you can find patterns.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for their blog as well.

Alternatives

If you’ve done all that you can and BookBub is still not accepting your submission, then try going to their competitor like Ereader News Today, another site that indie authors rave about.  You can also check out a post I wrote last year: Cheap Advertising for Indie Authors for more alternatives.

 

Business, Marketing, Publishing, Writing Business

My First Goodreads Ad

Book Advertising

Two weeks ago, I decided to dip my toes in the waters of book advertising.  Was it successful?  You be the judge.

The Setup:

I bought a “D.I.Y.” pay-per-click ad on Goodreads for $40 and bid about 50 cents per click which is the lowest you can possibly go.  I set the cap at $20 per day.

Click Through Rates (CTR) 

To make a long story short, I got a .12% click through rate, which is somewhere between the average Goodreads ad of .05%- .50% CTR.  The only problem I had with these stats are, you have no idea what those people who got that .50% rate actually spent?  So how can I make my ad more successful?

All in all, I did get the word out there about my book, but at a $36.00 loss.  I also learned a whole lot about book advertising.

Mistakes

Number #1:  I didn’t do any split testing, meaning, I didn’t use two or more ads and test them side by side to see which one got the best results.

Number #2:  I had no real call to action in my ad.  My ad basically had the title of my book and the copy: “What would you do if your boyfriend had been intimate with another boy?”  It was enough to entice several people but not enough to get conversions/buyers.

Number #3:  Bad pricing, I set my ebook at $4.99 which wasn’t a problem when it came to clicks but when it came to conversion however, there was definitely an issue!  I’m thinking of taking my price down to the “normal” $2.99 for the book tour and then I’ll raise it back to where it belongs.

Analysis

I put the ad up on Thursday and let it run for two weeks.  The most activity I saw was during Thursday through Sunday.  During the early weekdays however, there was a 60% plus drop in clicks and views.

Book Advertising
The chart that Goodreads provides displaying ad views.

Results in plain English:

55,912 views

70 clicks

one sale

9 people put “Hag” on their to read list.

Things You Need to Know

You must have an authors account or be a representative of an author in order to advertise a book on Goodreads.

GR has rules about the content of  ads, when you put links in your ad, you must tell people where they will be going like; Amazon, B&N’s etc.  This is to protect the customer, so you can’t say, “Click here and get my book on Amazon” and take them to a scam or porn site instead.  Goodreads will check the links you provide!

There is absolutely no pornography, or libelous language allowed.

Before you advertise on their site, Goodreads has to approve your ad, which can take anywhere from 24-72 hrs.  The earliest Goodreads approved my ads was 12 hours, the longest they ever took, 3 days!  Keep this in mind when timing your ad campaign.  If you’re going to post on the weekends, submit your ad by Wednesday.

GR has a cool pause feature, where if your ad is approved too early, you can simply pause it until you’re ready.  It’s also great for split testing!

Well that’s it, there will be a part 2 soon, where I’ll discuss my book launch and all the wonderful, as well as all the nightmarish things that went on.

If you got any advertising stories of your own, please share them in the comments section.