Smart Author Advertising Guide: Strategies & Fixes

As authors, we are always striving to get in front of new readers. And smart, targeted author advertising strategies are a key way of reaching them. When you invest time into narrowing both your message and your target audience, you’ll find your efforts are much more successful. Smart advertising is a powerful way to grow… [Read More]

Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for

As authors, we are always striving to get in front of new readers. And smart, targeted author advertising strategies are a key way of reaching them.

When you invest time into narrowing both your message and your target audience, you’ll find your efforts are much more successful. Smart advertising is a powerful way to grow your readership.

Amazon Ads

Amazon is getting increasingly creative with how they’re adding to their product pages and searches.

You’ve probably seen the Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) “Sponsored Products” and “Product Display” everywhere. What this means for you as an author is that it’s time to use Amazon ads to snag a bigger piece of the reader pie.Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for

When compared with Facebook ads and BookBub ads, Amazon ads do require more effort and TLC. However, since you’re getting data from the platform where purchases are being made—you’re ultimately better off.

The AMS site gives you the option to use their automated system to set up your ads or to do everything manually. In my experience, you’ll get better results if you do it manually.

Although you’ll need between 300 and 400 keywords, pulling them together is easier than you might think. Ultimately you are looking for keywords that people who are interested in your book are using. Makes sense, right?

I wrote an in-depth piece on this, with videos, that you should check out after you’re finished here.

Bottom line, I like AMS ads because you’re capturing buyer attention at the source, where there are very few steps needed to capture the sale.  That’s book marketing gold.

Additional Resources:

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads have changed a lot in recent years, which I honestly think is a good thing.Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for

I’ve not been a huge fan of Facebook ads because I never felt like they get enough traction when it comes to buyer funnels and actually selling more books.

But that’s really where I find the changes beneficial. With the increased focus on targeting, there are some guidelines now that make Facebook ads much more straightforward for authors.

And, importantly, Facebook ads are a key support strategy when you’re running discount promotions. They help sweeten the deal and push that click through.

Test Before You Invest

With Facebook, you’ll want to test at least 5-10 different ads. It’s not as much of a time investment as it may seem since you can copy ad formats and tweak details. With that said, creating, testing and analyzing ads is not a quickie strategy. Of all the ways you can save time in your book marketing efforts, this isn’t one.

Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for BookWorks.comYour ad copy must tap into the emotion of your story. If you’re a nonfiction author, you’ll want to focus on the unique selling point.  Why? Because ultimately, your potential buyer must feel super compelled to click on your ad.

Don’t use your cover as the image. Since you’re going after new readers, they won’t know your book. Instead find stellar, emotive images that speak to your genre or topic. People are attracted to people, so keep that in mind. However, remember also that corny stock photos of people don’t work as well as they used to. This means you must be less obvious when using people.

Target Your Audience & Keep It Simple

As with Amazon, Facebook ads should still target people who like your genre, as well as books and authors that are similar to yours. You can even take this to a new level and focus on TV shows and movies. This is where multiple ads come in. Avoid targeting a specific author and then a movie franchise in the same ad—because you won’t know which aspect led to more clicks.Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for

Use the Narrow Audience option to target people who like two concepts that are important to your branding. For my own ads I focus on people who list their profession as “author” who are also interested in “marketing.” This is an absolute must for me. It may limit my reach, but the people who see it are most likely to be ready to talk about marketing their books.

What’s more, I suggest directing people to Amazon. While it can be tempting to send them to your website to learn more about you, it adds a step to the sale. And realistically, a solid Amazon presence will do the same thing while not decreasing the likelihood of a sale.

The more steps someone has to take to purchase something, they are more likely to lose interest entirely.

Test, Tweak & Start with a Modest Budget

In terms of budgeting on Facebook, I’d start no higher than $50 altogether.

As you see which ads do the best and get the most clicks, you may want to increase the budget for those.

Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for BookWorks.comIf some of your ads aren’t doing well, before you cut them completely, take a look to see if you can make any tweaks to either text or image to help them perform better.

It’s worth your time to do this because we rarely get things right the first time. In fact, I still do a lot of trial and error with my own promotions. Buyer behavior is always evolving as is the market. And it truly makes book marketing dynamic. It’s honestly the biggest reason that you can’t afford to take a break if you’re serious about your success.

BookBub Ads

BookBub ads are becoming increasingly important for authors, and I’m doing more of them in conjunction with our own campaigns.Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for

They are surprisingly accessible and easy to use, making them a strategy I can confidently hand over at the end of our work.

What’s more, BookBub is a powerhouse in the digital book market. Even though it’s super competitive to get on their newsletter (keep trying every month anyway), any author with a book on Amazon can make use of their ad platform.

Lots of fiction authors have challenges with Amazon ads, whether it’s figuring out the hundreds of keywords, how to read the data, or how to allocate your budget, there are a lot of factors to consider. What’s more, in my experience, fiction just seems to be less predictable.

Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for BookWorks.comDon’t get me wrong, when you can get Amazon ads to work, when your book is a good fit, it can be a really lucrative author marketing strategy. But if you’re running into roadblocks or haven’t even wanted to “go there” yet, don’t give up on ads completely. Instead, it’s a great time to try out BookBub ads.

BookBub ads are simpler because the options are super focused. You can align with your genre, with other authors in your genre, or a combination of the two. This means BookBub is already helping you narrow your targeting.

Still, I recommend a pay per click method, but seriously, BookBub is an excellent place to get your feet wet. I encourage you to read this article with detailed steps for getting ads started.

When Ads Aren’t Working

But what if you’ve run ads, you’ve invested time into learning the best tricks and strategies, and you’re just not seeing any return on your efforts?

It’s probably a good time to dig into why you’re not making the sale.

While ads equal traffic, traffic does not equal sales.

So, getting clicks is definitely a win, but if people are getting to your book page and not buying, then something else is preventing the sale.

What Kills the Sale

When traffic isn’t converting to sales on Amazon, here are some of the most common, and most obvious reasons:Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for

Your Cover. If your cover doesn’t match up to genre standards that you see in the bestseller lists, you need a new one.  Book covers sell books. Why? Because it's not just a cute metaphor, we judge books by their cover. True fact.

While you want to be impactful and memorable, you don’t want to be unique. Shoppers already have it in their head what books in each genre should look like. If your cover doesn’t match up to their mental picture, you’ll miss making the psychological connection and they’ll pass you by.

Your Description. Your book description should read like the written version of a book trailer. If not, you’re losing people. With 4,500+ books published every day, your description had better convince people your book is worth their time and money. If you write fiction, your first line must be the absolute best hook you can come up with. If you write nonfiction you need bullet points that prove you’re a better bet than anyone else out there.

Your Author Bio. Believe it or not, it’s not all about you. Your author bio is not your resume. If you write nonfiction we want to know what your credentials are, but we don’t need to know the year you graduated and your major. Sell yourself as the expert, not with dry facts, but with emotional appeals. To sell nonfiction you need to establish and build trust.

If you write fiction, you should understand what makes readers in your genre tick. So, while it’s cute you have 3 cats, each named for your favorite post-impressionism artists, unless that’s something the majority of your potential fan base can connect with, leave it out. Focus on introducing yourself to readers in a way that aligns you with what they love.

Your Pricing. If you’re self-published, don’t be greedy. I get that you’ve poured your time and energy into your book and there’s no way you could ever charge enough. However, you must align your pricing with other authors at your level. Top dollar is for authors with massive followings and solid track records, while $.99 books can cheapen the value. If you’re traditionally published, you may not have full control over this, but you should still be ready to argue for the best options possible for your market. If your pricing is way off from what you see on the bestseller list, you’ve got problems.

Smart Author Advertising Works

While ads can be a fantastic way to push traffic to your book on Amazon, in order to be competitive, they must be super smart and super focused.

Smart Author Advertising Strategies by Penny Sansevieri for BookWorks.comIt’s worth your time and attention so you can really increase your target buyer reach with ads on platforms like Amazon, Bookbub and Facebook.

And whether or not you’re having issues with ads, I urge you to download my free reader profile worksheet. It will help you define your audience and really fine-tune your message and approach!

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