Goodreads Ad Campaigns

goodreads logoWe’ve had several posts about Goodreads. Melinda Clayton gave an excellent primer on it not too long ago, as well as an introduction to the ways you can advertise on it. As Melinda pointed out, there are several ways to advertise with Goodreads. I tried out the self-serve method, and I was happy with the results. I’ll tell you what I did, but let me put in a small disclaimer: The ad campaign may not work the way you think it will.

Here is how Goodreads describes the process.

Easily create an ad for your book or product. (They’re right; it is easy. You insert the name of your book and the ISBN or ASIN and they fill in the cover image, description and links to your book on Goodreads.)

Add credit to your account by prepaying. Each time someone clicks your ad, the bid will be deducted from your Goodreads account. (The great thing about this is that you don’t have to go crazy. I advertised three of my books, putting a total cap on each of $10.00.)

• Your ads will show on Goodreads in locations where members are searching for and exploring books.

Target your ad by book genre, location, gender, or age. (You can choose from a large selection of genres — as many as you want — or you can just choose everyone.)

View custom stats for your ad to see views, clicks, and the number of Goodreads members who add your book. Watch as Goodreads’ virality helps your books numbers grow via word of mouth. (Now this is where it gets interesting.)

Your ad will show up in searches over and over, but you won’t be charged anything unless someone clicks on the ad. As long as you still have a credit balance on your account, the ad will continue to run. In this way, I actually see it as a good thing when people don’t click on your ad. Why? Because you continue to get visibility at no cost. Remember Lynne Cantwell’s post on effective frequency? (And notice the frequency with which we refer to it?) The first few times a reader sees your ad, it may not even register. Then, they may think, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that before,” and move on. But eventually, they might think, “Hm, wonder what that’s about?”

One of my books racked up a total of 80,894 views before the $10.00 was eaten up by 50-cent clicks. Eighty thousand. Another book had 94,803 views, and the third had 97,347. Almost one hundred thousand views before the $10.00 was used up. Now if you’re looking for instant results, over the length of any of these campaigns, only 20 people actually clicked on any one ad before the credit was used up. That doesn’t seem like much. But when you take into account the exposure — almost one hundred thousand views per book — that’s pretty impressive. We all know that building a platform and building name recognition is a never-ending job. We don’t do that overnight. We don’t do that with a single shot. We do it slowly, over time, getting our name out there over and over and over until it finally starts to register with people. “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that name before.” And that’s exactly what this kind of ad campaign does.

I felt this campaign was totally worth the few bucks I spent. And it’s great fun to check your numbers and watch them rise. Goodreads also allows you to see how many readers put your book on their TBR list, as well, which is, of course, what we’re aiming for in the long run. All in all, great exposure, very inexpensive and fun — you can’t beat that with a stick.

Author: Melissa Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. She has been both traditionally and independently published and lives in a small community in northern Arizona. Learn more about Melissa from her Amazon author page and her blog.

21 thoughts on “Goodreads Ad Campaigns”

  1. Interesting numbers and thanks for sharing. I always thought the book giveaways were more effective that advertising. I realize many author complain that they never see a review as promised and later see the book on Amazon for sale, but it does increase the TBR numbers for a book.

    I think one key to making a giveaway work is only offering one or two books, coming back and doing it again later, and to keep repeating this over time. An ad disappears never to return, but the physical copies of a book are out there for a very long time.

    I also question the effectiveness of advertising. I noticed when I was running ads I paid a lot of attention to ads, but if I wasn’t running any ads that I never even noticed them. We see traffic signs everyday while driving but how many of those signs can you recall if prompted? I think our recall of ads is even lower. Try to quickly think of the last five newpaper, TV, or internet ads you have seen? Not very effective.

    1. Marc, I agree completely about doing periodic giveaways and giving only a book or two. I can also run ad campaigns again, just by adding to the credit amount. I understand what you’re saying about most of us not looking at ads, but apparently some people do, because they do finally click through for more info. I think some of this exposure is almost subliminal, which of course is very hard to quantify. At any rate, it’s just one more tool in our kit bag of promo opportunities. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  2. Melissa! A great post. $10 for that kind of exposure is fabulous. Your is the most positive memo I’ve read on advertizing with Goodreads. I’ve shied away
    from it. I’m going to give it some thought. Thank you.

    1. I definitely think it’s worthwhile. As with so much of this, it’s hard to tell for sure where the sales come from, but having our name and titles out there as much as possible certainly doesn’t hurt. Try it for a small amount, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

  3. Sounds like a good idea. I may not be able to recall an ad, but when I see a book later – on Amazon or the Internet, I remember it. And when I run into a book a few times, I stop and check it out. The big question is: How do you think it impacted Your sales? That’s what’s important in the scheme of things. Be interesting to know. I think I am going to try it.

    1. Abby, that’s a tough question and I don’t have a good answer for you. I do so many things to promote my books, and although I used to try to correlate this promo with that sale, I realized it’s impossible to tell. Like you say, you see a book and remember you’ve seen it before, so maybe you buy it weeks after the initial promo. All I can say is, I’m happy with my sales. They aren’t burning up the charts, but they keep adding up, month by month. Works for me.

  4. Very interesting post. Melissa.
    I did a GR book giveaway a little while ago and received hundreds of TBRs but almost no sales as a result of it. It’s easy for me to see actual sales as most of mine are in the UK and most of the TBRs were from US members.

    I’ll be considering the GR advertising campaign though. Food for thought there.

    1. Those TBRs could, eventually, turn into sales down the road. Again, it’s tough to correlate a giveaway with actual sales, but I have no doubt the giveaway contributes at some level. It all adds up.

  5. Thanks for this, Melissa. I must say that I do not do anywhere near enough promoting of my work. I do plan to remedy this in the coming year (my official retirement year) and Goodreads sounds like it’s worth a spin or two.

    Excellent post, Melissa.

    1. Thanks, TD. I don’t think any of us promote as much as we could, but these Goodreads ads are the perfect blend of maximum exposure with minimum effort and cost. We like that! And BTW, early congrats on your retirement. If yours is anything like mine, it’ll be great fun!

  6. Melissa, thank you for this post. I find GR to be such a massive site that it’s overwhelming to me, and therefore I do not use it very much. However, your post points out to me, the positive side of its enormous size – thousands of pairs of eyes – and the ad process you have described seems a perfect way to access those readers. Thanks for outlining how to do this!

    1. Dianne, I think you’ll find it worthwhile. I’m running one ad right now: over 35,000 views and I still haven’t used up the $5 I put on it. This one, for some reason, is getting more clicks more quickly than my earlier ones, so maybe name recognition is playing a part! I believe this is all a snowball process, so every little bit we do adds up to bigger things.

  7. Great tip, Melissa; thank you. My first Goodreads Giveaway just ended and watching the numbers grow was so exciting. I plan to repeat the experience again.

    I so appreciate when writers share their worthwhile experiences with those of us who are still learning about publishing.

    1. Thanks, Arlene; glad it was helpful. I, too, enjoy seeing those numbers roll up. And as I said above, this campaign went faster than the ones before (using up the credit with each click), so it could be showing a cumulative effect.

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