When you’re in a centuries-old trade that has been completely turned on its head, there are no rules by which to be guided, nor to be bound. People have been writing and selling books for a super long time, but the indie author/POD/online marketing approach is brand spanking new. It’s an interesting challenge, because some of the tools you need have been around forever, but are entrenched in the old way of doing things, and others are simply so new, there’s just no way of knowing what the best ones are.

My philosophy thus far has been to try whatever. “Whatever” translates to just about everything that I come across or pops into my head on any given day. Because you never know what will stick. A case in point is how I benefitted from Goodreads advertising. The book-based social network seemed like a better place to start marketing than paid ads on Facebook, not only because anecdotal evidence suggests it’s not very effective, but also because Goodreads exists to give a captive audience of book lovers ideas for what to read next. Pretty perfect, right?

This chart shows people adding Swedish Lessons to their Goodreads lists. You can see clearly, from peak to peak, when my giveaway started and ended. My ad dates don't even register.
This chart shows people adding Swedish Lessons to their Goodreads lists. You can see clearly, from peak to peak, when my giveaway started and ended. My ad dates don’t even register.

Well, sort of. While my ad wasn’t super effective – in nearly a month of running it, I’ve had exactly one click – but marketing through the site was absolutely not a waste. In addition to ads, Goodreads allows authors to host giveaway drawings. I put ten books up for grabs, created my little campaign widget, and four weeks later, 696 people had entered to win, 353 people added my book to their to-read lists, and it cost me ten books and some shipping. I owed Goodreads nothing. Now, 353 people clicking a button to indicate their intention to read my book doesn’t equate into direct sales, but it does create potential sales – as well as a permanent reminder for those people that they want to read it.

I was willing to pay up to $150 for my first Goodreads ad. Because it’s pay-per-click, they’ll get 75 cents from me, though apparently, 2,144 users viewed it. It certainly didn’t set me back, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. But if I hadn’t run the ad, I wouldn’t have found out about the giveaway program, which really boosted my book’s visibility in front of an incredibly valuable audience.

So I’m trying whatever. That might even include a Facebook ad at some point. Who knows if it’ll work or what else might work better? Nobody does. But it’s pretty exciting to be finding out.


***As if the universe decided to nod in agreement with me on this point, this just happened. Immediately after writing this blog, I went to my Goodreads page to take the screenshot above and found a new review waiting for me. It was from one of the giveaway winners, and it was so thoughtful, analytic and kind, even mentioning that he rated it higher than Running with Scissors, a statement I can’t even wrap my mind around. So, just to reiterate my point, that giveaway was so super worth it. Way worth it. Definitely do that.

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