Does Traditional Advertising Work For Promoting Self-Published Books? | Self-Publishing Relief

by | Aug 15, 2018 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Traditional advertising—magazine ads, website ads, radio spots, billboards, mailing lists, and essentially anything outside the realm of social media—can be a powerful engine for building your author brand and promoting your self-published book. But is the cost of traditional advertising worth the return on your investment? The experts at Self-Publishing Relief have the info that will help you decide.

Traditional Advertising And The Goal Of Creating Awareness

Paid advertising is a way to create awareness and increase the visibility of your author brand—which is not the same as nabbing actual sales of your book.

For example: When a publisher pays to advertise a book using a television or radio commercial, the company is not expecting to drum up scores of new readers. Rather, they are announcing that the book is available, and they are counting on the author’s preexisting popularity or word-of-mouth buzz to actually drive sales.

So while a publisher might use traditional advertising to make readers aware that a book has been published, it’s often (though not always) other marketing efforts that actually close the sale.

What Factors Influence A Reader’s Decision To Buy A Book?

Readers make the decision to buy a book based on various factors:

While a great advertisement in a newspaper or a radio spot might create enough “sizzle” to get readers interested in learning more about your book, it’s the “steak” they’ll find once they’ve clicked onto your author website or retailer’s book page that closes the deal.

5 Questions To Ask If You Are Going To Traditionally Advertise Your Book 

How is the ad billed? Radio spots or ads in print magazines often require a very straightforward, one-time fee. But traditional advertising online can be more complicated. Some online publishers bill writers based on the number of people who click on their advertisement. Others bill based on “impressions,” i.e., how many people merely see the ad. Pay-per-click ads tend to be more costly than ads paid by impression—but they also may be more cost-effective in the end.

Will the ad reach your target audience? If you pay to advertise your cozy mystery to an audience that prefers thrillers, you may not see a big ROI. Also, if you pay to advertise to the general population (as opposed to advertising specifically to people who enjoy reading your type of book), you may not see great results. 

Is your timing good? There’s some debate as to the best time of year to advertise a book. Summer book sales must compete with big-name beach-read blockbusters. But winter book sales can get lost in the holiday hullabaloo. If your book has a seasonal/holiday/event-driven hook, you may want to exploit it by advertising during a key timeframe.

Where exactly will the art be placed? Advertisements that appear on the bottom of a long Web page won’t be as effective as ads that are up in the header. The same goes for print advertising as well—the best ads appear in the most visible places.

Is the reproduction quality good? Ask questions to the advertising manager to ensure that your ad will get great placement and high-quality printing/reproduction.

Make The Most Of Your Self-Published Book Promotion Advertisements 

Publishing an image of your book cover art is an effective way to raise awareness. But why not use your advertising space to compel readers to connect with you for the long term? Tease readers to sign up for your author mailing list by offering them free digital goodies and downloads. That way, your paid advertisement has the potential to do more than sell one book: it can build future sales as well. Here are some great ideas for cheap digital giveaways on your author website.


Question: Have you ever bought a book because of an ad? What hooked you?

1 Comment

  1. Colin Coles

    Online advertising might or might not draw in buyers. Comments from first readers, even though positive could stereotype your novel and detract rather than attract. It is no accident that novels published by main stream publishers have blurb recommendations from newspapers across the cover and inside. A formula that has worked before and readers of said newspaper with others will doubtless be enticed to buy. The power of advertising is not there for the self-published authors in the same way, but opportunities need to be taken to promote on relevant sites with updates for forthcoming events promoting your novel or novels. Where a magazine or organization ask for a copy you need to have one to send, with covering letter and short author biography.You probably won’t get an immediate reply, but it is worth the wait to get a review from a professional magazine and editor. You need to accept that you are very unknown. You lack the razzamatazz, as an author, from a main stream publisher with that access to manifold and advertising medium to promote an individual author’s novel or novels.


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