I'm going to avoid the whole social media marketing topic other than to say (a) I'm still trying (and failing) to find the balance between family, work, writing and online socialising with a marketing slant and (b) I did the obligatory blog tour in my release month and I do think it was a success and (c) there are plenty of other writers out there who have this down pat and offer loads of excellent advice.
What I really wanted to talk about in this post was paid marketing, as in advertising. Not giving advice here, mind you, just a ramble of what I did, why, and my conclusions.
First up, I decided right at the start that I wasn't going to spend more on advertising than I could potentially earn from the sale of my debut e-book. The range of ebook sales is so up and down, and as this was my first release I had nothing to go on, so putting a number to this was impossible. I cut off my budget at about $130... that includes all my ads put together.
I participated in a treasure hunt (LASR) which had a minimal entrance fee, but I also donated a copy of Betrayed for their competition. This brought viewers to my blog, but from what I could see from the stats, these viewers came to get the URL link and didn't stay to browse or click through to any links for my book. Still, I hope my name lurked in their heads a little while longer, lol.
For the other ads, I had a dilemma with what buy-link to use. Taking the viewer directly to Carina Press means they're limited to shop there. I want them to shop there, because I get much higher royalties straight from Carina Press sales than from thirdparty vendors. But I do think many readers have their preferred choice of vendor, usually linked in with their e-reader, and could this be a stumbling block? My website, on the other hand, gives a quick on-hand blurb of the book (the ad is usually just a cover) in addition to a list of links to thirdparty vendors of their choice - but this requires an extra step in the buy loop. For the most part, I ended up directing viewers to my website - also for the reason so that I could monitor click throughs from the various sites.
My budget wasn't huge, so I was limited to cheaper advertising sites. Should I have aimed higher? Probably, and next time I'll splash out on at least one or two of the more expensive sites, if only for comparison. I don't have the data for comparions now, but common sense dictates that the more expensive sites have better click through rates - even the cheaper sites had excellent reading stats.
Monitoring click-through rates to my site, I noticed that the worst performance was my rotating banner ad. The site I used had unlimited ads in the rotation, which meant you could click for days without actually seeing your ad come up. Other sites put a limit on the number of ads in their rotation, and this probably has a much better success rate.
Static ads, especialy on the web site's main page, got the best click through rate. These are more expensive but well worth it. Still, I was looking at maybe 2-3 click throughs from that link per day. And also, to get these spaces, you have to plan ahead and get your booking in early, they fill up really fast and long in advance. I only started looking at advertising once my book was released, and got lucky on one site where they'd had a cancellation. Next time I will start booking these slots the second I have a release date.
Do I consider the poor click-through rates a failure? NO, not at all. As a reader of many of these online sites, I'm bombarded with cover ads and seldom click through myself unless something really jumps out at me or if I know the author and see they have a new release out. But as a debut author, I have to get my name out there, and the more times people see my name, my cover, the better for it to trigger something in their head when they're browsing through bookselling vendors for something to read. If this exposure sparks something in them to take a second look, I'm happy - of course this is not anything that can be monitored, but I do believe in paid advertising as a neccessity.
My publisher, Carina Press, also do a lot of their own marketing and advertising, and I was delighted to see my book in some of their bundled ads.
The sites I used for advertising were Long and Short Romance and Romance Junkies. I shied away from Smart Bitches and Dear Author because of their more expensive rates, but I'll definitely look at advertising on these sites next time round.
There are so many paid advertising opportunities out there, and my conclusion is that next time I'll make much greater use of them, selecting on or two expensive options and plenty of the cheaper options.