ASP 13: Paid Ads for Books (How to Test Them in 2016)

Quote of the day:

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Barrie and Ron are still busy working on the Authority course, so, once again, Steve is hosting this episode solo. This will be a relatively short episode, because we want you to not only listen and learn, but to get out there and start implementing these strategies before the New Year. Today we will be talking about the value of paid book ads, and how you can test them in 2016.

So what exactly are paid book ads?

Paid book ads are websites with readerships that like free or discounted books. You pay these websites money to advertise your book, and they put your book in front of their readers. These sites can have both a general audience and specific niche-targeted audiences.

Personally, I have used BookBub, and my two campaigns resulted in 10,000 sales in a short amount of time. We went over this briefly in Episode #4.

I have also tested sites such as BuckBooks, Ereadernewstoday, Robin Reads, TheEreader Cafe and Reading Deals. I saw decent results ranging anywhere from an extra 50 sales to a few hundred.

The danger is that it is possible to become addicted to paid book advertising. Seeing results and logging book sales feels good, but it is important to evaluate your spending versus sales. If you are spending more on advertising than you are making through book sales, then it doesn’t matter how many thousands of books you are selling—this is a losing proposition.

The Two Major Problems

  1. First of all, there are a lot of paid ad sites, and many of them have different readerships. The cost of advertising on some of these sites can be upwards of a few hundred dollars, so you can very quickly start to spend a lot of money. And with so much going on, it can be difficult to see what works and what doesn’t.
  1. Secondly, there is no tracking. One of the best ways to determine the success of a book on Amazon is to insert a tracking code from their affiliate program called Amazon Associates (where you can create a series of unique IDS for different promotions). Unfortunately, most sites don’t allow this in any promotion you pay for, so you have to guess about what is working and what isn’t—and this is far from an exact science.

My Goal for 2016

One of the reasons I’ve done pretty well with self-publishing is that I’m constantly experimenting and testing new things (as we discussed in the quote of the day from Ralph Waldo Emerson. My goal for 2016 is to test every paid ad site that is available. I know that t his is going to cost money, but I want to know with certainty which are the 5 or 10 best sites where I can pay for ads and know that I will get a return on my investment. This knowledge will be a game changer in the self-publishing industry, so I intend to do extensive market research over the next year.

My Challenge to You

I’d love to see you do the same thing. If you are to be truly successful in the self-publishing industry, you need to know your market and tools. Here is the process that I recommend:

  1. Download the Paid Ad Sites Excel spreadsheet. This currently includes 74 websites—a few of which I have highlighted because I know for a fact that they work—with the costs inserted for most of the sites (some of this info might be outdated): The ones marked in yellow have been successfully tested.
  1. Pick books to test. My recommendation is to make sure each promotion is in an isolated setting (i.e., you’re not running a bunch of promotions all at once).
  1. Schedule the promotions. My advice is to look for the paid ad services that have email lists. It’s been my experience that a banner ad on a website is a complete waste of money. You want direct response marketing, like email.
  1. Drop your book price to $0.99 for five to seven days. You can either do this manually through the KDP Dashboard, or use a Countdown Deal (this program is part of KDP Select).
  1. Space out your promotions. Don’t do the promotions all on one day. Instead, space them out so you’ll know without a doubt if a website is worth your investment.
  • Seven days at $0.99, with promos on days 1, 3, 5, and 7.
  • Seven days at $0.99, with promos on days 1, 4, and 7 (as an alternative to 1, 3, 5, and 7).
  • Five days at $0.99, with promos on days 1, 3, and 5.
  • Five days at $0.99, with promos on days 1 and 4 (as an alternative to 1, 3, and 5).

Be sure to schedule the most expensive ones near the beginning of this cycle—that way you get maximum benefit for your investment.

  1. Analyze your sales. Did you notice an increase (or decrease)? Was there a noticeable drop after the paid ad ended? While this isn’t 100% precise, you can get a lot of good information by studying your sales.
  1. If you are active on (and you should be), then report your findings to your community, especially if you come across solid, valuable results.

Self-publishing is becoming very competitive, so knowing your numbers and running effective ads for your books is an increasingly important thing to figure out.

The pre-launch of is next week. We will be offering an “early-bird” price on the first day, so if you want to be notified, make sure to get on the waiting list.

Thanks for Listening to ASP!

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1 thought on “ASP 13: Paid Ads for Books (How to Test Them in 2016)”

  1. Great info, Steve.

    In my experiences here are the few current sites that actually yield big results (meaning an additional 50+ sales) for non-fiction and are certainly worth their cost:

    – BookBub

    – Buck Books

    – ENT

    – Robin Reads

    – Books Butterfly (can depend on your package)

    For more info there’s a thread I just started on Kboards:,231678.0.html


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