Is the Goodreads Premium Book Launch Advertising Package Worth the Money??

As most marketing-savvy authors are aware, Goodreads provides two different levels of advertising. The first one is the Goodreads self-serve pay per click option, which lets you run a short text ad with the image of your book cover for about 50 cents per click. The problem with these ads is that they’re in the sidebar very low on the page, and the book cover image is almost microscopic. They’re just not visible. Even for a pay per click veteran like myself, it’s hard to create an ad that people will actually see and click on.

The other option is the premium book launch package, which includes the pay per click option, a book giveaway, a premium author page, and one of those flashy, image-rich display ads that are hard to miss. You get all of this for $2500. Goodreads won’t really negotiate that price.

Well, I don’t have $2500 bucks to throw at a campaign like this, but I DO have a credit card with some open space on it. If I can prove to myself that the ad would pay for itself, then I would be stupid not to buy it, right?

I started scouring the web to see if there are any authors or publishing houses out there talking about the ROI on this package, and of course, there aren’t. So I sent an email to the Goodreads Ad rep, asked for a proposal, and started grilling him on various statistics.

Here’s what I learned:

Creative

Goodreads does not provide the creative for these ads, so you better find a darn good designer.

Click Through Ratios

Here are the average clickthrough ratios (CTR) for the two types of ads:

Text Ad CTR: .05%  (my actual campaign is running .06%)

Display Ad CTR: .16%

Conversion Rates

According to Goodreads, the average conversion rate once someone clicks on the ad is about 50%. This means, in Goodreads terms, that 50% of people who click on the ad will add your book to their “to-read” list.

The average length of a typical Goodreads “to-read” list, according to the ad rep, is 9 books.

Measuring ROI

Okay, so my book is a legal thriller called Black Oil, Red Blood. (You know I had to get some self-promotion in here somewhere, right? ;) ) Accordingly, the ad rep put together a proposal for me that includes 456,790 impressions on pages of users who have indicated they like thrillers.

With a CTR of .16%, that means I would get roughly 7300 clicks.

If half of those people added my book to their to-read list, that would be 3,654 potential new readers.

Okay, so let’s say only half of  the the people who add the book to their list  get around to buying the book, for whatever reason. That would be about 1830 sales.

Right now, the e-book version and the print version of my book earn about a $2.00 royalty.

So that’s a potential gross profit of $3,660. Subtract my advertising costs from that, and I get a net profit of  $1,160.

Not bad.

Would you buy the advertising package if you were me?

Okay, here’s the deal. If I don’t hit those numbers, I’m out a lotta money. But if I do, AWESOME, right? The key, I think, is making sure you have a really strong opening that draws readers in. The problem is, as of right now, I really have no way to know how many people have downloaded sample chapters but chose not to buy the book–so I don’t know how well my opening converts. Frustrating!

And this is where I ask for your help.

I’m going to share the first 300 words of the opening of my book. Please comment and let me know whether you would or would not want to buy it (say, for $2.99 on Kindle) if you were a thriller fan. And then let me know if you think this advertising package would be worth it! Thanks in advance:

Here goes:

I didn’t even know how to use a gun before yesterday, and I certainly hadn’t become a crack shot overnight. That didn’t bode well for my chances of survival at the moment —especially since I was currently staring down the wrong end of somebody else’s barrel. What was I supposed to do? Duck? Shoot first? Run?

Maybe the decision would have been easier if I hadn’t loved the guy pointing the gun at me. I watched his trigger finger tense as the smoky, toxic air around us seemed to grow even thicker. Walls shook and the floor rolled beneath me as an explosion thundered through the building. The PetroPlex flagship oil refinery was fast on its way to becoming nothing but a memory.

The doorframe buckled before my eyes—my only means of escape. Sharp orange tongues of flame lapped at me from above, sending down a rain of fiery particles as acoustic ceiling tiles disintegrated overhead.

That’s when I knew that gun or no gun, I was going to die.

Read More (Legal thriller: Black Oil, Red Blood)

 

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17 Responses
  1. Personally, I think it’s a lousy deal and wouldn’t purchase it. The book giveaway and the author page you can set up yourself for FREE. Basically, you’re paying for the ads. But Goodreads is a great place to meet and mingle with other readers who would be happy to read your book (for free) and write some reviews. Plus, it gets your name and the name of your book “out there” in the reading world. I like your opening, by the way.

    Darlene Craviotto

  2. Diane Castle says:

    Thanks Darlene! I really appreciate the feedback!

  3. Judith Post says:

    That’s way too much money for a gamble. I’d try a lot of free ways to promote your book first. Do you Twitter? Have you signed up for reviews on Goodreads? Your writing is really smooth, and I like your opening, but there wasn’t enough there to pull me in and make me buy. 300 words are more like a blurb. You read blurbs, and then if you like them, you take time to look at the opening pages or first chapter. If that hooks you, you buy. It’s a great hook, but not enough substance to reel the reader in to spend money, so I think the gamble’s too iffy. Just my opinion, though.

  4. I have a pretty close to zero budget so I can’t afford to try the Goodreads launch program but have done book giveaways on Goodreads. Most winners write a review and most reviews have been good so for the price of a few books I get some publicity.

  5. The short opening is good enough to make me want to download a sample, but not enough for a buy decision. Of course, the goal is to take the reader to the next step and I think you met it.

    I wouldn’t gamble that kind of money on the ad campaign. I think the glory days for ad campaigns are over because the ebook market is saturated with freebies. Goodreads only talks about people adding you to a TBR list. The jump from TBR to buy is actually a wide chasm.

    Good luck and appreciate you posting your results, especially the one with KND. Thanks

  6. John says:

    So, did you ever end up doing this? I always wondered how the ROI would be on one of their packages.

  7. Diane Castle says:

    I did–as a result of it I sold about 79 books. Not enough to pay for the advertising fee, that’s for sure! Very disappointing!

  8. John Smith says:

    It took me 4 years to figure out, but I finally nailed it and now I am selling over 1000 copies of my book using free traffic from twitter and youtube. Don’t go the advertising route as it takes 100 clicks to get one sale. So if you are paying 0.50 per click that means you spend 50 to sell one book and if the book is priced ($8.97) on kindle you will get $6.2. That works out to a loss of $43.8 per book.

    On the other hand, imagine getting 5000 daily visitors from twitter to your amazon page. That works out to 50 buyers or $310 in pure profits per day or $9300 per month. Figure out a way to turn free traffic from the social media into book buyers and you will be rich beyond your dreams. Wish you luck. John

    • Diane Castle says:

      Hey, John! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. That’s so awesome that you are able to sell so many copies of your book. Please tell me more about your book! I personally have not been able to get Twitter or Facebook to work for me, but perhaps that’s because I write fiction. Do you write fiction or non-fiction?

    • John,

      How do you get that many links on twitter without getting suspended?

      Thanks,
      Fred

  9. Diane, this is a great example of how to look at potential return on investment. Many authors don’t have a background in business or marketing and I have found that they often don’t calculate the potential ROI of book promotions (in terms of money and/or time invested). I think the GoodReads program is probably too expensive a gamble for the typical self-published author, but authors can learn a lot from your article and your own experiment with the GoodReads ad. And the opening paragraphs of your book are compelling – which is so important because people can read a sample online.

    • Diane Castle says:

      Hey Dana! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yep, I have definitely concluded that the Goodreads ads are too expensive for a typical self-pub author, but are probably a good investment for a large publisher investing in a book launch of a big title. I’m a fan of your site–thanks for the work you do on book marketing education as well!

  10. Liam Perrin says:

    Hi Diane,

    The stat from goodreads about the average to-read list being 9 books seems misleading. I suspect that number is factoring in a massive number of inactive goodreads members. I typically see active members with to-read lists in the several hundreds and even thousands. That’s anecdotal I know, but I suspect the conversion rate from to-read to read is much lower than 50%. I wouldn’t gamble on a number greater than 10% no matter how good your hook is. Think of it like an Amazon wish list – I have books that have been sitting on my wish list for 10 years. Running your own giveaways for free can net you a few hundred to-reads for the cost of one autographed copy and shipping.

    It might pay off for a series – advertise #2 launch and #1 cheap or free, and hope to get the ROI on followup sales for #2.

    My 2 cents :)

    • Liam Perrin says:

      I just noticed this article is dated 2012. The situation is even more questionable now – my own inquiry last month to the premium ad package was answered with encouragement to pursue the self-serve ads if I have anything less than 5 grand to spend on a premium campaign.

    • Diane Castle says:

      Hey Liam. I agree with you on that stat, and have seen the same anecdotal evidence. I have since discovered that running giveaways for free actually results in MANY more sales than the $2500 Goodreads package did. Sure, you have to give away your work, but it’s free, and it’s new readers. It definitely helps to have more than one book out there, I would think! Thanks for commenting!

  11. Alan L'aboutre says:

    Unfortunately, .16% of 456,790 is not 7300 but 730; to achieve 7300 clicks you would have needed a click-through rate of 1.6%. That miscalculation appears to have misled you and cost you dearly. Assuming you did get 730 clicks from your campaign, Liam’s estimate that 10% of clicks result in sales looks about right. If it’s any consolation, your rate was actually a bit higher than that – perhaps a testament to your writing skills?

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