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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Addled and Rattled

The first advert to appear on national UK television in 1955 was a tube of Gibbs SR toothpaste immersed in a block of ice. Black and white of course. It made headlines in the national press, which meant that Gibbs had stolen a march on their rivals, albeit temporarily. Their target audience was anyone watching the TV, their audience reach was anyone watching the TV as well, and the knock-on effect was carried over in the newspapers to a huge audience. Job done. But how would they achieve that in today’s modern world of advertising? Indie authors are well aware of the need to advertise their books, but only a minority are able to achieve the desired results. Sure, there is a great deal of information out there, some of it very good, but boy, is it complicated.

On the Mark Dawson SPF Facebook group, the question was posted by one member about the cost of advertising. He had spent $40 and had no sales, and that was on AMS and BookBub. He asked what would be a reasonable amount to spend? The first reply was from a lady writer who said she spent $400 a DAY! No, that’s not a misprint. It was followed by a perfectly understandable query about the cost, but she replied that she didn’t begin that way; she kept it small: $75 a day and gradually built up as she sold more books. Another writer pitched in who was spending $200 a day, and further responses went as high as $1200. This is when I felt myself shrinking back in my chair.

Of course, those who posted those enormous figures did claim that it meant a great deal of testing and changing their adverts on a constant, almost daily basis. There was talk of distorted CTR as a result of a badly configured ad, not targeting the right audiences with the right authors, split testing using the same advert but with a different daily spend, daily budget and careful monitoring. Now I’m on my knees and struggling to get back into my chair. It’s clear to me that my pathetic attempts at promotion and marketing are infantile, and no way are they going to achieve one sale. My only recourse is to rely on organic sales.

Another question was posed on the Indie author mindset — this is Adam Croft’s group — about what price is better? The consensus of opinion came down to a price higher than the bog standard $2.99/$0.99, and pitch the book at $3.99 and go up from there. So I decided to follow that conventional wisdom and advertise my crime novel, Where the Wicked Dwell ( at $3.99. My results thus far on AMS are 1300 impressions and a spend of $0.55. On BookBub it’s about 1400 impressions and a cost of $5.00. So, after four days I have achieved zilch. What must I do now? Well, according to a lot of answers I’ve seen, I must spend up to at least $100 a day, split test my ads, change the authors I’ve referenced in my ads, select a different target audience, change my daily budget, get the money spent quickly rather than spread the cost over too long a period, and get a gun and shoot myself in the foot so I would have a good reason to be hopping mad! But no, I’m not going to do any of that; I’m going to be really cool and typically British. I will soldier on and prove them all wrong because my books will sell themselves, right? Yeah, I thought so.

Back in the real world, I have made some progress on my WIP and come up with a dramatic arc that will (should) make the reader wonder where the hell I’m going with it. But I’ve given it some thought and believe it will be a big help. I’ve been editing the story with the aid of Scrivener where I keep a scene by scene copy of the book, and rearranging some of the character’s situations too. I’ve only increased the word count marginally, but I believe I can see a way through to reaching a minimum of 60,000 words as I get to the end.

Looking ahead, I hope to get to our CHINDI meeting on Thursday in Arundel. That will be the book group’s tri-monthly gathering, simply to get to know each other, meet face to face and generally talk about books. Should be good.

Those of you who have been following my blog and wonder how my wife Pat is getting on: so far we are no further forward. Pat has been referred to the haematology department for further investigation. Poor girl is fed up with it all. So am I. But we’ll persevere. Wish us luck!

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