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Goodreads Ads Case Study

Note: This is another low effort, annotated version of a post I did over a year ago on the Best Fantasy Books forum, this time focusing on Goodreads ad strategies. I’m including this one since it’s groundwork my second giveaway case study, which will probably be the last low effort post for the week as I finish up edits on book two.

First off, I started with this article outlining Goodreads advertising strategies. Basically it boils down to running several ads at the same time, each one targeting a particular demographic rather than just a general genre blanket ad such as "fantasy." So I identified several aspects of my book that I think it stands out in: 1. Gunpowder Fantasy, 2. Strong female protagonist, 3. Self-published, 4 Epic fantasy WITHOUT elves/ dwarves.

With those in place, I identified authors that fit said categories using Best Fantasy Books lists of subgenres as well as lists of "best" off of Goodreads, eg. Django Wexler as a fellow Gunpowder Fantasy author, Sarah J Maas as writing strong female protags, Will Wight as someone who's successful as a digital self-publisher (the idea being his audience might be more open to a new self-publisher), etc. Note: I made sure there were at least 30 authors for each of these five categories (yeah, I know I only listed four, but the fifth is a catchall combining all these into one). I will also say, I've seen some ad strategies where they just list the top 1,000 authors in whatever genre, and I've tried that for Amazon's AMS ads, which are very similar to Goodreads. However, I think the more focused on the subgenre ads work better than a blanket terms. But that's just me.

Now to the ads themselves, I focus grouped a whole bunch of taglines on this forum, and selected the top five; even though two of them had very little to do with my book (give people what they want, I say). These top five I matched to each of my categories (eg. "Marta Childress: Spy, Traitor, Soldier, Savior" aimed at my "strong female protagonist" group of authors). The tagline that had very little to do with my book, I used for the catchall.

My ad 1 of 5.

Since that time, I have revised my taglines using Page Fights and employing the same voting system for pretty much the same results. The pretty great thing about the Goodreads ad campaign is that it can be done on the cheap. As in I only put $30 USD into it initially and it's been running for just shy of a year now (as of Oct 2017). You can also set your maxes for what you'll be willing to pay per click, as well as daily limits. Now I will note that my clickthrough rate is pretty abysmal at around .02% (though it has jumped significantly since employing my new cover). However, my goal is not so much getting people to click on it (because, come on, who actually clicks on ads on Goodreads?), more to make sure people in these demos are seeing my book cover on the regular.

All five ads combined.

As such, I'm much more interested in my total views, which has been 350k in the last 11 months. That's roughly 1,000 views per day, though I should note those totals are spread throughout all five of my ads. Some days ad #1 does most of the legwork, and other days it's ad #5; but for the most part my views have stayed steady at an average of around 1,000 per day.

Same month but broken out.

And, interestingly enough (or not), that seems independent on what my bid for clicks is: I've experimented with prices ranging from $.35 to $.75 per click and the needle has moved not one bit. So I'm sticking with an average of $.20 just for the hell of it. So there you go. Please let me know if this is useful or if you know of a better strategy.

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MD Presley is a screenwriter, blogger and occasional novelist… which basically means he’s a layabout.  He has written two books on fantasy worldbuilding, and teaches worldbuilding techniques, tricks, and tips at Forging Fantasy Realms once a week on YouTube. 

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