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One of the biggest hurdles facing anyone self publishing or trying to make it in the Independent world is reaching the public. Letting readers, potential readers, buyers, and creepy stalkers know you have a book out there. Finding ways to bring eyeballs to your website or storefront.

In a word: Advertising

Your book isn’t sitting on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, and there’s no big fancy poster hanging in the window (guess what: the same is true for over 90 percent of books out there). The ugly truth is that traditional publishers aren’t spending ad dollars on your average mid-list author, let alone the newbie’s debut novel. They’re spending what few advertising dollars they have these days on the breakout hits, the sure-fire returns, the blockbusters.

So often times you’ll find your “traditionally published” cousin completely ignoring this aspect of their writing lives, resting assured in the belief their publisher is going to see to it their titles are heard about, seen and purchased. Plenty of them, however, are hip to what we already know.

You gotta advertise.

Loads of the traditionally published realize the best use of their advance is in PR and Advertising. We have it doubly-hard in that our books aren’t in Barnes & Noble, so our ad savvy has to be spread further and wider and with more hard-earned thought. No one’s gonna buy your book if they have no idea it’s there. Those who do see it are less likely to run around spreading the word than you might think. To rely solely on word-of-mouth will take a lot longer than if you were to spread it with a butter knife instead.

Maybe you’ve looked around a bit, maybe you haven’t yet. Maybe you’ve got your eyes on some web sites you’d love to see YOUR ad sittin’ pretty on, but you haven’t gone so far as to figure out how to do it.

Here’s a warning: It’s not cheap.

The more popular the website, the more expensive it is to advertise with them. And most of your extremely popular sites use professional services that, frankly, are priced so far out of your league you can’t even find a parking place near the ballpark’s service entrance.

But we have to advertise. We really do. Which is what led me to start wandering around, and pester my friends for advice. One site I found, thanks to some advice, is Project Wonderful. They place ads on popular sites in all sorts of categories, blogs and web pages that receive varying numbers of hits per day, all of which is right there for you to examine.

Project Wonderful isn’t your mother’s advertising agent. There’s no set price for placing an ad somewhere. Instead, they use what they call a proxy bidding system which at first glance sent my head spinning right off my shoulders and onto the floor where it rolled under the desk and collected some dust bunnies !

But I book marked it, and went back a few days later and started to read up on how these bids and auctions work After about an hour reading their examples, my head remained on my shoulders, but I was dizzy. It seemed like a good idea, but to me it looked too open-ended. As if I could make a bid and then, before I knew it, find myself a month later in some serious debt.

But this week I took a chill-pill and sat down again and REALLY examined how this site works, and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s pretty damn spiffy. I’ll only have to pay for the ads when they actually run, and not only can I set my minimum and maximum price for each day’s bid, I can also set limits for the month or week or day – so that no matter what happens, by the end of, say, one month I won’t owe any more than what I said I wanted to spend.

The ad sizes vary, and the sites vary. They have a massive list of participating sites, in multiple categories, and each site’s views-per-day are listed, so you can find only the ones with enough views to be worth your while. So what I’ve done is taken down their template specs, and begun building some ads. This weekend, I’ll sign up and get serious about finding sites I’d like to bid for, and actually start placing some bids and getting some ads out there.

Another avenue useful to Self Pub’s and Indies are friends with blogs, acquaintances with web sites, people willing to share space – perhaps trade links. I’ve started to toy with the idea of offering up free copies of my as-yet-unreleased Military SF to site owners willing to post a banner or leaderboard ad for a month. I’m also going to load various sized ads onto my own web page and offer them as links for visitors to use.

Reviews are another good form of advertising – and before you say “But no one out there will review a book not traditionally published by the big names”, you’re wrong. We’ll talk about that next week.

You can advertise using the popular social medias such as Twitter or Facebook, utilize a blog to your best advantage, network on forums you participate in, talk yourself up.

It’s not enough to think outside the box – we have to think beyond it.

Power to the People!

Make Love, Not War!

Do these jeans make my butt look big?

2 thoughts on “commercial break

  1. An interesting take on advertising. I took a look at Project Wonderful (but didn’t really read too much as I wanted to keep my head on my shoulders). Advertising seem always tricky. I’ve heard that only 10% of what you spend on advertising give any return (not sure if that’s true as sometimes I wonder if it gives any return at all). I guess when picking where to advertise, the location is important. No point of advertising a hard sci-fi novel in site that attracts harlequin romance readers. I think most authors never give a second thought to advertising, but as you said even the published ones want to think how to make sure their books get some exposure (event if it’s via links in websites, free books, link exchanges, permission to post in boards, etc.

  2. That’s the real question – will the advertising be worth any money one puts out. It’s one reason I’m only going to experiment with a very small amount ! It’ll be interesting.

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