Does Advertising Make Sense for One Book?

As I near completion of the first draft of my new book, a sequel to Star Riders, I am starting to think about promoting it.  I had been planning to start up Amazon ads again, but I participated in a recent webinar for authors that convinced me maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do.  Read on if you’re interested.

The webinar was put on by Nick Stephenson, a British indie author who has training classes for indie authors (it’s interesting that all of my online sources for self-publishing are British, e.g., Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson – anybody know of any American indie authors teaching others?)

One of the main take-aways for me was a metric I’d never heard before. Here’s how he explained it:

  • AOV = Average Order Value (author royalties per sale)
  • AOF = Average Order Frequency (how many time a single customer will buy from you)
  • LTV =  LifeTime Value (the value an author gets from that single customer)
    • LTV = AOV x AOF

WIth one book, the AOF=1, since that’s all the customer will buy. But if you have multiple books, say a series of ten books, that number goes up.  Let’s say 40% of people who read Book #1 go on to buy and read Book #2, and then 70% of those people go on to Book #3, and 80% read Books #4-10. Then AOF=2.5 (i.e., for every new reader of Book #1, you can expect to sell 2.5 books overall).

When you have only one book for sale, like I do, it’s hard to make advertising cost-effective. My experience just about broke even. But, with multiple books, it can become cost-effective, because selling that first book from an ad means that you can actually expect to sell (in the example above) 2.5 books. At that point, paying money for ads makes sense.

Hence my conclusion that I should hold off on ads right now.  It also became clear to me that it wouldn’t make much sense to advertise the sequel when it comes out, since the main audience is people who’ve read the first book.  So the best way right now to prepare for the sequel’s launch is to get more copies of the first book out there.

Therefore, I’m running a sale on Star Riders in February. Now, the last time I did that, I used three email services to promote it, and got very disappointing results. Fortunately, two of the services offered to re-run the promotion for free, so I’m taking one of them up on that (Fussy Librarian), so this one won’t cost me anything (I’m saving the other one for the next sale). And I’m cutting the price even further this time (to $0.99), since my main purpose is to gain exposure (and hopefully gain readers that will be interested enough to buy the sequel).

I’ll do a follow-up post to let you know how it went.

In the meantime, here’s something for fun.  Without advertising, sales of Star Riders have dropped off pretty much to zero.  I do get a sale now and then, which I assume is somebody who signed up for my email list to get a free copy of the prequel novella, The Worth of a World, read it, liked it, and followed the link at the end of the novella to find Star Riders.  Maybe.

But I still like to look at my Amazon dashboard most every day, and last week, I was delighted to watch someone reading my book (sort of).  Amazon shows a daily count of pages read by Kindle Unlimited customers, and this looks like one person reading my book in eight days:

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 1.22.56 PMI think that’s fun.  Well, it would probably be more fun if lots of people were reading it, rather than just one in a month, but I’ll take it for now.  (Back on December 31, somebody read the whole thing in one day!)

Author: RickAAllenSF

Semi-retired engineer, now a SF author. Recently moved to Colorado Springs, where I work in front of a window looking out at Pikes Peak.

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