Whenever I post earnings figures to author forums, writers ask me about my advertising techniques. Do I prefer AMS or Facebook ads? Am I more of a Bookbub guy? Do I target authors, keywords, or ASINs, and how high do I bid?
I’ve sold almost $50,000 worth of e-books and paperbacks in the first 80 days of 2021, so I must be an advertising guru, right?
I turn a profit through my advertising efforts, but margins are slim. I’m no Mark Dawson (though I completed his Ads for Authors course and highly recommend anything Mark produces). As sales grew last year, I sensed most of my growth was organic. I had no idea how much.
When I broke down my 2021 revenue, the results shocked me.
Percentage of Sales by Source (2021)
AMS Ads 12%
Facebook Ads 4%
Organic Sales 84%
Organic sales drive my bottom line. That’s a great problem to have.
I’d be disingenuous if I suggested advertising wasn’t a significant contributor to my success. When you start from ground zero, as I did in 2018 when I switched from horror to psychological thrillers, you must build an audience. Advertising the first book in a long thriller series introduced my name and writing style to thousands of readers. The thing is, I didn’t spend much money to build my initial audience.
Once I built a small but loyal following, every new release spread my brand better than any advertising campaign could. And as we near the end of the first quarter of 2021, 84% of my revenue is the result of organic growth. I could shut down all my ads tomorrow, and I’m confident readers would still find my books.
So where does organic growth come from?
I wrote at-length about the importance of great covers, titles, and blurbs. If your cover exceeds genre standards, your title is instantly recognizable as something your target audience would want to read, and your blurb closes the deal, you’ll sell books without advertising.
In addition, I publish a new book roughly every 45 days. Each release builds momentum. There’s a ceiling somewhere, but I haven’t hit it yet.
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