Last year, I shared with you the result of my Call to Arms, on my very popular post, Book Marketing Results 2015. I now have collected enough data to follow up with this year’s results. Like last time, I knew most of the media mentioned, although there a few surprises as well. Indeed; I hadn’t heard of 3 of the top 10 advertisers!


Book Marketing Results | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksFor anyone wishing to take a look at the raw data, you can download this Excel spreadsheet. I have only processed data from discounted books, as that formed the vast majority of responses.

To compare the various ad media, I came up with a number that represents the ratio between number of sales and cost of advertising. In other words, if you spent $1 and had one sale, then this number would be one. If you spent $1 and had two sales, the number would be two, etc. Think of it as “books sold per buck.”

Essentially, this represents your value for money. The greater this number, the more effective the campaign. Naturally, websites offering free ads come out pretty well (to avoid dividing by zero, I gave them a nominal value of $1). Ideally, you’d want to use advertisers who offer a ratio of 1 and greater.

The Best Place to Advertise your Discounted Book

Book Marketing results 2016 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

The first observation is that, even though it’s not part of the graph, the best place to advertise is through an author newsletter. This is because it is free, yet effective. Besides, a study by McKinsey Consulting revealed that email is 40 times more effective than all social media combined at acquiring new customers. This was lacking from the results because I only had hard data from my personal experience (which indicates it’s a great promotional tool).

The second one concerns Facebook. This was already a hit-and-miss affair for me, but this year I have yet to receive data from anyone who has made it work, although I’ve recently started having some success there myself. As my editor Lorelei Logsdon wrote to say, “I’ve made wonderful returns on my Facebook advertising — and hubby

is making a living off Facebook ads alone.” So, if you have a success story to share, please take the 3-question survey. I’d love to hear from you.

The Midlist was mentioned in the results, but the company has since stopped working with Indies, so I haven’t included it here.

Bookbub also makes a conspicuous absence, mainly because no one shared any discounted data with me. I suspect this is because it’s so darn hard to get included nowadays.

Amazon Marketing Service was the greatest surprise to me. Last year, it had a pretty low ratio. This year, after a dozen campaigns, my experience has been very positive. It looks like others thought so too, even though the sample was regrettably small.

Books Butterfly is also worth a mention, as Abhi promises a refund (in the form of a rebate) if you fail to sell the promised amount of books. I always use them and was surprised to see them get a score (slightly) under 1.

I also heard good things about Book Basset, but was unable to come by any hard data. If anyone’s used them, please let me know and I’ll update the graph.

Small Print

As with the previous survey, one problem was the relatively small number of data for each medium.

Another problem concerns genre and price. A book on a 99c sale that belongs to a hot genre and sold originally for $9.99 will do better that one in an obscure genre, selling originally for $1.99. This sort of factor was not measured by this survey but can have a significant effect. Also not measured was seasonality – Christmas promotions may be more effective than August ones.

Speaking of genre, don’t forget that many of these places are better suited to certain genres. Sales of a non-fiction book advertised on Romance Junkies will probably soar like a lead balloon. Whenever possible, try to fit your genre with the advertiser, preferring specialized ones.

Further Resources

Before you go, I suggest you also take a look at this spreadsheet by C. Gockel that lists pretty much every single book advertising medium there is, along with reach and whether they are free or paid. A great resource for anyone wishing to advertise their book!

You may also wish to check out SPR’s 35+ Alternatives to Bookbub, for a nice selection of advertisers, as well as Ruth Nestvold’s list and Indielisters.

Author Ana Spoke has shared her extensive experience in an excellent post.

Also, check out Jackie Weger’s take on the subject here and here!

Most importantly, don’t forget to share your book marketing experience! I plan to update the results periodically, so I’m always on the lookout for further data.