I have to preface this post about my experience with a Goodreads advertisement by saying, I know a lot of authors don't like Goodreads. They don't like the mean-spirited reviews that are allowed, the bad language that's allowed, the sorting system that can put one of those horrible, mean-spirited reviews at the top because a bunch of people "like" it, and more.
And I get it. I do. There was huge thread about it on Verla's message board awhile back, and I know some authors have really strong feelings about Goodreads, and have encouraged other authors to leave the site to send a message to the people managing the site. If you are one of those authors, please don't be mad at me for supporting the site.
I guess my take on it is that anywhere that books can be reviewed, bad things can and will be said. It's the nature of the beast. I have read some terrible reviews on Amazon. Mean reviews. It's not just Goodreads where this happens.
I'm not saying I agree with it. And I'm certainly not saying I like negative reviews. Ugh, no, I am as sensitive as the next guy. Probably even more so.
But stepping back, and looking at it from a different perspective, Goodreads is a popular site with readers. And in my opinion, there are too few places for readers to gather and discuss books. And whether I like it or not, readers are there. And so, knowing that, I decided I wanted to try and reach some of them.
When you set up a campaign, you decide how much you are willing to spend per click. Apparently the higher the amount of the click, the better your chances of getting your ad seen. I set the amount per click at 20 cents, which is on the lower end. I wanted a long life for my ad versus a ton of exposure for a short time. As you'll see in a minute, this amount got me plenty of visibility. You can also set a cap as to how much you spend per day. I think I set the amount at $2.00 per day, but now that I've done this, I know your chances of getting even a click or two per day are pretty small.
After you figure out the money part of your ad - how much you are willing to spend, how much you want your "per click" rate to be, etc., then it's time to figure out the targeting of your ad. I think this is HUGE, and I wonder how many authors err on the side of a wide audience. I didn't want a wide audience. I wanted a narrow one. I wanted my ad to target readers who would be most likely to like my book.
I left age blank, chose United States as the country, turned off "target specific genres" and selected about twenty YA authors to target. What does that mean? Let's say someone goes to the site to look up books by NYT bestselling author Jenny Han. Along the side, that person will see ads for books as she pokes around, reading reviews for Jenny Han's books or perhaps logging her own reviews. I decided I would like the ad for my book to be one that potentially shows up around that author. To make this feature work well, you want to think like a librarian. If a reader likes THESE books, she might also like THESE books. Where would your books fit well? If you write fantasy, think of other fantasy writers. If you write contemporary, probably want to target other contemporary authors. One of the best things about this strategy is I can list myself. That way, if someone goes to review another one of my books, hopefully they might see the ad and discover that I have a new book out.
Please know, the ad won't show up *every* time. My understanding is ads are rotated, trying to give everyone a share of the ad time. You have campaign stats you can see at any time on your author page if you set up an ad. You also get e-mails sent on a daily basis that show how many clicks your ad received that day, and how many times readers added your book. Because they may see the ad, not click on it, and still add the book.
For me, it wasn't about the clicks. It was about the cover of my book popping up for people to see. If they saw it enough, maybe they'd want to check out. It was all about exposure!
In November, the graph shows that sometimes my ad was shown 700 times, other days it was shown 2,500 times. The most clicks (that is, where someone clicks on the ad and goes to the goodreads page of that book to read more about the book and read reviews) was 5.
It's almost December, and I have just a few dollars left in my "campaign." Yes, that $45.00 lasted about six months. So now the question... was it worth it? I believe it was. Would I do it again? Absolutely. And here's why.
Out of all the thousands of books, a reader has decided she wants to remember mine. I'll take that!!! Because maybe in the future, she'll see my book mentioned again, and this time she'll decide to act and pick up the book. Again, it's about exposure, and helping people to notice my book.
So let's look at my "to read" numbers for all of my YA novels.
Far From You: 1,831 people
Chasing Brooklyn: 3,697 people
I Heart You, You Haunt Me: 4,612 people
The Day Before: 6,359 people
But what about sales, Lisa? That's what you're thinking, right? We will never be able to know for certain how many books were sold because of an ad on Goodreads. I do know that almost 1,000 have "rated" the book (which, in my mind, means they read it). I think that's a decent number. Not phenomenal, mind you. Maybe not even great. But decent. Compare that to Far From You, which has been out for a couple of years and hasn't sold all that well, with only 919 ratings. And I Heart You, You Haunt Me, which has sold very well, has been out four years and is in its tenth printing, and has 3,555 ratings.
Sorry this got so long, but I hope you found some helpful information here, if you've been considering an ad on Goodreads. I certainly think it's worth a try, given that you can spend a small amount of money for quite a bit of exposure. I should also mention you can change the campaign at any time, if you decide you want to change the text of your ad, who you're targeting, the cost per click, etc. I actually changed the text of my ad after a couple of months, and I do think it helped get me more clicks.
Any questions you have for me about this - let me know in the comments and I'll try to answer them.