Do Ads Add Up? Jumping into the Advertising Game by Keri Kruspe

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Keri Kruspe as she shares with us “Do Ads Add Up? Jumping into the Advertising Game” Enjoy!


Have you ever heard of McDonald’s? Or Ford? How about Prudential?

Odds are you have. McDonald’s was founded in 1955; Ford in 1903 – and holy cow… Prudential started in 1875!

Now, think back.

When was the last time you saw/heard an advertisement they’ve put out? A billboard, a television ad, or something that popped up in Facebook.

I swear Flo from Prudential is an annoying relative that won’t get off my TV.

So, if these companies have been around for a long time and are leaders in their respective “genres,” why do they spend billions of dollars (199.72 billion in US dollars from 2010 to 2019 per Statista, the Statistics Portal) when everyone knows who they are.

Not only that, how do they know the images and sounds they put out even work?

It’s not like anyone can measure if a billboard brought in business.

So why are they still there decorating our highways and streets?

In a nutshell, because they work. Keeping their name in front of folks is the name of the game. Repetition is key.

Think of the last time you were driving and got hungry.

You pass a billboard with a tasty-looking hamburger, cold drink and crispy fries. You might not have been thinking about that specific fast-food place, but you’re in a hurry and you’re hungry. Now that you’ve seen the image, you can’t get it off your mind. All too soon, you’re craving that particular food and have to find the nearest restaurant. And presto – you’re there, happily stuffing yourself. Instant gratification is served (along with a zillion calories).

Okay, you may say, but I’m an author. I’m not going to put my book(s) up on a billboard or on TV (hum…an image of one of my romance books with a “man-chest” in all its glory and larger than life on a billboard…*cough*) anyway, that’s not going to happen.

How else can we repeatedly put our books out there for the masses? The good news is there are several avenues open to us as writers to “showcase” our babies.

While I haven’t explored them all (like FB Messenger or Amazon Email Marketing), it’s general knowledge these “seven touches” can be key to advertising our books.

These include:

  • Amazon “Also-Boughts”
  • Facebook Ads
  • Facebook Messenger
  • BookBub Ads
  • Mailing Lists
  • Amazon Email Marketing
  • Amazon Ads

When Beth asked me about my experiences in diving into the advertising world, she suggested I explain how I did it on various platforms and the results. After giving it much thought, I confess I cannot go into expressive detail on how to do it. For gosh sakes, the courses out there are hours long — complete with videos and handouts. I could never condense that much information in one or two articles.

Instead, in my next article, I’ll tackle a couple platforms and give enough detail to make you dangerous.

Before I get started, let me share my experience in what I’ve done so far. I launched my first book in October last year and released my second in January. The third book of my trilogy is in the editing phase and will (hopefully) be launched by the end of April. I have no other books to offer. Since I don’t have a backlist or name recognition, I have to go out there and chase it.

And I’ve spent a lot money that has given me little return. My advertising budget is now a pretty shade of deep red.

But, maybe it’s not as bad as it seems at first glance.

To explain, I will use Amazon Ads as an example. In my limited opinion, for me that’s where the money is. While my books are “wide” (I’m not exclusive on Amazon), it’s where I’ve sold the most. (I have advertised on Facebook and Bookbub, which I’ll go into later).

On Amazon, I only use their “sponsor” ads for my first book. I do not advertise the second.

“Why” you may ask, “aren’t you advertising the second since it’s the newest?”

I don’t because of “readthrough.” That’s the calculated number of readers that go from book to book.

My books are a part of a trilogy, which should be read in order. Advertising the second book would be redundant. Besides, if they’ve read the first, I’ve ended that story with a cliffhanger to encourage them to get the second book.

Now, how do I estimate the true value per sale of each book?

Let’s say I’ve sold 100 books of Book 1.

With Book 2, I’ve sold 50 because of “readthrough.” (An actual number for my books – so far in March that’s what I’ve done.)

In this calculation, my readthrough from Book 1 to Book 2 is 50%.

If I sell Book 1 for $2.99, with Amazon I get a revenue of $2.09.

Book 2 sells for $3.99. A 70% royalty equals $2.79.

If I sell 100 books of Book 1, I get a revenue of $2.09 @ 100% = $2.09

Book 2: $3.99, revenue $2.79 @ 50% = $1.39

The total value of my sale of Book 1 is now $3.48 — which, if you remember is where I’m spending my advertising dollars on.

Another way to look at it is this: If I spent $3 to make a sale of a $2.99 book – without factoring in readthrough, my ROI (return on investment) would be -3.33% ($2.09/$3.00*100 minus 100 – equals  -3.33%, giving me that “deep red color”). But, if I factor in the profits of my second book, I get a ROI of 16%. Now the red changes to black — always a good sign.

However, as an emerging author, the key is finding the right balance between your budget and your revenue.

You know the old saying… you gotta spend a buck to make a buck. Well, I think it’s more like you’ve got to be willing to spend $3 dollars to make a dollar, at least until you get a big enough backlist to factor in a profitable readthrough.

For now, I’m willing to “bite the bullet” and spend more money than I’m making, because, I confess, I’m spending way more than $3 on my advertising. I will not do it forever. I do have a plan in place. But I firmly believe that I have to put my book out there. When I’ve played with my advertising — those days when I paused my ads — my sales stopped and my ranking in Amazon plummeted. As a new author, I can’t afford to be left in obscurity.

Keri Kruspe, Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures

Keri Kruspe, Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures

While there are ways to make a name for yourself in the writing industry without spending a ton of money (Beth can show you how!), time, and talents also play a factor. And by talents I don’t mean how you write, I mean what you have in your arsenal to use.

I do not have a social media background (blogs, blog tours, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. causes me to hyperventilate) — I don’t know how to use them properly or quickly. It’s something I have to take classes and learn since I didn’t grow up with them. It’s as foreign to me as vinyl is to a thirteen-year-old. I also work full-time, so the hours in my day are limited.

Instead of learning how to use those platforms, I’d rather use that time to become a better writer and get those books out in the market.

What I do have is a little extra money I’ve borrowed from myself to invest in my dream. And part of achieving my dream advertising for it.

It’s not like Flo will drive up to my house in a new Ford truck to deliver that Big Mac I’m craving…



Keri KruspeKeri Kruspe has been an author since the age of twelve and has always been fascinated with otherworldly stories that end in Happily Ever After. Her current works, An Alien Exchange trilogy will have its first release by Winter 2018. The trilogy conclusions — D’zia’s Dilemma and Ki’s Redemption — will soon follow by the first quarter of 2019.

As a native Nevadan, Keri now resides with her family in the wilds of Northwestern Michigan. An avid reader, Keri enjoys good wine, good food, and watching action/adventure movies. You can find her most days immersed in her fantasy world of writing or traveling with her hubby in their RV, discovering intelligent life here on Earth. Don’t forget to visit her website at Leave your feedback and sign up for her newsletter!

Image Credit
Edu Lauton

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