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So there's a lot of talk lately about whether or not this sponsorship or that sponsorship is "worth it." The latest prime candidate is Pixel of Ink, as some people have seen very good results from buying a sponsorship, and some folks question the value of the sponsorship versus the cost. Obviously that is something that every has to decide for themselves, but I wanted to drop a few conceptual tidbits out here for consumption. Let's start with my facts - I am not a marketing professional, but I have spent the last fifteen years in sales. I've run various businesses and worked for several more. One thing everything in my work experience tells me is that you can almost never tell if advertising is "worth it."

Advertising and marketing is not about selling $200 worth of ebooks in 24-72 hours. It's not about seeing your ranking jump 20,000 spots, no matter how rewarding that is. It's not about making it onto your genre bestseller lists, no matter how cool it is to see on your book's page. It's about getting eyes onto the product. It's about building a platform, and giving people information about you, about your books and about your writing.

This is not something that you can do in a day. It's not something you can do in a month, or even a year. Building a platform is truly long-tail work, the work of years. I don't have much platform AT ALL, and I've spent five years working on my blog and writing poker articles translated into 22 languages and seen in 27 countries. And I'm still a nobody! So how in the world do you think you can catapult from nobody to Stephen King on the back of one or two sponsorships on websites that might on a good day reach 5,000 people?

You won't. Pixel of Ink isn't going to make you a successful writer. Neither will Kindle Nation Daily, Joe Konrath's comment section, or anything else that looks only at a short term. That's not to say that buying sponsorships to these sites is worthless, it's to say that you need a plan. You need to think further than the end of your nose, and look at the whole forest, not just the tree in front of you. Did I mix enough metaphors there for you?

We talk all the time about "marathon, not a sprint," but then we turn around and say "so and so is great, my ranking shot up to 1,500 and stayed there for eight hours!" Seriously? You're all smarter than that. Nobody knows what piece of marketing made anyone's sales shoot up. What we do know about the people around here with sales figures to be jealous of is this - they wrote and continue to write good books. You want Dalglish money? So do I. So I'm trying to make sure my books are as good as his. Frankly, I don't want Dalglish money, or Hocking money, or Konrath money. I want them to want Hartness money. So I write, every day, as well as I can. And I have a plan for marketing all my work. And so far, that plan is increasing sales across the board. I may have things that don't work, but it won't be judged in a week. The success or failure of any marketing efforts will be judged in months or years, not days or weeks.

Be patient. Write the best books you can. Promote with a plan, don't just jump on the latest bandwagon to roll through town. And don't make long-term decisions with only short-term data.

I'll get off my soapbox now and wait for the rotten tomatoes to come in. I do still love you guys! (ducks behind soapbox)
 

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Ok, I'll be a bit of a contrarian. What a lot of us are looking at is a very limited budget for advertising, so a Pixel of Ink ad buy sucks up most of our ad budget. None of us expect to become Stephen King, but we'd like a book to take off like Dave Conifer's Wrecker did. After all, Dave's one of us. If he could do it, we think, maybe we can too. 

So we wonder if an ad here, an ad there, might propel our book high enough so that Amazon starts to promote it for us. That, to me, seems the real value of limited advertising. Can it boost a book from a 40,000 sales rank to a 1500 sales rank? It's not about a few ads building a platform. It's about a few ads generating enough sales for Amazon's algorithms to kick in.

In that light I think discussions of the worthiness of an ad on a site are relevant and worth discussing.
 

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I agree with both the OP and Asher:

Yes, marketing is not about immediate ROI -- but that kind of wider awareness DOES have it's own return on investment.  Less measurable but still a consideration.

I like what Seth Godin had to say about it a few months back.  He said that if you don't have the money to go HUGE with that kind of campaign, you're better off not doing it at all.  You need to have an objective in mind when you spend money, and you may need to set an experimenting budget to help find the right venues.

Camille
 

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daringnovelist said:
I agree with both the OP and Asher:

Yes, marketing is not about immediate ROI -- but that kind of wider awareness DOES have it's own return on investment. Less measurable but still a consideration.

I like what Seth Godin had to say about it a few months back. He said that if you don't have the money to go HUGE with that kind of campaign, you're better off not doing it at all. You need to have an objective in mind when you spend money, and you may need to set an experimenting budget to help find the right venues.

Camille
I think Godin is right. If you can't saturate with your ads, you might be better off holding onto your money. We've seen that KND and Pixel of Ink do generate immediate sales, though, so they aren't bad ad buys. You will likely lose money over the short term, meaning the sales are not enough to offset the ad cost, but you get a bump in rankings and over the long run it may make you money.

Camille, you said you did something with Facebooks ads, didn't you? How did that go? I've been intrigued by the idea of those ads. They can be cheap and I like the idea of playing around with the settings. It's sort of like a video game!
 

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daringnovelist said:
He said that if you don't have the money to go HUGE with that kind of campaign, you're better off not doing it at all.
I'd recommend that, unless people have experience with advertising or are willing to spend the big bucks necessary to buy that expertise, that a huge, "all in" strategy isn't the best way to go. You're better off spending several months slowly, serially experimenting: Try different venues. Try different ad copy. Try different graphics. Try different blurbs.

And separate your ad buys by enough time that you can clearly track the impact of each one.

You need to figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Going huge all at once makes it impossible to figure that out.

Once you've honed your approach, then you can go big using all your proven methods at your proven venues to create the splash. (Recommend doing it with your next book so that you're not re-tapping markets you've already tapped.)
 
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