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How much to spend

I like Robert Ryan's stuff. He appeals to my logical side and is less "salesy" and "just throw it at the wall and hope something sticks" then some of the other guru's out there.

I personally think there isn't a fool proof way to make your money back on sales anymore. Even 5 years ago it was different, let alone 10 or 15 years ago. It started as simply putting out an affordable ebook was enough, then you needed a cover, then rapid release was a thing and so on.

Now, it's down to trial and error and perhaps a bit of luck.

I'm in roughly the same position as you. That is, 3 books out, a 4th (which is a sequel to one of those) on the way. A small newsletter with decent open rate. And I'm pretty much hand-selling my books. If I don't do anything I don't sell anything. My own current plan is as follows:

Until the next book comes out focus on Newsletter swaps and group promo's. They only get me a handful of sales per month, but it's a nice ego boost to see a sale on Amazon, and it gets me a new subscriber every now and then. This is an almost free source of advertising. I use Bookfunnel which is $150 per year (though you can go cheaper). And as long as you're active enough that should pay more or less for itself.

Closer to the release of the next book I'll start playing around with paid newsletter promo's, book fairs, and give-away contests. They tend to be fairly affordable. I can spend the $10 - $50 they tend to cost without needing a return on the investment (though getting one would be nice). I've got an AuthorXP one coming up end of this month which was something like $50 I think, and one in June by c.l. Cannon I stumbled across on facebook which was $10. Small enough amounts to not worry about losing them. They might get me a few new subscribers and a handful of sales.

I'll probably search for more as time goes on, and I'll keep using the ones that make me money or break even, and throw out the ones that don't do anything for me.

I'll probably start up ads again once I'll get the third book in that series on pre-order. That will give me a finished trilogy, and with decent read-trough has some potential to break even on ads. I'm not sure if I'll go for Facebooks or Amazon, I might try both and see what works. I'll probably experiment with price a bit as well at this point. Conventional indie wisdom puts ebooks somewhere between free and $4.99. But I'm wondering if putting them up for more, like $6.99 or 7.99 and throwing facebook ads at them might work. It might give only an average conversion rate, but with $4.75 or $5.50 in royalties per book someone reading the whole trilogy earns me something like $15. Which leaves some room for expensive clicks.

Sorry for the wall of text which basically only says "I don't know either..."
When I say search term, I mean things that shoppers type in: epic fantasy is obvious, but epic fantasy dragons, epic fantasy good versus evil, dark fantasy low magic... whatever.

The # is whatever you want, 10-100, it's more a matter find the comfort zone for you in studying data. I've also gotten away from "broad" terms. They just tended to suck pond water for me, but others.

I'm tempted to "brand" my series so I can get into Amazon's beta, where you should get a lot more data, but it's a rabbit hole, LOL. And by the time I did that, they might be out of beta.

Actual data! Thanks! I won't hold you to any of it. <g>

FWIW, Robert Ryan agrees on the thousand clicks marker as a minimum. I've not heard a maximum, but 2-3k sounds reasonable. Somewhere between 1 and 3, I ought to be able to make some good/bad choices.

As for targets, we have categories, authors, book titles, keywords. Wouldn't search terms be more or less keywords? But there are also ASINs. If I am understanding the gist of conversations, ASINs are best for ebooks, while ??? is best for paperbacks. Authors, I think, but I disremember.

Whatever is chosen, I've heard as low as ten. You make it 20-40. But other advice was closer to a hundred and I think that's where I started. When I start up again, I shall be more focused.

I don't try to calculate overall profitability. I'm content to consider page reads a sort of separate income stream. I realize those are directly affected by ads, but imo it's only by way of emphasizing or increasing a trend present in the book sales. I imagine it's rare to have book sales driving in one direction while page reads go in the opposite direction.

FWIW and not that anyone asked, when I release the first Trouveres volume this summer (yes, delayed), I plan to also invest ads in my back catalog (three novels and a novelette). So I'll be hitting the whole spread over the course of summer-fall-winter. Then I'll assess. I can't be too obsessive about it. I have to write the other novels!