Do It Yourself Online Advertising: A New Way to Drive Buzz and Sales for Books

Advertising used be an exclusive world of “mad men” but thanks to the digital age, anyone can do it! In her New York Bookwoman column, “Greenberg on Book PR & Marketing in the Information Age,” Susannah Greenberg breaks down the differences between Goodreads, Facebook, and GoogleAdWords.

Designing, targSusannah Greenbergeting, budgeting and analyzing your own online book advertisement is now possible for anyone, no experience required, even on a limited budget.  Goodreads, Facebook, and Google AdWords all offer affordable, do it yourself, pay per click (PPC) online advertising.

The marketing campaign for self-published eBook author Darcie Chan is an example of successful online advertising.  Chan was recently profiled in a Wall Street Journal article, and authored one of the best selling books of 2011, The Mill River Recluse, currently a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.  In the Wall Street Journal article she describes how she placed online ads for her book for a budget of $1,000,  including an ad on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a social reading site with 6.7 million readers, more than 100 million pageviews, and 14 million unique visitors a month. What Goodreads has over Google AdWords and Facebook is an audience of all book readers.  More information on the advertising program is here. For tips on other author promotions on Goodreads, including free ones, visit Goodreads Author Program here.

Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Advertising on Facebook is easy.  The online program works very smoothly.  You can target your ad in many ways,  by ‘likes’ and interests, or targeting current fans of your page with special offers.  For more information on Facebook advertising, follow the link on just about every Facebook page for ‘advertising’ or go here.

In Google AdWords paid search ads, ‘keywords’ selection helps you target your market. Keywords are words which are relevant to whatever it is you are trying to sell. Selecting the proper keywords is a bit of an art.  Definitely look for and use Google’s free advertising offers online to help keep down the price of the learning curve. The singular advantage of Google is that you tap into the enormous universe of anyone who uses Google searches.  Google is the most popular search engine in the world according to many web sites with 150 million unique visitors. Check out this article from HubSpot: How to Launch a Google AdWords Campaign the RIGHT Way .

Goodreads, Facebook and AdWords all offer powerful, cost effective, online self-serve advertising tools, each reaching a slightly different audience in different ways.  The best way to learn to use them effectively and efficiently is to test the waters by setting a low budget cap and then monitoring the reports they provide very closely to see how you are doing. If you find your ads aren’t working, change them.  Since this isn’t print, you aren’t locked into your copy in any way.  Also, you can lean heavily on the customer service or tech support for advice on how to optimize your ad.

Susannah Greenberg is president of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations,, and Publicity Chair of the Women’s National Book Association, NYC Chapter.


  1. Helpful tips, Susannah. I’m familiar with the Goodreads advertising, but not so much with FB or Google. Have you used either of those in your pr campaigns? I wonder how effective they would be, as Goodreads really targets readers. I definitely want to look into these, though, and would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts!

  2. You make it all sound so easy . . . 😉 Yes, there’s a learning curve, and, I admit, I’m smack in the middle of it. Terrific post, Susannah.

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Mary and Deborah. Mary, I have used both FB and Google Adwords advertising for books. For both, click through rates were excellent. Also, both offer fairly precise targeting tools. I found Facebook targeting tools really easy to use. Google AdWords keyword selection process took more time to analyze and experiment with before I could target properly, but then it does work very well!

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