I’ve been spending real money to advertise two of my books on the Internet all this past week and it hurts.  It hurts my wallet and it hurts my ego…my wallet because it’s emptier than before; my ego because, despite having achieved thousands of “impressions” and hundreds of “clicks” on the ad, I have sold only one book.  Ouch!  Impressions are the actual appearance of my ad and the clicks represent when someone actually clicked on it and was thereby sent to the book’s website where there is a link for purchase.  I had a variety of ads running: a text ad, a large graphic ad and a video.  Everytime someone clicked on one of these elements, I paid a fee.  Trouble is, I paid for hundreds of clicks but only one person bought.

I’ve done this before with the same results.  But I decided to give it another try and change some of the things that I did last time, taking advantage, supposedly, of having learned how to do it better.  I continue to be amazed at the colossal failure the process has been.  True, there are a lot of variables that you have to master and for some people the system works quite well.  I just haven’t figured out how they do it and I don’t have the advertising budget to keep trying.

The ego part especially hurts because I worked in commercial radio most of my life.  I was a program director and a marketing guru.  Consequently, it’s not like I am ignorant about how to communicate and use the media to effectively promote and produce results.  This whole book thing, however, has become a puzzlement.  I admit it: I just don’t get it.

I signed on with a few “community chat groups” made up of wannabe successful authors like me in hopes of giving and receiving useful advice and experiences.  There is quite a bit of bantering  back and forth as someone will pose a question about marketing his/her book and then a bunch of us will chime in offering all kinds of suggestions—all of which I am familiar with.  Yes, all of them.  How come?  Because I’ve pretty much done most of them.  The usual list includes blogging, social media, e-mailing, press releases, book signings, launch parties, videos, giveaways…and the list goes on.  None of these things have worked for me.

One element of the puzzle is the sheer volume of books that authors have to compete with.  There are a gazillion of them.  It is easy to understand why it is difficult attempting to differentiate my books from all the others.  I can imagine what it must be like to be a literary agent or a publisher and come to work every day and watch the so-called “slush pile” of queries and manuscripts multiply like bunnies at an orgy.

The shame of it all is that there are no doubt some exceptionally worthy books out there that will never be exposed simply because they’ve gotten lost in the pile.  But most of us wannabes are dedicated types who won’t give up.  That’s because we are usually competitive by nature…or we simply enjoy writing even though we may never have a large readership clamoring to buy our next book.  But I would like to be optimistic and predict that some of us, with a little luck and lots of perseverance, might just break through regardless of the number of impressions and clicks.


About Marc Kuhn

I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!
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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you have no dreams no dreams can come true. In order to be at the right place at the right time you just have to be out there. Keep on plugging. This is the time to be doing what you enjoy, just keep doing it.


  2. Marc Kuhn says:

    Thanks for the feedback Samulraney…my granddaughter has the best idea–she wants me to take a couple stacks of one of my books and quietly slip them unnoticed onto one of the front tables at Barnes & Noble and then watch to see how many are picked up. Just seeing the puzzled looked on the cashier’s face might be worth it!


  3. samulraney says:

    Unfortunately, your problem is a common one. Having tried a little bit of everything over the last 4 years, I’ve come to the realization that only a few channels actually provide return on investment when it comes to advertising your book. A couple of the email advertisers like BookBub and eReader News Today show positive results (though the former is expensive, it’s well worth the price of admission). Also, while not exactly a moneymaker, I’ve found that paying for ads on Goodreads at least feels like I’m targeting the right people.


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