Anatomy of a Goodreads Ad

This post is for self-published authors.  I thought I would share about one of my advertising experiences and hope you can add it to your information file for future use.

Goodreads ( has  an inexpensive (as little as $ .10 per click) automatic ad program that is fairly easy to run and gives you some usable numbers to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign.


My first attempt was for JAIDEE, a Thriller novel.  The shaded part below shows the ad that appeared on the page.  The info at the left gives some stats.  The box on the right shows the targeted readers.  I thought the logline would get people interested and the link (see the green URL) directed them to my Goodreads page.  I targeted people who were looking for specific thriller authors that I felt were similar to my work.

Evaluation:  I was paying $ .50 per click (cpc) but my ad was only getting clicked on (CTR = click through rate) 0.01% of the time it was displayed.  The average Goodreads CTR is 0.05%.  Mine was way below that.  Which means people weren’t clicking on the ad.



I made some changes with the logline and tried again.  In this case I also changed the targeting.

Evaluation:  The click through rate (CTR) was worse.  This is a very good reason NOT to pay for impressions.  What matters are clicks.  The few who did click on the ad were sent to my Goodreads page and as best I can tell, did not result in any sales.



I studied several ads and tried to determine why I would click on them.  Testimonials.  So, I redid the ad and put in a comment from one of my reviews.  The change in response rate was immediate.  In this case, I got a 0.09% CTR.  That meant people were clicking on the ad.  I also changed where I was sending them.  I tried a link to my website and while that increased my web views, it didn’t increase sales.  So for this ad I sent them directly to the Amazon product page.  By studying the results on Goodreads and Amazon, I was getting about a 5% conversion rate.  In other words for every 20 people who clicked on the ad and went to my Amazon page, I was getting 1 sale.  Time for some math.  I was paying $ 10.00 for those 20 people ($ .50 per click) and I was making a profit of $ 2.04 per book.  In other words, for every successful sale I was losing $ 7.96.  This was definitely not the way to fame and fortune.



I actually tried several other changes but the example below is the ad I’m using at the moment.  I added a second comment from one of my reviews.  As you can see, my CTR is 0.11% (over twice the Goodread average) and I lowered my bid to $ 0.10 per click.  My conversion rate once they arrived on Amazon remained the same (5%) so it was costing me $2.00 to get those 20 people to Amazon and I was still making only $2.04 per book.  But at least I was on the positive side, raking in $ .04 per sale.  I’ve put several hundred dollars into this ad and the numbers have held pretty steady.  That means it’s pretty much a wash.  I’m not making money with this ad but I’m not losing money with it.  And it does generate sales which increases my ranking on Amazon.



Be willing to experiment with your ads.  Make changes.  Try different approaches.  See what works.

Pay for clicks NOT impressions.  Even with a click through rate of 0.11% that means that 99.89% of the impressions of my ad on the Goodread page are ignored!!!  I’ve had millions of impressions with this ad.  Imagine how deep I would be in the hole if I were paying for impressions.

Set up your campaign so you can determine the source of your sales.

Work with a site that gives you real specific data.

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