Online Advertising

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Online advertising is an important tool to help expose your book to a large number of people at a relatively low cost.  While increased exposure does not automatically guarantee a best seller (there are several factors which contribute to this); no exposure will certainly guarantee a flop.

The following information will help you understand how on-line advertising in general, and with in particular, can help increase your book's exposure and lead to more sales.

Why Advertise Online?

Consider the benefit of having your book prominently displayed in the window of the most popular book store in town.  Image how many more people will see your book and potentially buy it—simply because it is more easily noticed.   This analogy holds true more so on the world wide web.   The web has the ability to expose your book to far more people than any physical book store.

Attaining prominent visibility, on-line, is not particularly easy.  Creating your own web site, while important, is not likely result in a meaningful amount of traffic, in a short period of time.  So what can you to reap the advantages of on-line advertising?

Why Advertise with

Reach Lovers of Books by and About African-Americans welcomes 250,000 to over half a million visitors each month (as of 2004). The number of visitors has increased every year since our official launch in March of 1998.  Our audience is highly targeted people interested in African American books, authors, events and other related information.  In 2004 we sold over 1,500 different titles; virtually all of these titles were written by African American authors.

Visitors who have signed up for the eNewsletter typically exhibit the following characteristics.  With the exception of Online Usage (which has increased over time)'s demographic characteristics have been consistent across the over 50,000 people who have subscribed to our eNewsletter from 1998 until 2005.

16% Male
84% Female
33% are 30-39
79% are 26-59
Education and Occupation
57% have a college or higher
95% are professional/managerial
Marital Status
52% are single,
30% are married
12% Divorced
Online Usage
83.2% have been on the Web longer that 3 years
Read more about's Demographics is a Respected and Recognized Source for Information on African American Books and Authors generates sales both on-line and off.  People visit the web site to learn about new books and discover obscure or forgotten gems. not only focuses on popular and historically significant authors, but less well known and self-published authors are "discovered" on our site as well. 

Most Frequently Visited Web Site of It's Kind
Do you want to have your book displayed 100,000, 200,000, or more times a month?  Only has to the volume of traffic to display your book or banner before such a highly targeted audience. 
View a comparison of with other web sites that sell or focus on Black books

Also, visit to learn more about's Simple Pricing Structure has a CPM rate of $10 to $30 (as of April 2007).  If your ad is viewed 1,000 times we would charge at ($10 CPM) $10.   See chart below for more detail. 

Views $10 CPM $20 CPM $30 CPM
1,000 $10 $20 $30
10,000 $100 $200 $300
20,000 $200 $400 $600
50,000 $500 $1,000 $1,500
100,000 $1,000 $2,000 $3,000
500,000 $5,000 $10,000 $15,000
1,000,000 $10,000 $20,000 $30,000

In addition, you can specify a minimum number of views.  For example, if you wanted to maximize your exposure you could request a minimum of 100,000 for a two week period. 

Alternatively, you could specify a maximum number of views.  You may request that we limit the number of views to say 10,000 to stay within a predefined budget.  

Superior Advertising Campaign Monitoring Software

We provide all advertisers with real-time statistics and reports for advertising campaigns.  Visit for more information.'s Strategic Partnerships Extends Reach is establishing relationships with other popular websites.  Our first partnership has been forged with is one of the leading African American literary sites on the Internet. Started in May 1996 has been cited in Essence, December 2000 "Virtual Literature" and June '98 as "one of our favorite soulful cyber hangouts;" Black Enterprise, March '99 "BE's Top 50 Websites." Black Issues Book Review, Publishers Weekly, The New York Times and Washington Post have all cited

You can advertise your book or company on both the and web sites � one fantastic rate, two leading websites!  Again, our advertising campaigns provide you with real-time reports, a simple pricing structure, and the ability to reach a large, but targeted audience very quickly.

More Detailed Information About On-line Advertising

If you are new to advertising on-line, some of the terms can be confusing.  For the sake of clarity lets define a few terms:

Definition of Terms

Campaign - Advertising Campaign, Ad Campaign; On images are grouped together to create an advertising campaign.  A campaign can contain one or more images.  Campaigns may appear on one or more pages or partner web sites including

Click - Click Through; A click is registered when a image that displayed on a web page is clicked by a visitor. 

Click Through Ratio - CTR; The relationship between the number of views and clicks of an image or images in a campaign.  The number of clicks is divided by the number of views and is expressed as a percentage.  CTR is used as one gauge to judge the relative effectiveness of an ad campaign. For example, if an image is displayed 100 times and is clicked twice; the CPM is 2.00%.  A 2% CPM is better than industry average.

CPM - Cost per thousand (where M represents the roman numeral for 1,000). has a CPM rate of $10.  If your image is viewed 10,000 times we would charge $100 ($10 x 10).

CR - Conversion Rate; The percentage of visitors (generated by clicks on a banner ad or book cover) that result in a sale. 

Image - ad, advertisement, book cover, ad banner;  An image is the individual element, usually an image of a book cover or advertising banner (could also be a Flash component or text) that is seen and can be clicked by a visitor.

Views; Ad impressions, impression, hit (loosely) - The number of times an image is downloaded, and presumably, seen in a visitor's browser. 

Things to Consider When Placing Your Ad On

  1. Ad Placement - Which page or pages do you want you ad to appear on?
    Typically advertisers want homepage placement, as this is often viewed as the most important page on the web site.  Depending upon your ad this may not necessarily be true.

    For example, lets say you are advertising a book of on the life of Maya Angelou; consider advertising on Maya Angelou's page.  Angelou's page generates as many page views as the homepage, but may result in more clicks.  Visitors to the Angelou page are typically looking for information on Maya Angelou specifically and arrive there as the result of search engine query; bypassing the homepage. 

    You may decide to advertise on both the Angelou page and the homepage, monitor for a week or so, and then restrict your advertisement to the page that has the highest CTR (click through ratio).

    Below is a list of frequently visited pages which may provide an even more targeted audience, to substitute or supplement homepage placement. 

    Zane -
        Sonia Sanchez -
        Nikki Giovanni -
        Zora Neale Hurston  -
        Terry McMillan -
        Ernest Gaines -

    Try this: Think of an author whose work would appeal to readers of your book.  Then do a Google search on that author's name. If the name comes up in the top 10 of results, then that would be a excellent page to advertise on.  (Note: Not all author's pages are available for advertising. can help you select appropriate pages for ad placement)

  2. Consider The Size of Your Budget - Depending upon where your ad is placed, how frequently it is rotated with other ads and how many different pages you ad appears on; a quarter of a million views ($2,500 @ $10 CPM) can used used up in a few months or a few of weeks.

    Determine what your advertising budget is and how you would like to distribute your views.  Lets say you have a $25 per month budget (2,500 views per month).  We could adjust the frequency of your ad's appearance so that it appears evenly throughout the month (more or less) rather than being exhausted within the first hour.
  3. Consider the Run of Site Promotions -  maximize your book or ad's exposure on consider and "Run of Site Promotion" where your ad is displayed on virtually every web page.
  4. Will My Advertisement Generate Book Sales?
    As mentioned at the top of this page.  Advertising on-line will not guarantee book sales Indeed, by the time you are ready to advertise your book many of the factors which contribute to the success of an on-line campaign, for better or worse, have already been determined.  Some of these factors include:
    1. Is your Book Cover Compelling?
      Does it matter?
      � Absolutely!  Holding everything else constant a compelling cover gets more click throughs than a poorly designed or uninteresting cover.  People do judge books (at least upon initial inspection) by their cover.  The more compelling the cover, the more likely it will be clicked, and the more successful your ad will be in terms of attracting attention, generating a click through and ultimately leading to a sale. 

      If the book cover is not great, we can add a compelling statement next to the book cover or try different locations on our web site.  Finally the target page should really help sell the book and facilitate ease of purchasing.

      Ad banners, on the other hand, can be changed more easily; and should be redesigned if they are not well done.  The average CTR ratio for all books on is about 1.41%.  One indication that your banner or book cover is not attracting enough attention is if the CTR is, less than 0.5%.   Note: a CTR of 0.5% of about average for the Internet; however given's audience a 0.5% CTR is relatively low.

      Consider the following, actual statistics, of a popular imprint of a major publisher (see chart below).  The average click through ratio 1.98% is actually about 100 to 20 times the reported industry average (0.020% to 0.050%) .  By any standard this campaign drew a lot of attention.  However Book One stands out with a CTR of 2.64% over 30% higher than the book with the second highest CTR.  The books were rotated on the homepage of and, in the same positions, for the same period of time and received almost an identical number of views.

      A publisher, for example, can use this information to determine which books book warrant more attention.  The publisher could also try to determine what makes Book One's cover more compelling, and use this information to improve future book covers.  The web site statistics provided by advertiser account's are an additional, valuable benefit of advertising on

      Book Covers
      Advertiser Book One
      Advertiser Book Two
      Advertiser Book Three
      Advertiser Book Four
      Web site
      Mosaic Books

    2. Is you book or advertisement relevant to your target audience? 
      Ideally you want to advertise your book or company on a web site that attracts visitors who are likely to be interested in your product.  For example, a book written in Japanese will not appeal to the average visitor. 

      To get sense of what types of books or products might interest an visitor check out our visitor demographics, our best sellers lists, or even our discussion boards.
    3. Does the web page, where you direct visitors further engage the visitor?
      Does it help to sell your book?  Is it informative?  When you place a banner or book cover on you can direct visitors, who click your banner, to any web site you like.  To ensure the highest conversion rate you must make sure the destination immediately provides the visitor with additional information on your product without requiring additional searching and navigation.  For example, it is better to skip the flash introduction page and bring the visitor directly to the page where the purchase can be made.

      If you are advertising Book A on and a visitor clicks on Book A, they must be taken to a page where there is more information on Book A -- not a page on Book B or the authors homepage.  One should also be able to purchase the book on the destination web page as well -- no additional clicks should be required.

      Typically an author's web site is used as the destination.  However, if there is no way for one to easily purchase the book on the author's web site or the author does not have a web site; an profile page or even a direct link to Amazon can be very effective in maximizing sales.

    4. How many sales can I realistically expect as a result of my advertisement?
      There is no quick answer to this question each author and book are different.  Here is what we do know;

      As mentioned, in items a, b & c, above to maximize your on-line sales you'll need a reach the right audience, have a compelling cover, and make it easy to securely purchase your book on-line.  In addition there are several other factors to consider:

      The more views the better
      In order for a web sites ad to be effective it must been seen potential buyers.  How much traffic does the web site get?  Can they substantiate the numbers?  Can the number be validated by a third party?

      The More Clicks Throughs the Better
      Is the web site target audience likely to click?  Are you advertising Nazi memorabilia on an African American book Web site?  Is the banner in a position to be noticed. Are there too many competing ads.  Is the visitor likely to scroll a lot to see you ad?  Is the book cover itself compelling enough to encourage someone to click?

      The Higher the Conversion Rate the Better
      Is the customer still interested in the product once they click the ad or book cover and reach the target site?  Is it easy to make purchase once the customer arrives?  Are the terms favorable; best price, speed of fulfillment, other benefits?  

      Keep in mind, people who make on-line purchases are price conscious
      If you have a book that is priced at $15.00 paperback, are offering no discount on that price and are charging a few bucks for shipping and handling; I can tell you right now that will be a tough sale � especially for a unknown, first time author.  There are too many less expensive alternatives. 

      Find a way to make your book price competitive; or have a very compelling story or obvious reason to make a visitor willing to pay a premium for a more expensive book (note: an autographed copy is usually not enough incentive when the author is obscure).

      Be realistic.  For the majority of authors selling your book on-line will not be easy.  It takes time to build an audience and a following.  Advertising can certainly help speed the process, but there are very few "over night sensations" in the book business.

      Do the Math
      Consider the following example.

      A self published author has a book for $14.95 (average price 2004 Paperback adult fiction title excluding mass market paperback).  If the author sells the book directly, they gross $8.64 [after shipping (media mail $1.84), materials ($0.50), book unit cost ($4.00) ]. 

      Lets say that your book has a relatively decent (not great but decent) CTR of 1.0% and that you purchased 500 dollars of advertising or 50,000 views. 

      A click through ratio of 1% would yield 500 click throughs to the author's web site.  In order to recover the $500 spent on your advertising campaign you need to sell 58 books ($500/$8.64 = 57.87 or 58 books).  Therefore 12% of 500 visitors (58/500 0.12 or 12%) who clicked through would need to purchase your book in order to this self-published author to "break-even" on the advertising campaign. 

      A 12% conversion ratio (basically 1 out of 9 visitors who click the ad actually buy at least one book) is pretty good for an relatively unknown, self-published author.

      Of course a higher CTR would reduce the require conversion ratio.  A 2% CTR, not uncommon for a self published author, would only require a 6% percent CR � a more realistic rate.

      On the web site conversion rates range, during a one month period, range from 0% (no sales generated after clicking the ad) to 100% (everyone purchases the book after clicking the ad).  We know popular books or authors have higher conversion rates and less popular ones have lower conversion rates.  Note: The more you advertise the more popular you will become.

      The above example completely ignore the visitors who learn about the book via, then make their purchases at a physical store or through some other (untraceable) online mechanism.  This example also ignores the benefits inherent increasing your visibility and name recognition.

      So how many books will you sell?  We don't know.  Your sales will depend upon your product, the duration of your campaign and the work you put in, in addition to advertising. 

      As a new, self published author, if you sell, on-line, 2 or 3 books for every 1,000 views you will be doing quite well.  We have had some self-published authors report no sales as a result of their advertising campaign and we have had some make our best sellers list. 

      If your book is enjoyed by readers, word will spread and sales will only grow.  Again this takes time, effort and money.  Remember, if people do not know about your book they can not buy it.


Final Thoughts

  1. On-line Ads Can Generate Sales - Both On-line and in Brick & Mortar Stores
    I often get email from visitors who write something like this; "I just finished reading a terrific new book, that I purchased at my local store, and I leaned about on your web site, thanks". 

  2. On-line Advertising Helps Build Book Awareness and Name Recognition
    On-line advertising is a great way to generate on-line and off-line word of moth promotion.  I've received a tremendous amount of feedback from both authors and publishers who have learned about each other through

  3. Current Events Can Improve Results
    A perfect time to launch an advertising campaign is when your title;
    (1) Relates to a popular news item - the popularity of "Urban Fiction" continues to drive sales across all books in the genre including a renewed interest in the work of Donald Goines;
    (2) Relates to an prominent individual who has recently passed - biographies or other book relating to that individual do better during these periods
    (3) Addresses a hot topics in the media - "The Down Low" phenomenon, Bill Cosby's comments, 9-11, etc.

  4. Generation of Book Sales is Not the Only Reason to Advertise
    The success of your advertising campaign can help you gauge your appeal to your target audience.

  5. Make Sure it is Easy to Purchase your Book Online
    Reminder when a visitor clicks on your ad, they need to be sent to a page where a purchase can be easily made.  The web site should be secure, accept credit cards and complete the sale in two clicks or less. 

  6. Make Sure Your Book is as Good as it Can Be
    I've saved this bit of advise for last.  However it really should have been the first thing on this page. If it is not too late for you to take advantage of this advise, please heed.

  1. Have your manuscript edited by a professional editor - ask for and check the editor's references

  2. Have your book cover designed by a professional - ask for and check the cover designer's references

  3. Get the basics done - obtain an ISBN, get distribution

  4. Promote, Promote, Promote - Reach out to books clubs, radio stations, book stores, magazines and newspapers.  Get business cards made.  Send your book to reviewers.  Add your book title and a link to purchase it to your email signature, etc, etc - consider hiring a publicist with experience in the book industry - ask for and check the publicist's references.

  5. Take advantage of on-line advertising. 


How Do I Get Started With My Advertising Campaign?

Visit or email Troy Johnson for more information.'s Clients Have Included:

Here is a list of just some of the publishing companies that have advertised with (not to mention well over 100 individual authors)

Ballantine Logo

Wiley Publishers Since 1807


Black Classic Press


References used for this Article Include:

References include's own website statistics and information obtained from advertising campaigns of current or past advertisers.  Names of specific advertisers were not provided for privacy considerations.


DoubleClick was a excellent sources for industry averages and properties of effective advertising campaigns

Alexa HomeAlexa Internet, Inc.

Alexa, an Amazon company, provided information regarding website statistics. For example, Visit for a comparison of with other web sites which support promote, support and sell books written by Black authors


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