So, what to make of that? Has the ad resulted in $57.50 of sales so far? I have no way of telling. It certainly has not translated into hundreds of books being sold.
Would I have stronger results with a Facebook or Amazon ad? Do online ads work at all? Would I just do better by compiling a newsletter list (which often feels spammy to me)? These are questions I don’t have answers for.
My feeling is that in the small press world, the only things that truly sells books is word of mouth. In online terms, that would be people reading a book, liking it, and then sharing it with their online friends. If some of those friends also share the book, then you get the equivalent of a sustainable reaction. Lots of people are talking about the book and getting other people to read it.
Right behind word of mouth are reviews. Not just reviews in PW or Locus, but also on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc. A well-planned signing can move books too, but in small batches.
The next tier of actions I could take: book marks, custom pens, flyers, tee-shirts, etc. strike me as a waste of money (although fun to do).
Unfortunately, word of mouth and the reviews are mostly beyond the author’s control. Author’s can’t make people talk about their books, and they can’t control the reviews.
So, to answer Patrick’s question, I don’t know how the ad buy at Goodreads is doing or whether it was worth it. All I can say is that I controlled buying the ad. Once the book was out, it was one of the few things I could control, and that felt good.