I hate the word “monetize.” And I especially don’t like it when this word (it’s really ugly, isn’t it?) is mentioned in the same breath with books. But I’m going to talk about it anyway because, if authors do it right, using ads in their books or other promotional materials can subsidize the cost of publishing a book, costs they often scrimp on like great editing, great cover design, and great indexing.
Most every author is self-publishing something themselves these days. If not their books, then e-books or white papers that help them promote their work. Many of these books—are perfect for paid ads and ads in barter. Think about trading an ad for another service you need like a blog tour, book cover art, or printing.
Ads like these are becoming more accepted (and more ethical) if they are focused on the book’s target audience. The LA Times reports Amazon puts ads in some Kindle readers and that they then sell them at 18% less than the ad-free device ($114.00). I figure they got that wrong. They might sell them for more because they can enhance the perceived value if they include a discounted offer or essential resource.
Ads in disguise have been used in literary journals and other books for years. They usually come as an order page or a list (subtle or not-so-subtle) of related books that might interest a reader. Some of the ads Amazon is using will not only give you a discounted Kindle, they may give you other money-saving resources. So, if you decide to put ads into your books, how would you do it?
- Put the ads in the backmatter of your book.
- Accept only professionally produced ads.
- Accept only ads that would interest your target audience. Be prepared to refuse some with the “not quite right” phrase that literary journals use to reject submissions.
- Limit the number of ads to just a few.
- Encourage ads that give discounts or freebies to benefit your readers. In fact, you could offer a discount on the price of the ad to those who do.
When you use ads this way, your reader benefits. They learn about new resources and special discounts and those discounts may easily pay for the book (yours!) your reader just bought.
If you are uncomfortable with this idea, start small. Start using ads only in your promotional e-books. Then move on. Eventually, your readers may benefit from ads in your full-fledged, honest-to-goodness paperback or hardcover book!
PS: Anyone with a product (yes, books are products!) or a service that would appeal to readers ofThe Frugal Book Promoter may e-mail me (HoJoNews@aol.com) for details of how we might partner on something like this for one of my new releases. Spaces are limited.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a novelist, poet, and the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers (http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com). That site includes a huge, free section of Resources for Writers. The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors
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