The secrets of the Goodreads Ad system

Both the INFINITY KEY and the MATCHBOX GIRLS campaign expired today so I thought I’d post an update on how the ads did. Although technically the original IK campaign would have expired a couple of weeks ago if I hadn’t doubled its budget– but more about that below.

The original post is here . I’m duplicating the Infinity Key ad text below, with an updated click-through rate, which is averaged across the duration of the ad’s life. When I posted before, some of the ads had just started and so data hadn’t really stabilized. The MATCHBOX GIRLS campaign went through its entire budget almost entirely without changing the CTR percentages presented earlier so I’m not going to crowd up this post with those ads.

I have access to a fair amount of daily data but it doesn’t help me much in my current set up for determining results. After I’m done sharing CTR, I’ll share book adds and book sales during the ad period.

The Ads

Infinity Key Friendship
CTR: 0.04% -> No change
Infinity Key
Branwyn is ‘only human’ in a world with fallen angels, but refuses to let that stop her from saving her friend from a supernatural curse.
Infinity Key Publishers Weekly
CTR: 0.04% -> 0.05%
Infinity Key
In a world of faeries and fallen angels, one mortal woman can turn everything upside down. Publishers Weekly calls it “deeply refreshing”!
Not weak
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.07%
Infinity Key
They say we’re only human. That we’re weak. That we should let them protect us. But they didn’t protect you. Now they have to deal with me.
CTR: 0.14% -> 0.21%
You won’t read this.
You won’t even see it. You don’t want to know. It’s safer that way. Don’t worry. We’re taking care of everything. That’s our job. Look away.
 Hush, hush
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.05%
The world is sleeping. Soon it wakes.
Soon it learns to listen. It moves, thinks, breathes. It only takes a key. But who makes the key? Soon everything changes.
 Lies And Self Promotion
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.07%
INFINITY KEY is an undiscovered winner
A stunning new entry in the field of urban fantasy, with faeries, angels and a wonderful heroine who doesn’t let her humanity slow her down.
Unlock the door.
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.01%
INFINITY KEY: empowering urban fantasy
“Unlock the door. Wake up the world.” Come with Branwyn into Faerie to save a friend and change the world.
CTR: 0.06% -> 0.05%
Funny, brilliant and empowering fantasy
INFINITY KEY is a reckless dash through a world on the brink of a magical singularity. Hop on board now before you fall behind.
 Mean girl
CTR: 0.0% -> 0.04%
INFINITY KEY, an urban fantasy
Mortal Branwyn is mean and cranky– and so loyal that you root for her as she steps on supernatural foes in the name of friendship.

THE ADDS (to reading lists) & SALES

Sales’ estimated exclusively from Novelrank monitoring Amazon sales rank jumps, which is a minimum. I suspect a few more sales but won’t know until royalty statements– but Amazon is a pretty good baseline.
Added between 2/27 and 3/19: 18 (2 rating, 16 to-read)
Sold in March:  3 ebook / 0 paperback
Added between 1/27 and 2/26:  7 (1 rating, 5 to-read, 1 other)
Sold in Feb:  1 ebook / 1 paperback
Added between 2/27 and 3/19: 18 (1 rating, 17 to-read)
Sold in March: 1 ebook / 0 paperback
Added between 1/27 and 2/26:  3 (1 rating, 1 to-read, 1 other)
Sold in Feb: 2 ebooks / 1 paperback


First: Clickbait ads really, really work in earning clicks. I had to shut down ‘Shh’ because it was devouring my budget without showing any real benefit other than ‘winning’ at ad writing. If I’d been earning money for those clicks, though…
Second: I invested $30 in this experiment. My actual monetary return on investment is abysmal; as a conservative estimate I earned $4 in the same timeframe and there’s no real sense that was due to the ads.
Third: I DID get a serious uptick in reader interest, as measured by to-read lists.  It wasn’t exactly cheap; I paid at a rough estimate about 75 cents for each expression of ‘maybe someday’.
Fourth: Use the title space on your ads for more than just the book title. Don’t be modest, either. Both ‘Blurb’ and ‘Lies and Self-Promotion’ got into the double digits of CTR on days they got started early. ‘Unlock the door’ and ‘Mean girl’ didn’t get any traction until very late, so I’m not sure they’ve been adequately tested. (Really, I expected this entire campaign to go longer than it did– not even a month of data! Alas, I can’t afford to test any more at the existing ROI, not until later in the year anyhow.)
Fifth: As a game, it almost seems worthwhile. I really enjoyed tracking the performance of individual ads and I’ve certainly spent more on games that haven’t really given me anything back at all. But I think I’m probably a freak in this instance.


I’d really like to experiment with targeting next time. I suppose the right way to do that would be to pick a few of my best performing ads, duplicate them, and then target them at different Goodreads demographics. Thanks to this experiment I feel like I at least have the data to make the decision on best performing ads!

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