By Avery Flynn

I had an interesting conversation via Twitter with a few folks recently about why would an author (or publisher) buy an ad on a specific book blogger’s site and what they wanted from the site. Then, I had a conversation with a lovely group of authors who said they rarely, if ever, bought ads.

So should authors buy ads and if they do, what should they consider when making an ad buy?

I don’t have the 100 percent right answer for everyone on this because truth be told it’s different for everyone. However, here is why I buy ads, what I think about before creating an ad and what I look for in a site prior to buying an ad.

I buy ads because I am establishing a brand for myself. It’s a crowded market and I work with a small, digital-first publisher. Ads help me reach readers, book bloggers and other authors. Ads help me to get noticed. For each book release, I set a promotional budget. This covers all areas of promo from swag to hiring someone to book my tour to creating a book trailer to getting my website up-to-date to my time for writing guest blogs and seeking spots to buying ads. I believe you have to invest money to make it. Not everyone agrees.

Before creating the ad, I think about what I can do to make this book stick out. For my latest release, Passion Creek, I decided I really wanted to play up on the passion label and hopefully get some of the 50 Shades market. So I came up with the idea to have a ’50s-era doctor prescribing more passion and recommending reading Avery Flynn. I work with a great designer (Cristen E. Rose) who took my vague ideas and turned it into an ad that included all the books in the Layton Family series. I wanted to showcase the entire series with one ad to get the most bang for my buck.

Finally, I have to figure out where I want to run the ad. For ads, I try to go where the readers are – I know, duh! There are ad options for almost any budget. For example, Night Owl Reviews has a featured cover ad spot for $30 a month. Many sites offer cover spots for less than that. Then there are other sites with ad spots for many hundreds of dollars. The thing is that you have to decide what’s important to you that fits within your budget. Find out how many unique visitors a site averages every month. If this isn’t available on the site’s advertising/promotional page, shoot the book blogger an e-mail requesting that information.

A site’s traffic isn’t the only important thing to consider. Look at the other ads on the blog, are the books they’re promoting in the same category as yours? For example, a cozy mystery ad may not get any results on a site that specializes in urban fantasy.

Some may consider it wrong, but I consider the feel I get from the site. Is it one that I love to go to and who I want to support with my ad dollars? There are book blogging sites that I work with that don’t have huge traffic numbers, but I love those sites. I figure that I write what I love to read and that if I’m going to these book blogging sites to find a new book that I love, then others who go there may like my book too.

There’s a ton more I could talk about on the ad buying topic, such as how to determine your return on investment, but those are topics for a whole other blog.