I met some fine folks from AdBiblio at the San Francisco Writers Conference this year. I’m as much in a place to learn as my fellow Authors and Readers, so sat down with Mary Beth Grossman from AdBiblio which does Book advertising online. Find out what I learned about the choices an Author has when promoting their book in this interview!


Jennifer Bowen: What’s your background Mary? How did you find yourself at Blog Ads/AdBiblio?

Mary Beth Grossman: I’m originally from Pittsburgh, PA (Go Steelers!) but moved down to North Carolina to study communications at Elon University. I’ve always been an avid reader with a strong interest in the book industry, so I was beyond thrilled when I landed a position at Blogads in Durham, NC. It’s wonderful to be working directly with publishers and authors to connect books with readers.

JB: How did the division AdBiblio get started?

MBG: AdBiblio grows out of Blogads.com, which started in 2002. We helped advertisers get onto specific blogs, and publishers loved the specificity of some of those blogs — vampires or knitting or cute animals. But there came a point where clients would come to us with unique books, and we just did not have blogs that fit those books particular niche. We needed to find a way to target the readers themselves whether the blog existed or not, wherever they were on the web. And so, we began to use third party data and our own data to target users by demographics, traits, genre preferences and location across the web. The technology allows us to target specific readers on thousands of sites, including sites like People, CNN and The New York Times. Rather than buying an ad on just one of those sites and only really connecting with 1 in 10,000 readers who are interested in the niche, we ignore the 9,999 and follow that one reader wherever they are on the web.

We also believe that different products need different ad types, so we’ve spent a lot of time creating book-specific ads. For example, we’ve got a unit that lets someone sample a chapter from a book. We’ve got another unit that’s specifically designed for book events. We’ve created ads that let readers see different panels of a picture book. And we’ve got units that let an author easily push out a video trailer. We can even let an author display three or four versions of a first chapter and see which gets the best reactions from potential readers in a specific target audience, say women in their 40s who have a history of buying romance novels.

JB: At what point would an Author use your services?

MBG: AdBiblio works best when an author understands that success only comes with planning and persistence.

We all know that the media landscape is crazily competitive, and getting more so every day. We’ve essentially bred a monster that exists to eat people’s time. Media companies — ranging from Disney to HBO to Buzzfeed to Electronic Arts to the NFL to Netflix — are pumping out really entertaining content to compete for people’s’ time and attention. And people themselves are competing too, pumping out stories and photos on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and begging for each to be liked or clicked or forwarded. The whole ecosystem is shaped by organisms evolving constantly to compete for every available second of every day. On top of this, self-publishing technology and e-books mean there are now 1 million books a year competing for people’s time. Again, take it all together and you’ve got a monster that just consumes every spare second of peoples’ lives.

So, an author can either treat her book as a lottery ticket — praying that it will be the one in 10 million that gets discovered and celebrated without any work. Or an author can be proactive and go to war with the monster. Do a book tour, even if its just 3 local book shops. Cultivate relationships with key bloggers. Get review copies into the hands of key people. Tweet. Go to conferences. Tell friends and neighbors. And then do it all again. To tie all this together, advertising is a great way to hammer home your book’s presence, to remind readers of your book. All this, taken together, says to readers — I take you seriously, you need to take me seriously.

Think of it this way. If someone just knocked on your front door once and said “I’ve got a really interesting story — pay me $10 and I’ll take 6 hours of your time to tell you the story,” would you accept the offer? Heck no. But maybe if you heard about this story from friends, and the person came back once a week for two months… maybe then you’d be a lot more likely to say “heck, here’s $10. Go ahead, tell me that story!”

Mary Beth Grossman

Mary Beth Grossman
Sales Account Manager

JB: How do you track how well an ad is doing? How does this information make its way to the Author?

MBG: We’re behind the scenes every day checking on each ad that is running. At the end of the campaign, an author receives a custom report detailing total interactions (includes clicks and hovers), the types of people who interacted with the ads and where the ad ran. She’ll also receive screenshots of their ads on top sites, which can help show book shop owners or potential partners that you’re serious.

JB: What kind of budget range do you work with?

MBG: It completely varies on the client, but our campaigns begin at $500. This starting price point allows us to give the client the best experience, from a uniquely designed ad, niche targeting on top sites and day-to-day optimization for the best performance.

JB: Do you create the ad completely? I’m curious what the process is like when creating the ad for each specific Author.

MBG: We do! We have a blast creating ads for authors to use in our campaigns and anywhere else they choose. Depending on the type of ad, an author or publisher will send us chapter text, book cover or images and any blurbs or reviews. Ads can link to any landing page they would like, such as their Amazon page or author page. Of course, we send mock-ups for approval before it goes live.

JB: Any great success stories of Author(s) using your services?

We ran an event ad for a Lev Grossman event at Fly Leaf Bookstore in Chapel Hill. Audience attendance increased by 25%!

To find out more, visit their website: http://www.adbiblio.com


Written by Jennifer Bowen

Jennifer Bowen hails from a family business of research and has always considered it valuable. After working on her first YA book, she yearned for feedback from teenage readers, and the idea for BookHive and an organized beta reader process was born. As QueenBee of BookHive (more fun than CEO) she has attended the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Boston Book Fair, and The New York Self-Publishing Conference. BookHive was also selected to attend Startup Alley at the Book Expo of America in 2015, as "One of Twenty Startups to Watch."

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