Facebook ads can be daunting, but if you get them right, they can also sky rocket your book sales. Katherine Smith discusses seven Facebook advertising basics you can implement when using the platform to grow your readership.
In December 2018, I began dabbling with Facebook adverts. It quickly progressed from dabbling to spending what is to me a fairly serious amount of money – all because something went right, which to be honest I was not expecting. I had tried my hand at FB ads before and got nowhere. This time, I have gone from close-to-flatlining in sales to bobbing about at around #1000 in the UK Kindle chart. I’ve seen some unexpected but brilliant side effects of Facebook ads.
People have been commenting on the ads, massaging my ego about my books, and sharing the ads or tagging their friends. I also have close to three times as many Facebook followers as before I started running the adverts. On top of all this, I’ve been offered the chance to have my books included as Kindle Daily Deals.
I hope that what I have learned so far may be useful to some fellow ALLis, although I am not convinced they will work for all authors or all types of book.
1. Carefully select the book(s) you want to advertise.
I am focusing on a three-book contemporary romance series. My other three novels are standalone literary fiction, and I am not sure I could get the same results with these.
I have also used a link which takes readers straight to the Amazon page displaying all three books, and the option to buy the series in one go (rather than a single book page).
2. Use Facebook Power Editor – and learn how to use it effectively.
I did sign up to the Mark Dawson Ads for Authors course, which is another expense, but it guided me in how to design and target my ads using Power Editor; areas I don’t think I’d have got right otherwise.
3. Choose eye-catching, relevant images.
I tend to use Canva for the images and tailor them for my adverts. With a strong Cornwall theme, I generally go for sea- and beach-based imagery. My first ad featured the silhouette of a young woman jumping in the air on a beach at sunset. People seemed to like it. If you create the images you use, you can add some text to them but be warned, Facebook does not like too much text on these images. There are also stock images available in the Power Editor and some of these are great but you are limited in terms of what you can do with them.
4. Spend time working out who to target.
It can be hard to know where to start. I have been trying to find the best categories for me: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance or Romance Novels, narrowing the audience down to people who have expressed an interest in Cornwall, or specific places in Cornwall (another category is ‘I Love Cornwall’: perfect). It’s worth spending a bit of time thinking of authors who write books similar to yours and any key themes which people may have expressed an interest in.
As you select the categories for targeting, Facebook Power Editor will work out the size of the audience, and how many clicks you might expect, based on your budget. I have been advised by a Facebook expert that around 100,000 is a good size for an audience; however, I’ve seen other advice which suggests targeting more closely than this. I think trial and error is key – but don’t go too large with your audience.
5. Budget, trial and monitor your adverts.
Start small in terms of budget, and take your time, so that you can begin to see which adverts are working – you can use Power Editor to see how much each click is costing, and there are details like Frequency (how often an advert is served to the same person) and Relevance – but this is getting too far into the nuts and bolts of it all for the purpose of this post.
6. Use Amazon Affiliates – if you’re comfortable to do so.
I know that doesn't sound helpful, but there is some ambiguity over whether or not this should be done from a Facebook page due to Amazon's policies. However, in creating a unique ID for each advert, it makes it easier to see which are resulting in sales (and can also generate a little extra income). Make sure you know the polices and what you can and cannot do.
7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
I think it is worth having a few adverts running at any one time, and also regularly renewing or updating them. The advice I received from the Facebook marketing person was to let an ad run for two weeks and then start again – this way the audience will be refreshed; letting an advert drag on for weeks means it is being served to the same audience sample.
Downsides of Facebook ads
The main point here is the cost. And the fact that you are billed as the ads go out in ‘real time’ (Facebook lets the costs accrue to a certain amount and then takes the cash) while you have to wait the sixty days (or ninety with Ingram) to see any income. This can make things very hard to manage if you are on a tight budget.
Trackability of sales. I link straight to the Amazon page of my books so can’t track whether these clicks convert to actual sales; hence the Amazon Affiliates links. There is another option, which enables you to use a pixel to track traffic to a landing page. My fear with this is that in adding another step to the process (Facebook to landing page to retailer) it could put people off. However, it is something I will be trying further down the line.
I’ve been more than pleasantly surprised with how well Facebook adverts have gone for me so far. I do still have the awful habit of checking my sales figures on KDP far too frequently; I am always aware that it could all just drop away but for now it’s going well. I don’t think that Facebook adverts will work for everyone but I wouldn't write them off until you’ve tried.#Facebookads can be daunting, but if you get them right, they can sky rocket your #booksales #indieauthor #selfpublishing #iartg #asmrg Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU
What is your experience using Facebook advertising basics… or even advanced tools. We'd love to hear if you have something to add to Katharine Smith's post.
OTHER POSTS TO HELP YOU WITH FACEBOOK ADVERTISING
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive