My First Foray Into Facebook Ads

Facebook (1)

Over the past couple of days I experimented with some Facebook ads. If you’re an indie author or publisher and you haven’t been under a rock, you might have heard that some indie authors have been building up their mailing lists and selling boxed sets with Facebook ads. There have been claims that Facebook ads help “explode your mailing list” or “help you get reviews” or “help increase your sales exponentially.”

It was around this time that I became interested in starting this blog, as well. And now, I have a few results that are very preliminary, so I will be keeping you updated on any tail results…

Keep in mind the following things:

  • I write YA Steampunk with a very strong paranormal element.
  • I have four books out now, having released the most recent novel-length book almost a month ago.
  • I use the first book, which is novella-length, as a “permafree” book.
  • My books are not in Kindle Unlimited.

Anyone familiar with how Facebook ads work will know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t, here’s a real quickie lesson:

  1. When opening up a Facebook ads account, you need to have a Facebook Page, not just a Profile. And, the Page needs to be connected to the Profile that pays the bills. In other words, if you’re like me, who has two Profiles (one personal and one for my writing name) and one Page, the Page needs to be attached to the personal Profile unless you have a credit card with a business name on it. I recently had to transfer the admin duties to my personal Profile from my writing Profile in order to do ads. Don’t worry if you have the same situation, it’s pretty easy to fix. Just friend yourself (heh) and have the personal Profile take over admin duties of your Page. Then you can unfriend yourself if you want ;).
  2. Once the account is open, there are two ways to create and manage ads: though the Ads Manager page or by using the Power Editor. Power Editor is not widely available; for one thing, you need to use the Chrome browser and for another, you need to download it. I suggest if you are a complete newbie and want to see it in action, go to Mark Dawson’s website that he created for this kind of stuff. The free video course is a HUGE help. I suggest watching them a few times before actually attempting to tackle the Power Editor.
  3. You will see that you start out be creating a Campaign. The Campaign level is for deciding just what you’re trying to get as a result of this effort. There are a lot of choices, but the ones most pertinent to indie writers are clicks to website (your choice of website) or Website conversions (which is more like the email list sign up campaign thing). I made up a Campaign for direct clicks to website. Mistake I made: I should have made up a campaign for clicks to just one website. Or maybe just should have had only one ad running. See below.
  4. Once you make a campaign, Facebook has you make up a Adset. This is where you get to determine who you want to target for this particular ad you’ll be making, and what your budget is. This is where I think most people can make costly mistakes, especially if you have no idea who your audience for your books really is. I suggest taking a look at your Goodreads books pages and see who rated your book well. If you are able to look at what other books they have read, see if there are any noticeable patterns. Do people who read your book tend to put the same types of books on their shelves over and over? Make note of the authors. Also, then look at the also-bots on your Amazon books pages. Are there any crossovers? Those are the authors you may want to associate your book with. Insofar as my budget, I picked an ongoing campaign and a budget of $5.00 a day. (I noticed later on that you can edit this amount once the ads start running, so if you’re looking to spend less than $5, you might be able to edit it that way.)
  5. Once your adset is finished, then Facebook has you design the Ad itself. There are parameters for the image if you create your own. I figured out, to keep Facebook from sending a nastygram about too much text, to not put any text in the ad image at all. Here is a picture of the ad image I used:
    The preview of the News Feed ad (desktop)

    Just FYI, here’s the all-important mobile version of the ad:

    I'll tell you about the Likes and Comments later on...
    I’ll tell you about the Likes and Comments later on…

    And if you want tips about how to make up an ad, refer to Mark Dawson’s site videos and there are other blogs that will give you tips and advice about how to make the ads up. I can also do my own solitary post just on creating images for Facebook ads…

Once you’ve got these three things set up, the ads can start running.

The dumb thing IMO that I did with the first ads was to put all four ads in one campaign and under the same adset. This dropped my relevancy score to a 4, which didn’t help with the cost of each click. The less “relevant” Facebook thinks your ad is, the more money they will charge for each click. Let me explain what I did.

I set up the campaign, as I said, to direct clicks to a website. The website gets determined by the actual ad, so what I did was create the campaign, created an adset of 13-18 year olds who liked certain authors I had noticed on Goodreads that were matches over and over again on the shelves, and I also wanted them to be eBook readers, so I targeted Kindle fans, iBook fans, Nook fans and Google Play fans. And I made an ad, same as the one above, but each with a link to a different store, to download the permafree. The results were not too great, and I realize now what I should have done was create a different adset for each store, and put the applicable ad under each adset. Instead, Facebook treated the ads as though they were A/B testing ads rather than ads I really wanted running all at the same time. So first they ran the iBooks ad, which got the first clicks. Then Facebook ran the Amazon ad, which got five clicks and one Like. After that, Facebook started the Nook ad, which got two clicks. I don’t think they ever got around to running the Google Play ad, because I pulled the plug on that adset and assessed.

I think younger eBook readers like iBooks. I’m not sure they are that enthused about Amazon. Oddly, the Nook clicks cost me the least, but what Facebook does is averages your cost per click, so if you want to see what each click is actually costing, look under each individual ad.

No males clicked on the ads, and Facebook showed the ads overwhelmingly to females. And Facebook had to show the ad to thousands of users in order to get the clicks I got, like over 3000 kids. So my average cost per click was about $0.56. Not too hot for low ticket items like a free eBook…

I decided to try one more adset. This time, I targeted 35-65+, and I got a MUCH different response! The initial clicks were as low as $0.12! I only ran the one ad you see above. Way more clicks, more downloads (since with Amazon you get that info almost in real time) and far fewer impressions needed in order to get twice as many clicks. I got 8 Likes on the ad. One enthusiastic lady tagged about 5 friends in the comments, and another one of her friends left a comment, and I think I got two Shares also. Not too shabby for an ad I ran less than 48 hours! I stopped the ad last night before all $5.00 was spent, so for this entire campaign I have spent $14.52.

With any luck, the people who downloaded my permafree like the story enough to buy The Inventor’s Son. I like the idea that I’m targeting people who I am pretty sure will like my books rather than promoting to the people who subscribe to these BookBub type list that are really in it for bargains. These people who downloaded The Inventor’s Son: The Beginning were not on Facebook to shop, but they went and downloaded the book anyway. This thought encourages me as I keep Facebook ads as a possibility to get my books in front of readers.

What do you think? Have you tried Facebook ads to promote your books yet? What keeps you from doing it?



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