View Full Version : Facebook Advertising

08-01-2018, 06:42 PM
I would love some guidance from any of you who have advertised on Facebook. Let me know if any of my following thoughts are off the mark. I understand there are two levels of advertising: The lower level is a boosted post. The higher level is an actual ad.

Boosted Post: To boost a post I first have to make a Facebook page. I've done that and at the bottom of my page it says "Boost Unavailable." I have further been told that to make the "Unavailable" status disappear, I need to first type something on my page and hit the "Publish" button. I further understand that after hitting "Publish", my post will go only to my Facebook friends and then the Boost button at the bottom of my page will no longer say "Boost Unavailable." At this point If I want to boost a post, I guess that perhaps I type in a message on my page and hit my newly activated Boost button and then I'm guessing Facebook will ask me for money or information about who I want to reach. If any of this is wrong, I would appreciate you straightening me out.

Actual Ad: My understanding here is that I can create an ad directly from Facebook's Ad Manager. The first thing one has to do on Ad Manager is to select a campaign objective. I would guess that most people would pick "conversion" . . which is Facebook's way of discussing the idea of prompting immediate action. Ideally I would want people to click on a link that took them directly to my Amazon book page. But, I understand that it's against Amazon policy to do this. So I further understand that the best option is to have a link directly to one's author web site. Then on the author web site one would have a direct link to their Amazon book page.

There are no books to explain the above. Not at the simple one book level I am at. I bought a book titled The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising by Brian Meert and it was totally inappropriate. It was only for big time advertising agencies. Very complex. Any feedback or insights on the above that you could provide would be most appreciated.

Marissa D
08-01-2018, 07:00 PM
Honestly...if you've only got one book out, don't spend money on advertising it. Work on word of mouth via social media, yes--but spend the bulk of your time and mental energy writing more books. Nothing sells a book like another book.

(Though there might be a different answer for non-fiction; I can't address that. Promotion of fiction and non-fiction are two different critters.

08-01-2018, 07:13 PM
What Marissa said. NF may be a different ball game, but IME Facebook ads are useless for fiction.

AW Admin
08-01-2018, 07:17 PM
Ask yourself if you've bought a book from an unfamiliar author because of Facebook.

I never have. I've never bought a book by an unfamiliar author because of an ad.

Think about how you discover books/authors, how you decide what book(s) to buy or read.

Dennis E. Taylor
08-01-2018, 07:26 PM
The only exception might be Bookbub or Book Barbarian. Of course, those are opt-in lists, but I've bought books from the emails in the past.

Ari Meermans
08-02-2018, 12:10 PM
Going with the consensus here: don't spend your money on FB ads. I have never bought a book based on an ad of any kind, much less an ad on FB. I discover new authors and books here on AW and because of recommendations from friends. And books—I buy complete author backlists when I discover a book I like. Nothing sells a book as well as the next one.

08-02-2018, 07:15 PM
What's been said by others who did not buy books via FB ads. Don't bother!

Their ads are absolutely useless. They want you to think there are rabid readers eagerly scanning the sidebar for new books, but it ain't so. Most people ignore the ads or have installed software to block them altogether. (I have.) You won't reach your target audience with any FB ad. Those are universally viewed as an irritant.

Getting involved in FB groups is another matter, but respect their rules about promotion. I'm in a fan group, have commercial stories for their fandom, but am not allowed to link to them. It's considered to be very rude and will get you thrown out.

I've gotten friend requests from writers who then immediately posted links to their books on MY wall. They got unfriended and blocked seconds later. That ploy is beyond rude. Especially annoying was the jerk who replied to one of my posts with "If your (sic) feeling down, then my book might cheer you up!" I wanted to strangle him.

Joining FB writing groups is good for keeping you motivated, and you learn more about the ropes from others rather like here on AW. IF someone asks for a link to your books, go ahead, but no posting it as a reply to everything.

Keep up your author page wall with posts, updates, excerpts, and all the links you like. That's acceptable and expected.

DO NOT automatically accept friend requests. Even experienced authors do that, thinking they're from fans, but most are scammers looking for fresh meat and to harvest friend lists. You always check their walls. If they have new accounts, no family, 1-2 pictures repeated, and claim to be widowers working for the military, they're fake accounts. The ones with underage girls making duck lips are even easier to spot, report, and block. Every month I get requests from people with strange names, a casual grasp of English, and no indication that they even read. Those are brought in by FB's "People you may know" algorithms. UGH.

The nastiest friend request came from a James Strauss, who had plenty of mutual friends, all pro writers, and an impressive list of writing credits. It fooled me. He turned out to be a much more organized scammer who'd done jail time for embezzling from a teachers' retirement fund.

He's still operating. http://leegoldberg.com/james-strauss-fake-writing-credits/

08-02-2018, 07:54 PM
I never buy books based on ads. Maybe if I noticed an author I already read put out a new book I somehow missed, that would entice me, but otherwise, I ignore. I find new books based on blog posts, and by positive reviews by friends on stuff that looks cool on GR and Twitter.

08-02-2018, 08:50 PM
I don't believe I've ever seen a book Ad on any social media - probably because of my language.

But I've checked out other stuff based on ads, and I'm sure I would check out a book if the cover and tagline appealed to me. No, matter who the author was - I've read lots of goods books over the years without remembering the author.

I wonder if the unwillingness not to respond to book ads are as widespread as this thread seems to indicate, especially when some writers claim to spend relative much on FB adds and can measure an outcome.

So why not try it - as you don't have to spend much?

08-03-2018, 06:42 PM
First, thanks to all above for your candor about Facebook advertising. You have saved me a lot of time and stress. Just a quick follow-up on Facebook. If I have a Facebook Page and I publish a post on that page, who sees that post? . . . Just my Facebook friends or a wider Facebook community?

The meat of my post is this: I wonder if someone could explain the dynamics here about how writing another book can help sell the first book. It's going to take me at least two years to write a second book and I really don't want my first book to just languish unpromoted. I'm determined to promote it somehow. I am developing a marketing plan for my book and am considering several tools. I'd love to know your thoughts about each and if you have other thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
- AMS ads
- Blog tours . . Pitching your book to bloggers. Find niche bloggers who occupy your space. There are thousands of niche fiction bloggers with huge followings.
- Kboards and Goodreads both offer opportunities to make your book known to a wider community.

I'd love to know your thoughts on the above. And thanks again for all your input. It's much appreciated.

08-03-2018, 07:34 PM
If I have a Facebook Page and I publish a post on that page, who sees that post? . . . Just my Facebook friends or a wider Facebook community?

Neither, actually. A subset of your page subscribers will see the post. Facebook will charge you if you want to guarantee everyone who subscribes to your page gets the post in their feed.

I think of Facebook pages as something similar to a web site, in that people will generally expect me to have one. But I don't do any exclusive promotion there, and I don't expect anything from it. The one advantage is that it's reasonably easy to toss stuff up there (I tie my blog automatically to Facebook, so when I publish a new blog post it's automatically excerpted on FB).

The meat of my post is this: I wonder if someone could explain the dynamics here about how writing another book can help sell the first book.

I think the general idea is that people pay attention to new things, and if they read and like a new thing (or even just see it an think it sounds cool), they're more likely to seek out your back catalog.

As for what works? Got me. :) I used to do Goodreads giveaways back when they were free. Don't know that it gave me a sales bump, but I did love sending books to people.

AW Admin
08-03-2018, 08:28 PM
Reviews, legitimate reviews, sell books.
Don't expect every review copy/e-arc to result in a review; it won't. Maybe one in ten, maybe.
Participate in genuine discussion, as you do here, but rather than constantly harping on your book, engage. Have your book in your sig. Have your Website in your sig. But be engaged, genuine, and interested, and people will click through to your books.

Liz Monster is a great example of this; she wrote interesting posts, I read the first book, and I got hooked.

And take a a look at this thread (https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?241431-How-to-promote-your-book-like-an-intelligent-human-being-and-not-an-SEO-Dweeb).

08-04-2018, 01:47 AM
I am developing a marketing plan for my book and am considering several tools. I'd love to know your thoughts about each and if you have other thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
- AMS ads
- Blog tours . . Pitching your book to bloggers. Find niche bloggers who occupy your space. There are thousands of niche fiction bloggers with huge followings.
- Kboards and Goodreads both offer opportunities to make your book known to a wider community.

I'd love to know your thoughts on the above. And thanks again for all your input. It's much appreciated.

I was going to write more on my AMS experiences at some point, but this is the overview. My product targeted ad did nothing much at all. The successful ads were sponsored ones.

If a book is $2.99 or more, I can set up an ad that will make back more than it costs. I'm doing this with a novel that has no sequel yet, so it's entirely based on the sales of that one book. However, this means reasonably low bids, so the number of impressions/clicks is a trickle rather than a roar. Think a few sales a month, rather than hundreds. It is a sustainable trickle though, and I would be selling no copies of that book without the current ad. I view this as a way to sell a few copies here and there over a long period of time, especially after any initial launch sales have happened.

If a book costs less than $2.99, it simply doesn't earn enough to cover all the costs. The sales were technically better than the novel, but the profit was too small per book. I did get a first review on Amazon much faster than I have with any book before AMS, so I got some lasting benefit. The sales did offset the advertising costs. But as the ads didn't sustain themselves, I won't be continuing with them for the cheaper title.

All this boils down to getting your targeting right though. You need to be good at identifying which keywords might be used to search and which authors/books have crossovers with your audience. It also depends on what you consider to be success. For someone with my sales, where books drop to zero after a month or two, it helps to get a few more sales each month. More successful authors probably wouldn't notice a few extra sales.

08-04-2018, 08:31 AM
How a second book helps a first book - from a reader's point of view:
I sometimes I read a new book (because it's at the front of the shelf or being promoted) and it's by a new (to me) writer.
I really enjoy it. I immediately want to read another of this writer's books. So, I look in the front of the book, or, on-line, and see if they've written anything else. (Because, at this point, I'm trying to find out if their writing is something I like in general, or if it was just a fluke.)
If there's nothing, but I really like the book, I might make a note of the author's name. If it was just 'okay', I would probably shrug and move on.
If there was some hint that a sequel is coming, I might make more effort to keep track, but, if it takes a couple of years for the author to produce anything, they'd better have a back-catalog to keep me interested, 'cause little notes don't last forever.

I wouldn't look for new books in on-line ads, and I'm not on Facebook. If I don't see a physical copy, I have reliable on-line friends who talk about books. Not to sell, just talking about stuff they've read.
Or, I'm Googling for something, and something else is mentioned and it sounds intriguing, or useful.

If you're selling on Amazon, make good use of the 'Look Inside' feature, it really works.
I bought an unfamiliar book (Wintergirls) by an unfamiliar author (Laurie Halse Anderson) in a genre I don't much care for (YA) on the strength of the 'Look Inside' pages. I've forgotten what I was originally searching for, but I really enjoyed that book, although I haven't really been caught up in her others (that I immediately looked for.)

08-04-2018, 11:23 PM
I have never used paid ads. But once in a while I have seen authors promoting ideas related to their books.

cool pop
08-05-2018, 01:26 AM
Facebook ads are better for building things like a mailing list, etc. Some authors claim they have success with sales from the ads but they are spending thousands. If you wanna invest in FB advertising then look up Mark Dawson who is supposed to be an expert at running ads. Be warned though, his classes are very expensive.

I've run FB ads and even though I got tons of clicks and good engagement I didn't see much ROI for them in terms of sales. The ads that have worked best for me are Amazon ads even though I am wide. I use Bookbub click ads but still trying to get the hang of them.

I stopped running FB ads because unless you can spend a lot of money, they don't seem to be worth it for selling books. Also, I don't like how they now say they can do a credit check on you if you run ads. No thanks.

The Farmer
09-11-2018, 06:12 PM
I'm going to agree with what everyone says about boosting posts on Facebook. I tried a couple years ago and wasted my money.

Boosting Facebook posts doesn't work - until it does. Here's my story (your mileage may vary)

I've already said that I tried it a couple years ago and wasted my money. But, I published a new book in a new genre on June 30th. With a week, the reviews were pouring in. Literally. And I have no idea how because I didn't do any advertising - and PA is a competitive genre.

I posted my release on my facebook page, but I have less than 200 facebook friends - and trust me - they don't read Post Apocalyptic.

I created a facebook page for my book. A few of my friends "liked" it (out of pity, I'm sure). That page didn't do anything to help my book sales.

But, the books were still selling and reviews were coming in. And, the book was climbing in the ranks.

When my book reached #25 in it's category, I really wanted to see it hit the top ten. So I decided to do a facebook post boost.

I hate wasting money so I researched. I crafted a post for boosting. It said "Read the reviews! Download the book!" and a link to the book on Amazon.

Then I studied the "Boost" options on Facebook. I tunneled way down. I wanted my post boosted only to people who owned Kindles. They must also be members of Post Apocalyptic or Prepper Facebook pages.

In three days, my book got another 50 reviews, climbed to the #8 spot in it's category, and now Amazon was displaying it in the "Books other customers bought". It snowballed from there.

Would I do another Page Boost? If I was close enough to a goal and had the time to tailor the boost to my audience, I would. But it's not something that would work every day.

09-11-2018, 06:41 PM
Some people do find success through facebook and AMS advertising, but I think it has become a lot more competitive. In the past you could get away with an $0.08 bid, but that's no longer the case. So let's say you set a bid of $0.25, and are selling your book for $2.99. That means you need to sell your book to roughly one in ten people who click on your ad. If your bid is $0.50, then you need to sell it to 1 in 5 people.
Now, what happens if you are up against someone with ten books in their back catalogue? They can bid at $1 because even if they make a loss on the first book, they may have a read through rate of 50% and make all that money back on later books.
So with one book, it's far more difficult to be competitive when it comes to advertising. It's not impossible, but the margins are a lot tighter.
Anyway, I put $100 in to see what happens. If it doesn't work, then so be it. I haven't lost that much. I tried Goodreads ads, and have had a total of 3 clicks in 40,000 impressions at a total cost of $0.70 lol. It's not exactly going to put me on the map, but I'll keep trying.

10-15-2018, 09:57 AM
I'm going to play devil's advocate and say I plan on using the facebook ads. It's obvious a book needs to be well written and you need to be organized as far as having a website and a proper distribution channel, but if no one knows your book exists you won't be selling any copies. Facebook ads, annoying or not, have to potential to make people aware your book exists. I like horror stories, if I see a add for a book and it catches my eyes I might purchase it. I think all a writer -- especially a new, unpublished writer -- can hope for is that potential sale.

10-15-2018, 11:12 AM
Aside from the issue of not buying books from online ads, which has been mentioned, is the bot problem.

Facebook has a well-documented issue with ads (https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/06/the-8-2-billion-adtech-fraud-problem-that-everyone-is-ignoring/) not reaching human eyeballs, even when it says they are. Facebook has claimed to reach more 18-34-year-olds than actually exist (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/07/facebook-claims-it-can-reach-more-people-than-actually-exist-in-uk-us-and-other-countries). (Both those articles are a bit old because I traded comprehensibility for recency. The problem has only become worse.)

If you reach a human being at all, they're unlikely to buy your book. Save your money.

10-15-2018, 08:48 PM
I probably wouldn't buy a book based on a FB ad but twice I was intrigued enough to look up the book at the library. One of those lead to a purchase of a different book in the series. Now, however, I get tons of ads for books I have already read.

10-15-2018, 09:15 PM
Once in a million, sure.

Once, I was driving across Canada through northern Ontario. For those of you unfamiliar with northern Ontario, there is very little in it. Every so often, I passed a highway billboard for what I assumed was a local death metal festival but by day three I was bored enough to look it up and it turned out to be a well-titled self-published mystery.

So in that sense, the billboards worked. Heck, probably more effectively than Facebook ads ever could, because when it comes to soul-crushing monopolistic power, Facebook can only dream of being northern Ontario. But the ROI had to be astonishingly bad. And likewise for FB ads: you cannot hope to make back what you pay in sales, and there's no sense in paying enough to really take advantage of Facebook's ubiquity. The rate of return is not going to be all that much higher than direct-mail--you are, in essence, spamming. You get one click in a thousand, or whatever. That's ego, not business.

10-22-2018, 11:48 PM
This whole thread answers a few questions I had. Thanks! I tried the fb ads and saw no difference in sales. Just talk about your work CASUALLY online and in person and sales will follow. It's the reviews that mean the most at the end of the day though ^^

11-29-2018, 08:41 PM
FB booster ads are ineffective. I've tried two of them. Zero. Twitter--same deal. Reading group banner ads--zero. Swapping e-book purchases with another author--bingo, it worked--but you have to be real careful and explanatory about doing this. Do not harm anyone's rep. Be discrete. Better yet, word of mouth is free--some big review sites help very much. My own local newspaper, no small one, it's totally worthless, and I've been front page news three times over four years.