Advertising Your Books – Part Two: Facebook Ads
Advertising Your Books – Part One taught you how to get started with BookBub ads. I’ve continued my ad testing on that platform and have updated that article with more notes on my results HERE. The article below details how to advertise on Facebook. This is also an updated article as of June 2021. In contrast to BookBub where you can only target fans of certain authors or literary genres, on Facebook you have much more intricate targeting capabilities based on Facebook users' demographics. (Here's the upside to all of that information that we typically hate Facebook is collecting on us . . . now you get to use it for your benefit.)
But first . . . as previously discussed, a lot of authors are unsure if spending money on advertising can increase book sales. I’m here to tell you that it can; however, it takes patience and a willingness to lose a little money at first during the ad testing phase. Overall, there are six things to do or know before you start advertising.
The SIX most important things to do or know before you start spending money on ads:
1. REVIEW YOUR COVER COPY AND BOOK DESCRIPTION
Make sure your book description and cover copy are enticing and well-written. (Ideally, you will have done this before hitting the publish button; however, before spending money on ads, it is a must to double check these details. Compare your book to other bestsellers in your genre to make sure you’re hitting all the right points with your cover and description.)
2. READ/WATCH THE TUTORIALS
I can’t emphasize enough that you need to take your time to read or watch tutorials for each type of advertising you’re considering. There’s a lot to learn, and it’s important not to rush. (I’ll include links to the best tutorials below.)
3. TAKE THE TIME FOR AD TESTING
No matter which platform you’re advertising on, you will be testing different ad copy and images alongside different target audiences to see which works best. It will take some time to get the right combination.
4. BE PREPARED TO LOSE A LITTLE MONEY (AT FIRST)
And, unfortunately, you need to be prepared to lose a little money during this testing phase.
5. SERIES CONCERNS AND READ THROUGH or SELL THROUGH RATE
If your book is part of a series, don’t jump into spending much on advertising until your series is complete (or there are at least three books out) and then focus your advertising dollars on book one. WHY? Because you can afford to lose a little money drawing readers into your series because of something called the “read through” or “sell through” rate, which is the percentage of book one buyers who will then buy book two and three and so on.
NEW NOTE: Please make sure the back matter of your book is updated with information and direct links to the other books in your series. For instance, at the back of your book one, make sure there’s a little blurb or excerpt for the other books in the series along with link to the sale’s pages. We are binge-readers these days, and the best time to capture the “read-through” sale is when a reader has just finished the first book and is wanting to continue. Make it easy for them by including that link. If the book is a Kindle book, the link will go to the Amazon sale’s page. For other formats/bookstores, I use a universal book link that has all the direct sale’s links for the other stores, like B&N, Kobo, iBooks/Apple etc… I get my universal book link from Draft2Digital (my distributor for everything but my Kindle ebooks), but you can create your own with these instructions: https://justpublishingadvice.com/promote-your-book-better-with-universal-buy-links/
6. WHERE AND HOW YOU ADVERTISE IS INFLUENCED BY WHERE YOUR BOOK IS FOR SALE
If you are exclusive to Kindle, Amazon ads might work better for you than the author who has their books available across a wide variety of ebook platforms. WHY? Because with Kindle exclusivity your book is available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers as part of their unlimited page reads each month. However, if your book is available widely on other platforms such as Kobo, iBooks, or Nook, your advertising on BookBub and Facebook can be targeted to readers who have identified which platform they use.
David Gaughran has a great overview of book advertising that includes these six tips and more. Access his article HERE.
So, on we go with part two in this series – Facebook Ads.
ADS vs. BOOSTING POSTS
If you’ve been on Facebook for even just a few days, you’ve probably been asked if you want to boost a post. Boosting a post is not the same as running a targeted ad campaign. When you boost a post, you’re applying a set amount of money to make a previous post more visible to an audience of your choosing. Boosted posts differ from Facebook Ads as they’re not created in Ads Manager and therefore don’t have as many customization features. When you boost a post you can pick the target audience, max budget, and length of time you want the post boosted. It then shows up in your News Feed. Ads created through the Facebook Ads manager have more targeting features and creative control. I advise against boosting posts. I don't see much value in them for pursuing sales. You might get a higher engagement on your Facebook page, but I'd rather spend that money on a real ad.
Facebook Ad Basics
1. You must have a Facebook Page to run ads. You can’t run ads on personal profile. (You can boost posts over there, but you can’t run ads.)
2. Use Chrome as your browser. For some reason other browsing platforms have complicated the ad creation process in the past.
3. You’ll create ads from Ads Manager dashboard, which can be found by going to your personal Facebook profile and clicking on Ads or Ad Manager in the list you’ll see on the left. Note: If you manage more than one page and will be creating ads for those pages as well, you probably want to download the business manager to be able to see all of your pages in one place. If you don’t see ad manager on the left, go to this link for instructions: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1710077379203657
NOTE: You do not want Ad Center!
Here's what my Ad Manager Dashboard looks like. You'll click on the Create button to begin.
Step One: Choose Your Marketing Objective
You’ll want to pick TRAFFIC at this point if your objective is to get people to click to an outside sales’ website URL (like an Amazon book page.) Why not conversions? Conversions work best when you’re driving traffic to your own website or landing page—a place where you can gather data about those folks. But when you’re utilizing an outside vendor page, you can’t gather this information easily. To learn more about traffic vs conversions for targeting an Amazon page: https://www.ppchero.com/using-facebook-ads-to-send-customers-to-amazon/
Over time, you will have different objectives when it makes sense to use conversion as your goal.
Step Two: Set Your Ad Manager Parameters
If this is your first time creating an ad, you’re going to be asked some set-up questions at this stage like your country, time zone, and currency. You'll also have to set up a payment method.
Step Three: Name your AD CAMPAIGN.
Pick something that is a unique identifier to avoid confusion with other ads.
There are some other more complex options, like split testing or ad budget optimization. We’re going to skip those for the beginning ad tutorial. Click CONTINUE. (This signals that you’ve completed the ‘campaign level’ details and are moving on to the ‘ad set level’ details.)
NOTE: In the screen shot above you can see that Facebook has three ad levels: Campaigns, Ad Sets, and Ads. Right now, you're at the campaign level--setting your overall objectives. The next section is Ad Sets where you'll decide on budget targeting, bidding, placement etc.. You can have one or more Ad Sets in each Campaign. The final level is for Ad creation where you upload your ad image and text combos. Each Ad set can have more than one Ad. For the beginner, I'm keeping this very linear with one ad set and one ad in each campaign. As you become more familiar with this platform, you can utilize these additional options.
Step Four: Name your AD SET
I use the same name as the ad campaign name from Step Three.
Step Five: Choose Website as where you want to drive traffic.
Skip dynamic creative and offer . . . we’re not using those at the beginning level.
Step Six: Budget and Scheduling
Here’s where you’ll pick your daily budget and dates of your advertising.
Further down the page, under “Optimization & Delivery,” you’ll also be choosing how you’ll be charged for the ads—either on how often they’re clicked or how often they’re viewed. Cost per click = CPC and Cost per 1000 impressions = CPM (You’ll find this under “show more options.”)
Note: If you’ve never spent money on advertising before on Facebook, you will not be able to bid on CPC basis on your first ad. You’ll have to choose CPM. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that—I just note that so you’re not frustrated. The minimum bid for CPC bidding is $5/day. If you want to go lower than that you have to choose CPM. (You can obtain good test results with low dollar budgets per day/ad . . . $3 or $4/ad.)
There are pros and cons of both, and I’ve used both successfully. It doesn’t hurt to start out with CPM if you’re doing a short burst of tests at a low $ amount just to get a feel for what works before switching over to CPC.
There's an option in this section to set bidding caps under the "Show More Bid Strategies" drop-down menu. I typically let Facebook run its automatic lowest cost bidding strategy, but some book advertisers recommend setting a bid cap. For a discussion on bidding pros and cons, read this Social Media Examiner article: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-optimize-facebook-ad-bidding-clicks-or-impressions/
To read more about how much Facebook ads should cost and how to maximize the bidding process, Ad Espresso discusses that: https://adespresso.com/blog/facebook-ads-cost/
Step Seven: Choose your target audience.
Typically, I have done quite a bit of research before I to get this point. Often, I go into the ad set up and play with audience targeting possibilities in advance. Once I like the audience that I’ve created for a future ad, I either save it with a specific audience name or I take screen shots to ‘save’ my research, so I can recreate it later.
Target Location: Usually, this is going to be English speaking countries if your book is only available in English. Keep in mind that if you want to target UK readers, you will likely have different sales’ site links (like Amazon.co.uk) and you’ll want to separate that audience off into its own ad.
Target Gender and Age: Is your book more likely to appeal to older readers or men versus women? Here’s where you can narrow your audience. I’ve also targeted ads separately to women and men to see which audience does better.
Target Language: Usually, this is English. In my sample (on the next page), you can see that I targeted women age 25+ in Canada and the USA who speak English.
Now, this is where you get to have some fun with using demographics like education level or financial information or interest areas like reading or behaviors like purchasing kindle ereaders. You can also target fans of authors with whom you share similar audiences but be aware only VERY popular authors have a targetable audience on Facebook. Also, make a note of the genre(s) of your book. Often, you can target audiences by book genre on Facebook. You can also exclude members of certain audiences if you’re trying to narrow your audience.
Keep an eye on the gauge on the far right. You’ll want your audience to be in the green. The experts say that an audience size of 500,000 to 1,000,000 is the sweet spot, but I’ve had good luck with smaller and larger audiences than that. (Good targeting is what’s most important.)
I further targeted my audience to either those who like paranormal romance OR tourism Ireland. Here's where I could have put in an author's name as well. That would be listed under Interests. Finally, I narrowed the audience to those who are high school grads and ebook readers.
You'll have another choice to click detailed targeting expansion, which can show your ad to more people. Learn more about that option at: https://adsalchemist.com/blog/facebook-ads-targeting-expansion/
Here’s also where you’ll see the option to save the audience for future use.
Step Eight: Ad Placement
You can choose where your ads are seen. Click Manual here.
There’s a lot of advice on what to choose next, and you might want to test different ads with different placement options. Typically, I deselect Audience Network and Messenger, leaving Facebook and Instagram. Audience Network is Facebook’s effort to advertise on websites other than the Facebook platform. I’m not a fan of this; however, it might work for you. I’m on the fence with using Messenger to deliver ads. I’m afraid it might annoy people, but it also might work. I should probably test it. Here are two articles that give in-depth advice on this for more reading if you like:
From Word Stream: Facebook Ad Placement Optimization
From Ad Espresso: Optimizing your Facebook Ads Delivery and Placement
Step Nine: Ad Creation
First, name your ad at the top of this page. Again, keeping the same ad name as you did in the previous steps for the Campaign and Ad Set levels can help you avoid confusion as you click through your dashboard.
There's a lot of advice out there on ad image creation best practices. (Here's a fun article: https://karolakarlson.com/facebook-ad-design/)Look at a lot of samples before designing your ad. Facebook is particular about how much copy you can have inside your ad—there should be very few words inside the ad image. You get the chance to add a few lines for the post that accompanies that image. In fact, these few lines are incredibly important to the success of your ad.
I’ve created my Facebook ads and those for my clients with the free online design software at Canva.com. (Affiliate Link). Here's another nifty website I found where you can convert your book covers into 3D or e-reader/tablet images: https://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/. Another fun service to create images is MockupShots.com (Affiliate Link), but that one isn’t free. Remember your image should be 1080 pixels on each side so that nothing gets cut off when viewed on mobile. You’ll probably want to create at least two ads to test against each other.
Here are two of my own ad samples and accompanying copy.
“A contemporary tale that skillfully weaves in Celtic mythology. This book had me captivated and spellbound.”
> Click Learn More button below for Audible.
To listen on iTunes click here: https://apple.co/3xdvNl7
NOTE: the main link here, went to the Audible audiobook page.
Headline: Audiobook now available!
Samhain (Halloween) Sale!! Award-Winning and Amazon Best Sellers!
Deeply discounted in celebration of the holiday! Samhain is the New Year celebration for the characters in my book and many around the globe. (But happy Halloween to everyone else.)
“A contemporary tale that skillfully weaves in Celtic mythology. These books had me captivated and spellbound.”
NOTE: The main link in the ad, went to the Kindle series sales page on Amazon.
Headline: Award-winning Best Sellers!
Once you’ve created your ad images and decided on your accompanying ad copy, follow these steps on the Facebook ad set-up page:
► Connect your Facebook author page and Instagram if you have an account and choose Instagram as one of your placement options.
► Select single image or video.
► Upload the image or video you’ve created.
► Select website (as you’ll be directing clicks to a book sale’s website page.)
► Fill in the text that will accompany your ad.
► Load in the book sale’s website URL. (Your book's Amazon sales' page or other sales’ page.)
NOTE: You are not allowed to use an affiliate link if you're part of the Amazon Affiliates program.
► Type in the headline . . . this can be copy that supports your ad like: Free for a limited time! - New release! - Best-selling mystery! - Award-winning romance!
► Choose your call-to-action button—good choices are “Download,” “Learn More,” and “Shop Now" (but there are a lot of choices.)
► News Feed Link Description ... I generally don’t utilize this area, but you can if you like.
Once you’re happy with your creative. You can click the publish button at the bottom. Then your ad will be sent through for approval.
Step Ten: Monitoring Your Ad Campaign and Analyzing Your Results
You’re going to be concerned with three statistics, cost-per-click (CPC), click-through-rate (CTR), and conversion or sales rate. A good goal for CTR is 2% or more. I prefer to see a higher percent (closer to 5%), particularly if the book is priced low (which means royalties are lower.) Keep in mind, however, that across all industries the average CTR is under 2% for Facebook ads. If your ad is giving you a higher than 5% CTR, it is likely a keeper. (But that all depends on how many of those clicks buy the book in the end!)
Along with that, you’re looking for a $.50 or less CPC. If you’re monitoring ads to decide if you should turn them off or keep them running, I’d use CPC as the guiding principle. Anything over $.50 I usually turn off. The best goal to shoot for is CPC of $.35 or less. I allow those in the $.35 to $.50 range to continue their run, because stats can change a lot over the course of a day both up and down. The ads in that range often show some improvement over time.
But seriously neither of these numbers matter until you check out your sales’ dashboard and see how many of these clicks resulted in someone purchasing a book. If your sales’ rate is higher, you can get by with lower CTR and a higher CPC.
If ad clicks convert to sales at a 5% rate or higher you’re doing very well. To find out your conversion or sales’ rate, divide the number of sales by the total number of unique clicks.
To compare actual return on investment (ROI), figure out your royalties on those sales and compare it to the amount spent on ads to see if you’re in the black or not—remembering, of course, that it might be okay to take a small loss to introduce readers to book one in your series.
I know this is a TON of information and processing this all at once can be intimidating.
If you’re looking for help in setting up your first Facebook ad campaign, don’t hesitate to email me at LostLakePress@gmail.com! - Valerie