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. 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. This list was part of the previous article. The only difference is an update under number 5 “Series Concerns.”
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.
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 task management bar and clicking on the down arrow. The drop-down menu that appears will have Ads Manager as a choice. (Click on Manage ads, and your account should pop up . . . mine is set up where I have to click one more time on my account name before my dashboard pops up.) 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. (Click HERE for Business Manager creation instructions.)
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 a sales’ website URL (like an Amazon book page.)
It is possible that you’ll have different objectives over time (like driving traffic to your author website or signing people up for a newsletter); however, for now we’re focusing on book advertising.
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 here, 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 you're 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: 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 here and play with audience targeting possibilities in advance. Once I like the audience that I’ve created for a future ad, I take screen shots to ‘save’ my research, so I can recreate it when I am ready to run my ads.
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.UK) and you’ll want to separate that audience off into its own ad. Typically, I am targeting both US and Canadian residents.
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 the image below 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. Just like for BookBub advertising, you can also use the list of authors with whom you share similar audiences. Also, make a note of the genre(s) of your book. You can target audiences by book genre here on Facebook just like you can on BookBub. 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 approximately in the middle of the green or leaning slightly right.
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. (Please note that lesser known authors won't actually have a fan base that's available for targeting on Facebook.) Finally, I narrowed the audience to those who are high school grads and ebook readers.
You'll have another choice to further designate your audience under the drop down menu you’ll see under Connection Type. Here you can decide to include or exclude those that like your page, include friends of those who like your page and more. You also have the option on this page to save the audience if you think you might use it again.
Step Seven: Ad Placement
You can choose where and on what type of devices your ads are seen.
Click Edit Placements.
Keep All Devices selected.
There’s a lot of varying advice on what to choose next, and you might want to test different ads with different placement options.
Typically, I deselect everything but Facebook and Instagram. For Feeds, I choose FB News Feed, Instagram Feed, FB Marketplace, Facebook Right Column, and Instagram Explore. (If my ad was in video format, I’d add in the video feeds.) For Stories, I pick both FB and Instagram stories. I also include Facebook Search and Facebook In-Article placement.
Audience Network is Facebook’s efforts 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 Eight: Budget and Scheduling
Here’s where you’ll pick your daily budget and dates of your advertising. 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
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 here 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.
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 Additional 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 thorough discussion on bidding pros and cons, head on over to this Social Media Examiner article. https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-optimize-facebook-ad-bidding-clicks-or-impressions/. Also, if you want to read more about how much Facebook ads should cost and how to maximize the bidding process. Ad Espresso discusses that in a 2018 article: https://adespresso.com/blog/facebook-ads-cost/
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 ad image creation best practices. (Here's a fun article: 25 Facebook Design Hacks.) Look at a lot of samples before designing your ad. Facebook is particular about how much copy you should have inside your ad—there should be very few words inside the ad image. After all, 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. (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/). Remember your image should be 1080 pixels on each side. You’ll probably want to create at least two ads to test against each other.
Here are some ad creation samples. The first two show how I draft the ads before uploading them into the system. The second set shows how two ads look in preview mode inside Facebook once the information is in the Ads Manager.
TEST AD 1:
A story of hope and courage . . . A vibrantly accurate portrayal of the Italian-American immigrant experience in the early 20th Century.
After her entire family dies in the earthquake following Mt. Etna’s eruption in 1908, Angela Lanza accepts a marriage proposal, moving from Sicily to her husband’s home in New York to begin a new life.
Headline: One Woman’s Journey from Sicily to America
News Feed Link Description: On sale for a limited time!
Test AD 2: (This was the more successful of the two ads.)
Accompanying Text: “. . . a compelling and unforgettable account of a life shaped, but not defined, by early tragedy.”
Angela Lanza loses her entire family in the 1908 earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna but overcomes life’s challenges with grace and courage both in Italy and in America with her new husband.
Headline: One Woman’s Journey from Sicily to America
News Feed Link Description: Read now!
Here's another sample set of ads. This is how they look in preview mode inside the Ad Manager. (Note the one with the bombing photo was the most successful here.)
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.
► Select single image or video.
► Upload the image 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.) NOTE: You are not allowed to use an affiliate link if you're part of the Amazon Affiliates program.)
► Type in the headline.
► Choose your call to action button—good choices are “Download,” “Learn More,” and “Shop Now" (but there are a lot of choices here.)
► News Feed Link Description … you can add supporting copy here. Samples include, “Free for a limited time!”, “New release!”, “Best-selling mystery!”, or “Award-winning romance!”
Once you’re happy with your creative. You can click the green confirm 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%. (If you're running a $.99 book deal, you'd likely want this to be a bit higher since royalties will be lower at that price point.) Keep in mind, however, that across all industries the average CTR is under 2% for Facebook ads.
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 principal. 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 so 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 than average, you can get by with lower CTR and a higher CPC.
If ad clicks convert to sales at a 9% rate 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. You’re not alone in this!! If you’re looking for another Facebook ad tutorial, check out the one from Dave Chesson here: https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-advertise-book-facebook-facebook-ads-for-books/
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment field or by emailing me through the contact form on this site. If you’d like one-on-one assistance in setting up Facebook ads, this is one of the author services I provide. See more on my author services website at: www.LostLakePress.com.