Ep5: Facebook Ads Part 1
In part one, episode five, I talk about Facebook ads and my experience with them. This podcast series considers only fiction indie writing. Stay tuned for episode six; I try to upload a new episode every two weeks. As always, I hope these posts help a fellow indie author in search of some guidance, or just another perspective. Enjoy!
So here’s the deal with FB: it’s a social platform before anything else. When someone says they are running ads on Facebook for any niche or industry, there are two things one needs to consider: profitability and audience. Most people on FB don’t log in to make purchases, especially from ads. The reality is, FB is a place to socialize with friends, and find vids or memes to engage with. I personally visit FB to see funny videos the pages I follow upload. So how can you, as an indie author, reach potential buyers in a cloud of people who don’t have that buyer mentality?
For sure, it is over ten times easier for well-known authors to grab someone’s attention versus an author starting off. They already have clout and have been recognized in one venue or another (most likely more than a handful of venues, really). They are also being supported by publishers, or, a lovely stack of sponsors to run these ads and reach more people at higher budgets. This goes hand in hand with studying how you stand within the competition. Sadly, one thing I don’t like about Facebook ads is the limitations it has when reaching comp authors. Not all high-name authors, indie or traditionally published, will show up on your suggestions for targeting. Which makes the hunt for potential buyers that much more difficult.
But don’t fret. I will give you an overview of my experiences and hope to help my fellow indies out.
I don’t want to cover too much on how I started, because this entry will run a read time of over an hour long, so I’ll just go over what I took from it. Back in July 2020, when I first decided to publish, I ran campaigns geared toward gaining page likes (and yes, when running FB ads, you absolutely NEED an author page. You won’t be able to run ads on your personal FB account). Then I shifted my focus to engagement toward my posts. Waste of money and time. Then, I took a break because I wasn’t seeing results… and honestly, I wouldn’t have. Because back when I first started running ads, I only had one book. One book in the series and one book on my shelf. Just one.
One is a lonely number…
Why would someone who decided to click my ad and follow my landing page link buy a solo-dolo book from an unrecognized author? There is no incentive and no reward. Who’s to say that I would continue the series? No one knew of me, as I was an FTA (first-time author). But with wasted efforts came some experience. I was running promos, selling my books for free, anything to get my numbers up. The funny thing about organic reach via Amazon is that you need to be consistent. So one day, you get fifteen downloads. The next day you get three. That next day, your rank will plummet. Short-term promos help for… you guessed it, a short term, which is one reason I don’t fancy promo sites. You pay hundreds of dollars for a spotlight that lasts a few hours, with little to show for it the next following days (giving a pass to Bookbub seeing as I hadn’t been featured yet). Another thing about promo sites: the bigger the pool of readers, the bigger the shout-out—hence, Bookbub’s super expensive feature deal would definitely be worth it.
But back to FB ads. So you’ve set up your author page and want to start running ads. Do this well in advance, like, while your book is still on pre-order. Yes, you’re going to need time to pump up the hype, get recognition, etc, etc. Think about starting a newsletter to get your name out there. Do giveaways with a reader magnet (a short story, first few chapters, character bios), anything that can express yourself as a valuable author worthy of admiration and long-term readership. I’ve also done lead ads in FB and don’t recommend it unless your budget allows, because leads are costly, especially for a first-time author trying to get his/her debut book in front of new readers.
Next, do your research. Write down who you’re trying to reach. What are the characteristics and demographics of your ideal reader? Are they young teens? Middle-aged? Are they into cozy mysteries or dark fantasy? What industry do they work in? What are their hobbies and interests outside of reading? Customize your ideal audience as much as possible, then transpose that into FB’s audience insights tool in ads manager.
SO let’s take a step back a bit: here’s your homework:
· Create a FB author Page to settle your ‘domain’
· Consider putting your book on pre-release
· Build clout while your book is on pre-release. Get people excited about your new book!
· Consider running giveaways and even a freebie reader magnet, so readers can familiarize themselves with your author voice (remember to gather emails in this process so that you may retarget those fans). Remember to visualize your ideal audience. Keep them in mind.
Once you’ve gotten all the housekeeping down, we’ll step into the most crucial type of campaign you should be running: traffic campaigns.
I will not cover how to access ads manager, but Dave Chesson has many helpful videos about the process. You can find his Youtube channel here.
Stick around for part two of FB ads on my next blog entry! Part one is only the beginning of your journey in self-publishing. I hope my tips help out a fellow indie author. Until next time!