OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Generally, I'm a fan of free marketing like blogging, social networking, podcasting and video creation. All these things take time but are free or very cheap. But sometimes, there is a place for paid advertising, especially around the time of a book launch and I'll be using Facebook for the Pentecost launch.
A few years ago, Google Adwords was all the rage but now the keywords are so expensive as to be crippling especially for authors who don't have much budget. So, in order to create targeted advertising to the smallest budget, you can now use Facebook advertising for your book so I thought you might like to know more as well.
You may have seen adverts on the sidebar of your account and increasingly, there are books and audio-books advertised. Before Christmas I decided to spend $50 to increase the number of people downloading the free chapters of Pentecost. I had been given some free credit to be used within a short amount of time, so why not try it? The advert is shown left and below are some tips to help you.
Decide on your target market.
The truly amazing thing about Facebook advertising is that you can target your demographic. This will impact the number of people who will see the advert and also how much it will cost you. You need to decide on country, city, gender, age range, likes and dislikes and you can go down into further splits. As you change the demographics, you'll see how many people the advert could be shown too. The more specific you can be, the better your chances an ad will have an impact.
Create a targeted headline.
You can see on my advert above that I had a headline referencing James Rollins. I think my thriller is similar to some of Rollins' books and so I targeted his fans in the demographics (i.e. people who ‘like' James Rollins). The headline meant that their eyes would be drawn to it as they had already expressed a preference for his books.
I could have also used the same advert with the headline “Like Dan Brown?” and changed my demographic accordingly. It's incredibly important to target the market like this or you'll be wasting clicks. There's no point in advertising a romance novel to James Rollins fans! So think about how you can target a market. For example, a travel book about cycling around the world could be marketed to people who like ‘mountain-biking' or ‘travel'. Which is more specific?
You can also split test ads i.e. create several versions with different headlines or text and then rotate them. Check to see which performs the best and then use that to continue the campaign with. Tim Ferriss (NY Times bestsellers 4 hour work week and 4 hour body) used Facebook advertising split tests to decide on his book titles.
Use a compelling image and text.
There are only a few lines of text available in the body of the advert so make it count. It's very restrictive around what you can do e.g. you can't use all capitals or unconventional punctuation. You also want people to click so you need to word it in an enticing manner or make an obvious call to action e.g. click to buy now. Lorna Jane is a fitness-wear company for women and had a great advert that increases the number of fans for their page as well as promoting a competition. The call to action is very clear.
You also need an eye-catching image so people even look at the adverts. Make sure your book cover looks great as a thumbnail size image. You'll also need a specific landing page i.e. where people go when they click. This could be your Amazon buy page or a webpage specifically for buying the book.
Decide on your budget and length of campaign.
You can control how much you spend and how long you want to run the campaign for. I used $50 maximum over 7 days for the free download. For the Pentecost launch, I will probably invest $200 for 1 week in order to boost the numbers of books sold. I may also primarily target Kindle owners who generally read voraciously and can instantly download a sample. You can see the numbers on the left. Playing around with budget and targeting is a big part of the setup. Otherwise, it is very simple.
Make sure you set an end date on the campaign or the money will just keep going out!
In the week I ran the campaign, I had 60 clicks from the advert and 34 downloads of the first 3 chapters of Pentecost which cost me $40.19 (but it was free as a had a coupon). I will do some more specific measuring when I have the book available for sale but if all 34 had bought the ebook for $2.99, I would have made a small amount of money. Given the very small margin for books, it's not a surprise that there aren't more books advertised. But I think for a specific launch period, it's definitely worth it to raise awareness to try to spike your Amazon ranking which in turn can get you more sales.
It's worth looking at the demographics even if you aren't going to sign up for an ad campaign. You'll get an idea of how big your market is anyway. You can access Facebook Ads here and they have plenty of help.
Have you tried Facebook advertising for your book? Does it sound like something you could use? Please let me know what you think in the comments.