My Abysmal Facebook Promotion Ad

Last week I posted that I was going to try out a Facebook ad to drive traffic to my Amazon page where my book was listed at a Kindle countdown price of .99 cents.

I’ll have to admit…I had high hopes.

Well, I quit the ad yesterday.

I’d spent a little over $100 after about five days, and only had a few books to show for it.  I’d reached a few people as the following graphic illustrates:


The first number is how many Facebook pages my ad landed on (Dude, that’s a lot!).  The second number is how many people actually moused over it or looked at it.  The third number is how many people actually clicked on the “shop now” button to send them to the book site.

As you can see from the following graphic, my sales were pretty abysmal:

facebook promotion

The top line is 3 books.  All told I sold 5 books, netting about $4.50.  I spent over $100.  I guess you have to spend money to make money, but it is kind of sad and depressing when I look at it that way.  If I spent $100 on, say, having shirts printed up but only sold the sleeve of one of them to someone who needed to wipe their nose with it, I’d probably feel the same way as I do about these sales.

The way I should look at it is…hey!…I sold 5 books!  That will be five people who will hopefully enjoy it, tell their friends, and then the friends will hopefully buy one themselves when the price goes back up to $2.99 in a few days.

Here’s hoping.  However, I think I’ll look for other ways to get the word out about my book than Facebook.  It is indeed the cheapest form of advertising out there, but I don’t know how many people actually buy things from Facebook.  They have awesome ads for The Jacket Maker, a site that makes cool Batman jackets that I really would love to have, but I’ll probably never buy anything from them because their jackets are out of my price range, and by me clicking on their ad it cost them money.  But I’m not buying.

Apparently neither are the people who clicked on my ad.

I don’t fault Facebook at all.  I fault myself for sticking with the ad after days of little to no sales.  I’m to blame for spending so much for such little return.

This doesn’t make me quit writing, doesn’t make me quit publishing books and hoping that people will “catch on”.  I still sell books at book signings and usually sell out at those events.  I suppose that’s good.  I’ve written several times what I think about the myth of the “best seller”, and I do not have any illusions, but it would be nice to go viral just once.

Rant over.

Also, The Terminarch Plot is on sale over at Amazon for only .99 cents for a few more days.  If you buy out of sympathy, that’s great, but I’m sure you’ll love the book.  It’s getting really good reactions from the people who bought it from me, who don’t review it on Amazon, but who tell me via e-mail or over the phone or when I see them around where I work or play or go to church.  It’s actually a good read.  Really it is.

Second rant over.

If you have experimented with any sure fire or horribly abysmal ways to market your book, post them below.  We can all cry on each other’s shoulders…in a digital sense.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

17 thoughts on “My Abysmal Facebook Promotion Ad

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sorry it didn’t work out better for you!
    I commented earlier on my Goodreads giveaway “joke.” But I’ll tell you know what I’m doing that seems to be helping…at least some. My first book sold well locally, but like many authors, I can’t seem to leave the local circle and reach strangers. Since I’m about to release my 2nd book in the series, it seemed like a good time to relaunch the first. I asked around on various sites looking for interested influence readers. After gathering a team, I brought them together in a private Facebook group. (Where you gather is not the point, but this site seems to work well for us.) Up front, I offered them a free copy (doc file) in exchange for an honest review. Because having people talk up the book is so vital, I asked them to try sharing it in other ways. To help motivate them to participate, I’m hosting a private giveaway for within the group. I’m giving away a paperback copy of the book and $10 gift card to Amazon. Each week, I’m setting up challenges for the those interest. For every challenge they complete, they earn an entry in the giveaway. The challenges are simple and all aimed at helping me promote the book. Here are some examples: Adding my book to their reading list on Goodreads. Sharing either the book cover or Amazon link on their social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc). I offer an entry for each post. I’m pulling up specific blogs that are centered on interesting potential readers and asking them to share these. Sharing memes and quotes. They’re required to post an honest review on Amazon in exchange for the free copy, but they earn entries for post on various sites.
    The team is really excited and hard at work. I’m only a week into the launch, but am already seeing results. After a couple dry months, I have sells again. 🙂 I’m satisfied with the results so far and intend to continue this for future releases.

  2. Thanks for sharing Roger. It’s generous of you to report back so other writers can learn from your experience. What other social media do you use? What’s most effective for you? Best wishes!

  3. Hi, Roger! First, a public shout-out to you for giving excellent advice and for being a phenomenal editor! Second, thanks for the story of your abismal (I love the word as well!) Facebook ad campaign. So, here’s another. I’ve spent about $300 on those type ads trying several ways to get “likes” “follows” and purchases. No purchases. I also tried Linkedin and had the same results. Third, my next book will be plugged through Amazon’s search algorithim using their targeted SEO suggestions. I will also try Google’s search engine as well and see how those go. Normally when people search for books on Google or Amazon, they are looking to make a purchase. Cost is not great, but if I sell enough to pay for the campaign, I’ll feel pretty good about, I think. As always, my best wishes to you and get ready for the next book to edit!

    1. Thanks Herb. I will check in to Amazon. I’d like to know how it goes for you. One of my Tweeps mentioned that I should probably think about doing an audiobook because this type of thing is on the rise. There was a 20% jump in sales of audiobooks last year, and it seems to be the thing that most “readers” are gravitating toward. I will post an article about this probably next week as I think through the next few steps of trying to get the word out.

  4. Roger, when you first said you were going to do a Facebook ad, I commented that I didn’t want to sway the witness by saying any more than “let us know how it goes.” Now that your trial is over, I’ll tell you that I also was not impressed with Facebook advertising. I know SEO and am a graphic designer on the side. I made stellar ads. The headlines were strong. I targeted well. But it just didn’t translate to many sales (though I do think I broke even).

    What I did learn was not to send people to the book POS site. Rather, I began sending them to my blog site or to my Facebook artist page. I did rack up some Followers on my Facebook site as well as on my blog. And since the book is clearly and prominently marketed on both of those pages, it made more sense to gain followers for the long haul (who will see repeated advertising) than to try to get an impulse sale. If they like what I’m writing weekly, they’re more likely to buy the book over time. Can I look at analytics for how may people came from the Facebook ad to the blog and later accounted for a book sale? Nope. But the logic of it just makes more sense.

  5. To be clear, I liked this post not because you had poor advertising results, but because you used “abysmal” in your headline — awesome word! OK, first, I appreciate you posting this, even though your results were, well, abysmal (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). I started following your blog because you give great advise to self-publishers; sometimes, I guess, the great advice comes in the form of what NOT to do. OK, on to sharing OTHER horribly abysmal forms of marketing. No. 1: I tried promoting one of my books on LinkedIn when they were offering for free $50 worth of targeted advertising (similar to Facebook). I still ended up spending $7 (somehow), but I got ZERO sales. Zero. Lots of reach. No clicks. Here’s the lesson for me: Do NOT under any circumstances, buy stock in LinkedIn, Facebook or any other social media website. Eventually, advertisers will figure out it DOESN’T WORK. If Twitters works for sales, it’s not because of the advertising — it’s because of the tweets. Which are free. No. 2: I did a giveaway on Goodreads (are you on Goodreads? I haven’t looked). I gave away five books (which requires the author to also pay for shipping) with the promise (not an ironclad promise but an insinuation) that “60% of people who get books in giveaways also write reviews.” I gave away five books. Cost including shipping: About $85. Got lots of “reach” (hundreds of people added the book to their “to read” lists). And got one review. From a guy (my audience for the book is most definitely women — it was a good review, but still — probably not gonna move the sales needle). Talk about abysmal.

    1. Thank you Monica. I totally agree about social media. However, Twitter is pretty bad in that most of the tweets I see are spam about books. I don’t ever buy them. I started thinking about what makes me buy books: they are like the books I like to read. I wonder if there is a way to figure out what people like to read and then target those people who like to read your genre or particular writing style? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m going to find it.

    2. I’m glad you mentioned the Goodreads giveaways. Like you, I gave away 5 books, but wasn’t impressed with the results. It was a great way to help people find my work, but to my knowledge I didn’t have any winners review my book. And what’s worse, ALL of my copies went out to people that, based on their reading lists, would never have picked up my book. I was so disappointed in that. On one hand, I’m glad they haven’t reviewed it. With it being such a strong Christian book, they likely wouldn’t have appreciated it anyways.
      One of the promotion tools that haven’t worked for me is simply offering it for free on Amazon. My book reached TONS of new readers during it’s free week. Granted, I wasn’t making money off of those “readers” but I wasn’t losing money in advertising either. I watched sales and noticed that people continued to pick it up after it went back to normal price. I didn’t sell 100 copies or anything, but I was satisfied to see it selling at all after a few dry months.

  6. I’ve got an ebook coming out next week. I was going to feature someone’s story on my blog, but it was too good (and too much) to fit it all into one blog post. So I made an ebook out of it. It’ll be my first attempt at self-pubbing. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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