Ok, so I decided to experiment with a Facebook ad the other day. I wanted to see what kind of result I could get from a $100 budget.
The first thing that I discovered was that Facebook actually has a pretty nice interface through which you can design your ad (you can get to their ad interface by clicking on the "Advertising" link which appears at the bottom of your wall posts...you have to click on it fast though because once you get to the bottom, Facebook refreshes and gives you a bunch more posts, so you have to keep scrolling down to see "Advertising"). The main thing I wanted was to make it abundantly clear that I wasn't going to be spending more than $100 dollars. My greatest fear was that I'd throw up the ad, hit "make it live" and then see a bill for $50,000 be attributed to my account. Facebook allows you to set a budget, however, so you can rest assured that you aren't going to accidentally lose a fortune.
I decided that the best way to get people's attention was to offer something for free, so I dusted off a copy of one of my old manuscripts and threw it up on google documents. That gave me a URL that I could link to. In hindsight, I probably would have been better off doing a blog post and then linking to that URL, but I didn't think of that until the ad was already live.
My whole idea with this was not to make any money or sell any books directly, but instead simply expose a bunch of potential readers to my writing style. I'm kind of hoping that somebody might read the book and produce a review, but I'm not really holding my breath. I guess this is the main problem with advertising, it's kind of hard to see how the ad is received (again, linking to a blog post instead of to the book URL would have been advantageous).
The best part about Facebook ads is that you're able to target who you want the ads to go to. So I targeted fans of R.A. Salvatore. I figured that group would be the most likely to enjoy my writing.
So, after about a month of this promotion, I took a look at the chart that Facebook produced for me. According to the statistics, the ad was clicked 172 times (again, I have no idea how many of those people actually read the book, and of those that read it how many are going to write reviews...but at least I know 172 people saw it). But, perhaps more importantly than the clicks, my ad was shown 192,000 times. What that means is that my logo and my name appeared on Facebook pages of R.A. Salvatore fans 192,000 times. Again, I have no way of knowing if they registered the image, or read the name, but that kind of presence can't hurt anything.
All in all it's fairly hard to evaluate this campaign, but I have to say that I'm not adverse to giving it another try. Here are the things I will do differently next time:
- Send viewers to my web page with an article about my books, my fan page, etc.
- Encourage people who clicked on the ad to contact me personally or add me as a friend
- Provide links to both the kindle and paperback versions of my books on Amazon instead of a free copy
- Offer a free copy of something for those who write reviews
All in all, I think this is a potentially interesting way to help readership grow. I don't know if you're ever going to recuperate your advertising dollars when advertising a book, but if you look at it in terms of gaining loyal readers, fan page followers, etc., it has its plus side. More and more I'm coming to believe that modern publishing isn't so much about book sales as it is developing your brand in terms of your Facebook page and blog. If you can get the double whammy of advertising revenue from your blog as well as revenue from your book sales, the ads are definitely worthwhile.