If you are a new author like I am then no doubt you have solicited the advice of many seasoned authors to figure out the best ways to market your book. Most of them are usually very willing to offer suggestions and even introduce you to other authors that might have ideas that could help you launch your writing career. That’s great! There is no doubt that along the way one or more successful self-published authors will recommend that you use BookBub and FaceBook ads to sell your book. The problem is that you need to go into that knowing what your goals are and create the ads accordingly. If you have one book and you are looking to sell copies or downloads of that one book, then BookBub and FaceBook ads might be rough for you and here are some reasons why.
1. Cost versus revenue, the dollars may not add up. For example, my eBook costs $0.99 when I run discounts and $1.99 normally. So, if I run an ad campaign and target the 2% click through rate (basically 2 out of 100 people that see your add click on it). I will probably find my cost per click on average is in the $1 range. I would basically need everyone that clicks on the ad to buy to simply break even (which is definitely not going to happen). While the campaigns look successful based on click through rate, they in fact lose money. This is not uncommon when you are selling a relatively inexpensive item like a single eBook.
2. More items to sell, allows you to spend more. If you dig a little deeper into the authors that are seeing success with BookBub and FaceBook ads you are most likely going to find that they have multiple books that they are selling. This changes the math on how much they can afford to spend on ads significantly. Frequently, if a user buys one of your books, they are much more likely to buy additional books from you (especially if you have written a series). This is huge because you only pay once to get a user that you will likely sell several books to.
3. With success, comes a bigger budget. If you are an established author with a solid base of fans, then you know right away that you are going to have sales when you release your next book. This base of built-in buyers gives you more money to work with to drive more book sales and again since you are successful this likely builds on itself for the reasons given earlier (when you sell one of your books, you most likely sell more, etc.).
4. New authors have to find comps and spend more to optimize their ads. One of the biggest recommendations that you get for BookBub is to find authors that have books that are similar to yours and target their fans with your ads. They often even tell you to look at the books that are recommended by Amazon for people looking at your books (people that bought this also bought the following authors). The problem with this is if you are a new author Amazon won’t have solid recommendations for your book yet, so you are left to guess a bit as to which authors that have books like yours are going to be good comps (comparative authors) for you to target with your BookBub ads. FaceBook ad targeting is very similar and it is wise to also target fans of your genre of books or competitive authors on that platform as well.
5. You probably won’t be great at ad copywriting immediately. It’s going to take some time for you to get decent at creating compelling BookBub and FaceBook ads. You can and should test your images and copy with smaller budgets before you go all-in on them. You might find an image that seems to be working for you and then just tweak the ad copy to try to improve performance spending no more than $10 on ad runs with each variant you are testing (images or copy). The reality is that $10 a pop, adds up especially when you have only one eBook to sell.
This article may seem to be a bit on the negative side and that is not really the true message that I am trying to get across. Even if it is a losing proposition, there can be other valid reasons to run BookBub and FaceBook ads. It’s just important to put some of these things in place to try and ensure that you get the maximum benefit from the exposure that you will get from running ads both of these places. Here are a few of those reasons:
1. Building up your brand. The truth that people may or may not tell you is that as a new author you have to embrace the fact that nobody knows who you are and that is eventually necessary. The good news is anyone can buy BookBub and FaceBook ads so even a first-time author can get their book in front of readers and by doing so they can start to build their brand.
2. Starting your author platform. If you have not heard about the importance of an author platform then I would very much recommend that you research that (Google it). Ideally you will have your author platform in place before or at the same time as you start running your ad campaigns. In the end your author platform is there to build your brand and FaceBook ads especially can be helpful with getting people to sign up to your newsletter on your author platform.
3. Exploring concepts that might sell more future books. On a very strategic note, you might have a set of ads that are leading people toward the next books in your series and if you are still not sure what direction to go you might be able to test plot ideas to see which resonate best with your target audience.
Like any other type of marketing, you decide to do, it’s just important to know what your goals are going into the campaigns and to set your own expectations accordingly. Every marketing strategy is meant to build upon the next so you probably shouldn’t expect too much out of just BookBub or even BookBub and FaceBook. This is valid regardless of where you are in your career as an author. It is certainly true that authors with more books have a clear advantage with paid advertising campaigns, but they do have their place in the marketing toolkit of every author. Don’t be discouraged by a lack of book sells. If you are seeing decent click through rates on your ads and have your branding in place, you are still gaining much needed visibility through BookBub and FaceBook ads. It’s just important to know that the way you measure success may not be just in dollars and cents.
Kenney Myers is the founder of eBookFairs.com and the author of the Jon Bragg series, a modern Norse myth.