On the whole, it’s a pretty good time to be an author. There’s still a lot of money to be made for those with the right timing, skill, fortune and publisher backing to hit best-seller lists, but that isn’t the only route to success. Indeed, independent authors have more options than ever before when it comes to getting their work read and broadly monetizing it.
Think about the meteoric rise of ebooks. When Amazon’s first Kindle ereader was released back in 2007, it sparked a radical change in how people experience literature. In the years since, we’ve all become used to purchasing books digitally, and a generation has grown up viewing physical books as charmingly antiquated.
For authors, this means a vastly lower barrier to entry. Getting a physical book published in a significant quantity is expensive, even now, and most new authors don’t have the savings to self-finance: the result is a reliance upon book deals with conditions and limitations. But anyone with a completed book can submit it as an ebook to the Kindle store and start making sales.
The tricky part now isn’t being published: it’s being noticed. The ease of access has led to a massive uplift in competition, so if you want someone to choose your book in particular then you need to find a way to leapfrog your rival authors. That’s where social media comes in. Vital for promotion across the board, social media networks have become publishing battlegrounds.
In this post, we’re going to consider the use of paid advertising through Facebook’s platform to promote books. When should you think about running Facebook Ads to get eyes on your work, and when are you better served holding off? Let’s get started:
You need a solid grounding in marketing
If you’re looking for a paid advertising platform with niche targeting, exceptional configurability, and steady return on investment, then Facebook Ads is the obvious choice — but in the event that you happen upon a winning formula through beginner’s luck, what are you going to do with the clicks that result? They need to pay off somehow or they’ll be wasting your money.
You might think that you can just route the clicks to your book’s listing in the Kindle store (or in the inventory of a regular bookstore if you have achieved physical publication) and not need to worry about anything else, but people don’t make purchasing decisions that way. If someone is on Facebook and spots an ad for a book that sounds interesting, they might click to learn more, and the information on the linked product page might not be enough for them to decide.
Here’s a plausible process for a potential buyer: click on an ad, read the blurb, run a search for the author, browse the results to learn more about who they are and how they’re perceived, run a search for the book, read some in-depth reviews, search for some specific comparisons using familiar books from the indicated genre, then return to the product page to make a purchase.
The point is that it isn’t as simple as running Facebook Ads and nothing more, because that’s just one part of the process. You need to know how to handle various other marketing avenues, which means learning how to manage digital promotion in general. If you’re not already, start listening to guest-centric marketing podcasts (I’d recommend Marketing Speak for this, as having multiple perspectives on offer really helps you understand the industry better) and reading marketing blogs that cover varied topics (HubSpot’s Marketing Blog is exceptional).
You should have established social media profiles
Part of that extended research process might well involve checking your social media profiles, because reading an excerpt is just one way to learn about what an author is like. These days many readers like to read works from authors who share their political opinions, or who look up to the same genre pillars, or who engage with their readers quite freely.
Should people choose their literature that way? That’s utterly immaterial, because they do, and all you can do is accommodate it. Accordingly, you should put a lot of time and effort into building up your social media presence before you make a big commitment to PPC advertising. Talk about your writing process, and your influences. Make reading suggestions. Do whatever you can with the resources you can spare.
To fit your regular writing schedule and avoid interrupting your creative flow, I suggest creating a large number of posts ahead of time and using a tool like Jarvee to release them automatically and optimize engagement through smart timing. As an author, you should have a knack for producing a lot of words quickly, so just a couple of hours each month might be enough.
You must know how to compose good ads
All the ingenious targeting in the world won’t help you use Facebook Ads effectively if you don’t know how to compose a good ad. Your writing skills should help you here, but there’s a huge difference between writing long-form novel text and writing a catch-the-eye ad with just a few lines. It’s far closer to clickbait than narrative composition.
You need to learn the rules of the platform: how much text you can include, where the ads might display, what visuals you can include, what you can do with those visuals, what you can and can’t mention, etc. You must then be ready to A/B test extensively. Consider it like going through the lengthy editing process, adding and removing parts from your book draft until it’s ready.
Furthermore, you have to factor in the competition you’re facing. What other book ads appear for the audience you’re targeting? How does your ad look next to them? Wherever you can, try to offer something different, because that will help you stand out.
Facebook Ads is a fantastic platform for authors looking to ramp up their promotion, but it isn’t a good idea to polish off a novel, submit it as an ebook, and immediately start running ads. Take the time to get to grips with marketing in general, build up a social media presence, and learn how to write great ads — then go all-in on PPC.
About the author
Rodney Laws has more than a decade of experience providing marketing advice to online entrepreneurs and businesses. He’s set up and marketed his own businesses and consulted on crafting campaigns for established companies. See what Rodney can do to help you or your business by heading over to EcommercePlatforms.io heading over to @EcomPlatformsio for even more news and views on marketing as an ecommerce brand.