‘Tis the season to score sales. Fa la la la la, la la la lame. Most authors severely dislike pushing their product. It’s uncomfortable, it’s extroverted and it’s time spent away from writing. Basically all the things indie authors hate.
However, when Black Friday rolls around, so enters the year’s biggest buying season and authors would be remiss to skip out on their piece of the pie. Instead of letting the season of sales pass you buy, take the opportunity to try a new sales technique: holiday Facebook ads.
For most authors, this concept is totally foreign. If sales is a coal-filled stocking, advertising can feel like black ice on a windy road.
Though Facebook ads are pretty user-friendly, a few tweaks can make or break your campaign’s success. Make sure you’re creating an effective ad to help sell books and avoid appearing sales-y.
When promoting your book on Facebook, you will first want to make sure you are choosing the correct option. When you click on the “Promote” button, you’ll want to select “Get More Website Visitors.” This will be how you direct anyone interested in your ad to purchase.
Once you’ve chosen the correct ad, you’ll see a pop up that looks like this:
This is the easiest way to create your ad from start to finish. All of the details relevant to your ad will be laid out simply for you to pick and choose from. DO NOT promote your ad using the automatically populated copy, images and demographics. Instead…
Carefully Choose Your Demographics
While it may seem wise to cast a wide net, there is something to say for knowing your audience. Remember, you’re paying for your ad to reach new people. Make sure they are your people.
Is your book appealing to both men and women or is your genre more gender specific? Chick lit authors should not bother targeting men and action, spy thrillers may not resonate with women. It’s okay to be a little biased when it comes to who your reader is. If you truly think your audience is balanced, then target “All,” but if not, choose one gender or the other.
Like with gender, there’s a chance that your book doesn’t appeal to everyone. The default 18 to 65 years old is a pretty wide range.
That being said, you also don’t want to over-limit yourself to just your reader’s age especially during gift-giving season.
If you write YA, target from 16 – 55. Even though the YA age range is more 14 – 22, remember, you’re trying to get people to buy your book or gift your book. So you could consider targeting your books’ audience and their parents. The same thing goes if you’re a children’s author. Just because your intended audience is kids does not mean that’s your buying audience. Target parents and grandparents as the buyers for your readers.
If you write general fiction, targeting the United States as a whole makes sense. If you have written a book specific to a region, it may make sense to narrow in your targeting. For example, if you’ve written a history of the Green Bay Packers, it would make a lot of sense to target Wisconsin.
Identify Interests that Make Sense
After you’ve selected key demographics, you have the opportunity to select interests that make sense for your target audience. If you are a fiction author, it would be a good idea to select “fiction” and “books” as areas of interest. (Go figure, huh?)
But one area where you can really help peg your audience is by finding the biggest authors and/or titles in your genre. If you write fantasy, young adult fiction, add “J.K. Rowling” to interests. If you write dark crime thrillers with a strong female lead, add “Gone Girl” to your list of interests.
Try not to overload this section. Start with around ten areas of interest that suit your audience. If while the ad is running, you feel the click through rate isn’t there, pepper in some more specifics to the Interest area of your ad. You can also click “Suggestions” and “Browse” to see what Facebook would recommend you use.
Pick an Eye-Catching Image
This is quite possibly the most difficult and the most important aspect of your ad. The visual element will be what grabs your audience’s attention. You want to make sure it carries the importance of your ad. Your image has to:
- Stand out. Your image has to pop. This can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. The only rule is it has to grab attention.
- Display your product. Your image can’t just be of a Christmas tree with a gift under it. It has to show off your book cover somehow. Whether this means you take a styled shot of your book or you have a designer create something for you, it needs to be clear what you’re selling.
- Fit the dimensions. Too often, people fail to notice that the size of a Facebook ad image is specific. It’s 1200 x 628 to be exact. Make sure your image is properly sized. If you are designing it yourself, you can use a free photo editor like Canva to do this.
- Be legal. DO NOT under any circumstances snag an image off of Google Images. You have to have the proper licensing to use an ad for commercial use. If you’re using Shutterstock or some other photo purchasing site, you still need to make sure you are authorized to use that image in an ad.
When we create images in house, we typically play around with a few images throughout the life of an ad. A few things the image always contains though are:
- Striking use of color
- A clear picture of the book cover
- A small amount of text (if necessary)
The image can either speak to your book:
Or it can speak to the season:
Keep in mind that Facebook does have some limitations regarding text within the ad image. If you feel your image has to have text in order to be effective, know that you will still have to use as little text as possible. If your image can hold up without text, that is Facebook’s preferred format for images.
Create Can’t-Miss Copy
Second only to the image is the copy on your ad. Facebook ads are made up of two parts:
- A brief message (text)
- A headline
It’s important to be aware where your copy will be positioned so you can be as impactful as possible. You need to be able to describe your product and grab your audience’s attention and do so with fewer characters than you get in a tweet. The key is to be direct, descriptive and distinguish your book’s value.
Remember, your book is one of millions of books and millions of gift options, find something special to make it stand out. In the below ad the text talks about how it is one of Redbook’s Top Picks for Winter Reads. This gives the product value among other books.
You also want to be able to attract your ideal reader. You don’t have room to describe your entire book, which is why in this ad, the text gives a comparative, bestselling title to help connect the audience: “For Fans of THE GIRLS.” Another effective headline could be describing the genre: “Crime Thriller for Teens.”
Make the most of your limited text space. And remember, if something isn’t working, this is another area you can tweak while your campaign is running.
Determine Your Budget
Facebook makes determining your budget somewhat easy. They give you an estimate for how many clicks you will likely get for a set daily spend. Clicks, of course, does not equal sales, however, it can help you do a little math of your own.
If you’re hoping 5% of clicks convert to sales, you can work out the return on investment based on your royalties and the Facebook ad spend to decide if this method of advertising is right for you.
On the other hand, making money isn’t always the only measurement of paid promotion success for authors. Profit is nice, but ads can also be an investment in your overall writing career. You can use ads to get readers invested in your writing with the hopes of building your readership over time. If this is the case, determining your budget will be more about personal affordability than ROI.
Though you can choose any budget you want, if you are looking to truly test this method, try spending at least $200 within a relatively short amount of time (three days to a week). It will be really hard to tell if your ads are effective with just a few dollars spread out over a month.
There is no perfect budget, but it’s important to take the investment seriously.
Since the holiday season is a very set span of time, consider when to run your ads most aggressively. You may want to test out your ads in the beginning of December and then really amp up the budget around mid December.
Craft Easy Conversion Flow
If possible, one of the best things you can do for your campaign is make the purchase as easy as possible for your consumer. This all boils down to where your ad links. Automatically, the ad will populate your website address listed on Facebook. Odds are, the homepage of your author site is not where you sell books from.
Your book’s Amazon page is going to be the easiest place to convert a click into a sale. Given its global use and “one-click” functionalities, it reduces the effort your buyer needs to put out to get your book.
If you would rather not use Amazon, that’s ok. Just make sure you are sending your potential customer to a place where they can easily learn more about your book and buy it!
The holidays are for giving, so give your readers a real shot at finding you!