Whether you are self published or traditionally published, there will come a time when you must face the dreaded… marketing!!
One of the most powerful tools at your fingertips is Facebook Ads. While spending money on an ad may seem scary, especially if you are like most authors and don’t have Hogwarts money, Facebook can be a great place to start. You can set your own budgets and only show ads to the most relevant people. But like most advertising platforms, Facebook runs on an algorithm, and this can be tricky for those who are new to advertising. To get you started, here are 5 tips for marketing your work on Facebook.
Know Your Audience
A wise writer (who may or may not have been me) once said, “Books are like shoes; you can never buy just one!” Now, ask yourself, if someone was to buy your book, what other books would they purchase? What books do they already have? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you craft “personas” (marketing-talk for characters). Likely there are multiple types of people who would pick up your book; consider this as you are creating your personas.
Someone who might enjoy my story would be a young woman, aged 13 – 17. She’s interested in reading (duh), but is also considering majoring in journalism, cares about social issues, loves fantasy and fairytales, and speaks English (this is key; unless your book is translated into multiple languages, make sure you don’t waste money on those who cannot read it).
Another person who might enjoy my story is a working professional woman aged 25 – 34. She has no children, is a bit of a news junkie. She loves reading fantasy, works a typical office job (you may want to list a few), and speaks English.
Now that you know who your audience is, it is super easy to target them in Facebook. Simply go through Facebook’s extensive list of interests and select all those that match your persona. Make sure you set up your targeting so that it covers ALL of these categories, and NOT only one of the criteria. This will help keep your audience tight and your cost-efficient.
Know Your Comp Titles
Whether you are traditionally or indie publishing, coming up with solid comparison titles is vital to the success of your novel. It is not only a quick and easy way for readers to know if they will like your book, but it is also another great way for you to find readers who are likely to purchase it.
Unlike choosing comp titles for queries, the titles you choose for your Facebook targeting should be broad. For example, say you are writing an epic, young adult, urban fantasy. Harry Potter and The Shadow Hunter Chronicles would be perfect comps. Throw in some TV shows like Trueblood too! Facebook needs a broad net in order to locate its users who have actively expressed an interest in these titles.
Targeting people who are actively engaged in your genre (enough to become fans of it) will increase your chances of finding people who want to buy your book. Show the similarities between your book and its comp so that these fans will associate your story with their favorite book/TV show/movie.
Leverage Your Blog Traffic
You’ve built your blog, set up your newsletter, and created an audience who found at least one thing you wrote interesting. Why not re-engage them by reminding them how awesome they thought you were? By leveraging Facebook’s pixel technology you create a pixel-based audience and promote your book to your blog readers, friends of your blog readers, and people who have similar interests as your blog readers!
Pixels are little bits of code that capture user information on a website. Most sites you visit have them. They simply tell the viewer of the pixel what pages people land on, how long they spend on the page, and some more site behavior and demographic information.
These audiences are more likely to want to buy your book than your average Facebook user, and by concentrating on these groups you won’t be wasting hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of dollars targeting people who aren’t (and won’t ever be) interested.
You don’t need to be a marketing expert to set this up. It’s fairly simple. Create a pixel in the Pixel tab in your Ads Manager, then copy and paste the code it provides you into the appropriate place on your blog/website (don’t worry, Facebook provides you with detailed instructions on where and how to place this).
Once your pixel is in place, you can set up goals. For example, if you want to target everyone who has visited your blog, you would set up your goal to track everyone who views a page that contains the same URL as your blog. You can target any page on the site where your pixel was placed. Try creating multiple goals for each page to test the performance of the different audiences.
With your goals in place, you can set up your targeting based on those goals, thereby reaching people who already like your writing and are more likely to buy your book!
Break Out Your Campaigns by Audience
Now that you have your various targeting options, you’ll want to break up your campaigns by audience. Think of the audiences the same way you would think of your outline; the most broad audiences (pixel-based audiences, persona-based audiences, etc.) would be your campaigns, then the more narrow audiences (people who read your blog, people who like Twilight, etc.) would be your ad sets.
You will set up your targeting at the ad set level, and this is also where you choose your budget. This will allow you to allocate more money to people who read your blog and less money to all the people who have visited your site.
When you are choosing up your audience, make sure to take full advantage of Facebook’s option to add exclusions. For example, if your book is only eligible for sale in the US, exclude all other countries. You will also want to exclude those who may fall into an overlapping category as another audience. For example, if you are targeting your blog readers and fans of Dr. Who, make sure to exclude your blog readers from your Dr. Who audience and vice versa. This will help prevent your audiences from competing and driving up your costs, and it will allow you to get a clean read on who your most valuable consumers are.
Test different Ad Formats
So now you know your audience, your campaigns and ad sets are all set up, and you are ready to create your ad. But with video ads, reach ads, collection ads, single-image ads… so many different types which type do you choose?!! To get the best pop for your pennies, try testing different ad types and find what works best for you.
For authors just starting out (and on a tight budget), I recommend starting with slideshow and single-image ads. If you are more established and you or your publishing house has developed a media kit filled with images related to your book, try testing canvas ads and carousel ads as well.
Believe it or not, we writers are ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing on Facebook. This platform is all about telling a story, and we already have one! Leverage your gorgeous cover to star in your single-image ads, use a Twitter pitch as the text that goes above it. Make the headline something catchy that relates to your book (think click-bait). With carousel ads you can leverage your character art and link each slide to a character description on your site. A slideshow ad could be a great way to create a book trailer on a budget. Use the still images that you already have and Facebook’s slideshow tool can help you compile them into a video (you can even add background music!).
Now that you have all these pieces in place, you are ready to market your book on Facebook and NOT spend thousands of dollars a month with little to show for it. Below is an example of what two fleshed out campaigns might look like, but don’t worry if you can’t afford to build something this large. Testing your audiences one at a time, for short periods of time, will still give you the information you need to determine where to invest your money while also keeping your cost low.
When it comes to promoting your work, Facebook is one of the most cost-efficient channels out there IF you use it right. For those who want to make writing their full-time job and for those who want to continue building their readership, there is no more powerful tool than a tightly organized Facebook campaign. Start with these tips and tricks to leverage Facebook to work for you, and you will begin building your audience in no time!
Ann Dayleview is a young adult writer represented by Charley Visco of Standing Stones Literary. She also is a digital marketer who specializes in paid social and search marketing and has been working in this industry for over five years. She runs a blog atanndayleview.com/annsview where she covers topics on the writing process, her publishing journey, short stories, and more. She has authored a young adult contemporary fantasy and is working on a high fantasy manuscript. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her puppy, singing and salsa dancing until the sun comes up, and traveling all over the world. To learn more about Ann, visit her website or follow her on Twitter/Instagram and check out her website.