This is the promised second part to my Can Facebook Really Help You Sell Books? post. It is written by romance author Barbara Hinske, who has done a great job with Facebook, as you will see.
I’m experimenting with FB ads myself, so hopefully there will be a third part in a month or so, with my own experience.
In the meantime, enjoy Barbara’s take on the subject.
Facebook Really Can Help You Sell Books
Facebook is the silver bullet for self-published authors: the great equalizer and the most accessible, democratic advertising platform in the world. I’ve come to this conclusion, not as a techno wizard but as a technophobe.
If you say you hate Facebook–that you need to write and don’t have time for Facebook–I get it. I began my Internet journey in March of 2014. For months, I felt like I was strapping on a pack and heading into Siberia each day—never knowing where I was going or if I would return. But I persisted and it gradually became easier and easier until, today, I’m finding it fun and very profitable. Here’s the takeaway–I’m not terribly skillful and I’m getting ROI on my Facebook ads of 50-300 percent. So take heart!
The first thing I’ve done was to grow my Facebook Author Page (my platform) to over 22,000 likes. I didn’t buy any of these from “like farms”. I have good, solid engagement on my page.
You may wonder how I did that. Here is my strategy:
1. Set up a Community Page
Set up and run a Facebook Community Page that amassed over 95,000 likes from people that I believe would also enjoy my books. I write in the Women’s Fiction/Romance/Mystery, Thriller, Suspense genres and I chose Downton Abbey Fans as my Facebook Community Page. Turns out that was a good choice for me. The Downton Abbey Fans Page exploded, with very engaged followers.
I post general Downton Abbey-related content on the Downton Abbey Fans Page 6-8 times a day and plan to post something once a day that will draw people over to my Facebook Author Page. The Downton Abbey Fans Page has also brought me additional opportunities that have enhanced my credibility as an author. I’m the Downton Abbey reviewer for UK entertainment giant Cultbox. I have my own page on Cultbox and have been invited to review other series for them (Home Fires, War and Peace).
2. Set up an Author Page
I post on my Facebook Author Page twice a day, almost always sharing content from my News Feed that I thought my readers would like. I understand that original content is king, but any creativity I have goes into my books. I follow 2 simple rules:
- Share content that has been liked/shared/commented on a lot—preferably with millions of views.
- Share content that keeps people on Facebook. If the post contains a link or video that takes the reader to a website or YouTube to view the content, I don’t share it. Facebook doesn’t like people to leave their party—would you?
3. Post shorts
I regularly post on Facebook short (100-300 words) installments of novellas that I call Facebook Bedtime Stories. I started with a mystery/thriller called The Night Train. It was very popular and on my best day, I received 37 email messages from fans of The Night Train. The Night Train is available on Amazon and all 3 of my Facebook Bedtime Stories are available on the blog tab on my website, barbarahinske.com
4. Built a Mailing List
I built my mailing list by running contests on both my Facebook Author Page and Downton Abbey Fans Page to generate signups for my mailing list. I never spent more than $40 on a prize. I generated a mailing list of 10,000, but my email open rates were so low that I culled the list down to 6,000. I don’t plan to gather subscribers by running contests in the future and I wouldn’t recommend using them now.
5. Attended courses
I read the Forbes article about fellow indie author Mark Dawson and his success with Facebook ads. I knew I had to find him. Luckily for me, he was just starting his online course Facebook Ads for Authors. With my robust Facebook footprint, I believed I would be successful.
I’ve employed many of Dawson’s recommendations and have achieved remarkable results on an ad spend of $1200/month. I send my ads to a lookalike audience of my Facebook Author Page, a lookalike audience of my mailing list, and a targeted audience of English-speaking women ages 45+ that like other authors in my genre and own Kindles or tablets. It’s critically important to accurately define your target audience—who reads your books—and know where they buy. If they aren’t likely to buy on their phone, don’t run your ad to mobile devices. I’m in the process of scaling up my ad spend. I suspect my ROI will decrease when I’m serving my ad to a larger audience, so I’m proceeding cautiously.
I’ve been able to drastically shorten my learning curve on all of this by taking 2 online courses and participating in the closed Facebook groups that offer membership in these groups for course participants:
- The masterclass on all things Facebook is FanPageTrafficAcademy. Mitch Gandy and Jesse Doubek are the ultimate experts and are so generous with their expertise and support. This is where you’ll learn about community pages, closed groups, conversion and retargeting, and more. They told me I could do it (over and over) and I did!
- Mark Dawson’s more focused Facebook Ads for Authors.
If you’ve made it through this article, I hope you’re encouraged and feel that success is within your control and your reach. It most certainly is. And it’ll be grand fun getting there. Now–let’s all sell books!
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