The other day I happened across a post from an author who had spent several hundred dollars in a single month on Facebook ads to help sell his books. I wanted to stick a pen in my eyeball.
I’m probably going to take a bit of crap for this post, but what the heck. Listen, there are some folks who are experts who can pull a rabbit out of the hat with targeted marketing using Facebook ads and other types of advertising. I’ve also seen some strategies like Jeff Bennington came up with that look pretty slick and, at least in his case, have certainly worked. However, as a general rule, most paid advertising campaigns don’t bring a good return on investment. Or, put it another way, you can promote your book more effectively through social media – for free.
The hundreds of dollars you can sink into Facebook ads or Google Adwords – and yes, I’ve slit my wrists and bled money out on both of those, and others – simply aren’t going to translate into enough book sales to make them worthwhile. Buying banner ads and spots on various web sites is popular, but because it’s popular, it’s getting more expensive on a lot of sites. In some cases, I saw price tags of several hundred dollars. You might experience a spike in sales while the ad is running, or you might not. But then your gig is up unless you cough up more money. Did you really make enough sales from that ad to justify the cost?
“But hey, I did better than break even!” You glare at me indignantly. I get that a lot.
Listen, if your writing is your business (and if you’re spending hundreds of bucks on advertising, you’re definitely in a business!), breaking even shouldn’t be in your vocabulary. You should be out to build up a big readership base, have one or two loss leaders (books that sell at a steep discount or are given away), and maximize your profit margin on everything else. If you’re doing this for a living, you don’t have time or money for things that only provide marginal returns on investment. Books from indie authors aren’t sold with Facebook ads or Google Adwords, they’re sold by word of mouth, either yours or your readers. Ads can sometimes help, but unless you really know what you’re doing and have money to burn, I advise caution.
Instead, consider spending your buckazoids on social media tools like Tweet Adder that keep on giving, helping you build a community of interest on Twitter. Or spend it on classes or books to get an education how to use social media effectively. Heck, spend it on cover art or editing.
Just my two cents.