Do Paid Facebook Ads Help You Sell eBooks?

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Do Facebook Ads Sell Books

Paying for Facebook Ads does not guarantee book sales.

I have used Facebook Ads a lot over the years. I started with Facebook ads for my teaching business and found them to be reasonably successful in attracting new local clients.

But when it comes to advertising on Facebook to increase my book and ebook sales, I have to say that I have usually been disappointed.

However, I had never taken the time to do a proper check, as when I ran a Facebook ad campaign, I always had other forms of promotion in progress, so it was not possible to accurately say what was delivering sales.

To do as accurate a check as possible, I took the time to carefully arrange a three day period when I had no other form of promotion running.

I had no Kindle free ebooks, no Kindle Countdown deals, no Twitter promo posts, no promo blog posts and no KDP Ads.

By the second day of zero promotion, I immediately noticed that my daily KDP sales were dropping, so I had learned something valuable already.

The promotion on Amazon and Twitter do indeed keep my sales and borrows ticking over.

Okay, now to see if Facebook Ads could get my ebook sales moving again.

In my Facebook ads manager, I set up my ads to run on the third day of no other promotion and ran a quick $20.00 blast of eight ads.

I advertised four titles with the same ad types, with separate ads for Kindle US and Kindle UK. they were timed for afternoon traffic in the US and evening in the UK. I also used my custom audience settings for age range and interests.

The result?

Facebook clicks for ebook ads

In fact, I was surprised by how successful my little ad blast turned out. 56 clicks to my Amazon book pages, and at a moderate cost of $0.36 per click.

By most normal measures for paid advertising, this would mean that at a conversion rate of say 10% I could expect 5 or 6 sales.

So I waited 24 hours and checked my KDP sales.

amazon sales after Facebook Ads campaign

Yes, look carefully. Zero, zip, nil, none and zilch ebook sales.

I checked 12 hours later, and my dashboard showed the same depressing result. Nought, zero, nothing.

So why did this happen?

I have no definitive answer, except to surmise that people live inside their social media Facebook bubble, and even though they will click out to an external site, they return immediately to Facebook.

Also, when I think back to the success I had with my teaching business in attracting new clients, these came by way of contact from within Facebook by way of messages or email.

So in fact, I wasn’t getting clicks to make a sale. It was only a contact, with whom I could then directly negotiate.

In preparing this post, I came across an article by Donna Fasano, who documents the exact same experience with Facebook ads and ebook sales, which resulted in the same number of book sales as I got. None.

So, unless anyone can convince me otherwise, I have to draw the conclusion that Facebook Ads, in any ad format, have very limited value in gaining book sales, apart from perhaps creating some brand awareness.

The only positive I can draw from this exercise is that the 56 people who clicked on my Amazon book pages will be getting reminder emails about my ebooks from Amazon in a week or two.

Meanwhile, I will immediately go back to re-setting all my book promotion tools that I know do work.

 

More reading: Where Are You Going With Your Facebook Marketing For Books?

 

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

14 thoughts on “Do Paid Facebook Ads Help You Sell eBooks?

  • Derek, thanks for mentioning my blog post! I’d love to read an article on promotional tools that DO work! :)

    Reply
    • Hi Donna. I have had some relative success with KDP Ads. At least with these PPC ads, you get ads on Amazon book pages for real book buyers to see and you get feedback data on real sales. It’s a bit new, slow and clunky at present, but even with that said, it is miles ahead of FB Ads. So far I’m about equal with ad spend and sales, so not too bad. Mind you, I just sent a message to them as I discovered that I can’t edit one of my ads, as they say I should be able to do. Like I said, it’s still very clunky, but it has potential, so I’ll persist.

      Reply
  • I’ve read some posts about Facebook clicks, etc, coming from people who just click and are not the target audience (whatever Facebook say) so that might explain the results. I haven’t come across anybody saying Facebook helps sell books, but like your scientific approach to it (most people have so many things going on at the same time that it’s impossible to know if anything by itself has an effect).

    Reply
  • I spent 500 bucks on a Facebook ad for my book. I hit my specific genre (horror/comedy) and tweaked it with authors, readers, eBooks, Fanboy sites, etc etc. I even included an awesome video spot for the book that everyone seemed to love. Blood and music at 100 mph! Tons of clicks, tons of likes, shares and 24,000 plus organic views, and you know how many books I sold? Zero. I don’t think Facebook ads work when you are trying to sell your book straight out. There’s one more approach I will try with a budget of around 100 dollars, just because I’m curious if it’ll work this way. If it doesn’t I will move on.

    Next time I will load the video directly to Facebook and stick to the United States only. (Avoid Indonesia. The clicks come fast and you use up your ad money quickly.) I will also stick to just the book buyers of the world. And last but not least I WILL USE A GIVEAWAY TO ADVERTISE! Apparently giveaways are a great place to get exposure in the first place. People seem to love to click on a chance to win. You can even have them have to follow one of your home pages in order to enter. I’m thinking with a ten book giveaway I can get some exposure that counts. We shall see!

    Reply
    • I tried an Amazon giveaway, promoted it on about 6 reader outlet websites, achieved several thousand books “sold”.
      Afterward, was a bit of a sinking feeling. I waited for a mass of reviews to pour in and didn’t get any. I’m guessing that those copies of my novels are still sitting idle on everyone’s Kindle, unread. Yes, it produced exposure, but not the resultant sales I had expected.
      A well-known book marketing manager once gave me some invaluable advice.
      He said to look at CocaCola. Their main volume of drinks sell for under a dollar, yet they spend millions in advertisement campaigns. Sadly, that isn’t possible for beginning authors.

      Reply
      • There is a lesson to take from your CocaCola example and that is to view advertising and promotion as an investment. It probably won’t pay back initially, but it will help build recognition and, fingers crossed, a boost in sales rank. At the end of the day, selling books is all about getting and then maintaining a high sales rank.

        Reply
  • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this article. I was considering spending some serious cash on a Facebook campaign. Several weeks ago I tried using a “professional” service to run a 90-day campaign on Twitter, It was a moderate outlay of money considering I used their medium priced, value service.
    I had EXACTLY the same results as your Facebook experience. I did not sell ONE single ebook or print copy of my 6 published novels.
    Yes, I watched tons of Twitter posts blurting out to 120k+ supposed subscribers and readers. Had a few clicks, Not a single sale from my investment in 90 days!
    After my disillusioned phase, I created a Facebook store and slowly began to see results in actual sales. It was hard work and honestly, I’ve spent too much time with social networking, causing harm to my writing schedule. My ROI was negligible, and the resultant harm on my productivity was terrible.
    If in the future, you do find some creative avenue which won’t break the starving artist’s bank, please let us know.
    Thanks,
    David

    Reply
  • The moral of the story is forget about being an author to make money! I put 20k and 20 years into my Prince Harry superhero book and got zilch! Best to find a 9-5 job or business you can tolerate for the 30 years!

    Reply
  • I love this article, because it’s honest and it lets authors know from someone’s experience what can happen if they were thinking of doing the same thing kind of promotion. I have spent good money on Facebook Ads and like everyone else, have not seen any results or can confirm that any of my sales came through these particular ads (in the days that followed). What I can say is I have done KDP Ads and have sold books through them. How many? 3 – 5 within one week. I count that as a success, especially when my eBook is $6.99 and the cost was $.022 per click. What I find successful with KDP Ads are the keywords. You can use, I believe, as many as you want. This means anytime anyone uses those keywords, an ad (maybe yours) will appear. 3-5 books isn’t much, but it’s better than what’s considered average in ebook sales. I also noticed a jump on Kindle Unlimited pages read for this particular title. I would like to think that this jump also came from the ad, but it’s hard to say because I have 14 books and many times my sales come from readers who read one book and jumped online to purchase another. Marketing isn’t hard. I think we all have learned some cool marketing tricks. What’s hard is reaching ‘true readers.’ Avid readers buy books! How do we reach them? Once any of us can figure that out, our problem with sales will be solved. But as of now, online companies are making good money off of indie authors promoting their work. Is this a bad thing? Well, let’s just say that after I post this I will be running a new ad. The potential is there for indies to sell books, so I encourage you all to continue and hopefully that you become successful.

    Reply
  • In addition to poor results from facebook, I have had poor results from Gorilla books or KindleDailyNation, which I foolishly though were part of Amazon. After a $105, I made 17 sales of a .99 cent book. There was no contact with me after that. However, I have found Fussy Librarian and Hippo Books moderately inexpensive and successful.

    Reply
  • Thanks for this honest review. The point i take is that people are in a Facebook bubble.
    I have ran all kinds of adverts and the successful ones are the likes on fb, andything outside is a tough sell

    Reply
  • I had poor results with FB also. But seemed to do well when their was an email list.

    Reply
  • It is extremely rare that someone will get a direct sale from a Facebook Ad. This is just not how people function. You can have the greatest ad and the greatest offer, but if it requires people pulling out their credit card, it will not work. Guaranteed!!! And this is what you did…you posted an Ad and then just sat down and waited for sales to pour in. Ah, if this is how it worked, we would all be millionaires. You guys might be great authors but you have zero experience and intuition when it comes to people’s buying process. Here is what you should all try:

    1. Create a Facebook Ad offering people who click the Ad, a free chapter of your book on your website. Just post the chapter there and do not ask for money or emails.
    2. At the end of the free chapter, have a link to a gated content…lets say Chapter 2. To get to this chapter, the reader will have to submit their email address.
    3. Once you have acquired the email address, create a retargeting FB ad, saying something like “I hope you enjoyed the first 2 Chapters. Get the remaining of the book for $1.99 (was $4.99) now – offer valid only for the next 24 hours”. You will need to budget for this “price drop” upfront by having your book on amazon for $4.99 – even if you know nobody will buy at that prices. It is just to make your discount in the future look substantial.
    4. Now, you can expect sales!

    Reply
  • In the end, I just decided to give my book away for free (PayPal tip optional) at http://bradmccormickauthor.com/index.html I refuse to publish through amazon again and the truth of the matter is all the promotion in the world will not help a self published author sell much of anything. Amazon and promotional pages are the only ones that will profit from your work. And the more people self publish, the more junk floods the market. So, not only do people generally not read anymore, but they stay away from self published books. I wish everyone the best of luck in their writing, but self publishing to me is a scam for dreamers.

    Reply

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