Do Facebook Ads For Books Help You Sell More Books?

Do Facebook Ads Help Sell Books

Does Facebook Ads for books guarantee more book sales?

Over the years, I’ve used Facebook promotion a lot.

started with Facebook pay-per-click ads for my teaching business, and it was reasonably successful in attracting new local clients over the long term.

But when it comes to using Facebook Ads for books to help sales, I have to say that I have usually been disappointed.

Advertising on Facebook

However, I had never taken the time to properly check the success or failure of selling ebooks on Facebook.

When I ran Facebook ad campaigns for my books, I almost always had other forms of promotion in progress.

So it was impossible to accurately say that my Facebook advertising campaigns were delivering sales.

To do as accurate a check as possible, I took the time to set aside a period of three days for Facebook Ads only.

I made sure I had no other form of promotion running.

There were no Kindle free ebooks or Kindle Countdown deals.

On top of that, I also stopped any Twitter posts, promotion of blog posts, and AMS Ads.

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

The promotion I used on Amazon and Twitter kept my sales and borrows ticking over.

Okay, now I wanted to see if I could create a Facebook Ad campaign that could get my ebook sales moving again.


Run a Facebook Ad

I set up my ads in my Facebook Ads manager and ran a quick $20.00 campaign budget 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 target audience settings for age ranges and interests.

The result?

Facebook clicks for ebook ads

The success of my little ad blast was pleasantly surprising.

I got fifty-six clicks to my Amazon book pages at a moderate cost of $0.36 per click. That is cost-effective advertising.

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

So I waited 24 hours and checked my KDP sales to see if my ad objective worked.

amazon sales after Facebook Ads campaign

Zero book sales

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

So why did this happen?

I have no definitive answer except to surmise that people live inside their social media Facebook bubble.

Even though they will click out to an external site, they return immediately to Facebook.

When I think back to my success with my teaching business in attracting new clients, these came by way of contact from within Facebook or from a Facebook Page.

So it wasn’t about getting clicks to make a sale. It was a point of contact with whom I could then directly negotiate.

In preparing this post, I came across an article by Donna Fasano.

She documents the 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 conclude that Facebook Ads, in any ad format or custom audiences, have minimal value in gaining book sales.

The only positive I can draw from this exercise is that the 56 people who clicked on my Amazon book pages will get 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.

But you shouldn’t ignore Facebook marketing because it is still useful for creating brand awareness for your author name and book titles.


Use a Facebook Store

Did you know that you can promote your book on Facebook in a much better way?

Setting up your own Facebook Store is possible if you have a Facebook Page. You can add your books with a direct link to Amazon.

After you install it, it is a great way to promote your ebook and give your contacts a way to buy your book directly from your Facebook page.

Best of all, unlike paying for Facebook Ads for books, it is free for you to use and will be working for you twenty-four hours a day.


Related Reading: How To Post Book Covers On Social Media To Attract Attention

21 thoughts on “Do Facebook Ads For Books Help You Sell More Books?”

  1. Hey Derek,

    I have a book with a cover similar to yours (gun pointed at viewer). I’m getting ad campaign rejections from Amazon AND Facebook. Are you still able to advertise yours on Facebook?

  2. I just started a Facebook ad campaign. As soon as it started Facebook stopped it and closed my ad account. Apparently they don’t allow ads for digital products including downloadable material, so I can’t understand how anyone has managed to advertise an ebook in the past unless Facebook recently changed the policy.

  3. In the end, I just decided to give my book away for free. 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.

    1. From my experiences, unless you’re a celebrity and in the public eye, you will find it hard to convince literary agents to pick up your work. I have one book published and am due to publish again next year with my second book in July 2021. In the end I went the ‘hybrid route.’ I also have and run a successful website @thecpdiary which supports my work, which I have been blogging on to for some 10 years now. I have sent out 200 letters to literary agents on my first run and did get some replies, all positive telling me to continue to find a home for my work, but it wasn’t for them. With my letter I sent out a synopsis which included my book details and the first three chapters of my book. My blog is a mental health and lifestyle blog. It has over 19,000 comments and is very successful. It continues to support my writing. Long story short, people will support you if they are interested and in a position to do so. Would I change anything of what I’ve done? No, it’s a massive achievement. The book industry has also been hit by Brexit and the pandemic, but never give up trying.

  4. 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!

    1. Best comment ever coming from a Creative Director within UX/UI with a major concentration in Marketing for almost 20 years. This is why people need those the understand SEO, Targeted Marketing, Conversion Funnels, on and on. The first thing I asked myself when reading this article was “why did they shut down all other avenues of promotions?” Create funnels, campaigns, events, labels, optimize Tag Manager and you could have seen exactly how each channel/promotion is doing, find out where the user is abandoning. Should also be running proper A/B Tests and Multivariant Tests to tweak and course correct where needed. There is a reason why there are experts in the field and frustrates the hell out of me with those that just dabble and provide skewed results that are inaccurate due to not understanding the complexity of the industry. If you had laid out a true strategy commenting on actual data and metrics I would say to post the information. But just as said in this great comment, you do not plop up an ad with a photo and expect people to purchase. That approach in itself is ridiculous- “I paid $20 dollars to show off a photo and Facebook targeted ads are useless because it should magically create conversion.” Sigh.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  11. Avatar for Olga Núñez Miret
    Olga Núñez Miret

    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).

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

    1. 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.

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