Published January 26, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I started this topic because I think my experiences with attempting to post an ad on Facebook can provide valuable information for other writers considering Facebook ads for their books. Let’s be frank, the purpose of an ad should be not only to announce a new book, but to sell copies as well. At least that was my purpose because I think whether or not a book is successful should be judged by how many want to read it. Unfortunately, if you can’t advertise its presence, how are readers going to know it’s available to read? If sales of your book aren’t what you are interested in, then you don’t really need to read this post.

With the launch of my new book – A year and a day, I began experimenting with target ads on social media and Facebook seemed like an ideal place to start. The price was somewhatreasonable; they wanted $155 for a month of advertising to users who had previously showed an interest in the type of book I wrote in the 25 countries that I selected.  I rapidly discovered that Facebooks platform for developing an ad is notuser-friendly and despite claims to the contrary, Facebook has done little to make it so.

Issue 1– Selecting your targeted interest group: if your users’ interests are on Facebook’s list of interests then selecting them is easy. Too bad Facebook doesn’t provide instructions as to what to do if you can’t find your interest group. However, you CAN type in what interests you are looking for (just don’t expect Facebook to tell you this). Surprisingly, although movies and films areon the list, books and reading is not, so I had to type it in. I did and lo and behold, a list of types of readers came up!

Issue 2– Choosing countries where the ad will appear: since both my book and the ad are written in English, and I have no translations into other languages, I concluded it would be a waste of time (and money) to target any Countries who didn’t speak English or teach English as a second language. FYI have your list of countries prepared ahead of time, because they all have to be typed in manually. Surprisingly, the hardest one to get through the system was Great Britain (England, Scotland, Ireland and Whales as well as some territories) which Facebook kept kicking out. FYI Facebook uses the newer “United Kingdom” which took me some time to find.

Issue 3– Does Facebooks design criteria work? Does it allow you to develop an ad that will encourage readers to click on through to your selling platform? Well, that is really the issue here. If I am going to pay Facebook for an ad, then I expect it to be worth it in sales. How do you compute whether or not the ad is paying for itself? Well, a successful ad should have between a 2-5% return. In other words, if you pay Facebooks minimum of $155 then you should get a minimum of 5 to 10 sales off it the first month. Think this is Low? Get over it. Ad results usually expand exponentially (in other words, the more times an ad appears, the more sales it will generate). Why the heck do you thing those TV ads appear so often?

Before I tried to design mine, I looked very hard at other author’s ads and I discovered something disquieting.  The ads for other books I viewed on Facebook made me wonder why the authors didn’t do more to catch and hold potential buyer’s attention. Most times, there simply wasn’t enough information in the ‘sanctioned Facebook ad’ for me as a reader to follow through with a click to learn more. After attempting to work with Facebooks Ad Manager, I now know why so little information was included—Facebook doesn’t allow the kind of ad needed to pull potential readers interest. Since Facebook didn’t include books or readers on its regular interest platform for choosing an audience, I am left wondering if Facebooks management team reads. If they do, they should knowthat while an eye-catching cover image might make a potential reader take a second look, it’s the descriptive text that motivates a potential reader to open a book, or in this case, click on through to a site with a fuller description. While I understand the principlebehind Facebook’s ‘no more than 20% text’ rule in an ad, implementing it is so difficult as to make it practically impossible and still garner sales.

Issue 4— what does Facebook count as text and how is computed? If a link to a site where the product can be purchased is included in an ad, does that link count as text?

Issue 5— how much does an image provided count against the 20% text rule? In other words, if there is text on the photo provided is that included when the 20% text is figured? Does Facebook automatically turn thumbs down on anyad image with text?

Ad buyers are left to guess because the answer to these questions because it isn’t provided anywhere on the Ad Manager Platform, and God help you if you try to find out because Facebook won’t.

Conclusion: It would be much more user friendly if Facebook simply instituted a text character limit rule in the same way its competitor, Twitter does. The fact they haven’t tells me Facebook is more interested in collecting money than anything else. If Facebooks wants its ad buyers to succeed, they should provide a more user-friendly platform to develop them. I closed my ad account on Facebook and will be exploring other social media platforms to advertise my work.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I shared a free preview of this book (just the prologue) with some of my groups and Facebook shut me down for “Illegal Activity” for the weekend. I had to jump through hoops for them to allow me back on my own site. Was it worth it? Maybe, even if it was just for the pleasure of annoying the moguls at Facebook!


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