Monday, 4 March 2013

Facebook Ads: Do They Work?

The short answer: No. They don't. And although this sentiment has been echoed by authors everywhere (a quick google search can attest to that), I was under the naive (and overly optimistic) impression that I could do better. That, somehow, despite the warnings from authors far wiser than myself, I could accomplish what they couldn't: I could make facebook ads work. And by all means, if you're as stubborn as I am, give it a shot. But believe me when I tell you, they are an exercise in futility.

One of the "advantages" of facebook ads is that you can target a specific group of people who may be part of your book's intended demographic. For example, in my case, I chose to target individuals who live in Canada and the US, who are 30 years old or younger, and who "like" Jersey Shore. I set my budget at $50 a day and paid $0.54 per click.

Have a look at my stats (click to enlarge):

68,280 unique individuals saw the ad an average of 6.5 times each. 114 people clicked on the ad on the day I had it running. Unfortunately, this only yielded a grand total of 1 sale, and it wasn't even for the book I was advertising, but my short story, so I can't say for certain if that sale was the result of my ad campaign.

You may be wondering why I paid $51.23 if my daily budget was $50. Well, it caught me by surprise as well. I was under the impression that facebook considers a "day" to be 24 hours since the ad first started running. I was wrong. For facebook, a day ends at midnight, regardless of when you started your campaign. For example, if you set your daily budget to $50 and start your campaign at 11 PM, that budget only applies for the one hour until midnight, and then resets to zero for the next "day". Luckily I caught on and stopped the campaign before they could rob me of another $50.

Don't waste your money.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Goodreads Giveaways: Do They Work?

Goodreads Giveaways are one option for authors looking to promote their work. They're free, and provide exposure to potentially millions of Goodreads visitors. All you need is a print edition of your book (ebooks are not allowed).

Given that I recently released a paperback of Text Me, Guido, I decided to give it a shot.

Make sure that if you decide to run one, you schedule it a few days in advance since they can take up to 3 days to be approved. I scheduled mine a week in advance for Feb. 18-Feb. 20 (little did I know that when Goodreads says the giveaway will end on Feb. 20th at 12:00 AM, they mean the start of the day on Feb. 20th...so my giveaway ended up being only two days long).

In those 2 days, 379 people entered the giveaway, and approximately 175 people added the book to their "to be read" list. Whether these people will actually end up buying the book remains to be seen.

Did it generate any actual sales? Not really. During the giveaway I had 1 sale, and 2 sales soon after it ended (plus an additional 2 sales of my short story Fifty Shades of Azzurri). So I didn't exactly light the world on fire. I did, however, receive a 5-star review on Amazon shortly after the giveaway ended (but I can't say for certain this review came from someone who bought my book because of the giveaway).

The moral of the story? If you're goal is to increase the number of readers who have your book on their "to be read" list, then giveaways work wonders, but don't expect your sales to take off. I acknowledge that 2 days is a pretty short period, so you might have more success if you increase the length of the giveaway (something I plan on trying in the future).