Amazon and facebook ads for Indie Authors

This post is about my experience of using Amazon and facebook advertising for my two self-published novels. Disclaimer: this is not a guide to them in any way – I’m fumbling in the dark here, guessing as I go. It’s just a summary of my own experiences of using them.

I’ve been using facebook adverts since I published my first novel in November 2016 and the vast majority of my sales have been generated this way. It’s worked well for me, particularly because the setting of my first book – Tunisia – is a useful targeting option. It’s specific and relatively unusual, and so has worked well. Facebook targeting on book location for my second novel, Glasdrum, which is set in Scotland, worked less well and I think it’s because there are loads of books set in Scotland so it wasn’t a unique selling point in the way Tunisia is for Daughter, Disappeared. The amount of money I have spent on facebook advertising to date is slightly less than profit from total sales – I know, how depressing – but for now I’m focusing on getting my books read and reviewed. Making money is having to take a back seat.

In the last few weeks I kept seeing articles and hearing about authors getting great results from Amazon adverts so I decided to give them a shot. Of particular appeal is that you are only charged if someone clicks on the adverts, but I soon realised that not many people do. You allocate a maximum daily or total budget to your advert but I have been getting nowhere near the maximum spend – because clicks are like gold-dust. Another advantage of Amazon adverts is that the dashboard tells you if a click results in a sale but a huge disadvantage for a UK based writer like myself is that you can’t promote the Amazon UK version of your book, only the dot com version (the vast majority of my reviews are attached to the Amazon UK versions of the books. Why on earth Amazon can’t link them is beyond me).

I discovered the key to Amazon ad success is to have several running and keep a close eye on which are getting the clicks and the sales. So I’ve had eight different adverts running for the past three days… but am about to stop them all. The cost is adding up and sales are not materialising. To summarise, in the past three days, the stats for the eight adverts, grouped together, are as follows:

Impressions: 50,700 (varying from 8 for one advert to 24,979 for another!)
Clicks: 150
Cost: $59
Directly related sales: $16 (these were all from ‘product display’ adverts, not ‘sponsored products’ although the difference between the two is confusing, even after reading the instructions! I’ve had a surge in Kindle Unlimited pages read which might be related, but I’m not sure. Another mystery).

Anyway, I can’t afford to haemorrhage money like that and I don’t have the time or inclination to experiment further so I’m giving up with them for now.

In comparison, I set up a facebook advert yesterday for Daughter, Disappeared, aimed at women in the USA and Canada with an interest in Tunisia and reading, and in only a few hours the advert had spent $14, and I’d sold eight ebooks at $4 per book (I get about $2.20 per ebook so that’s $17.60 of income for a $14 outlay), plus it generated 16 shares, 60 likes and several new page likes. It’s going to run for two weeks and I’ll keep an eye on it to ensure spend does not out-run income. For now as long as my books are being read and I break even, I’m happy. And by ‘happy’ I mean ‘resigned’, lol.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone else who has used either kind of advert. What is working for you?

6 thoughts on “Amazon and facebook ads for Indie Authors

  1. Hi Fiona, very interested to hear your take on the possibilities of Amazon advertising. Will be interested to hear how that works out. I have gone down the route of Facebook advertising – boosting posts for varying amounts of money and I have concluded that it has been a waste of money. I can attribute no sales whatsoever to the almost 200usd I have spent to date. Yes, I get hundreds of likes for each post but only a handful of post clicks and (most annoyingly) no shares. When I selected a target audience- UK, USA, Australia, I seem to get a lot of ‘likes’ from Afruca, followed up by a few friend requests from rather dubious FB accounts!! So for me, I will not be pouring any more money into FB advertising.

    To be honest the quality of your books coupled with the fabulous reviews on Amazon should be enough to keep them selling. My books got hammered on Amazon but much more favourably received on Goodreads.com which I am guessing is the only reason they are still selling (albeit in small numbers) over a year after publication.

    If there is any merit in Amazon advertising, I would consider it so I will keep my fingers crossed for you😎

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    • Thanks for your commment John. Sorry I haven’t replied yet, I have trouble with wordpress on my phone and haven’t been near laptop due to work. I’ve terminated all my Amazon adverts now as the cost was outstripping the sales they were generating – think it was $59 cost and 8 sales at a $2.20 profit per book. Maybe with some experimentation better results could be obtained? I’m sorry to hear facebook ads haven’t worked for you, it’s soul destroying to have money wasted like that. I think my first book’s setting being so unique was a huge help because it turns out a lot of people – mainly women I have to say – have a huge affection for the country and wanted to try my book for that reason. Facebook hasn’t has quite the same results for my Highland book but I went for the ‘local author’ angle which helped – have you tried that in your local area? Glad to hear your books are doing well on Goodreads, that’s great, and thank you for the kind words. It’s not easy doing book promotion – I’m pretty sick of it! I might try Amazon again sometime but not for now – going to get my head down and write for the next few months!

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  2. The ‘local author’ angle sounds a good plan. I did send a piece to the local town newspaper a few months ago and received an enthusiastic reply from the editor- I’m still waiting to see it in print LOL.
    I’m currently struggling to get my new book past the difficult mid stage of writing and I am spending too much time and energy stressing about sales that would be better spent actually writing- I am guessing you are in the same boat. (It was so much easier to write a book when you never expected anyone to ever read it😀)
    Maybe now that it is the holiday time, there may be some benefit from bored beach readers looking for something to keep them occupied- we can but hope.
    Cheers, John

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    • Thanks Allen. It’s so hard to tell. I’m trying again with Amazon ads but in 2 weeks it’s cost $20 and so far no direct sales. Another waste of money! Although there have been quite a lot of ‘clicks’ so maybe it’s still good exposure? I’ve no idea! Let me know if you have any breakthroughs 🙂

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