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DIYDay Lesson 23: Facebook Advertising – A Case Study

Marketing, marketing, marketing: the life of an author when not writing, writing, writing. Like it or not, if you want your books to sell, you have to tell people it’s out there. Sometimes, Lady Luck smiles down on you and you strike gold. Most of the time, however, you just keep trying different things, repeating what works, dropping what doesn’t. This cycle has recently led me to try out the Facebook advertising option, and I decided I might as well share the results with all my lovely author friends. This will be a brief walk-through of how to create a Website click Facebook ad campaign, and an overview of the results I got from mine. Be warned: lots of text and numbers follow. Hopefully, it helps someone, since it didn’t do all that much for me… (spoiler alert)



The How-To


Essential-Guide-to-Social-Media-Advertising-ebook-coverThere are different ways to advertise on Facebook. I won’t spend time on this, but will recommend a free eBook on the subject, published by HubSpot: The Essential Guide to Social Media Advertising. It’s partly an ad for HubSpot’s paid services, but also provides a good description of different ad options, and a step-by-step guide on how to set them up.

For my ad, I chose the Website click option. This means, the ad was “optimized” to get the most clicks to a website of my choosing. Here’s how I did it:

1. On the top menu, click the down arrow and select Create Ad


2. You will see a bunch of opaque options that don’t really tell you much, but what you really want is the option to Send people to your website.


For the purposes of advertising your book, you’ll want to use a direct link to the buy page at whatever store you want to advertise. Make it easy for people to click-n-buy. Mine was a link to the US Amazon page for Wolfen. Once you click Continue, you will be taken to the building page where you actually put your ad together.

3. Create your audience: You will want to be as diverse as possible with the demographics but also targeted toward the audience most likely to be interested in what you are selling (AKA your book). So select countries which speak your language, age groups and genders which are more likely to read you (i.e., don’t choose an under 18 category for erotica, and probably focus on a female audience for romance). Interests should include reading, ebooks, books, movies, and (if applicable) games in that particular genre. Other keywords you can use are specific names or titles which relate to your book (like books/authors similar to yours). Keep in mind that with each revision, your audience size and your per-click cost will change.

My demographics were as follows:

Location: Canada, United Kingdom, United States
Interests: science fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Horror fiction, ebooks, Romance novels, Thriller movies, Resident Evil, Utopian and dystopian fiction, ebook lovers or Books
Age: 21 – 65+
Language: English (UK) or English (US)

4. Set your Budget and Schedule. You will have several options here. You can set your ad to run continuously, or tell Facebook to start and end it on specific dates. For your budget, you can set a daily limit, or a total budget for your campaign as a whole. You will never be charged more than the budget you set. You can also specify whether you want to optimize for impressions or clicks. Impressions mean Facebook will show your ad to as many people as possible, and you will be charged per 1,000 impressions. With clicks, you are charged per click. Next, you will need to set your bid, which means the maximum you want to pay per impressions or clicks. Facebook will give you a range estimate, and offer to optimize it for you, or you can set your own. Here, you are competing with other advertisers for the same visibility, so the higher your bid, the more your ad will be shown. You can also choose where your ad is displayed.

My ad was optimized for clicks, and my schedule and budget were as follows:

Daily Budget: $3.00
Start Date: 9/18/15
End Date: 9/25/15
Bid per click: $0.70
Placement Everywhere

5. Once you have done this, it’s time to actually create your campaign. Now, Facebook lets you create ad sets, which means, you can have several different ads all leading to the same website, and Facebook runs them on rotation, favoring the most popular ones. The ad is composed of several elements: An image with limited or no text (only 20% of the image can contain text), a tagline for the ad (a few catchy words), a message to go with the ad (longer description or text), and a button that takes people to your link. Be smart about what you do here. Use graphics which catch the eye and clearly convey your message. That will make people stop and read more. Use a button with a clear call to action that tells people what you want them to do, and avoid putting another call to action in the image itself. Once your ad is running, Facebook gives you control to edit your ad, so you can choose to discontinue certain ads, or places where they appear, or even your demographics. Make use of this. Keep an eye on your ad and control what it does so you get the best results for your investment.

I used 3 different images for my ads, but the same message, description, and button for each:


After the first day, one of my ads wasn’t performing at all, so I discontinued it. A couple of days later, I discontinued a second, leaving only the above one to run the rest of my campaign. It gave me exponentially more exposure. I did not change demographics, or placement for the duration of the ad campaign.

6. Finalize and pay for your ad. Make sure there are no typos or errors before you make the ad live. And, of course, ya gotta enter a payment method so they can get money from you.

The Results

My ad campaign ran for 7 days. In that time, it reached a total of 7433 people. Of those…

32% of impressions were women
64% of impressions were men
Facebook will not tell you whether these were unique impressions.

Impressions broken down by placement:
Mobile Feed: 73% clicks, 80% reach
Audience Network: 23% clicks, 13% reach
Desktop Newsfeed: 4% clicks, 6% reach
Desktop Right Column: 0% clicks, less than 1% reach

28% of clicks (27) were women
68% of clicks (65) were men
For a total of 96 clicks. As you can see, Facebook can’t math…

Men between 35 and 44 years of age responded the most
Women between 35 and 44 years of age responded the most

Highest cost per click was $0.30
Lowest cost per click was $0.14
Average cost per click was $0.22 (and I am not about to math that…)

I got the best results for clicks on Monday
The worst results were on Friday (but the ad started and ended that day, so the numbers were split between two days, so when I add them together, the worst day was actually Tuesday)

I paid a total of $20.83 for this 7-day ad campaign, and in that time sold 3 copies of Wolfen on Amazon. Which means I ended up losing money on this venture. Just goes to show you, what works for some, won’t work for others. A lot of factors were at play here, and it would be impossible to determine which made the biggest difference to the success (or in this case failure) of the ad campaign. I had planned to try a Twitter campaign next, and gave up during the setup process, which made very little sense to me.

So there you have it! Hope the numbers help someone out there with their marketing strategy. Oh, and since we’re talking about it, check out Wolfen at any of the retailers below! 😉

CreateSpace (print)
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Barnes and Noble
Autographed Paperback


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9 thoughts on “DIYDay Lesson 23: Facebook Advertising – A Case Study”

  1. Thank you for posting this – I hate marketing but unless I publish a book a month I don’t have much choice. I have just had a French book released and may try Facebook for that and see if it makes a difference in sales. Let us know how you get on with Twitter and good luck with your sales 🙂

    1. My pleasure, Lisa! 🙂 I can answer the Twitter question right now: I’m not doing it. Lol After the Facebook fiasco, I don’t have the mental stamina to run another fruitless ad, and from what I could tell, Twitter was at least twice as expensive as Facebook. Even if none of that were true, organic posts tend to work much better than paid ads. When I post in reader groups on Facebook, I get somewhat of a response. Also when I engage with people on my own Wall, and the topic of my books comes up naturally. I somehow got involved in a Twitter group that retweets stuff which mentions me (I get about 50 notifications per day off of that). Can’t tell if any of it translates into sales, probably not, but at least I am getting my name out there. 🙂

      1. I think that’s the important thing lol – It’s a shame we just can’t write and the books magically market themselves, but like you, I belong to FB groups that does seem to help a bit with sales, but I find FB distracting and I much prefer to be writing. Have a great day and thank you 🙂

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    1. I make them myself. Spent a few years playing around with GIMP so I kind of developed an eye for what will grab attention. =) There are easier programs out there you can use, though., I think is one. Just always make sure you’re using images you are licensed to use. Never grab them from Google. You need to go to a stock image site like Fotolia or Bigstockphoto. =)

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