Facebook Advert – Trial Run #ammarketing

I ‘boosted’ a post on Facebook, essentially an advert for Singled Out. Here’s how I got on.

I haven’t done much advertising/promotion of Singled Out, outside this blog and a few Tweets.  I have neither the time, nor the dedication to go about this task with the sort of commitment one needs to apply if one wants sales in the thousands. Besides, as we hear everywhere, the best way to promote a first book… is to write a second. And that’s just what I’ve at last started to do.

But I was persuaded to try out a boosted post on Facebook, mainly on the basis that it didn’t involve any effort at all.  I was a few copies short of my first notable sales milestone – 100 copies – and I simply thought, ‘it’s worth a punt’. A friend (thank you, Suzanne) showed me how it worked, and it took about 10 minutes to set up the post and pick my target group. Facebook steps you through the process, nice and simple.

I didn’t have a suitable post on my blog, so I decided simply to link to the Amazon.co.uk page for Singled Out, here.

Here’s the post, as it appeared:

Screenshot 2015-08-20 09.49.05

As it’s a story set on a holiday, it seemed worthwhile to target people setting off on, or even already on, their holidays. A #nobrainer one might say.

I decided on a very modest budget, £10.00, and ran the ad over 6 days. This was my criteria:

  • Target group: Women in the UK aged between 35-60
  • Stated interests: fiction, suspense novels, single person, Turkey, travel
  • Placement: Desktop and Mobile news feed

Across the 6 days, this post was boosted to 2,297 women in the target group.  There were 63 engagements. That means 63 people either liked my page, commented on the advert, or – best of all – clicked through to the Amazon page.  My stats tell me that 51 people clicked through to the page.  That means my cost per result was £0.16.

During those 6 days, I made 6 sales, and a further sale the day after – a total of 7 sales attributed to this promotion. Yes, I know, It’s small potatoes, compared to some lucky/successful/hard-working authors, but together with a few sales earlier in the month, it served to make August my most successful month for sales since March, the month after Singled Out was launched.

So… the 7 sales I can directly attribute to the Facebook post more than covered that £10 investment.  Happy days. But the significant thing that post did, was to take me over 100 sales.  That doesn’t mean much in the big wide world, but it was important to me, and definitely worth the punt.

In the interests of full disclosure, I tried a second Facebook boost immediately the first ended. I used the same advert and selected different criteria. I ran for 6 days again, but I invested a budget of just £5.00 this time, half the original budget. My target group was male rather than female, and I was more restrictive with my stated interests. I know… I shouldn’t have adjusted two criteria at once, but I did.

  • Target group: Men in the UK aged between 35 and 60
  • Stated interests: suspense novels, psychological novel, single person, Turkey
  • Placement: Desktop and Mobile news feed

This time I was less successful. With a tighter focus, the available audience was smaller, a total of 858 people reached, from which there were 12 engagements – 3 likes and 9 website clicks. And one sale – which was very gratifying!  Facebook tells me my cost per result (ie, engagement) was £0.42.


  • Of 2297 women, 51 clicked the website – that’s 1 in every 45, or just under 2% – that’s not bad for a ‘cold’ contact. What’s better though, is that of those 51 women, 13% made a purchase.
  • Of 863 men, 9 clicked the website – that’s one in every 95, or half as many as the women’s group. But that 1 sale is, technically speaking, 10% of the click-through traffic to the website.

I messed around with my keywords, but that was in an attempt to be more targeted with the men. It didn’t pay off.

I can’t say I’m surprised that women engaged more enthusiastically with my post than men. That would be for any number of reasons that I can guess at. But I can’t really speculate without generalising horribly, and I don’t want to do that.

This was just a trial. The numbers were all very small and my investment was tiny – but I didn’t feel that was inappropriate, given my relatively modest sales to date. I would try another Facebook advert in future – the results justify tweaking those keywords, investing again, trying a broader geographic spread, and so on. But I can’t exactly see Facebook shooting my sales into the stratosphere.

If you’re a self-published author who’s been thinking of trying Facebook adverts, I hope this has been useful.

And if you’re one of the lovely ladies who clicked on that link and have found your way to my blog… let me extend you a big, warm welcome. 🙂

36 thoughts on “Facebook Advert – Trial Run #ammarketing

  1. I’ve promoted a few posts on Facebook, back when my first book was on BookBub and later when my publisher ran a contest for it. I also used it to promote Eating Bull when I had my Kindle Scout campaign. It’s a nice tool to use on occasion, but I still have mixed feelings about having to pay to promote a post to get more eyes among those who already have liked my page. Of my 600+ FB page likes, I think very few actually see my status updates, and that can be frustrating.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Things like this are very helpful for those who aren’t aware or haven’t yet tried these options.

    1. I find Facebook quite frustrating, for exactly the reason you mention – that morph everyone who ‘likes’ your page will see your posts. I have relatively few ‘likes’ which meant the boosted post reached way beyond my usual audience. I’m not a big fan of pure adverts in general though.

      1. The only consistent advertisement I’ve done with The Seneca Scourge is Goodreads. The cost has been low, and I think it’s been worthwhile. Once the new book is out, I’ll shift the ad to that.

          1. Well, now that I shifted to a ‘reader’ page from my author page, I’m doing most of my interaction on that, and my books won’t get any attention that way. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the two. But I like having a more private site for my reviews of books. That part is working out well.

          2. Interesting. I have an author page as you know, but I only review self-published and small-press books that I can rate highly. All else just gets a star rating from Yours Truly. I do find sometimes when it comes to reviews, that it’s hard to be both a critical reader and a fellow author. Always a knotty point.

          3. Exactly. Now I feel I can be more free. I just want to be a reader when I leave a book review. But of course, our writer hat is difficult to completely remove.

      1. My publisher got my book on there, so I don’t know the details. But I know my book had solid results on it. Even reached #1 in paid medical thrillers which was nice. (They set the price at 99 cents.)

  2. Any ad that gets you enough sales to fully cover your outlay is a great thing, Jools! Carrie mentioned BookBub, which I’ve heard good things about. When I finally have a book worthy of spending some money, I might try FB and that.

    1. I’ll probably try a Facebook Ad focused on the USA one of these days, but Bookbub is apparently where it’s at for big numbers. It’s on the list!

      1. BookBub will definitely get you the sales but it is very difficult to get accepted (but you should still try). Luckily there are a number of less expensive, mid-tier sites like ENT, Booksends, Freebooksy etc that can also be effective.

        1. That’s really useful to know, Dylan. Next step for me… Bookbub. It’s been on my to-do list since we spoke about it at the #BloggersBash

    1. Not big numbers (UK only at this trial stage) but I hope it’s food for thought. The nice thing is that you can trial for silly money – I think their minimum spend is £3 or something similar. Then, use what you learn to refine, improve results, before any bigger commitment.

  3. Hi Julie
    Have you come across Mark Dawson – he has been doing some fantastic stuff in the facebook advertising space. I have just started one of his courses, but there’s also lots of videos available free. His interview with Joanna Penn is inspiring.
    Good luck

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