Episode 183 – Bookfunnel Direct Sales, Hurricane Relief, and Facebook Ads (with Michael Cooper)

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Question of the Week: If you don’t yet use Facebook Ads, what’s the main reason you don’t include them as part of your marketing?

Sci-fi author Michael Cooper joined us today for a longer-than-usual but extremely informative Lab segment. After thanking their patrons, Peak Democracy, The Final Arrangement, and Nightblade, Bryan and Jim tackled tips on pen names, selecting your next story to write, and how to promote your books. News stories included the publishing practices of Marcel Proust, publishers helping hurricane victims, AAP’s ebook sales increase, David Gaughran’s thoughts on why you don’t need cheating, and Bookfunnel’s new direct sales integration. This week’s Question of the Week: If you don’t yet use Facebook Ads, what’s the main reason you don’t include them as part of your marketing?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How Michael Cooper has gotten stellar results from his Facebook Ads
  • Why Bryan and Anne R. Allen disagree on one point about pen names
  • Why you shouldn’t just look at genre when selecting your next book to write
  • Why you shouldn’t just focus on price when promoting your books
  • How Marcel Proust scammed a French newspaper when self-publishing his book
  • How you can give back to hurricane victims using your books
  • What surprising statistic the AAP showed off in its latest report
  • Why David Gaughran doesn’t believe cheating is ever necessary
  • Why Bookfunnel’s new direct sales integration is a game-changer

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  • Josiah Rosell

    I’d love to use FB Ads, but I swung and missed on them last time and wasted money. I’m planning to jump back on the bandwagon, but with only one book published thus far, I think I’ll first get a few more books out there and up my chances of coming out profitable.

    • Bryan

      I think having multiple books definitely does help, Josiah. Thanks!

  • I avoided them for a long time due to the learning curve in setting them up. I still wish they had a shortcut (quick ad) offering. However, I muddled my way through trying dozens of ads. I have a few that either break even (but also produce reviews) or make money. The ones that didn’t work cost me $15 or so. I’ve been unable to scale them, though. My $20 ad makes $25, but my $200 want make $250. The following is for you Michael Cooper: “Thank you, your order has been placed.”

    • Bryan

      Haha, I’m sure Michael appreciates it :).

  • Crissy Moss

    I’m really trying to figure out the Facebook ads. They are kind of intimidating. I’m sure once I figure out what it should look like, and what all the different options mean it won’t be so crazy, but it’s going to take some research. The second part being money. Advertising can get expensive, especially if you don’t get a return on the investment.

    • Bryan

      They are scary, especially because you need to be willing to spend a little first before you have a chance of figuring out your targeting. But it’s great to see that Michael has found some success trying out new things!

  • I write non-fiction in health, wellness, and weight loss, and facebook has all sorts of rules about body image and making people feel bad. I’ve tried, submitted, and had to redo so many that I got frustrated at all the work. Were the few that got through successful? They were okay, but not when you ad in the time to manage all that nonsense.

    Also, each of my books (health, remember) is sort of standalone, so it’s not like I’m hooking them on book #1.

    I’m not opposed, but I’m more likely to do it for my health and fitness courses, than directly for my books.

    • Bryan

      Ah, I have heard that about the fitness ads. Seems like AMS is the better (faster) way to go then.

  • Lisa Thomas

    I’m totally intimidated. If it requires taking a $400 course to learn, it must be way over my head. Plus, I’ve heard they are not effective in my genre (cozy mystery) which is made up of whale readers looking for cheap books in a series. It’s harder to make a good ROI on a cheap product, or so I’ve heard.

    • Bryan

      I don’t think it Requires an expensive course, but seeing a walkthrough definitely helps. Maybe Michael’s $6 book could be a good middle ground :). “I’ve heard…” I’m always wary of hearing rumors. Something only doesn’t work until someone makes it work. Thanks for commenting, Lisa!

  • Sara Crawford

    I know some traditionally published authors, editors, agents, etc. (mostly YA I think) that put this together https://pubforpr.wordpress.com/ for the hurricane relief. There are a lot of great items on there for authors and readers. Check it out!

    • Bryan

      Thanks for posting this, Sara!

  • Melissa E Beckwith-Author

    I plan on starting to use Facebook ads in the near future, however I have not used them yet because they seem way too intricate and I am technologically challenged. I’m too afraid to spend a huge chunk on something I do not know how to use. I do have Michael’s book, however, so now I need to go read it! 🙂

    • Bryan

      Read that book, Melissa!

  • I’ve played with them a tiny bit, though mostly for lead generation, which I heard Michael doesn’t recommend. I plan to use them consistently with a monthly budget once I have three books up for sale. From what I understand, they’re not worth the money until then and I’m better off saving my $ for editing, great covers, etc.

    • Bryan

      Three books seems like a good benchmark, Betsy.

  • I don’t use FB ads because I tried a few of them a year or two ago and it was a great way to blow a hundred bucks and get bupkis in return. There’s a learning curve that burns through so much of that money, so fast, that you have to have money to lose while your brain turns to melted goo. Nowadays, if I had a bag of marshmallows, several hundred bucks and the time to really learn them….mmmm….I think I’d just set that money on fire in my backyard. I’d have the same amount of no-money, but the melted goo would be toasted marshmallowy goodness and not my brains or the dregs of my wallet.

    • Bryan

      Now you have me hungry for s’mores, Athena :).

  • I do not use Facebook ads since I find it incredibly complex to get your targeting just right. I’ve played around with them for 2 months and just quit, since it was nothing more than a money-devouring black hole. I’m sticking with Amazon Ads for now, as those are easier to configure and give me far better results.

    • Bryan

      I think AMS ads are easier to start with for Nonfiction for sure, Brecht.

      • I know. I’ve been quite successful with AMS ads in the last 6 months 🙂

        • Bryan

          Always good to hear :).

  • It makes no sense to start heavy advertising such as Facebook until I have multiple books in the wild that can generate sell through. I’ll jump in when the time is right.

    • Bryan

      Makes sense, Edwin!

  • Patrick O’Donnell

    I use them sparingly. I see there value, but they are confusing and expensive. Not much for ROI, but a tool for a book launch.

    • Bryan

      I do know some folks who’ve had success with those ads for a launch, good point, Patrick.

  • For me, I’ve been writing a lot, working on a trilogy. Once that’s done I’ll see what’s still working as far as ads. I’ve stopped paying attention to ad approach because what is working today may not be working in six months or a year. When I get near the end of the trilogy, I’ll dive deep into the current best practices.

    • Bryan

      That’s smart, Pete. Learn what’s working when you’re going to put it into practice. Good work :).

  • Vania Margene Rheault

    I loved this show. I just bought Michael’s book. It was recommended by someone in Brian Meeks’ Amazon Ads FB group. I feel like I’m in a special club when I know who you are talking about. That being said, I don’t use the ads yet because 1) I don’t have much of a back list, so I’m waiting until I build that up. Even if you’re only running an ad for one book, essentially you’re advertising all your books. And 2) they are complicated and I don’t want to sour myself on the whole thing by wasting money and doing it incorrectly. Things might change by the time I’m ready to use them, but for now I’m researching the heck out of FB ads and Amazon ads so I know what I’m doing when I want to start.