Failed Facebook Experiments

EditingI’ve been experimenting with Facebook advertising for a little over a week now and I’m going to have to call it a failure for the moment.

That’s not to say that Facebook advertising itself is a failure. I learned a heck of a lot in the last week. Facebook give you such detailed information that you can easily hone down your focus and get new readers.

The trouble is with my current situation in terms of books. I have four series at the moment:

  • Hard Vacuum has two books;
  • Bytarend has five;
  • Shiny New Swindle is a standalone for the moment;
  • Greenstar has two books.

The trouble is that the books where I have more to read and therefore more to sell have a free book to start the series. Hard Vacuum 1 and The Bite on the Line are free. You might wonder why this is a problem, and it’s down to retention rates.

Here are the rates I manage to work out for my Bytarend ad on Facebook. At the top, each click to my website was only costing me about 12 US cents. Only 41% then went from my website to the store to grab a copy. So that increases the price for that reader to 29 cents, since I need to know who will actually read the book.

So far so good. Then I know that about 5% of people that download the first book will read the second one. That makes the price for that reader $5.85. The second book is the first one where I make a profit of 35 US cents.

The figures continue in the same fashion below:

Price per click $0,12
Click to store rate 41 %
Price to store $0,29
1st to 2nd book rate 5 %
Price to second book $5,85
Profit from second book $0,35
2nd to 3rd book rate 50 %
Price to third book $11,01
Profit from third book $2,74
3rd to 4th book rate 95 %
Price to fourth book $8,27
Profit from fourth book $2,74
3rd to 4th book rate 95 %
Price to fifth book $5,53
Profit from fifth book $2,74
4rd to 5th book rate 95 %
Price to fifth book $2,79
Profit from sixth book $2,74
5rd to 6th book rate 95 %
Price to sixth book $0,05

As you can see at the bottom of the table, at the rate people generally read my books, I lose a little money, even by the sixth book. Of course, they may read other series of mine, but I don’t have figures on those rates. From what readers have said, though, most of them prefer to just read the one series.

So even though 12 cents per customer sounds good, it would take them a year to finish the series. This is after a lot of experimentation to get down to 12 cents, as well. I had plenty of ads costing me 50 cents to $1.

A winning strategy, then, is to have a series where the first book isn’t free. Or ideally a box set of multiple books. For instance, when my Bytarend series is complete, I’ll probably have a box set of all six books. That box set has to cost less than 10 dollars due to Amazon’s rules, so that would be a great deal for a new reader (10 bucks versus 17 individually). That would also mean I could instantly calculate the cost vs profit, instead of having to rely on the complicated calculations above.

Overall, though, I’d say that Facebook advertising isn’t the terrible return a lot of authors have said it is. You just need to have a great deal for readers that also makes sense for you.


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5 thoughts on “Failed Facebook Experiments

  1. Did you capture e-mail addresses? If you’re going to come close to profitable on this series, getting them on the list would more or less have to push them over the top.

    • Not directly. I have the second book in both series free for email subscribers, but that’s for people that like the first ones. I just need a bunch of series so I can try different strategies with each 🙂

      • You might try an ad that offers the first book free to folks who as their names to a list then follow up on a couple weeks asking if anyone has read it and pimping the second book.

  2. Yeah, that’s kind of what I do for the second book in the series: give it away to email subscribers and then pimp the subsequent books. It works well. I usually pick up 5-10 subscribers a week.

    At the moment, I’m just building a back catalogue so I can run all kinds of advertising. My plan at the moment is to use the Shiny New Swindle series to try first book for email subscribers, rest of series paid.

    I reckon it will take me about another two years to have all the ground work done. Then I’ll have three series with first book permafree, one series with the first book free for email subscribers and whatever else I manage to put together 🙂

  3. Pingback: More Adventures in Book Advertising | Simon Cantan

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