In embarking upon my new sort-of, wannabe career as a self-publishing ebook author, I did the requisite research on marketing and advertising and read plenty of advice on how to be the consummate anxiety-ridden writer (to wit, it's probably not mentally healthy to click the update button on your Amazon sales report page every few minutes, but I do).
One of the most effective sales tools I've found so far is good, old advertising, specifically on Facebook. The joy of Facebook advertising is that you can target your ad to very specific groups based on their Likes and general participation on the platform.
My foray into Facebook advertising came after much research, including posts and videos by Mark Dawson, author of the John Milton thriller series and the mastermind behind the Self Publishing Formula training series that teaches newbie authors how to leverage Facebook ads to gain sales and to grow a mailing list (another task I've been pursuing). I haven't taken the $700 plunge to sign up for Dawson's full course, but I've gleaned much from his free videos and interviews.
With trembling fingers on the computer keyboard, I prepared my first ad, featuring graphics by Mike Suchcicki, who has designed all of my covers and promotional material thus far. The first ad used the beach scene illustration featured on the top of the main page of this site.
Using Facebook's Ad Manager, I targeted the ad to readers of erotic fiction, erotic romance and readers of 50 Shades of Gray and fans of E.L. James. The ad did, in fact, bring sales, but only in a trickle. Then again, I wasn't spending much per day, so the ad was hitting a relatively small group of Facebook readers.
After that ad ran its course, I decided to make another investment and run a second campaign, but this time I decided to make the image a little more provocative. I asked Mike to pick a scene from the book and try to recreate it using stock photos. He selected the scene where the heroine, Stacee Pockett, visits A-list movie star Jamie Nealle, who invites her for an impromptu swim in his enormous swimming pool (and for some other recreation). He combined two photos to evoke the scene (one of which featured a dark pink bra similar to Stacee's):
Unfortunately Facebook declined the ad for being too provocative. Let's drop the boobs, we thought, and just go with the six-pack, adding the book cover for good measure:
This time Facebook accepted the ad. (That photo, by the way, features the original, more chaste, version of the book cover.) Thinking about it that night, however, I thought it would add to the photo, and identify the six-pack as a character in the book, if we added Jamie's signature. So I asked Mike to drop in the design element:
For some reason, however, Facebook did not like that version and declined the ad. (Remember that this was just the morning after they had accepted the non-signature version.)
While waiting for an explanation from Facebook (which never came), Mike and I decided to try something different. Mike made the valuable point that stock photos cost money and that our marketing funds might be better spent in setting up our own photo. So Mike went to Walmart and picked up a $10 pink bra (gathering quite a few giggles from female shoppers as he walked through the store) and mocked up some legal-looking papers using the characters' signatures. Here's the resulting shot:
As you can see, this one used the updated version of the cover. Mike even added a baby-blue bow, as described in the book.
This version of the ad has been much more successful than the original, so we think we'll keep this one going for awhile.