As I prepare for the release of the first book of my new series, I’m naturally thinking about ads. I’ve been marketing the book to my newsletter readers—sending them chapters for the past three weeks and the link to buy the book. I’ve gotten a lot of wonderful feedback from people who are enjoying the book so far and, as always, some people telling me that they don’t want to receive these chapters (because I always include an opt-out link).

I’m also thinking about Facebook, Amazon and Bookbub ads.

I’ve never had a lot of success with any of them, mostly because I’ve got absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I refuse to spend $700 on a course to learn how to do Facebook ads (I’ve heard both positive and negative reviews on them). And I got bilked of over $600 the last time I hired a marketing company that specializes in marketing authors to do it for me (they were recommended by someone I know on FB, but they didn’t do what they’d promised and when I confronted them about it they stopped responding to my emails).

So many people swear by these forms of advertising that I really feel as if I should give them another fair shot. To that end, I tried a Facebook ad but was paying over a dollar per click, which is way too rich for me and my very limited budget. So, now I’m testing some ads with Amazon and Bookbub.

Let me pause right here to say that setting up these ads can be really complicated!! In the order of most difficult to least: Facebook (I felt like a blind person stumbling around in the dark), Bookbub (there was some light allowing me to kind of understand what I was doing, but different people were calling me in different directions), and Amazon (I could see very well and almost completely understood what I was doing).

Because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with Facebook, I’m not even going to tell what I tried because I’m absolutely certain it was wrong. I set up an audience made up of people who were friends with people who “like” my author page. I uploaded six images and six tag lines for the program to mix and match for me (although I never could figure out how to see which got clicks and which didn’t). I gave it a budget, but I had no idea how to configure it (you’ve got a lot of options, which I just picked at random not knowing how they would impact my ad. I spent $20 in four days and got 19 clicks. That was it. Not doing that again!

For Bookbub, I signed up for David Gaughran’s free course which he offers through Reedsy. You get one email a day (a little slow for me, but I survived) which tells you how to set up different aspects of a Bookbub ad (those are the ones at the bottom of their daily mailing, not the listings in the mailing itself. Those you have to apply for and they cost a boat-load of money). After five days of emails, I felt confident enough to go in and set up two test ads. I’ll spend $50 on the two ($25 each). They have slightly different images and in one I targeted a genre audience as well as readers who like particular authors in my sub-genre, the other I just targeted readers who like those authors.

Gaughran suggests you bid based on CPM (impressions, ie how many people view your ad) but Bookbub themselves posted on their blog an example of someone who ran a very successful ad based on CPC (clicks, you pay each time someone clicks on your ad). Since I wanted to test images, for both ads I chose CPM. If this is at all successful, I may try it a second time bidding on CPC and see how it does.

Amazon ads are absolutely straight forward when you set them up. You don’t get to choose or design your own image, it’s just your book cover. You have to write great ad copy though, so my two test ads are testing that out. Also vital to Amazon ads are the keywords you use. Based on advice I got from a marketing specialist, I’ve got a bunch of long, genre-specific keywords (Historical Regency romance England – for example, is one “keyword”), a lot of shorter keywords (Historical romance) and a long list of authors who write Regency romance. Based on what others in my genre have said, I bid .50 per keyword (although Amazon will suggest an amount for each, sometimes more but usually less). You don’t have a choice to pay per impression, you only pay per click.

So, we’ll see how these ads do. If they generate any sales. I’ll be able to see how many clicks and impressions I get for each, and I’ll see if any books sell, although because I’m running both the Amazon and Bookbub ads at the same time, I won’t know which one is generating sales for me. If I were to do this absolutely accurately I should run one after the other, however, I’ve got a deadline here of the day my book actually comes out.

Wish me luck! No matter how it works out, I’ll have learned something. Perhaps, from these tests, you might too.