Debunking Facebook Ad Myths: What Really Works for Authors
Debunking Facebook Ad Myths: What Really Works for Authors

Debunking Facebook Ad Myths: What Really Works for Authors

I’m not an ad expert. There’s a lot I don’t know. But recently I’ve been sharing a lot of tips in groups that people had either not thought to use before, or hadn’t heard of. I figured that with my success, especially over last month, this might be a perfect time to share what I know here.

I’ve been publishing since 2021 and using ads since 2022. I started using them before people advised you should, when I only had one book out in my series. But I opted to do that to learn.

These are a few of the things I’ve heard in the industry and my experience and thoughts with them:

  • You’ll lose money on Facebook Ads if you only advertise to one book. No. My bestselling book for a while, and one of my best ads right now, is to a novella. It doesn’t connect to any series, and I earned money on it immediately. However, you will likely earn more on a series because of read-through.
  • Running ads means losing money and that should be your mindset. No. My mindset is money resolves problems, not creates them. If I’m losing money on an ad, I turn it off, unless it’s serving another purpose (testing covers, pointing readers to subscribe to my newsletter where I plan to upsell them later on, etc.). But you should always be getting something out of your ads.
  • You should only pay attention to your CPC or CTR. No. CPC and CTR are indications of an ad’s possible success. They are not definitive with an ad being more successful than another. I’ve seen, and spoken with authors who have a lower CPC and higher CTR on one ad, but lower conversion rate, then another with a higher CPC and lower CTR.
  • You should never use Advantage+. No. Now, my thought process on Advantage Placement is entirely different then this, but I always recommend testing everything you can. Facebook is a business, and they want their latest products and features to succeed. Trying their Advantage+ for targeting might work better for you then a specifically detailed targeted audience. Test everything and make your decision from your conversions.
  • You should never edit an ad when it’s active. Yes. Editing an ad is going to send it back into learning. Facebook is supposed to be shifting how they deal with the learning phase of ads, but if you have an ad you’re testing and want to test something else, duplicate it and make your changes there.
  • You should do two images, two primary texts, some variation of the two, or Dynamic Creative in ads to test what works best. I have mixed thoughts on this. I used to use Dynamic Creative at the end of 2023 but stopped by 2024 because Facebook stopped showing the breakdown of my text. Additionally, if you’re looking for conversions, it’s hard to know exactly what’s working because you can only use one link. I prefer to let each ad run in its own ad set based on what I’m testing. That way each link has a UTM that helps me learn more.
  • You shouldn’t run Sales/Conversion Ads to your website if you don’t have a store. I mostly agree with this. Sales ads will always cost a higher CPC because they’re more active and affected less by certain items that can shift your algorithm. If you’ve never run a Sales ad before, you need a pixel to do so unless you run it to Messenger and WhatsApp I believe. One of the best things about Sales Ads is the data you can get from them. Running one to your website when you’re going to pay a higher CPC, and the only data you’d get is clicks, not sales from a store, isn’t going to be advantageous. That being said, you can run them and use your pixel to test, for example if you’re doing something with a cover or blurb. But you could do the same with a Traffic ad for cheaper. Also, if you then later use that pixel on something else, for instance, when you make a store, your data is going to be off because Facebook previously targeted and marked a successful result for a click, not a purchase event.
  • If you have a good image, you have a good ad. No, if you have a good image and ad copy, you have a good ad. I’ve run multiple tests with the same image on different ad copies and had wildly variable success. Both are important, just like your cover and blurb are important.
  • You should make sure that readers know you’re an author. Yes. The absolute best advice I got was to add – Author to the end of your Facebook Page. That one tip boosted my sales tremendously.
  • When should you decide to scale your ads? I scale when I get above 1.75 for the week. If there’s days when I hit something high like a 6, I’ll definitely add a couple more dollars than normal.

Now that I’ve finished the quick things, let’s get to the meat and potatoes, IE the reason why I said what I said.

Last year I did a massive rebrand. In September, I made a really good decision which netted me the highest pre-orders I’d ever had for my novella. Then I launched in October. Things were good. The majority of my sales were on Amazon, so about a week later I saw them start to fall down.

Based on reader excitement, and how well the pre-orders had done, I knew it made sense to take a chance running ads on it, despite the advice that ads don’t do well on one book/novella, and that I’d lose money. I started out with a single $5-dollar, Traffic, Dynamic Creative Ad. I earned the most I’d ever made from my books that month and had an incredible ROI.

That ad went to my landing page, and it was wild to see how many views and clicks my site received. There were almost 5k, just from my little ad. I knew that wouldn’t last too long though. After all, Thanksgiving was right around the corner, and with holiday sales, things always go a little awry, plus I wouldn’t have that same number of pre-orders contributing to my revenue for the month.

I was right, but honestly, it wasn’t too bad. But as December came around, I started having to do a lot more work. I was now running ads in the US and UK (which has always been a good market for me) and while I was making more, I was spending more. It also seemed like my Traffic Ads constantly got exhausted after about a month. I always needed to test something new, another audience, image, etc. and it was exhausting for me to do so.

In January I got the feeling that I really needed to switch to Conversion Ads. Since the majority of my income was still coming through Amazon, even though I was wide and had my direct store, I still hadn’t received my income from October (my highest month), which meant I couldn’t scale. And I wouldn’t be able to truly scale after that either if I was going to keep having to recreate new ads, test new things, figure out more stuff, etc. It felt like if I took that chance, I’d fall into that losing money rhetoric and I absolutely refused to do that.

The problem was I’d tried a couple of Conversion Ads in December and they hadn’t really done that well. They cost a lot, were an entirely other ballgame I’d never tested, and I wasn’t sure how to optimize for them as a lot of people weren’t talking about them. So instead, I kept an eye out for advice, and continued to try my best with Traffic Ads, while still testing Conversion Ads in small amounts through February, March, and April.

At the end of April, I was pretty fed up with Traffic Ads. Like many people, my income went down around the last week of that month, for seemingly no reason. I hated that if a popular author in my genre or a genre adjacent to mine released a book, I’d basically have to either decrease my already low ads, or turn them off altogether (this is of no fault to the author, it’s amazing that they’ve created such a beautiful and incredible reading base, and I’m happy for them), and the same if there was a massive sales event (again, of no fault to the organizer, I’m happy for those involved in the event, and that’s just how business goes).

In my testing, I found that it seemed like Facebook had changed Broad Targeting ads, which is what I had mostly run and had a lot of success in. Between that, my fatigue with Traffic Ads, and my hatred that all of my revenue was tied up for two months on Amazon I decided to stop them completely.

I redid my store’s landing pages based on a bunch of shops I analyzed. I made sure to optimize my images. I joined new groups (resources will be below), agreed to spend money on a newsletter (mine was free before) for abandoned cart and abandoned checkout emails and went to work.

But then I found something interesting. There was a store which buried deep in the images, had Popular Highlights from Amazon. That felt like a huge lightbulb moment. I haven’t had betas in years and I’ve never hired someone for content/hook pulling. The only way I knew how to find a hook was after testing…a lot.

When I’m writing I know what hits me well and what I think will hook a reader, but once I get into editing, I struggle to connect. It’s like my analytical brain turns on and that emotional, feeling, connection part shuts off, and it isn’t until the book has been out for months that I’m able to somewhat get back into it. So having Popular Highlights for marketing made sense, and I realized I could try using it for my ad copy too.

It worked, extremely well. So much so that for the first time in my career, I was able to scale my ads. Which was one of the things directly hindering my success. Without my direct store, I wouldn’t have been able to afford spending on the ads and taking that leap of faith.

And this month was even better. I made the most I’ve made from books alone. My net revenue is higher than it’s ever been, and I haven’t seen an ROAS like this since January. That is absolutely incredible when summer is normally my worst season and I haven’t released anything since November of last year.

Sales/Conversion Ads are easier for me, but they are still work.

  • I’ve found that while I can keep the same ad running for months at a time, I need to be careful of the CPR (Cost Per Result incase you’ve never run one before). The more you scale, the higher a CPR goes, and the older the ad, the more Facebook is going to push to it due to its data and success. Naturally, it’s going to go up, and sometimes that means I need to turn off a successful ad for a couple of weeks or a month, to let it rest.
  • However, I love that I don’t mess with my ads every day. I don’t touch them unless something is clearly off (like I’m not getting those Shopify sales). And even then, I don’t touch them except once a week, I just check to make sure my CPR, CPM, and Frequency are within the parameters I want them to be.
  • With Sales/Conversion Ads some of your stats and the things you’ve heard about the range to keep them in for Traffic ads, aren’t going to apply. For instance, your Frequency on a Conversion Ad can be higher and it can still be a good ad. But if that was a Traffic ad, you’d want to turn it off at those levels.
  • Sometimes I leave ads on which are recording more checkouts than they are add to carts, because that means those people bought through my automation. However, in some of those cases, Facebook might miss a result or two which can skew your CPR and make it higher than it really is. You just have to use your best judgment.
  • When I do my weekly ad reviews, I check my stats, then decide if I want to make a new ad, or test a new audience. I then copy and paste everything over and let her do her thing for the next week.
  • One thing that is consistent, is the ads that work in the US won’t always work in the UK and vice versa. Advantage+ works better for me in the UK then my detail targeted audiences, where in the US it doesn’t work as well.
  • While large sales or releases don’t skew your ads too badly, they will mess with the algorithm a little bit. It takes Facebook about three to four days to pull back from something like that, and in those cases, you may not make any sales on Shopify that day. That’s perhaps the scariest part of this is if you’re spending a high budget and all of a sudden don’t make a sale through your store. However, that is actually normal and it will be fixed. If you want to push it to happen faster, make a new ad, even in that same campaign, and Facebook will often start pulling better results. But it won’t completely go back to how it was until the three- or four-days pass.
  • If you spend enough money to get, I believe it’s 50, results in a week, you’re likely not to have the issue above. However, that costs a lot of money to do, and I haven’t gotten there yet.
  • If you have bonus scenes on your website where a reader or newsletter subscriber has to “purchase” the book, that can skew your pixel data and mess with your algorithm. There’s some confusing information on this, but it either has to do with the list price being free on Shopify or if the newsletter subscriber just searches out for freebies. I’ve found getting around this by adding a list price with a discount at checkout, but it may also be more advantageous for you to keep newsletter subscribers getting bonus content through Bookfunnel, then trying to get them familiar with checking out and viewing your store.
  • While Amazon pisses me off frequently, there’s a lot of readers there. I don’t think it’s worth it to try to compete with Amazon through your Direct Store. For instance, I don’t have my retailer links on my store. I did that once and had more people buying from my retailers because they’re used to buying there. That’s not what I want. But I do have an auto-responder in my Inbox Chat for those who specifically want to buy from there.

Lastly, even though I’m not running Traffic Ads right now, I definitely might in the future when my typically good months are and around my new release. They’re not bad in any case, they just for me are too finicky and often affected by things completely outside of my control. And I want my money now or within a week, not months.

I think ads often get a bad rap because they cost and they’re like gambling. I’m not a gambler. And if you treat decisions based on the results they give you, it’s often going to make you feel like you made a bad choice when you’re not earning as much as you want to or think you should.

However, ads have made me feel confident in my books again. By getting a good ad for my series, it made me remember that my writing was never the issue. Even if I could make it better today, I did the best I could at that time, and I wouldn’t be who I am now if I hadn’t made that choice in the past. Additionally, if I earn just a little bit next month, I’ll hit my yearly earning goal five months early. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without ads.

Ads simply give you a way to reach readers, that’s all. If you’re able to cover that through social media or some other modality, then honestly, ads might not work for you or align with your process. But if you’re an introvert who hates social media and mostly just wants to focus on writing the next book, it can be a really good.


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