• How to use Facebook and Instagram ads

    How authors can use Facebook and Instagram ads.
    How authors can use Facebook and Instagram ads

    Have you ever tried to run a Facebook or Instagram ad directly to your sales or services page which resulted in little to no sales?

    I’ve seen both writers and editors mention that they didn’t find Facebook ads useful. Others will have had more success. It’s hard to know what went right or wrong without looking at the ads.

    I haven’t used Facebook or Instagram ads myself, but I did learn how they worked when I took the Copy Posse Launch Files course and the FB ads course at Copy School. I’m currently a member of Copy School which is located at Copy Hackers.

    So, what do you need to know about Facebook ads?

    First of all, it’s necessary to back up and look at some basic marketing theories. According to Eugene Schwarz, who wrote the bible of marketing, Breakthrough Advertising, there are five levels of customer awareness. And five levels of market sophistication.

    The five levels of customer awareness

    Let’s start with customer awareness. The prospect is the potential customer you want to target. Eugene Schwartz broke it down as follows:

    • Completely unaware – the prospect has a problem but isn’t aware of it as yet
    • Problem aware – the prospect knows they have a problem, but doesn’t know the solution
    • Solution aware – the prospect knows they have a pain, and knows the solution, but isn’t yet clear about the exact product or supplier
    • Product aware – this person is much more aware of their problem, likely solution, and the products available to them
    • Totally aware – this person knows what they want and they just need an extra push to buy the product. Some people in this group will sit on long waitlists and jump to buy as soon as doors open. They will pre-order books as soon as they hear about them

    To put it into simpler terms, you are really going to struggle to sell anything to the completely unaware group. And they are a big group. Trying to run an ad to a sales page isn’t going to convert this group.

    Neither are you likely to convert the problem-aware group. This is partly because the closer a prospect is to the completely unaware end of the spectrum, the more time it takes to convert them. They need more information. A single ad isn’t going to do it. You need to warm them up.

    The group most likely to convert is the completely aware – they would likely know your name already. Maybe they follow you on social media or they’ve read one of your books before. Maybe they subscribe to your newsletter. A time-limited offer could push this group over the line – for example, a 24-hour sale.

    But they’re the smallest group of all. So, you won’t get many sales from them.

    I remember a tutorial at Copy Hackers where the following breakdown was suggested:

    • Completely unaware – 30%
    • Problem aware – 30%
    • Solution aware – 30%
    • Product aware – 6-7%
    • Completely aware – 3-4%

    I don’t think these figures were meant to be a universal rule, but it’s a good example of what you might be dealing with. The two groups at the bottom are the easiest to convert, but together they might only be around 10%. Unless your market is huge, that isn’t going to convert well to huge sales. 10% of millions of people isn’t bad. 10% of a much smaller number is an entirely different matter.

    How to convert people

    So, how do you convert more people? The answer is quite simple – you need to move people from problem aware to completely aware. In the short to medium term, you can forget the completely unaware group. The effort to convert them is just going to be too much time and money.

    Because the less aware someone is about their own problem and the solution, let alone your product or service, the more they need to be educated. That’s a lot of copy and ads to write.

    It’s not impossible to convert them. But why focus on the bottom 30% when you have the problem- and solution-aware groups instead?

    Market sophistication

    So, what is market sophistication? This concept, also broken into five categories, deals with the spectrum of how new a product is to market versus whether the market is oversaturated.

    Level one is new to market. In the Copy Posse Launch Pad course, Alex Cattoni used the example of the Model T car. It was the first mass-produced family car. There are other examples of something that is the first to market. What’s important to consider here is how to market a product that is the first of its kind. You can’t describe it as being like something else, because there isn’t anything else.

    The consequence of being the first is that prospective customers will need a lot of information to understand what the product is and how it can help them. Because they have no point of comparison.

    At the other end, you have level five – here the market is completely saturated. This is true of the book market. When you’re operating in a saturated market, you are going to struggle to stand out. The competition is huge, prospective customers are overwhelmed by choice, and there are big names that are long established.

    I’m not going to dwell on market-level sophistication here because this post relates more to Facebook ads. If you’re writing in a completely new genre – does such a thing exist?! – then you could possibly be level one. But you still exist within the wider ecosystem of a saturated marketplace. Plus, you’d have the problem of having to explain to people why they should take a chance on your shiny new kind of story that they can’t fit into a pre-existing category.

    Back to customer awareness

    So, how does customer awareness fit into Facebook ads?

    Well, as I’ve pointed out above, your most likely buyers are going to be a small group. If you run the link from your ad straight to a sales page, you might get some purchases. But it takes a lot more effort to get a lot of sales. Because any potential readers stumbling on your ad are being bombarded with other ads too (saturated marketplace).

    The truth is, you shouldn’t run a Facebook or Instagram ad directly to a sales page unless you’re specifically targeting the most aware people, or you’re retargeting people already aware of your brand.

    So, if you don’t run the ad to your sales page, where the heck do you send traffic to?

    And this is where you need to stop and think about your overall sales funnel.

    Because this is what you need to do – funnel people through to the end goal of hopefully buying your book (or service).

    This is where conversion copywriting comes in.

    Conversion copywriting

    Even if you never intend to become a conversion copywriter, it’s really worth understanding the concept. The old direct response copywriting was more hard sell. But in conversion copywriting, the copy isn’t meant to get a sale. It’s meant to get a click. It’s meant to get the reader to take action – which could be clicking on a link, or signing up to a newsletter.

    You are basically funneling a prospective reader or client through a series of clicks. Conversion copywriting is also data-driven, but you don’t need to worry about that too much. You’re not pitching your services to a company. You’re trying to sell your book or service. You can however do some of the research a conversion copywriter would do when it comes to writing your Facebook or Instagram ad. Further down this post I talk about voice of customer data (VOC) and review mining.

    So, where do you send traffic from an FB or IG ad?

    To a landing page. So, what the heck is a landing page? Is it the home page of your website?

    The importance of landing pages

    If you’re intending to publish, you should have a website. But your landing page is not your home page or any page on your site that has a buy button.

    Traditionally, landing pages have one purpose and one purpose only. Usually, it’s to get people to sign up for a freebie/giveaway in exchange for their email address. The freebie must have high value and show your expertise.

    In the case of an author, perhaps you have a novella or juicy story connected to a series you’re writing. You will already know that authors often have one book free to let readers sample their work. It can be a great way to get readers hooked on a series.

    You see these books on Amazon.

    But here’s the problem – if you only make your freebie available on bookstores, you are missing out on an important marketing opportunity. You can’t build a relationship with them if you’re only marketing on other people’s land. Jeff Bezos’ land in this case.

    You should aim to have an author newsletter – and one that’s really interesting enough that people will want to open those emails when they get them. But if you only send traffic to the likes of Amazon, you won’t be able to warm up potential readers. You will be forever relying on the most aware – the smallest group of potential buyers.

    Your marketing strategy has to start earlier in the customer awareness spectrum. If your ad runs to a landing page where you offer a juicy story/novella, then the ad should be about that story, not the novels you’re selling on Amazon. And the copy on the landing page should be about that story/novella too.

    It’s too early to try and get people to buy. Some will, of course. But most won’t.

    As for your landing page, traditionally they don’t have navigation menus because those tempt people to click away from the page. And when it comes to the email sign-up form for the freebie – have as few fields as possible. In fact, at the most, you should only have first name and email address.

    Because the more information you ask someone for, the less likely they’ll sign up.

    Once they’ve signed up you then send them the freebie (known as a lead magnet). Owing to regulations on privacy and email marketing, you should have a double opt-in too. If you are using email marketing, you should definitely familiarise yourself with the rules.

    Your email newsletter as a sales funnel

    They have now entered your email funnel. So, what do you do now?

    Here’s what you don’t do: bombard them with emails saying ‘Buy my book’. That’s guaranteed to get people to unsubscribe. (Especially since your emails should make it easy to unsubscribe because of email marketing rules!)

    When people first sign up to a lead magnet (your freebie), that’s often when they’re most interested. If you’re good at writing emails, you can also build interest over time. But because other people are also sending them emails, you need to make sure yours stand out.

    Here are things to aim for:

    • Use a ‘from name’ they’re likely to remember
    • Write an automated onboarding sequence of emails for new readers to your newsletter. It should introduce you and show the value of being on your newsletter list
    • This onboarding sequence can be nothing more than a few emails before the recipient starts to get your normal newsletters
    • Email marketing is still the strongest form of marketing and because it happens out of sight, that fact often goes unnoticed

    Email marketing is a big subject in itself.

    The most important point about your email marketing here is that it should take up where your FB/IG ad and lead magnet left off. With your emails, you can establish a relationship with readers. This is something you can build on for current and future book releases.

    Voice of customer and review mining

    When you’ve made your decision about where and when you’re going to market your book, you still have to think about the wording of your marketing campaigns, including your Facebook ads. What language should you use to appeal to possible buyers?

    This is where voice of customer (VOC) data and review mining come in.

    Let’s say you write cozy mysteries. The first thing you should do is check out the reviews of competitor titles. Also, any websites that focus on the genre are worth checking out. You can also check out Facebook groups dedicated to fans of your genre. Why? You want to find out exactly how readers feel about this genre. What problems do they have? What are their criticisms? What words and phrases do they tend to use? This will represent voice of customer research.

    Because when you write copy, you need to speak in the language that your ideal customer uses.

    You need to reflect their language back at them.

    It’s not about copying someone’s review, it’s about collecting the words, phrases, and feelings/emotions that come up with this genre. This then gives you a vocabulary you can use to help you write your own original copy.

    Checking out competitor ads

    You can check out any ads your competitors are running on Facebook by going to the left-hand side of the page, scrolling down, and looking for ‘Page Transparency’. Go to Ad Library. Any ads currently running should appear, depending on the location you have chosen. If you opt for ‘Choose All’ you should see any ads running in any part of the world.

    But a word of caution – just because an ad might be running doesn’t mean it’s performing well. Don’t automatically assume it is. But it is certainly worth having a look at other ads in your market, especially from people who are known to be successful or where a product is successful.

    In the case of successful products, their success might depend on earlier ads and not the ones you see now.

    Nevertheless, Facebook’s ad library is worth checking out. But if you don’t see any book ads on many accounts, don’t be surprised. Many writers probably don’t use Facebook ads because of limited budgets or because they’ve heard too many mixed messages about ad success.

    The key though is to understand that ads are part of a funnel and not the magic button that leads to lots of sales.


    If you run a Facebook ad expecting to get direct sales, you will likely be disappointed with the results. Because your Facebook and Instagram ads are only part of a wider marketing ecosystem. They are the beginning of a sales funnel.

    They send people over to the next part of the funnel – your landing page, where you offer a lead magnet.

    You get them signed up to your email marketing newsletter. And in your emails you lay the ground for marketing yourself and your books.

    There is so much more to be written about Facebook and Instagram ads. I didn’t tackle the importance of a good headline hook and other parts of your ad. Or the rules about what you can and can’t post.

    What I’ve written above is the simpler version or the overview. In reality, you can have multiple FB ads targeting different stages of awareness, etc.

    But while complex sales funnels might work for a bigger brand or a business with more money, authors don’t have the same level of funding. Consequently, you are better targeting your funnel towards your email newsletter.

    If you’re still working on your novel and need feedback, I’m available for manuscript critiques, opening chapters developmental edits, and full developmental editing. You can check out my services pages but I also offer custom work, tailored to your needs. If you’re interested in working with me, I offer sample developmental edits of up to 2000 words.

  • Fear of marketing yourself on social media

    Blog image for Fear of marketing yourself on social media.
    Fear of marketing yourself on social media

    I once knew a woman who couldn’t go into an LGBT bar on her own. She didn’t even like going in with someone else unless she’d had a drink first. Alcohol became her crutch because she never dealt with the original problem. Which was fear of walking into a social environment alone, and maybe feeling judged and self-conscious.

    It was perfectly obvious what the solution should have been – go in alone anyway, without a drink. When you’re so used to doing something, it becomes second nature.

    I admit I haven’t quite reached the level of second nature when it comes to marketing myself on social media. I still don’t like it much. There are a number of reasons. For one thing, a site like Twitter is enormously distracting, so it can become counter-productive to spend much time there. I end up forgetting what I was supposed to be doing.

    Another thing about social media is that there’s already a lot of marketing there. And if you need to market yourself – a book or service – it can seem almost impossible to post anything that rises above the general noise.

    Fear of marketing yourself on social media

    There’s also the fear of being annoying – a lot of people don’t like marketing posts. They’re okay in moderation, but in the writing and book end of Twitter, marketing tweets are in abundance. (And this is one reason why if you’re marketing a book, you should have the best cover design, so it stands out from the rest.)

    Authors and editors are often fairly introverted people. But if we want to find readers or clients we have to market ourselves on social media. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or somewhere else, we need to make people aware that we and our work exist.

    One of the downsides of being a writer and working with fiction is having an overactive imagination. This means you can dream up all kinds of nightmare social media scenarios that might result from posting. If we take Twitter, it can be a bit of a minefield. It can also be very difficult to get any engagement when you do post. And some of the engagement tactics are not to everyone’s taste.

    Follow trains, which can run foul of Twitter’s Terms of Service, don’t appeal to everyone. They can also lead to a lot of notifications. #writerslift hashtags can end up with a long thread of self-promotion, which can be demoralising if you don’t feel your own posts can compete.

    You struggle to be heard and you’re ready to throw in the towel. You know you could try other strategies but they don’t always appeal. Like sharing too much about your private life. Or giving too much away about your feelings. Or talking about your opinions or political views.

    Posting personal content

    It’s true that posting more personal content can allow potential readers or clients to get to know you. This is why a social media account that only posts marketing messages will be harder for others to connect with.

    I recently heard about trauma marketing. This is where you use personal trauma to market yourself. This plays to the victim culture that thrives on social media, but it’s also manipulative and drowns out and cheapens serious trauma. Monetising trauma for financial gain and marketing does seem pretty icky – unless it relates to the topic of your book. In which case, it makes more sense.

    Imposter syndrome, perfectionism, failure

    If you’re struggling to post on social media, you might want to ask yourself why. Are you afraid people won’t notice? If that is your fear, then the worst thing you’d expect is not to get any engagement. Perhaps you suffer from imposter syndrome or perfectionism – you might be afraid to post links to your website because you’re not confident about either your site, your content, or both. This is likely to be even worse when you’re just starting out. But the more you put off posting, the worse your fear will get.

    If you avoid posting, you never deal with the problem, and your voice and your work go unheard.

    The fear is driven by avoidance of pain

    Humans are primarily motivated by two things – pain and pleasure. Pain takes precedence since it’s connected to our survival. If we anticipate pain because a tiger is coming our way, we will work hard to get away. If we anticipate a flame will burn us, we’ll avoid it. If we think a social media post will bring a ton of trouble on our heads, we won’t post it.

    Even if we want success, we also fear it. Because we anticipate, rightly, that not everything that comes with it is good. It brings negative attention, extra responsibilities, extra work. It pitches us into situations where we are constantly in danger of failure, complete with an audience to witness our falls.

    There’s also the fear of the unknown and the new, the things we’re not yet accustomed to. When it comes to social media, it’s best to jump in and get in the habit of posting. If you write a blog, try doing it often enough and reposting links to older content so you develop a routine. The more you do it, the less painful it should become.

    Mix personal and helpful posts between the marketing

    It’s also worth mixing up non-marketing posts with personal posts and posts that are helpful and add value for readers. If your posts seem helpful or you show yourself to be helpful to others, they will remember you more and engage with you more often. You can also post fun stuff – if you’re selling a service, your clients need to feel you’re approachable and friendly.

    And if you do attract controversy from a post, it’s not always a bad thing. There will always be people who agree with you or who just agree to disagree.

    Which platform(s) would suit you best?

    There are courses and mentorships you can do on social media marketing. Some are more helpful than others. But it’s worth deciding first what platforms you prefer to use. If you like visual marketing and social media sites, Instagram and Pinterest might be better. Pinterest is the biggest image search engine outside Google, with a higher income demographic.

    Twitter is good for microblogging or threading tweets. But it’s also a 24-hour news site, and you will quickly find yourself sucked into staying on the platform for longer than you intended. This is particularly a problem if you struggle to find time for your writing. You don’t need added distractions. Yes, the site has a big writing community, but sometimes that too is a big distraction.

    There are also plenty of writing groups on Facebook, plus writers on Instagram. I’m less familiar with these two.

    One thing that’s really important to point out here is that spreading yourself too thinly over multiple platforms could be a real mistake. It partly depends on how efficient you are and how well you manage your time. You could use scheduling tools and have particular days you post on a platform. You could use one or two platforms more often and others only once or twice a week.

    If you fear posting on social media, ask yourself why. If you’re worried your posts will look silly, there are plenty of silly posts on social media and people aren’t looking for perfection. If you’re worried your blog posts and website aren’t good enough for people to see yet, it’s still worth throwing yourself in there and posting anyway. You could just be suffering from imposter syndrome and some traffic to your site could build up your confidence.

    Fear of marketing yourself on social media is no joke. Many business owners are held back by it, never reaching their full potential. The same is true of authors.

    One of the most important things is to remember social media is designed to reward users and keep them on the site. It’s meant to be addictive. So, if you’re a writer or you have a small business, you need to be careful you don’t spend too much time there. Social media blockers like Cold Turkey can be very useful in terms of managing your time on these platforms.

    Cat looking at laptop photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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    Why your book cover design matters

  • Why your book cover design matters

    Why your book design matters

    If you’re an indie author and you want to attract readers, your book cover design really matters. It’s one of your most important marketing tactics.


    Have you ever gone into a bookshop and felt overwhelmed by all the books to choose from?

    What motivates you to pick up an unknown book?

    Snappy or intriguing title? Or were you attracted by the cover image? Did it call to you to investigate further and check out the back cover blurb?

    Cover design is the magnet that draws the eye and piques curiosity. It can draw attention even from the other side of a bookshop. Even from a distance, when you can’t yet read the author’s name or the book’s title.

    And that’s why your book cover design matters.

    Of course, book covers accomplish other things too. They indicate genre, age group, connect to existing trends, even hint at the story’s atmosphere (creepy, suspenseful, erotic).

    Cover art speaks to emotions – and this is important in marketing.

    There are genres where speaking to emotions is particularly important – romance being the primary example. But you might be in the mood for something suspenseful or creepy. Horror and thriller covers also speak to a potential reader’s emotions.

    The style of the cover might connect to a particular subgenre or resemble the cover art on a more famous book. This is a way for publishers to indicate fast that if you like those other books in this category, you’ll probably like this one too.

    With so many books to choose from, a design department has to come up with ways to make it easy for the right readers to find their book. The cover art offers visual clues. The book’s title might also offer clues.

    Your book needs to stand out from the crowd. In a saturated market – and this is particularly true on Amazon – you need people to see that your book exists. And that it looks professional, intriguing, exciting.

    If the cover is plain and offers no hints about the genre, someone browsing on Amazon is likely to ignore it.

    Book buyers are accustomed to helpful cover design – covers that act as filters for what they do and don’t like.

    The cover design should attract the right readers. It should never trick people into thinking the book is something it isn’t.

    For example, you wouldn’t put a historical couple embracing on the cover of a modern horror novel. If a reader buys the book on the basis of the cover alone, they are going to feel cheated.

    Also, if the cover art and design are subpar, it will be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

    Furthermore, if the design is poor, potential readers will likely draw conclusions about the overall quality of the book, including the story, characterisation, formatting, etc.

    A good cover shows the writer has taken a professional approach to their work. But it also allows the writer to better compete with traditionally published authors.

    If your book looks like a traditionally published book, it’s more likely to draw readers.

    As well as using high-quality cover art, you should ensure your covers look good as thumbnails because this is how they will appear on sites like Amazon.

    Equally, you need to make sure your fonts match your genre and cover design, and that the text is clear and readable both at full size and in thumbnail.

    Most people cannot produce great cover art or choose the right fonts for their own books.

    Even people with design skills can do a bad job because cover art and what works for the market are not their specialities.

    Also, cover art should be chosen on the basis of what appeals to readers rather than what a writer might want. This might seem annoying, but if you want to attract sales, you have to put yourself in the place of readers.

    It’s worth doing quite a lot of research on your genre, particularly in relation to the newest styles and what the traditional publishing industry is producing.

    Design departments in publishing houses have experts who know what they’re doing. If they’re following a particular trend, you can jump on board.

    Indie authors who want high-quality book covers have a number of options. You can hire designers for bespoke covers, or you can visit a site that is selling pre-made cover art. In the case of the latter, the fonts are already in place. You just need to change the title, author name, etc.

    Some pre-made cover art sells for hundreds of dollars, but there are decent covers for well under $100. If you only want an ebook cover, the price is lower. If you want a back cover for a print edition, you’ll have to pay more.

    Likewise, if you want to add in banner advertising, and ads for specific social media sites, that pushes the price up further.

    However, a streamlined set of marketing images to use on multiple platforms is a great professional look that will help you stand out from the crowd.

    Sites providing pre-made covers

    Please note – I have not tried any of these services, so I cannot recommend them. They are just examples of the kinds of sites out there.

    Pre-made Ebook Covers

    Book Cover Zone

    Probook Pre-made Covers

    The Book Cover Designer

    The Artful Cover

    Self Pub Book Covers

    Kingwood Creations

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