Using Facebook to Sell Books…but NOT in the way you think! by Richard Hoy,

Using Facebook to Sell Books…but NOT in the way you think! by Richard Hoy,

Long-time readers of know me as the co-founder of, as well as the expert that authors tap into with their online marketing questions. Angela runs BookLocker now and she and her team do a fantastic job. Now, I focus my time on book promotion.

One thing authors from a variety of publishers ask me about are promotion services being offered by a variety of publishers and other firms. Looking at the offerings of BookLocker’s competitors, we could not, in good conscience, recommend authors take those expensive paths to promotion. We knew that the “other guys” were usually making far more money on those services than authors were earning in resulting book sales.

Successful book promotion does NOT involve passing out book marks, sitting alone at a bookstore signing while watching people avoid eye contract when walking by, paying to have your book displayed alongside thousands of others at book fairs, or sending out so-called “press releases” that end up in editors’ physical and email trashcans.

I know how to sell books and I’m tired of watching companies rip off authors with the types of shenanigans above.  Thus, I’m proud to announce the launch of Boost A Book, which is available to any author, whether traditionally- or self-published.

Most promotional activities follow the “let’s throw it all out there and see what sticks” mentality. When promoting books with those types of activities, there’s no easy way to separate what works from what doesn’t. Or, as the 18th century businessman John Wanamaker famously put it: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

You might be surprised to learn that one of my recommend methods of book promotion is Facebook advertising. But, not in the way you think.

Here’s a stat about Facebook that might blow your socks off: 1.59 billion people use it every single day. That’s nearly a quarter of all the people on Earth, the planet on which I assume most of you out there are reading this article. And, Facebook has oceans of data on those 1.59 billion people – oceans of data that authors can use to precisely target ads for their books.

Some of you may be thinking, “I know this already, Richard. It is called boosting a post.”

No. Boosting a post is just taking Facebook advertising, and putting training wheels on it. Facebook came up with that concept to make it easy for non-professionals (the bulk of their users) to advertise. And, while it is arguably better than nothing at all, boosting a post offers access to only a sliver of Facebook’s true advertising potential.

I’m talking about something much, much different than boosting a post. I’m talking about the tool major Facebook advertisers use for their campaigns. I’m talking about Facebook Ads Manager. Through that, you can do a number of sophisticated things. For example, slicing your target audience into very specific segments. Or, building ads for collecting email addresses, taking surveys, asking questions, and showing videos. And, Facebook Ads Manager lets you test different versions of ads to see what yields the highest response (more on this later).

Facebook Ads Manager, however, has one major flaw. It appears to be something designed by a committee, if that committee were made up exclusively of people with Ph.D. degrees in computer programming. It has amazing power to tap deep into those 1.59 billion daily Facebook users, but it has a very, very steep learning curve. So, that is the problem I chose to solve for authors with Boost A Book. I help authors tap into the power of Facebook Ads Manager without needing to expend days learning how to do it correctly, and successfully.

In my series of articles in the coming weeks, I’m going to show you case studies that take advantage of all that Facebook Ads Manager has to offer when it comes to selling books.

For the case study below, I want to talk about something I hinted at a few paragraphs ago: Facebook’s ability to test ads, and how this translates into selling more books.

Direct marketing nerds call ad testing by the jargony name of A/B Split Testing, and it simply means the following:

  • You take two ads, and make them identical in every way EXCEPT one.
  • Then, you show both ads an equal number of times to the same audience to see which one generates a better response.
  • The conclusion you can make from this is that the better performing ad was successful because of the difference.

The book I picked to run this particular A/B Split Test on was REAL STORIES OF SPIRIT COMMUNICATION: When Loved Ones Return After Crossing Over. It is an anthology of true stories of peoples’ encounters with loved ones after those relatives passed to the other side.

This is a good book to share as an example for a number of reasons:

1.) The book hasn’t been promoted in a while,  so I can safely assume any increase in sales is a direct result of my efforts.
2.) It is an evergreen topic, with appeal that cuts across demographic groups. (I mean, who doesn’t love a good ghost story?)
3.) It has a sequel, MORE REAL STORIES OF SPIRIT COMMUNICATION. In later articles, I will discuss the effects of Facebook advertising on related products.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks…

I ran these two ads:

The only difference between the two was the headline:


I showed the ads to an English-speaking audience in the United States who were 25 to 65+ years old, and equally made up of males and females. I also narrowed the focus to only people interested in ghost hunting, ghost stories, paranormal activity, and spiritism.

The headline REAL GHOSTS STORIES won by a landslide.

That single change in the ad yielded twice the response. In other words, I got the book in front of twice as many potential book buyers, for the same money, just by changing the headline of the ad.

Furthermore, when the campaign was all said and done, the reporting revealed an interesting trend:

THE RESULTS: The campaign got the most response from women 45 to 65 – a target demographic for the book that would have never come to light without running the ad.

This sort of analysis is difficult to do, if not impossible, with other forms of book promotion out there.

Are you starting to see what gets me excited about using Facebook advertising to sell books?

And, yes, before you ask, the book’s sales did increase. But, more importantly, we will save money on future advertising because we  now know which demographic will be more inclined to buy the book, enabling us to more successfully target our reading audience.

In my next article, I’ll share with you my experiments with using Facebook ads to collect customer email addresses in exchange for book excerpts.

Involved in Internet marketing since 1995 (when it officially became a profession), Richard Hoy advises on, and helps execute, Internet marketing efforts for solopreneurs and clients of digital marketing agencies. His current focus is search engine optimization for books on Amazon and for local businesses on Google.

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2 Responses to "Using Facebook to Sell Books…but NOT in the way you think! by Richard Hoy,"

  1. Barry Knister  July 27, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    As the writer says, the learning curve is steep. That’s why I bit the bullet and paid a marketer to run a Facebook campaign for my novel Just Bill. It’s going on right now, and seems to be doing well.

    • Richard Hoy  July 29, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks for the affirmation, Barry! One point I didn’t explicitly make in the article is that Facebook’s ad service has artificial intelligence behind it. But that artificial intelligence won’t work well unless you prime it with four things: a clear definition of the audience you want to reach, a clear definition of the action you want that audience to take, a good ad for that audience, and a sufficient budget for the system to run through things enough times to learn. Generally, people miss one or more of those things, especially if they are just boosting a post. But if one can weave all those things together, one can produce some pretty amazing results!