Facebook ad success?!?

Mike GristFacebook Ads, Ignifer Cycle, Last Mayor, Marketing, Writing 1 Comment

Two weeks back I wrote about how I was getting back into Facebook ads. Well, I have done that with a vengeance, and while spending $500 from Feb 1-15 I have experienced some of my best results yet.

So am I making money?

Technically, no. But maybe yes? Let’s break it down.

After reading Michael Cooper’s book ‘My Facebook Ads Suck’ I got wise to the importance of knowing your readthrough payments. If you know what any single first-in-series book is worth to you overall, as in how much money you’ll make from a certain proprtion of people who read the whole series through, you calculate your ‘pain point’ for ad spending.

I had some troubles doing this for the 9-book Last Mayor series as there are mutiple points of entry. At the most conservative I calculated a 3% readthrough to book 9. Not good. I polled my newsletter fans and got great results on that – our focus today is on the value per book 1 sold.

Conservatively I peg that at $6, and more generously somewhere between $10 and $15. Of course it matters which it is. I’m going to have new, better, cleaner data soon.

So, armed with this, we can figure out how my ads are doing. Straight dollar to dollar, I’m losing money. Stats? Stats:

Feb 1-15 All Books

  • Total ad spend: $490
  • Total clicks: 1770
  • Average cost per click: 25 cents
  • Total books sold: 155 (Amazon, + 11,000 pages read) + 20 (Smashwords)
  • Total income: $330 (Amazon) + ($60) Smashwords = $390
  • Total loss: $100

Ouch, right? I’m paying money to Zuckerburg to lose me money. Of course, this doesn’t break down by book by book. I’m running 2 sets of ads on 2 series, let’s look at them each:

Feb 1-15 Last Mayor books

  • Total ad spend: $240
  • Total clicks: 910
  • Average cost per click: 27 cents
  • Total books sold in Last Mayor series: 76 (Amazon, + 10,000 pages read) + 5 (Smashwords)
  • Total income: $150 (only on Amazon)
  • Total loss: $80

So I lost $80 on these ads – and that already takes into account some readthrough. Actual direct sales of book 1 only accounted for $40. So $120 were sales of sequels. But, given that in a 2-week period few people will have read more than 1 or 2 books, it’s not really fair to consider that the whole readthrough. Prior to these ads I barely sold 80 copies in the last 6-months.

Therefore, let’s take the conservative $6 figure and recalculate sales

  • Total ad spend: $240
  • Total sales of book 1: 43
  • Sales calculated at $6 value: $260
  • Total proft: $20

Ha! $20. If my conservative figures are right, I’m treading water on these ads. Not gaining. Not losing. As I said earlier, I wasn’t selling Last Mayor books organically before this, so this is a worthwhile thing to do, if only for the few extra reviews it’ll generate and the longstanding bump in rank (maybe worth something?)

Yet that’s not all. Let’s do a few more stats:

  • Cost of Sale (the actual cost to me of acquiring a single sale): $240 (ad spend) / 43 (number of book 1 sold): $5.58

So every sale costs me $5.58, and I make $6. How efficient is that?

  • Clicks per sale (how many clicks on a FB ad does it take me to sell a book): 910 (total clicks) / 43 (total sales): 21

That’s actually a pretty good-looking stat! Michael Cooper estimated 30 clicks per sale on his ads, so I’m converting well. So why am I not profiting more? The issue is those costs-per-click. At 27 cents per click, I’m eating any possible profit margin – but, I am getting some low click rates:

  • Walking Dead-targeted ads: 20-cent clicks
  • Apocalypse fiction-targeted ads: 29-cent clicks

I’ll probably turn off the Apocalypse fiction ads, as they are pulling the average up, and just run the Walking Dead ads. At 20-cents per click, I should start seeing better profits on readthrough. These are with blurb ads (just the book blurb) and blurb-challenge ads (book blurb opening with a boast about how it’s better than Walking Dead).

So, yes. I’ll keep eating the current cost, and fine-tuning, because potentially this is profitable. We’ll see over a month or longer if the readthrough is really $6 or if it’s better. Maybe it’ll dig me out of the hole and then some. Maybe I’ll also write a post about what my specific book blurbs are.

Now on to The Saint’s Rise.

Feb 1-15 The Saint’s Rise

  • Total ad spend: $260
  • Total clicks: 1240
  • Average cost per click: 20 cents
  • Total books sold in the Ignifer Cycle series: 79 (Amazon)
  • Total income: $180 (Amazon) + $50 (Smashwords) = 230
  • Total loss: $30

So these are remarkably similar to sales numbers on the Last Mayor series, but a lower loss. The cost-per-click is way down, but probably the number of clicks per sale is going to be higher. First, let’s consider readthrough value – assigning an observed readthrough of 25% (not great but give it a while longer to come through) to The Rot’s War. So each sale of The Saint’s Rise is worth a figure of $3.50.

  • Total ad spend: $260
  • Total sales of book 1: 64
  • Sales calculated at $3 value: $224
  • Total loss: $36

Yeah, that is not so bad – actually I realize this is the exact same calculation as the total figures, just run in reverse. The poor readthrough to book 2 may be an issue here, but again, I don’t have clean data right now, and won’t for a while. Most people who picked up the first book won’t have read it through in the last 2 weeks (160,000 words).

So, readthrough may be better. I need to keep holding my nerve to see if that readthrough materializes… Let’s look at efficiency:

  • Cost of Sale (the actual cost to me of acquiring a single sale): $240 (ad spend) / 64 (number of book 1 sold): $3.75

So there it is. I’m making $3.50 with readthrough and spending $3.75. Really interesting. I thought the Saint sales were propping up the Last sales, but it seems they’re both doing about the same business.

  • Clicks per sale (how many clicks on a FB ad does it take me to sell a book): 1240 (total clicks) / 64 (total sales): 19

I am getting good conversion! Even better than with The Last, which was 21 clicks per sale. So what to do here? Each sale costs a reasonable amount, but far less than sales on The Last. I make fewer money per book through due to weak readthrough, but that may not be accurate. What’s the answer?

I think I’ll raise prices on these books by a dollar each. If I can raise prices and maintain the same conversion, I’m doing good, and should edge past breakeven whether readthrough increases or not. If I can’t do either they’ll only ever lose money and I should shut them down.

Hoo boy. It’s good to do a deep dive.

Conclusions and Action Plan

  • Hold my nerve on Last Mayor ads and try and get clicks below 20-cents regularly. Ultimately I should do some work on the series to improve readthrough rates. Also, I’ll keep an eye on the read through rate and check back in a few weeks to see how it stands, with this cleaner data.
  • Raise prices on The Saint’s Rise and hold my nerve to see if readthrough improves.

So can I call these ads a success? I think in the sale per click situation, I’m converting well, and better than Michael Cooper laid out as a benchmark (he said 1 sale per 30 clicks, I’m getting 1 per 20). On readthrough though I’m doing poorly – that’s a big thing to fix. I can’t do anything with the Saint’s Rise as it is now locked forever, after they made the audiobooks, but I can make changes to The Last Mayor series, at some point when I have time.

So, yes. Next step, apply this learning to some new books with better readthrough!

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