49 – Bonus Episode: Amazon and Facebook Ads

Today on the show, as part of a few bonus episodes, Valerie is interviewing Mark Dawson who is an award-nominated USA Today bestselling author with more than 20 books published and over 2 million books downloaded in multiple countries and languages. He’s also a teacher, showing other writers how to self-publish and he and his team offer up-to-date courses on leveraging digital advertising. Today the two of them talk about Amazon and Facebook ads, an avenue that Valerie is looking to explore to get to that golden 10,000 number. Mark explains in detail how the two platforms differ in terms of what they offer and the difficulty or ease with which authors can advertise on them. There are great benefits to both, and he provides in-depth insight for which kind of ads to go for, how to target the right people and how to make sure that you don’t overspend. Be sure to check in for this special episode!

Key Points from This Episode:

  • Why it’s best to start with Amazon and the many benefits of Amazon ads.
  • Clever ideas for getting readers to give you their email address or sign up to your mailing list. 
  • A bit more on the courses Mark and his team offer and having to constantly update content.
  • When advertising on Amazon makes more sense than advertising on Facebook.
  • The advantage of advertising on Facebook in terms of specific targeting.
  • Getting into the Advantage dashboard with Amazon ads in Canada.
  • The account requirements for advertising in countries other than the US.
  • Starting off with sponsored keyword ads rather than lock screen ads.
  • A guideline on how much to spend on this type of advertising.
  • The importance of knowing which authors’ books yours are like.
  • The ABCs of advertising on Facebook.
  • And much more!

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Tim Grahl — https://booklaunch.com/

Tim on Twitter — https://twitter.com/timgrahl

Valerie Francis — https://valeriefrancis.ca/

Valerie on Twitter — https://twitter.com/valerie_francis

The Story Grid Editor Roundtable Podcast — https://valeriefrancis.ca/podcast/

Running Down a Dream — https://www.amazon.com/Running-Down-Dream-Winning-Creative/dp/1936891557

Mark Dawson — https://markjdawson.com/

Barnes & Noble — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/

Kobo — https://www.kobo.com/

Amazon Advantage — https://advantage.amazon.com/

Lee Child — https://www.leechild.com/

David Baldacci — https://www.davidbaldacci.com/

James Patterson — https://www.jamespatterson.com/

Grace and Frankie  https://www.netflix.com/za/title/80017537

Self Publishing Formula — https://selfpublishingformula.com/

Shayne Silvers — http://www.shaynesilvers.com/

[0:00:01.0] VF: Hi there and welcome to the Book Launch Show. My name is Valerie Francis. For the next few weeks, Tim and I have some bonus episodes for you. We finished our first season together. As we prepare for season 2, we have a few interviews we thought might be of interest to you. If you listened to last week’s show, you’ll know that I have a plan for getting 10,000 people to read my book. That plan involves running a few ads. Well, who better to ask for advice about ads, than Mark Dawson.

Mark is an award-nominated USA Today bestselling author with more than 20 books published and over 2 million books downloaded in multiple countries and languages. He’s also a teacher, showing other writers how to self-publish. He has a particular expertise with Amazon and Facebook ads, which is why I decided to give him a call.

If I’m going down the advertising route, I am going to need a whole lot of help. I’m starting at square one with this, and Mark had some excellent and eye-opening advice for me. If ads are something you’re considering, you need to listen to this episode.

Okay, without further ado, here’s my interview with Mark Dawson.


[0:01:20.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Book Launch Podcast, helping authors launch and market their books.


[0:01:28.4] VF: Well Mark Dawson, welcome to the Book Launch Show Podcast. How are you tonight?

[0:01:32.9] MD: I’m very good. Thank you. How are you?

[0:01:34.4] VF: I’m good. Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me, because I have a ton of questions.

[0:01:42.3] MD: Good. No pressure.

[0:01:42.3] VF: No pressure. Just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from; I started a few years ago in Indie Author. You know us well. I instantly became overwhelmed with everything that I have to learn and that we all have to learn when we come into this business. What I did was put all my marketing tactics and strategies and practices on hold and I focused on learning how to write. That’s what led me to working with Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl and all those guys.

Now that I have at least a foundation on how to write, I’m starting to jump back over into the marketing side of things. I’m really coming – I’m starting from square one as an author, as a Story Grid editor I have a pretty good platform, but as an author, I’m at the beginning with the small mailing list and all that good stuff.

I’m looking now at I have a children’s novel that’s done and I’m putting that aside, because that’s a whole different cradle of fish. That was my learning how to write novel. I have now a love story, it’s women fiction and it’s a novel in 12 parts. This is the one that I am getting ready to market. I’m looking at doing some ads. This is where I need your help big time.

[0:03:02.0] MD: All right. Okay. I’ve done a few ads in my time.

[0:03:05.4] VF: You have. You have. I figured, go to the person who knows, right?

[0:03:11.1] MD: Yeah.

[0:03:12.0] VF: First of all, I’m in Canada, so I don’t know if that is going to make any difference with availability of different things, but I just wanted to let you know in case as we go through that makes a difference to anything.

[0:03:25.0] MD: Small difference. Yeah, everything is possible with Amazon tweaks that you’d need to do if you want to advertise on Amazon, especially in Canada.

[0:03:32.6] VF: Okay. Yeah, Kobo is easier for me being in Canada. I’m thinking, since I’m starting with a pretty small list, my goal is to get my book in front of 10,000 pairs of eyeballs. Then once I do that, they can then figure out if my book is for them. If so, great. If not, that’s also fine.

I’m thinking of trying Kindle Unlimited for a short period of time, but question number one is if I were to do Amazon ads, does that target people in Kindle Unlimited? Does it have anything to do with it? Are they two separate issues?

[0:04:13.9] MD: Yeah. Absolutely. Let’s back up a little bit. Your novel is in 12 parts. It’s one book or 12 books?

[0:04:20.5] VF: It’s one book in 12 parts. Everyone has to start at part one and go through sequentially.

[0:04:25.5] MD: Okay. This is just a standard format in terms of how it’s all put together. Okay, got that. To answer the question first of all about KU. When I talk to authors in your position, thinking about whether to start in KU or to go wide, my usual advice is to start with Amazon, because it makes sense to learn one platform and Amazon will be the biggest platform, regardless of where you live, it will be the platform that you’re almost selling, going to sell the most books on.

You’re only tying yourself in for three months, in terms of the exclusivity period. If you get to the end of the third month and you decide it’s not working for you, then it’s easy enough to untick the box and then go wide and learn the other platforms. I agree with you, I think if that’s what you’re completing, then that would be in-line with what I would advise.

Then with regards to advertising on Amazon and can you advertise to KU people, well absolutely. One of the benefits of Amazon ads is that they are shown on Amazon. They’re actually on the website as people are browsing for the new books. Some of them will appear on Kindle devices as lockscreen ads. As people pick up their tablets or their Kindle files, or their [inaudible 0:05:36.9], whatever it is they’re picking up, the ad can appear there.

That’s going to capture people who read in KU and it’s also going to capture people who make Oracle, a la carte purchases and pick those – actually purchase the book in a traditional way. The benefits of those Amazon ads is that you’re effectively getting a double band for your buck. If you’re not in KU, you’ll be aiming to just sell books. The ad will appear and you want people to click on the ad and then go to actually buy the book.

If you’re in KU as well, you can add a bonus. They could go and buy if they’re not in KU. If they are in KU, they could make that as part of the subscription, download it and then read it and then you’re getting per page read as well.

[0:06:20.3] VF: Now, I know one of the things in KU is that well, you’re exclusive, but that means I also can’t offer say, part one as a free download from my site as an e-book. I can do it as an audio book, or I could read it on a video and have people download that, but not as a straight download e-book, right?

[0:06:41.2] MD: Correct

[0:06:42.5] VF: Okay. My next question and I don’t even know if you an answer this, but you know better than I do anyway. My next question is once I start to run ads and I’m targeting people on Amazon and within KU, I would ideally like to get them onto my mailing list somehow. Am I still permitted to have, say at the end of part one a link to get like a DVD extra, for a lack of a better term, by signing up to my mailing list?

[0:07:15.4] MD: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s standard practice there. One of the first things you should be looking to do now is to put a link at the end of part one. I think at the end of part one. Unless, this is a very unusually structured book that might feel a little in the way of the story. You’d certainly want to put it at the end of the book, so when people finish.

The reason for that is if someone gets to the end of the book, so they’ve read say 400 pages, or a 100,000 words, at that point they should be fairly well disposed towards you. They’ve read the book. They’ve enjoyed it, because they’ve got to the end. It’s a really good time to ask and to do something.

There’s a few things we can do. We can ask them to buy the next book in a series if you’ve got more than one more book, or we can ask them to join our mailing list. That would usually be what I’d recommend newer authors is to start building that mailing list up.

There are a number of things that you can offer as we sometimes call reader magnets, or incentives, or even bribes to get people to give you their e-mail address, and I’ve been doing this a while now. The days, I don’t even know when I started that it would’ve worked just to have a link at the back saying, “Join my mailing list and I’ll tell you what my new book is about.”

It didn’t work very well, but it certainly doesn’t work now, but people are concerned about giving their e-mail addresses out to people getting spammed, all that kind of stuff. You need to sugar the pill in order to get them to give you that e-mail address. As you say, DVD actually is a pretty great looking. You can do all kinds of things. You could offer [inaudible 0:08:41.2] tends to work quite well with something spinning off that book they’ve just read.

One thing I’ve done that’s worked really well over the course of the last 4, 5 years is to have – it’s like a PDF. One of my character, John Milton, imagine him going to a psychologist and this is a psychiatrist report to Milton superior. I’m setting out the results of this consultation that they had. He’s redacted. It looks like it might be an official document. I mean, Milton is an MI6, ex-MI6 agent. It looks like it could be something that would be real. Because I know at that point people have enjoyed reading Milton’s first story and they’re intrigued about how he got to the position that he’s in, that’s something that they are very interested in getting.

In terms of production, it took me a couple hours to write it, so it’s maybe two or three pages of A4. Then maybe another hour to make it look authentic and turned it into a PDF and then it was ready to go. That’s probably, I don’t know the exact numbers, but it would’ve brought in probably 10,000 people to my main enlisting in the time that I’ve been running that.

[0:09:42.9] VF: Wow. Is that in KU, or was that –

[0:09:46.3] MD: Yeah. I mean, it’s – I’ve been in an out of KU over the years. It doesn’t make any difference. You can offer an incentive whether you’re in KU, or whether you’re not in KU.

[0:09:55.2] VF: Well, this gives me hope. I like to hear this.

[0:10:00.0] MD: What you can do is offer something. You can’t distribute something that is exclusive to Amazon. The way that the phrase and the terms is defined, certainly captures if you’re trying to sell it on Barnes & Noble or Kobo. It’s something that is in KU. It also catches, if you’re trying to give something away on your website, or as a reader magnet, that’s when the item is in KU. What it doesn’t cover is anything original. You might need to spend a bit of time putting something together, but once you’ve done that, you can use that as you see fit.

[0:10:30.6] VF: I can still have the print versions available on Kobo, or not in chapters actually, not in Kobo.

[0:10:36.4] MD: Yeah. Print it’s a separate IP, so that determines the conditions in KU, cover the digital version of the book.

[0:10:43.4] VF: Right, okay. Let’s talk about ads. I know and you’ve got a number of amazing courses. I’m a student in I think all of them. As a student, I just want to first of all, say thank you because I know that you and your team work really hard to keep those courses updated and it’s very much appreciated from someone like me, because I bought them a while ago, but I’m only now starting to use them. I have confidence that they’re up-to-date, so thank you to you and everyone else there, because it’s a piece of work boy to keep all that updated.

[0:11:14.8] MD: I know. Actually this week, I’ve spent all of yesterday updating the Amazon ads module, because it’s changed three times significantly in the last couple years. I’m very uncomfortable in putting stuff out there that’s outdated. It’s a pain in the ass, to be honest to have to be [inaudible 0:11:32.3]. I promised that when we offered the courses and that’s something that I tend to honor as long as I can.

[0:11:40.2] VF: This is why I like the Story Grid stuff, because it’s evergreen. Stories haven’t changed in thousands of years. Makes it a little easier.

[0:11:49.0] MD: It does.

[0:11:50.7] VF: If we’re going to look now at Amazon ads, I’m shying away from Facebook a little bit. One, because well, it scares me. I feel like when I go to Facebook, I have to convince people that they want to read a book. Whereas, when I go to Amazon, they’re already there to get a book or well, they could be looking for something else. Chances are they’re there to get a book on the pages that I’m going to pop-up on.

[0:12:17.2] MD: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the main difference between the two ads. There are pros and cons for both. With Amazon, you can use a responsive keyword ad. You can ensure that your book pops up as an ad for people who are searching for specific terms. If you know that your – if you can dial down your book into its constituent parts, or figure out exactly what it is people would be searching for to get to that book, you can make sure that your ads appear when they make those searches.

At that point, they want to buy – they’re on Amazon to buy. Amazon is I think is the third biggest search engine in the world in terms of volume, and it’s [inaudible 0:12:56.6] that people can buy something with one click after seeing the ad. That’s the benefit of Amazon ads; one of the benefits.

Facebook ads, you’re right. You have to prescribe people that actually they’re on Facebook to catch up with their friends, or to see what their colleagues are doing. What they’re probably not interested in doing, at that point, or at least I think they are is for shopping for just something. It is possible to get them with a compelling-enough ad. You can get them to go from a social media site, like Facebook, onto a retail site like Amazon and make that purchase.

One of the big differences between Facebook and Amazon is that Facebook’s audience is just gigantic and the targeting that it allows is really, really granular and very specific. It’s several stages ahead of – where Amazon is at the moment. Pros and cons. Amazon is a good place to start definitely.

[0:13:49.5] VF: If I were to use Facebook ads, do you find them better for getting on a mailing list, or better for making sales or is there a difference?

[0:13:59.0] MD: I find them pretty good for both, to be honest. I ran a lot of Facebook ads all the time, either for the self-publishing formula, so they either can be the nonfiction business that we have. We spend, I don’t know, it will be in the hundreds to thousands a year to continue to refresh our mailing list on that score. They’re very, very good for that.

Also, if you got running ads all the time to get people into the mailing list, they do work very well for that. Equally, one of the things I’m doing, because we’re launching the [inaudible 0:14:27.3] calls again next week. One of the things that I’ve done over the last couple of months is launch a new series, or launch translations of one of my series in the German market. I’ve invested in three books to be translated.

The interesting thing here for me as a case study is that in Germany, no one knows who I am. I don’t have any – I have no readers, no fans, my name isn’t known, my characters aren’t known. I’m effectively in a position of a new author trying to find new readers. I’m running Facebook and Amazon ads. They’re both working, but I think at the moment, the Facebook ads are more effective than the Amazon ads, which is quite interesting. That’s selling books directly.

[0:15:07.4] VF: Wow. Okay, let’s look at Amazon ads. If I ever ventured on the Facebook ads route, I’ll call you back.

[0:15:13.9] MD: Sure.

[0:15:15.3] VF: With Amazon ads, I know there are three different types of ads; product display, keyword search and sponsored brand ads. I know there are two different types of dashboards. I don’t know if I can get into the advanced dashboard in Canada. Do you know?

[0:15:32.1] MD: Yes, you can, but it’s difficult. One of the things we’ve done this week is we’re having, we’re recording the course, basically the two access points to the Amazon advertising ecosystem are the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to go through KDP dashboards. You just go to your bookshelf, you click the book that you want to advertise and you’ll be taken through to the more basic version of the platform.

By doing that, you can use sponsored keyword as a lockscreen ad. There’s ads that appear on Kindles when people pick them up. The dashboard isn’t quite as sophisticated. It’s much, much better than it used to be. 100% of them was 18 months ago, but still not quite the same as the advantage dashboard. Now the advantage dashboard is the more difficult way to get in. I’ve got one that will actually also add; on the basic version, you can only advertise into the US market, which is a real pain.

[0:16:21.7] VF: Oh, okay.

[0:16:23.5] MD: You wouldn’t be asked to advertise into Canada with the basic version. There is a way to advertise in Amazon and other markets, and that’s to get an advantage account. Typically, advantage accounts use I think four people who are selling other things on Amazon, and not really intended to be used for books. I think, Amazon especially, I don’t want to put words into their mouth, but I think their position is that authors can use the platform if they get on, but they won’t be supportive.

You can’t go and ask for help and things like that. They would much rather people go on through the KDP access point. I suspect in the next, certainly in this year, I suspect that those geographical restrictions would be lifted and the platforms will become less distinct. They’ll be much more similar.

In the meantime, if you want to advertise in Canada, you will need an advantage account. For me for example, I’ve got one in the – I’ve got five or six different Amazon advertising accounts; one for the UK, one for Germany, one for I think I’ve got Canada. I want to do France this year, so I’ll need one in France, I’ll need one in Spain. It’s a real pain, but the ads are definitely worth doing. It’s worth the aggravation of getting those set up.

[0:17:29.7] VF: Okay. If I want to target Canada, the US and UK and say Australia, I need four different accounts.

[0:17:36.5] MD: Yes. You’d have a KDP account anyway, in order to get the books into those markets. That would allow you to advertise into the US. Then on top of that, you would need three – you need separate accounts for those, any additional jurisdictions you want to advertise in.

[0:17:50.9] VF: Three advantage accounts, or –

[0:17:52.9] MD: Yeah. Yeah, so you’d have a KDP account and then three advantage accounts.

[0:17:57.8] VF: Oh, I’m glad you told me that.

[0:17:59.8] MD: Also, what I [inaudible 0:18:00.6] down here, it’s a little difficult to get those accounts. We nailed how to do it in the UK and then the rules changed. What we have in the course six months ago doesn’t work anymore, which is one of the reasons why I’ve been revising what the course says, because it is a bit of a moving feast. The rules changed, what seemed to be a loophole before has been closed.

There are other ways in. I know, if you know someone who works for Amazon in the advertising department, then you can probably get that source reasonably easily. It’s not terribly easy for normal authors to get in. Not impossible, but it’s tricky.

One of the things we do in the course is we have a private community where we will – if we find some another way in, that’s the best way that we can keep the information cold and I’d always record another video and post it into the internet private group.

[0:18:52.8] VF: For now, I’m essentially starting with the basic Amazon ads options that are already in my KDP account.

[0:19:02.3] MD: Correct, yeah. That would be focusing on the US, for Amazon anyway. You might want to, you know that call this and you might want to make in the earlier. You might want to make that book, so you can start to advertise to Canada, because Facebook, all of that, you can advertise to anyone in the world on Facebook.

[0:19:18.5] VF: Okay. Okay, that is interesting. Thank you for telling me that, because that’s going to – I need to think about that and figure out how I’m going to work with it. Within Amazon then, for now I have two options, right? The product display ads and the keyword search ads.

[0:19:36.1] MD: No. The keyword search and the product display changed about six months ago. They’re now called lockscreen ads. You can use product display ads through the KDP version. You can use them through advantage. It does get a bit complicated. The simple way in you can use product – it’s what we call sponsored keyword ads. Betting on keywords that people are using to search. Those lockscreen ads that appear on Kindles when people open them.

In advantage, you can use product display ads, sponsored keyword ads and sponsored brands ads. Those are the ones there, we used to call headline search as it appear at the top of search results.

[0:20:13.5] VF: Right, the banner. What I call banner ads.

[0:20:15.9] MD: Yes, that’s right.

[0:20:17.4] VF: If you were starting now, which one would you focus on?

[0:20:23.7] MD: Definitely sponsored keyword ads. Lockscreen ads are tough to make work effectively for lots of different reasons. The sponsored keyword ads, they tend to work quite well. A really simple one just to get started is to basically let Amazon choose the keywords. You do an automatically targeted ad, advertise in one book and Amazon will come up with what might look like a collection of weird keywords.

Some of them will be right, so that your name would certainly one they pick. Entirely, the book will be one as well. It will then start to put in some weird suggestions that you might think and I certainly for when I started doing this, they wouldn’t work, but then when you start looking at the results that come back, some of the weird ones will actually sell books straight enough.

Just when I do, now you can get these ads up in well, 5 or 6 minutes. You need to write a little bit of copy. After that, that’s it. Then the books, the ads will start to serve. You should think, just go start sending books that way. Probably not in huge numbers, because those ads are quite difficult to scale, but you should start to get some positive results.

[0:21:28.8] VF: Okay. I know whenever I start these, I’ll start small and just test some ads to see if they’re working.

[0:21:36.7] MD: Yup.

[0:21:37.4] VF: What can I expect to spend on a weekly or monthly time period for this to actually work, right? To me, I look at this like going to the casino. When I go to the casino, I bring only as much money as I can afford to lose. I look at this as the same way. If I think to myself, “Okay, I have $500 here I can play with and I can lose that $500.” Is that going to get me anywhere, or am I really looking at a $1,000, or $5,000 in order to get this thing to work?

[0:22:09.2] MD: It’s really hard to say. It would depend – I can’t really give you an answer on that, because it depends on tons of different things, from your genre, to your cover, to your blurb, to how good you are at writing copy, lots of different things will play into that. The one thing I would say is going back to when I started doing this on Facebook, I was one of the first authors to start using Facebook as far as I know. This would be like in 2014.

I initially, because I was feeding my way into learning how to do this. I would spend $5 and then maybe I make – maybe for a couple of weeks, I’d lose that $5 every time, because the ads were wrong for listing reasons. Eventually, I worked out what was wrong and I fixed it and maybe I start to make $10. Then I’d take the $10 then I’d spend $10 the next day and I’ll make $20. Then I’d put that back and make $40.

Before you know it, I was spending a $1,000 a day and making $3,000 or $4,000. That’s the way to do it. It’s to learn, only spend what you can afford to lose and learn – don’t go nuts. Don’t be too aggressive too fast. Always look to spot your mistakes, learn from the mistakes. Don’t worry about mistakes, you can make some. You much will welcome them, but just make sure you don’t make them twice. Then slowly start to scale up. Then hopefully before you know, you’re spending a fair bit each day, but making much more.

[0:23:27.5] VF: It’s the ROI I really have to look at.

[0:23:29.7] MD: Yeah. That’s the main thing. I mean, there’s tons of metrics that Amazon and Facebook will [inaudible 0:23:34.9] with. It’s very easy to get lost in how much you’re paying per click and what your click-through rate is and all that kind of stuff. It’s interesting and you should be aware of what it means. The most important metric of all is if you spent a dollar, are you making more than a dollar back? If you are, the ad is successful. If you’re not, then you can make an argument that if you’re making a small loss, you’re getting exposure, which in the early days of advertising, that was what advertising was. It was just getting your name out there. These days, we’re lucky enough that we can actually get that exposure for free effectively and make a profit. That should be your aim.

[0:24:15.4] VF: Okay. Well, while I have you here, I’m going to ask you about Facebook ads now, since you’ve given me a piece of information, I didn’t know before. Okay, so if I’m going to look at Amazon ads for essentially the US, but Facebook will give me access wider. Start me at square one. How am I going to use these ads to find my 10,000 people?

[0:24:41.3] MD: Okay. You need to think carefully about – a really easy way to start with Facebook ads, I mean, we will skip over list building for now. We’ll concentrate on selling books. You need to think about who your – what we’d say, your comp authors are, so who you like. For me as an example, my books are quite like the Jack Reacher books, so you got Lee Child would be an author. I quite like, David Baldacci, James Patterson, Mark Kessler, guys like that. Those are the kinds of writers that I like, so stands to reason, they’re [inaudible 0:25:11.9], their readers would also like my books.

One of the things you can do with Facebook and this is the entry-level targeting for Facebook ads is to use what we call interest targeting. Facebook knows lots and lots of information about everyone on their platform. Obviously, that’s being quite controversial over the last 18 months or so. One of the things that enables us to do as advertisers is to send our ads very, very specifically targeted ads to people who we can be confident, we’ll receive that message in a favorable way.

I might on Facebook, I’ll do some demographic research. I know how old my readers are, they tend to be over 40.  They’re about 75-25 male to female. What I might do is run an ad to people who are 40 and up. Maybe men only, or I tend to get quite the results with women on Facebook ads as well. I might say 40 and up, men and women who like Lee Child books.

I know from all of that that I am targeting my ads very, very granularly to people who are likely to enjoy my books. I’m not wasting impressions on people who like romances, or comedy, or sci-fi, fantasy. I know I’m targeting not just thriller readers, but readers of specific series versus my own.

Once you know that, of course you can then start to craft the copy specifically. I might say in my copy, so what you see in the ad, this is a bit cliché and that is parting my folks, I’ve taught many people how to do this. If you look on Facebook feed, you’ll see – you’re almost certain to see authors saying, if you like author X, you will like author Y. Now I may not have made that out, but I think I did. It was very, very effective in the early days. It’s not quite as effective now, because everyone is doing it.

You need to be a little bit more creative. If you know who your audience is , you can right-copy the reflects what you think that they would be interested in reading, which is much, much more difficult to do on the other advertising platforms.

[0:27:07.2] VF: Yeah. One of the exercises Tim had me do was create author, or reader personas. I have four basic personas that I work with now. Those would be the people that I would be targeting on Facebook, right, in my ads?

[0:27:21.9] MD: Yes. One of the great things about advertising on Facebook, especially is it gives you lots of information. Over time, so maybe in six months’ time, you can then go in and see exactly who has been responding to your ad. You might find that these personas that you’ve built, can be improved a bit. It might be that you think your demographic is a certain thing, but it actually turns out it’s completely different. If that’s the case, then that can even influence you writing. If you’re finding that your demographic is younger than you think it is, then maybe that would affect what you write. There’s loads of interesting feedback that you can get just from running the ads.

[0:27:58.5] VF: Okay. On Facebook ads, I’m going to focus on interest categories, groups

[0:28:06.4] MD: To start with, yeah. That’s entry-level targeting. What you can do beyond that is make it full if you haven’t. That’s a pretty easy and quite effective way to get into it.

[0:28:17.8] VF: Once I get a handle on that, then I can go to the next level and do other things with Facebook ads.

[0:28:25.1] MD: Yes, absolutely. That is really that surface level stuff. Facebook is continually bringing in new features and some of the things that they can do with targeting now are really impressive. Yeah, definitely is a lot of depth there, but for someone who’s just starting out, my best advice would be to just learn the easy stuff first. Then once you’ve mastered that, graduate to the next level and learn that, then rinse and repeat.

[0:28:49.4] VF: Okay. One of the things in my personas, Tim said, what other types of books do they read and what other types of stories do they like? One of the things I said was that they would be the type of people who would like Grace and Frankie. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that show on Netflix, but it’s not a book. It’s a Netflix series. Would you advice putting that in as a keyword, or as a looking for people who’d be interested in that, since it’s not a book, but is the same type of story?

[0:29:20.9] MD: It’s worth trying. The hierarchy of interest targeting would be authors would be top, so you know that people who like Lee Child are readers. They’re readers who like an author a bit like you. That’s going to be what I call fairly warm leads.

Dropping down below that, you’ve got things like TV and film. I do find they work. They probably don’t work quite as well, because within in that subset, not everyone will read. You may find that they’d rather watch it on Netflix. They might not be interested in reading a book. Many of them will, but probably not as many as the people that actually like the authors.

[0:29:58.7] VF: Okay. All right, I’ll start with authors and go from there. All right, my brain is really full. I know this, I’ve only just scratched the surface with this, but my brain is now full. I think I have – it’s like a sponge. I need to absorb this much information and then I can come back and get the next morsel of information and wrap my head around that.

[0:30:19.6] MD: Yeah. One of the things we see in the group quite a lot in our Facebook groups is the people who do their best are typically the ones who just are methodical and they follow the course almost sequentially, so going from one thing to – It was put together in a way that was designed to be consumed like that.

The ones who struggle and we see people going, “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t do this. It’s too much to learn,” are the ones who are trying to learn it all at once. It’s huge. There’s like 30 hours plus of content in just in the ads course. It isn’t as going to be – I guess some people, clever to me who could probably suck it all up and then learn with it, but most people, me included, learn best when we take small bit-size chunks, get that mastered, start to put that into practice and then look to find what we need to learn next. That’s how I put the course together.

[0:31:14.2] VF: Right. Tim has said the same thing to me, and consistency over time, just like you said. Being very methodical about it and a little bit every week, right?

[0:31:23.5] MD: Yeah, absolutely. The most important, you’ve got to keep writing. That should be your – if you have a certain amount of hours every week that you can devote to develop and this is a career, the most important thing is to keep writing fresh words, because that would be – you can advertise. If you have a new stuff, you can advertise different ways and it’s another product to sell.

By the time token, the days are long gone now where you could just put something up on trams and cross your fingers and hope that the magic algorithm would see and send you to riches and all that kind of stuff. It doesn’t really happen anymore, if it ever happened. You do have to advertise now. That’s a minimum. The good news is the fact that you’re talking to me now puts you, I would say probably in the – at all authors you’d be in the top 1% and 2%, because most people either don’t know what’s possible with independent publishing. The great majority don’t understand that yet. Of those, only a small subset are prepared, either know that they’ve got to advertise, or are prepared to learn. You’re ahead of most people just by the fact that we’re having this conversation.

[0:32:25.1] VF: Oh, thank you for the ego boost. I appreciate that. The pep talk.

[0:32:30.6] MD: There you go

[0:32:31.4] VF: You mentioned that you’re going to be opening your courses soon. Where can people get more information about that?

[0:32:37.2] MD: Well, what day is it today? We open a week today actually, so June the 6th I think it is. We only open the courses. There’s two courses, a basic course for people who are just starting out. That covers all the technical things about getting books uploaded and all that stuff. Readers, finding reader lists and all that. The advertising course is the other one and that’s open as I say, in a week’s time.

The best place to find out about that is selfpublishingformula.com. We’ve also got the free Facebook community with I think about 20,000 authors in it now. We do a weekly podcast on Fridays, which is good. We’ve gotten lots of actually good – we’re opening the course on next week. We’ve got three episodes next week; one on Facebook ads with an author called Shane Silvis. He is doing – he’s crushing it and over in fantasy right now.

We’ve got Bookmabads with David Gogran. He’s well-known in the community and I’m doing Amazon ads, and also talking in a bit more depth about how I’ve launched those translations in Germany and how I’ve been using Amazon as an effective ads to start making progress over there.

[0:33:40.1] VF: How long will registration be open?

[0:33:41.8] MD: It’s two weeks, maximum of two weeks. Although, we have a notional upper limit in terms of how many people I’m comfortable with onboarding at once. We haven’t hit that yet, but I think it’s fair to say, it will be over for a couple of weeks. If people are interested, they just hop over there sooner rather than later.

[0:33:58.1] VF: Awesome. Well Mark, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

[0:34:02.6] MD: It’s a pleasure. Good luck.

[0:34:05.0] VF: Thank you. Talk to you soon.


[0:34:07.0] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Book Launch Show. For all the past episodes’ show notes, or to connect with me, you can go to booklaunchshow.com. I have dozens of free book marketing resources and articles that you can access at my website booklaunch.com.

Lastly, if you like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on Apple Podcast and leaving a rating and review. Thanks for subscribing and being a part of our work here at booklaunch.com. We will see you next week.


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