Can you sell books on Facebook? Can I?

I received a lot of excellent advice about marketing my books a year ago (thank you Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) but much of it boiled down to this. Concentrate on Amazon and Facebook ads and stop trying to do everything everywhere else.

I liked the simplicity of it. I bought the recommended books on how to use ads on each platform, rolled up my sleeves and got started.

Amazon has been a rocky journey so far, but I am selling books and making progress. Part of my problem is Amazon changed the types of ads available to authors about the time I dove in, so Amazon’s tools for picking my target audience were greatly diminished.

In contrast, Facebook offers the promise of being able to select potential ad readers with a LASER like precision. Oh boy.

For my first novel, I sought out mature women who liked science fiction and fantasy, were interested in telepathy and (I’d been told this was very important) liked or owned a kindle. Wahoo. This group was going to LOVE my spec fiction e-novel about Lola, a forty-something telepath. I mean, how many of those are out there?

It took no time at all for me to have 4823 such women view my ad 10,527 times and click on my link 275 times. It took no time at all for me to spend  $48.98 to make this happen and to sell, you guessed it, not a single book.

Maybe it was a fluke. My second novel is about a young gay male who can alter his appearance. I sought out gay men who liked fantasy novels and had kindles. Before I knew it, 3,472 of them clicked my ad 201 times and bought zero books. I spent $36.64. I was starting to see a pattern.

My working theory was that when people saw my ads on their kindle, or while they were shopping for books on Amazon, they at least were thinking about books. Or buying things. In either case it wasn’t such a large leap to consider buying my book. On the other hand, people scurrying around on Facebook aren’t shopping or thinking about reading. It’s much more of mental detour to make a purchase.

I thought my third novel, though, was different. Twists of Time deals specifically with the damage white nationalism can do, not only to the minorities it targets, but also to the community as a whole. Furthermore, the book has a lot to say about the Dream Act. It addresses why such legislation is needed (though the life of a fictional character), and it provides a lot of historical context most readers are likely to be unaware of.

Perfect for Facebook, right?

I designed my first ad to include a reference to white nationalism. Then I sought out science fiction and fantasy fans who liked time travel stories, had a kindle, and — here was the good part — had expressed an interest in the Dream Act. This was going to be so easy.

Within minutes I had a horrified teacher somewhere forwarding my ad onto her friends claiming I was promoting white nationalism is schools. What?

I changed my ad to make it non-political, and tried again with the same audience.

Within minutes I had some troller claiming he could make time pass more slowly anytime he talked to a democrat.

Alright. Enough of this shit.

To be honest, I did make a few more tweaks and try a few more things, on this book as well as  the first two and the fourth one. My options seems to be (1) pay for a lot of clicks with no results or (2) getting the sort of attention I truly don’t want. Here’s the final tallies.

No, I’m not proud of spending $186.14 for advertising that didn’t produce a single sale, but I guess it does show I don’t give up easily.

If anyone out there is selling books on Facebook, I’d love to hear about it.

Maybe once I get better at designing ads for Amazon, I’ll come back to Facebook and give it another try. Then again, maybe not.

 

z2 will die

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

In early 2019 my third novel is scheduled to die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book, with its sunny yellow cover, has been part of my life for a while.

I finished it in late 2012, and released it on Kindle on my husband’s birthday in January of 2013. Physics teacher turned superhero Alex Zeitman remains one of my favorite creations.

As with my first two books, x0 and y1, I’ve never totaled up the exact sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I’m pretty sure I’ve been paid for at least two hundred copies, and have gifted at least as many more. I’d hoped for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.

Times change. Sales of z2 have gone from small to nearly zero.

A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This professional writer pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.

I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 400 humans who already read this story.)

And …. I need to kill z2. That is, I must take it off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.

Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I have. The original z2 came in at almost 132,000 words. I’m not sure what the leaner new version will be, but I’m targeting under 110,000. I’m in the process of breaking the chapters into smaller chunks. I’m giving more attention to point of view. I’m taking the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’m doing my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.

It is still a work in progress, but so far I’m pleased with the result.

So while z2 will soon cease to exist, it will give birth to a new and better novel. I’ll be blogging all about it here soon,

z2 out in paperback

There is something more permanent about a novel once it is printed on paper, and so it is a big moment when a tale that has lived only on machines now sets in your own two hands. Over the last few weeks my third and latest novel z2 came out in paperback and I still am gazing at it in wonder.

Let me be clear.  I do love my kindle. It is wonderful to be able to carry hundred of books with me on a trip, particularity seeing as traveling and reading are two of my very favorite things to do. And it is wonderful to be able to subscribe to a half dozen science fiction magazines for pennies a day and never have to decide whether I should throw any of them in the trash when I am done leafing through them, or whether I should add them to the giant stack of things I might read someday.

paperbackBut I also like books. I like to read floating in the swimming pool and sitting in the sun and when all electronic devices have to be turned off until the captain says otherwise. I like to touch and smell the written word, and it brings me no end of joy to see my own work in print.

If you are not a fan of e-readers and have considered reading z2, please check it out on Amazon here 🙂

Check here for news on y1 making it to the semi finals of a contest and here for news on x0 making it onto 1670 people’s to-read shelf on Goodreads.

More ways to read

z2 final May 2013Interested in reading z2 but don’t use a Kindle? Visit the new z2 on Smashwords where it is available in all sorts of formats you can download or read on screen.  Also check out z2 on Goodreads where you can get a pdf or an epub file for the first 75% of the book for free.

Coming Soon: z2 will be out in paperback at amazon.com June 16, 2013.

ranked #4!

New note  — before the day was out I ended up #4 in political fiction, at least for awhile.  The next giveaway of z2 on kindle will be March 16 & 17.

Today I promote z2 in a free giveaway and Amazon ranks these free books by how fast they are flying off of the shelves. Breaking into the top 100 for your genre is very good. No, z2 has not yet done this, not  for science fiction.  However … I forgot that I also listed it as political fiction and guess what.  I’m number 14 in political fiction, on the top page with a wild assortment of novels.  Check me out here!

Published!

light clockz2 is now available for kindle at Amazon.com and will be out in paperback and available in all other electronic formats through Smashwords.com in a few months. Please click here to check out the cover and short description and “like” the book while you are there.

I am excited about this latest novel!  The storyline itself allowed me to include more of my first true love, science fiction, and I’ve now been writing long enough that I felt comfortable trying a few new story telling ideas as well. This one is going to be fun.