Brandon Varnell
Guest Post

Guest Post by Brandon Varnell


Hey guys! I have a guest post from a colleague and fellow writer! Hi, Brandon! Thanks for offering your sage Senpai knowledge about these little corners of the internet called Facebook and Twitter that is fascinating to us writer types.


Here’s a bit about him:
Brandon Varnell is a writer… the end


Just kidding.

Brandon Varnell is the writer of the American Kitsune series. He has absolutely no skill at anything aside from writing and looking half-baked. He used to play guitar, but due to laziness, he never went anywhere with it. He also used to play a lot of video games, but after suffering this terrible affliction called book addiction, he only plays occasionally these days. Brandon lives mostly within his own imagination, but can occasionally be found in Phoenix, Arizona.

Marketing using Facebook and Twitter Ads

You’re a self-published author who now has a couple of books out. All of them are lovely, with gorgeous cover designs, quality formatting, are excellently edited, and—most importantly—best seller material. Unfortunately, you’re a self-published author, so nobody knows that you exist. You don’t have a large marketing team who’s got your back, you don’t have a publishing company who’s willing to take a share of the marketing burden. You are on your own.

Marketing is a daunting task for authors. Let’s face it, very few authors make good marketers. We’re not interested in advertising. We’re interested in writing. So, how does an author who isn’t interested in or doesn’t know how to market supposed to let everyone know that their books are awesome, that they exist, and that readers should read them?

Ads on facebook and twitter might be one method of doing this. Authors can pay for sponsored ads on facebook and twitter, who will then promote your ad to a targeted audience of your choosing. However, the question that a lot of authors will probably ask is: Does it work?

The answer to that question is ambiguous. To be perfectly blunt, there’s no true way to tell if your advertising is reaching its target market. That said, I’ve done my own marketing campaign on both twitter and facebook, and I am writing this post in order to share my knowledge and opinions.


This is my sponsored ad for Facebook. As you can see from the information provided, this ad has reached 17,664 people, 709 people have interacted with it, and I spent $50.00 on this ad. Is this money well spent? Let’s take a look at the information.
17,664 people have seen this post. Most of these people didn’t click on my link.

However, they have seen it. One of a self-published author’s greatest obstacles is getting readers to realize that they exist, that they have books out that are worth reading. With this ad, I now have 17,664 people who now know that my books exist. They might not do anything with this knowledge, but a few might be curious enough to at least check it out.

709 people have interacted with this ad. If you look at the information above, you can see what these people have done. 578 people have clicked on the link that will take them to my Amazon author’s page, 10 people have liked my page, 79 people have liked my post, 31 people have commented, and 11 people have shared it. This means that, outside of the 17,664 people who this sponsored ad was posted in front of, I’ve gained more organic views through shares, likes, and comments.

Now, I actually did another form of advertising with this post called a boost enhancement. Basically, I created this sponsored ad with a $50.00 price range. I then boosted this ad with another $50.00.

Here are the results:


Looking at the ad after it was boosted, you’ll see that, instead of 17,000 people , I’ve actually reached 27,102 people. I also have more likes, shares, and comments thanks to the boost.

Does this mean that advertising on facebook is a sure bet for sales? No, but it is a good way of letting people know that you have a story worth reading.
Now that we’ve seen the facebook side of things, let’s take a look at my twitter ad.


Twitter has a way of promoting ads for a price, similar in many ways to facebook, though also somewhat different. Essentially, what you do is create a promoted ad, which is available to anyone who has a twitter account.

As you can see from the image, I placed $100.00 on my ad, and then had it run through the days of May 1st through the 7th. By doing this, my ad received 80,100 impressions within that time frame, which means that 80,100 people saw it. Of those 80,100, only about 1,000 clicked on the link, and there’s no telling how many of those people actually bought my book. I’m guessing there may have been anywhere from 10-15 sales from this advertisement, but no more than that.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “If you only sold 10 or 20 books, then isn’t paying for advertising not worth it?”

The answer is, again, ambiguous. One of the many aspects about advertising that a lot of people don’t realize is that advertising is not about selling more of your product. Yes, that is the end desire. You want your books to sell, you want to make money off of them. However, advertising isn’t about making the sales. It’s about letting the people who wouldn’t have otherwise seen your book know that you exist, that your books exist.

In this regard, the twitter ad has succeeded. Over 80,000 people who wouldn’t have otherwise known that my books are out there and available now know. Maybe they don’t do anything with this knowledge, but that is not something that can be helped.

Selling is a tricky business. You can’t determine who will and won’t buy your book. Just creating an ad that says, “Hey! Buy my book!” doesn’t necessarily mean that people will buy your book. There are factors to consider, variables that we cannot begin to measure: How much money do these people have to spend, are they interested in what you’re offering, and is this the right time for them to buy? We don’t know whether or not these people can afford to buy your book, or if they’re even interested in it. As authors, all we can do is try and reach out to them and hope that some of them show interest.

Now for my final analysis and the answer to your biggest question: Is advertising on facebook and twitter worth it?

The answer to that question is dependent on what you want. If you’re looking for sales, then you’re likely going to be disappointed. Ads don’t necessarily generate sales. They create awareness. So, if awareness is your goal, then I can tell you that ads DO work, and here is the proof:


Take a look at these images. These images show you what the people who have bought my fourth book, A Fox’s Family, also bought.

I am a parody writer. My series, American Kitsune, is an anime inspired series that was based off of the harem/romantic comedy genre that’s become so prevalent in anime, manga, and Japanese light novels. As you can see from these images, the people who’ve bought my book have bought similar products:

  • Spice and Wolf—a popular light novel series where the hero is a traveling merchant and the heroine is a wolf deity.
  • Fairy Tail—an incredibly popular shōnen anime that has a lot of action and fan service.
  • Monster Musume—a New York Times bestselling harem manga series about a young man cohabiting with several monster girls.

These people are my target market. They are the ones who I not only want to sell my books to, but who would appreciate my books the most. Are these sales due to my advertising on facebook and twitter? Maybe not all of them, but there is a good chance that some of them are, and those people who enjoyed my books will go on to spread the word to their friends. After all, word of mouth is still the best method of advertising.

So, if you want people to become aware of your books, then you need to get it in front of people. Facebook and twitter ads can do that. You might not make many sales at first, but this is a good way to let people know about your books. Just make sure that you have more than one book published first. Three would be the minimum I’d recommend, but having more would be ideal.

Good luck and happy writing.

D.R. Perry lives in Rhode Island and attends Dragon Con each year. She is also a member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA).

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