I used to work as a copywriter so let me tell you straight: there is a lot of crap written about copywriting. Aside from basic things which you should already know (like try to sell the sizzle, not the steak, and that clarity and crispness is important above all), the most important thing is something no amount of blog posts or books or courses about copywriting can teach you.
You must know your audience.
I’ve written an entire book about the importance of knowing your reader and how that knowledge must filter through to every aspect of your book marketing (that’s Strangers to Superfans btw) but for anyone who hasn’t read it, you are going to really struggle with this part. But let me see if I can guide you a little.
The way you talk to the kind of grizzled vet who enjoys third-person battle-filled space opera is going to be very different to the way you speak with a reader of first-person, snarky paranormal romance. That tone should be consistent in your book cover, blurb, emails, and, yes, your ads too.
This is FAR more important for Facebook Ads than Amazon Ads or BookBub Ads as the ad text is front and center here. (It’s arguably less in the spotlight with Amazon Ads and there is no ad text whatsoever with BookBub Ads).
Aside from extreme genre variance in terms of what works here, there’s probably a gender angle too. Now, throwing out gross generalizations about gender is like cartwheeling across a field of landmines, but I have heard it said that men prefer plotty book cover decriptions and women lean much more towards character-focused copy. (How’s that for some passive voice?)
And maybe you can square that circle by focusing on a tagline which ties very strongly to your book’s theme but which focuses on your hero if possible. Writing a tagline is an art in itself, of course, but you’re a writer, dammit, you can do this. You just need to practice (and focus, and push yourself through a ton of tiresome iterations).
I’ll give some quick examples from the world of movies, as we’ll probably have more common ground there:
Dude Where’s My Car – After a night they can't remember comes a day they'll never forget.
The 40 Year Old Virgin – The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
Postcards from the Edge – Having a wonderful time, wish I were here.
The Royal Tenenbaums – Family isn't a word. It's a sentence.
Psycho – Check in. Unpack. Relax. Take A Shower
Alien – In space no one can hear you scream
The Thing – Man is the warmest place to hide
The Social Network – You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies
Zodiac – There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer
You can clearly see that the tagline’s most important job is to convey tone. Fans of arch drama might be repelled by the humor of the first couple of examples, but the tagline isn’t for them. The target audience will be sold on that line right away. Know your audience.
You have limited space here, and I think it’s best used by combining some form of tagline with some form of offer, and a call to action.
Unlike BookBub, the audience on Facebook is a lot less price sensitive. However, that doesn’t mean that discounts aren’t a big draw. Of course they are. A limited-time sale has two inbuilt hooks: the discount, and the urgency to act now. If you don’t have a sale to dangle, then you must find another hook, like some form of social proof (review quote, bestseller status, award, endorsement from fellow author, etc.)
And if you have absolutely none of that, then you really better work hard on that tagline!
Pulling all that together, here’s what a Facebook ad text might look like:
- Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death. Buy the Hunger Games now on Kindle for just 99¢.
- Half-boy. Half-god. All hero. The first book in Rick Riordain's acclaimed Percy Jackson series is free for a limited time. Download on Kobo.
- Growing up is tough, period. Judy Blume’s timeless YA novel “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” is now available on iBooks for the very first time. Download now.
You get the idea. Tagline, offer, call-to-action. Of course, you can mix up these elements, or go a bit longer with tagline part, just keep checking that preview so that the text doesn’t get too long and get truncated. You definitely don’t want that.
Communicate what the book is about as efficiently as possible, and do so in a genre-appropriate tone. Convey the offer clearly. And put in a call to action. As cheesy as it might sound, it really does work.
Feel free to test any other approach if you wish, as always, but I’d recommend trying something in this form too. And definitely test more than one variation. As with images, often what you think is the winner is different from what your readers may think.
And I always let them decide.
Rounding out the last few options are a handful of minor things in the interface.
You can put a limited amount of text in the Headline and Newsfeed link description sections. I usually drop some social proof in here, especially if the ad text focused more on other aspects. So something about award-winning or “Over 1m copies sold” or “Over 1000 reviews on Amazon” or whatever you can muster up here. Alternative taglines can also work if social proof is a little thin on the ground.
Finally, always include a button. I don't mean in the ad image - although that can often work well too - I mean in the actual architecture of the ad around the image. It's an option here in the interface towards the very end.
I like Shop Now personally. You can experiment with others – some swear by the less salesy approach of Learn More but I don’t know if I agree with that. I avoid Download Now personally as I wonder if readers think it will actually start initiating a download right away, rather than taking them to their preferred retailer. Test it if you like, but I get best results with Shop Now.
That’s it! You simply submit your ad and then it goes live pretty quickly afterwards. Just make sure to click the link requesting a manual review if that has appeared in your interface because of text - you need to do that before submitting the ad.
Anyway, you can now build basic Facebook Ads.
We’ll delve into more aspects of all this in future episodes – particularly things like targeting – and we will also cover different uses of Facebook Ads, and more advanced tricks too, but these last three episodes in particular should give you a basic grounding in how to put together a campaign which actually sells books.
We will, of course, look at measuring success and optimization also, as well as overall strategy.
Good luck with your ads!
P.S. Writing music this week is droning out the constant thrum of construction - this wonderful instrumental track by the Velvet Underground which makes me want to go on a never-ending road trip.