Writer Wednesday: Facebook vs. Goodreads Ads Experiment Part II

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Two Wednesdays ago, I wrote a blog post where I shared my limited experience with running ads on Facebook and Goodreads, Writer Wednesday:  Goodreads vs Facebook Ads – an Experiment, and got a lot of great comments!

My ad has now been running for over three weeks on Facebook and two and a half on Goodreads, and still, hands-down, Goodreads has been the better option. I still haven’t garnered a single click on my Facebook ads. And only 1231 views since Jan 3! I’ve now spent $4.10 on Goodreads and my ad has had over 63,000 views, and 41 clicks!

I also wanted to share some of the helpful tips left in the comments, including a clarification from a Goodreads representative.

Peter Salomon shared a great tip, which I’ve now seen for myself – add a great review blurb!

He said that when he got a great succinct quote from a reputable reviewer, he changed his ad and the clicks and adds skyrocketed. I went ahead and changed mine, and yep, it out performs my book blurb ad by more than half, in both clicks and adds.

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To be fair, I changed my Facebook campaign to have this quote too, and still zip… The consensus from the comments in my first post seemed to be that we’ve now been trained over the last several years to ignore those ads because they’re now non-relevant to our daily lives. This is a shame, because I remember in the early days that this wasn’t the case. Oh, well.

Within Goodreads, author targeted vs. genre targeted

This is interesting. My views are abysmal for author targeted (probably because I’m only paying .10/click) BUT when it does get seen, it outperforms the new ad with the quote by almost double! I need to add an author-targeted one with a quote and see what that double whammy produces! And maybe bump up my cost per click a tad for just that ad.

So, Goodreads is the place to advertise

Based on my limited experience, and from the comments the post garnered. Makes sense, given that it’s a place for readers to congregate and learn about books, so they do NOT mind seeing relevant book ads. One commenter pointed out that this could all change if Goodreads begins showing non-book ads and we again, like on Facebook, become trained to ignore that side of the page.

Clarification on who sees the GR ad

Margo from Goodreads stopped by several days later and left a very helpful comment clarifying who sees the ad. She says:

When you target genres or authors you are targeting users who have those genres/authors on their shelves. So if one of our users has one of your genres or authors on their shelf they will see your ad throughout the site. However it is a good idea to only target authors OR genres otherwise your user has to have both on their shelf and it becomes too limiting.

She also left this link to a Best Practices document! Thanks Margo!

Thanks for everyone who commented. Did I leave out anything? Have you started your ad on GR because of my earlier post, and has it done anything for you?

 

Writer Wednesday: Goodreads vs Facebook Ads – an Experiment

download (2)Which works better for writers placing sponsored ads, Goodreads or Facebook? I can only tell you how it’s working out for me, so this is in no way a definitive answer. It could be that my text isn’t optimum for one platform vs. the other, etc.

But for better or for worse, I thought I’d share my stats for other writers who are contemplating using either of these two venues and what my success rate has been with it.

First up is Facebook. I’d run ads in the past for completely unrelated things, but this was five years ago, and maybe things have changed. Anyway, I knew I could create my own ad there and only pay if I got any clicks. On January 3rd I started my campaign and did the minimum bid per click, which at the time was .42. The next day I checked my stats and not only did I not have any clicks, I had no views. In other words, the ad hadn’t appeared in front of anyone at all. I bumped it up to .50 and was still not reaching anyone. I then changed it to .55, and as you can see below, the results are pretty miserable:

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Sure, I could bump up the cost I’d pay if anyone clicked on it, but I’m on a really tight budget and this is as high as I’m willing to pay for someone to click on the link.

Now onto Goodreads. They also have DIY ads very similar to Facebook. I saw another author saying they had success with it, so Monday I checked it out. Approval was in a much shorter time frame than they warn during setup (only took a couple of hours) and I actually did way less than their recommended price per click. I started at .10, and once the ad started running, I had views. And then clicks. I had a little more space for copy, so maybe that extra little bit helps? Here’s the stats:

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So as you can see, in just two days, my reach is much better than Facebook, for less. You’ll notice that the target audience is a lot smaller on Goodreads (20K vs. 400K), but who cares if it’s getting seen and acted upon? And from what I can tell, those 6 clicks resulted in the book being added 6 times by unknown people during that time period, a 100% success rate.

Perhaps the other difference is that folks on Goodreads are there for books and only books and so they’re more willing to look at the ads, whereas on Facebook, the audience is now trained to ignore that sidebar of ads that usually pushes dating sites and getting cheap insurance, things that normally don’t appeal to us?

Another option that Goodreads has is the ability to create multiple ads under one campaign, pulling from one bank of money you set up. So in the graphic above, you can see I have two. The first one targets genres, and the second one I’ve created to target specific authors. I’m not sure how either work– does it show to anyone who has those authors listed as their favorites, or only if you’re visiting one of their books? Same with the genre–does it only show if you’re visiting a book in one of those genres, or can it tell which genres a person likes and shows it regardless of where they are on the site?

Another possibility is that I have my targeting completely wrong on Facebook and that accounts for the lack of success there. But, just from my own browsing experience, I do tend to ignore Facebook ads more than I do Goodreads…

If you haven’t done either, you might be worried about costs getting out of hand if people start clicking on your awesome ad. But don’t worry, both platforms have a threshold amount for you to input your maximum. For Facebook, I set it up for $2/day and for Goodreads I set it up with a bank of $4 and have it auto-end when I run out of money.

Have you used either one? What success have you had with them?

Do some readers hate your book? Good! You’re doing something right!

There’s been a big, uh.. kerfuffle… in the reader community recently that has had me cringing, stupefied and scared at turns. As an unpublished writer I have yet to experience first-hand what it’s like to get a negative review, so my post today is partly a way to mark down my thoughts on this so that when that does happen, I can read this post as a reminder.

For those unaware, the flare up happened when some authors ill-advisedly called out some online reviewers for harsh or negative reviews. And it got fugly. Fast. The gist of the complaint seems to be that reviewers should keep the author’s feelings and hard work in mind when writing their review.

Uh, no.

Reviews are for readers. Period.

Thinking about this has reminded me of my uncle’s 30-40-30 rule I posted about in the early fall, and so I thought I’d revisit this rule and put it in the context of the current hubbub. The rule is:

30% of the people are going to like you no matter what, 30% will not like you no matter what, it’s the 40% in the middle you need to worry about.

I think this rule helps put many things in life in perspective. In my post in the fall, I applied it to receiving critiques on our WIPs. It also applies to reader reviews. And this brings us to my blog title: if you’re getting negative reviews, you’re doing something right. Huh? Here’s the way I see it:

  1. It’s a measure of success. You’ve gotten your book out there and it’s getting noticed beyond your 30% circle of love. This is good! You don’t want it to wallow in obscurity do you?
  2. It means you haven’t written something so bland, so careful, that the collective response outside of your 30% love circle is “meh.”

If you write with passion and honesty, I guarantee you there will be people just as passionately opposed to it.

It’s what makes humans so dang interesting. I know I whinged last week in my post “Is my zipper down or do you just not like my pants?” about a critique that had me doubting myself and doubting the positive critiques I’d received, but I’m in the stage of trying to better my WIP and I really wondered if this negative critique might actually have merit. But I think this is a different stage than one where a book has already been vetted and put out as a final product. It’s now passed from the stage of feedback for improvement, to others voicing their opinion on whether they liked it for others who are looking to buy it. It’s no longer feedback for the writer to improve it.

My mom is a professional artist. (No, I’m not digressing!) I remember many a show as a child where I would sit reading behind her display or playing a quiet game (I hope!) with my brother and I would hear all manner of comments on her work. I remember the first time I heard someone walk by and say that one of her paintings was total crap (or something along those lines) and went on about why they didn’t like it. Naturally I was horrified and told my mom. You know what she told me? “Good! That means they felt some kind of emotion!” This lesson stuck with me and is why I was happy my mom hated my ending when she read my third draft.

Anyway, my mom pours her soul into her paintings and the worst thing that could happen for her when someone sees her work is to feel no emotion whatsoever and just walk on by. She is also a subscriber to the bad publicity is good publicity mantra. She also loves competition and encourages artist friends to enter shows she’s also competing for — she’s even picked up their paintings to enter! The way she sees it, is that her getting in a show (or winning Best of Show) means absolutely nothing if quality artists were not part of it. (Okay, I think I’m digressing now… Onward!)

So anywho, (okay, 30% of the readers of this post will HATE that I used that colloquialism!) my uncle’s and mom’s lessons have resurfaced in my mind this week as I read about what’s going on right now in the reader community. Others have posted their voice of reason in the midst of this much more eloquently and passionately than me, so I’ll just share a few more thoughts I have on this.

If you have a solid product, the 30% haters usually hate it because some hot button was pushed for them and the review is to alert the others who share that same hot button, that they probably won’t like it either.

That’s all. They can’t stand HEAs. Or sparkly vampires. Or adjectives. Or characters who smoke. Or characters that say “dang it”. You name something distinctive about your story or character, 30% will hate it. The 40% in the middle will be able to tell from the review that this is the case and would weigh it against reviews of others who seem to have their own likes and dislikes. We will drive ourselves nuts trying to please everyone. We just can’t. Unless we are willing to write something very bland and safe.

I caught myself at one point looking at a group thread on Goodreads about what words romance readers can’t stand to see used for sexy bits. Cuz, you know, I’d hate to turn people off when I want them turned on… And you know what? Some readers would say they didn’t like it when an author used “x” and preferred “y”. And I’m making notes thinking this is all good stuff to know. And then I’d see comments where others would say that actually they hated the “y” word and preferred the “x” word. Argh! Sigh. And then I gave up and reminded myself that I can’t please everyone. I need to stay focused on what seems natural for my story. And that’s it.

In reading other takes on the hullabaloo, it’s been said that many readers are suspicious of overly positive ratings.

There’s a reason for this. They instinctively know it hasn’t gone outside of the 30% love circle or that it’s rigged. It’s also why people who mediate elections in other countries to ensure fair elections know that the system is rigged if the candidate gets way over 70% of the popular vote. There’s just no way the guy is that popular with everyone. Or why a politician is in deep doo-doo if their approval rating drops below 30% (they are losing the confidence of people who normally would like them no matter what).

Anyway, this is all easy for me to say as I’ve only been dealing with critiques, not reader reviews. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to see my baby ripped to shreds by someone who didn’t finish reading it and/or obviously missed some major points, or claimed something was historically inaccurate when it is accurate, or just simply can’t stand dorky heroines. When (and I’m saying ‘when’ not ‘if’ as part of my positive envisioning of my future) I get my first book published I’m going to be scared shitless. Seeing the harsh reviews out there honestly made me wonder if I really wanted to do this writer thing. It’s scary! As epbeaumont commented on the 30-40-30 post recently:

The rule’s useful to bear in mind, because when that 30% who hate it get their buttons pushed, they don’t always play nice.

So I need to be resolved to the fact that it’s all part of the business. And hopefully I’ll remember this post and come back and read it.

Future self? You got some nasty reviews? Good for you! Pull up your big girl panties and deal! You dared to write something that wasn’t bland. You bravely risked that 30% will not like your character and/or story. Here’s hoping the majority of the 40% in the middle do.

Because all this is so damn easy for me to say, I’d love to hear from authors who’ve actually experienced this. How do you handle it? Does this advice make sense? Readers, what do you think of the recent scandal?