Altruism 1, Capitalism 0

Well, it serves me right.  I told myself that when I finally got my book out there, I wasn’t going to worry about making money, just getting it into circulation.  However, based on my personality and prior history, it’s no surprise that I fell off the path.

In my previous post, I talked about how I did a lot of research on selling and marketing eBooks, and what things worked to make them a success.  One was keeping the price around $5 for your first book, and the second was using Facebook’s targeted advertising.  Those notions both make a lot of sense, but at this point, I wholly accept the error of my ways.  In fact, I partially wonder if all of those articles weren’t covertly seeded by Facebook proper.  Allow me to explain why.

Facebook ads sounded like a great idea, really.  Facebook is great about letting you focus in on your target audience by their “likes:”  J.R.R Tolkein, World of Warcraft, The Hobbit, etc.  They even give you an option for how you’re billed.  You can be billed by the number of times your ad is displayed on any Facebook screen (per thousand displays), or by the number of times people actually click the link.  So, I created two ads: one for my Amazon Kindle eBook, and one for those who don’t use Kindles (Smashwords), and based them on the number of “clicks.”

Here’s what I learned (the hard way).  One, if you’re a first time author, raising your eBook’s price is pretty meaningless.  For most folks, it means they’re spending even more money on an unknown.  Two, Facebook ads cost you money.  When you look at how much they cost, the math doesn’t come out in your favor.  Consider this:

A $2.99 eBook, on which you already get an small margin of profit, now has additional advertising expenses to consider.  I selected the per-click option for Facebook, meaning that I wound up paying about 17$ for a total of 78,000 clicks.  Those 78,000 clicks resulted in three sales totaling $7.97, before royalties.  Net result: epic fail.

I fully understand my problem.  To some degree, I can’t help but attach “success” to the volume of books sold (and not losing money in the process).  What I think that I, as well as other self-publishing authors, need to keep in mind is why we’re doing this.  Self-publication is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  It’s an I-have-a-story-to-tell scheme, and any monies accrued after publication are simply sauce for the goose.  I forgot that.

So, what does this mean?  It means that the cost of my eBook is right back to $2.99, and that the odds anyone will ever see a Facebook ad for the book far outstrip unlikely, and venture into the realm of “never.”  Of course, I admit how fleeting and temporary “never” is, so I’ll simply say, not in the “foreseeable” future.

I had considered deleting my prior post completely, given how foolish and unlike me it was, but I’ve decided to leave it.  It’s a great reminder to me of how much of a dumb @$$ I can be, and how badly crow tastes.

So, until next time, folks.



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  1. Tony
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Damn man! You got 78,000 clicks from a Facebook ad? And it only cost you $17? That’s pretty sweet really. Up to 78k people were interested enough to go there…that’s cool in my opinion. I understand you’re not trying to get rich and the last post wasn’t unlike you, it was what you unlike…you clearly thought it through and found the plan to be worth exploring. I’d call your plan and results a success if for no other reason than you learned some things. If talent is any indicator (and sadly, it seldom is), you will be a rich and famous author someday and you’ll be paying people to do what you did on a much larger scale. Don’t beat yourself up for understanding how the process works in the “real world” and certainly don’t beat yourself up for not liking how it works. I’d say use what you learn and know…just because you feed the animal doesn’t mean you like the animal. That’s my two cents for what it’s worth.

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  • About the Author

    T.M. Lennon currently lives in North Carolina. His passion for science-fiction and fantasy was influenced by Star Wars in 1977 and The Lord of the Rings novels, which he read at an early age. He created the world of Eörlond in his teens for a fantasy role-playing game, and it has grown ever since.

    The one-time a soldier, systems engineer, and software developer, now adds author to his list of credentials. He continues to work during the day as an information technology consultant, but spends his precious little free time evolving the land of Eörlond and its inhabitants in front of his trusty laptop.