How I Could’ve Done A Better Sale

Back in September I wrote an article about when was the best time to publish a book. That article also mentioned some opportune times to host some sales. Going off the advice of that article and my previous sale experience, I decided to host a sale around New Year’s, which is apparently a very good time to hold such a sale.

To my surprise and slight consternation, I did not sell as many books–digital or paperback–as I thought I would. I did get some good sales, including from friends and colleagues, but it was far lower than I expected, to the point that I put more money into the sale than I got back.

I’ve been spending the time since trying to figure out where I went wrong and what I could do to improve my next sale and ad campaign (probably when I publish a novel later this year). Below are the conclusions that I’ve come to, which I hope will give you some help if you hold a sale in the future.

I used only Facebook ads. In another previous post, I showed that Facebook ads could be extremely helpful in spreading the word about sales. This time though, they didn’t prove as helpful. While the likes on my Facebook page did increase from 383 to over twelve-hundred, not many of those people did buy a book. That’s because Facebook is already a free service, we get so much content from it for free. Sure, you may see ads for products on it, and you may like the pages of those products, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to buy it. You’re more likely to ignore an ad from a free service anyway, even when you’re confronted with it over and over (which is probably why I’ve never bought something advertised before my YouTube video).

So next time, I should try formats other than or in addition to Facebook. Yes, it’s a useful site to advertise and attract a fan base, but to rely solely on it wasn’t one of my better moves. Next time, I’ll look into using other platforms, including Twitter and KDP Amazon (yeah, KDP Amazon allows you to advertise through it. I heard the costs were huge, but maybe if they are, it might be worth it to advertise through a site where people are already there presumably to buy products).

I cast too wide a net. When you set up an ad campaign, you can decide who the ad is targeted towards based on criteria like age, interests and hobbies, sex, and several others. One of the main criteria though is country or countries. I wanted to get as many people to see the ad as possible, so I tried targeting as many countries as I could where Amazon operated in (most of my sales come through Amazon). Problem is, while Amazon does operate in those countries, it may not be as big as other retailers there. So when I cast a wide net, I cast a net where people would see the ad but may not buy. Meanwhile, there may have been people in more Amazon-strong countries that would’ve bought my books if they saw the ads, but didn’t because of the wide focus.

Plus some of the countries I targeted don’t have English as a first language. Yes, English is spoken there by a wide swath of the population, but it’s not a dominant language by any means. And most of my sales are from English speaking countries anyway, probably since my books are in English.

So in the future, I will try to focus on countries where most people do buy from Amazon, but English is a spoken by a majority of the population.

Include links. This should’ve been pretty obvious to me. I didn’t include links on two out of three of my ads though, expecting the readers to head over there out of curiosity and look themselves. I don’t think that’s what actually happened in real life. So if you’re going to do an ad, make sure a link or two is already present.


If this helped you at all, my job here is done. Sales and ad campaigns are never easy and don’t always yield the results you want, but if you learn from others and go through trial and error, they can on occasion bring in a very nice pay day.

What tips do you have for a successful sale/ad campaign?

14 thoughts on “How I Could’ve Done A Better Sale

  1. Angela Misri January 25, 2016 / 12:11 pm

    The links are vital, of course. And I have to say FB ads have not proven useful to me either. I find contests and giveaways improve sales more than straight sales.

    • rami ungar the writer January 25, 2016 / 12:12 pm

      There’s something I should try! Next time, I’m doing a giveaway. Maybe a signed copy of whatever book I’m publishing. Surely someone would think that was cool!

  2. Lauralynn Elliott January 25, 2016 / 2:00 pm

    I’ve usually ended up spending more on advertising than I actually made on sales from the ad. I still haven’t found the best venue.

  3. Eliza David January 25, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    I try to keep my ad costs as low as I can but if I find an avenue that works well, I’ll invest. Right now, feeding myself into as many free avenues (I.e. Instagram, Twitter, FB, LinkedIn) & being a vendor at book shows helps a lot. Also – there’s nothing better than good old fashioned word of mouth. Many of my readers were sparked by other readers. Combining that with my social media presence, that’s the cheapest way to get good exposure.

  4. Renee January 25, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    I’ve never had an author tell me Facebook Ads worked for them, except as you said… to get free signups. It would probably work for free downloads on a first in series novel too, but I’ve never tested it. Seems an expensive way to go to give out something for free.

    What I have heard works is getting your sale announced on book promotion sites such ad BookBub. That one’s hard to get into unless you have lots of positive reviews on Amazon, but there are others out there like it, and you can work up to the bigger ones like BookBub.

    You can also contact other bloggers in your genre and ask if you can do a guest post or be interviewed on their blog that week and announce your sale in the bio. Then there are sites that do author spotlights, like mine. I do Friday Author Spotlights on my main blog for science fiction and fantasy authors, and I have a blog, Renee’s Author Spotlight, where I feature indie and small press authors. I also accept guest posts from authors of any genre on my main blog and participate in blog tours. I’m always happy to help fellow authors when I can. 😀

  5. Ruth Ann Nordin February 2, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    I’m surprised to hear Facebook ads haven’t brought in good results. I haven’t run one in a long time, but it seems all I ever hear from the marketing people is that Facebook ads are the way to go. It seems I’m hearing a completely different story from the authors who aren’t trying to sell a program or course.

    If you do run an ad with KDP, I’d be interested to know how it plays out. So far, I haven’t heard any real results either way.

    I have heard great things about Bookbub, but I have yet to get an ad with them. I haven’t tried an ad for a while. Maybe I’ll give it another try.

    I have had luck with Freebooksy, and I heard other authors say it’s worked well for them.

    When I listened to a Sell More Books podcast, they did suggest doing multiple things when running ads, like running more than one in conjunction with another one.

    • rami ungar the writer February 3, 2016 / 12:28 am

      At this point, I think we’ll know what sort of post I’ll be writing after my next book comes out (hopefully later this year).

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