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In this episode we are going to talk about how to Split Test your book covers, blurbs and book titles using Facebook ads.

Question from Patron Mary Hamilton

“On this week’s podcast, [Thomas] talked about A/B testing. If you haven’t already, could you do an episode on that? I get the idea generally, but don’t quite understand how it’s set up.”

Intro

We are about to teach you a technique so advanced, even most publishers don’t use it.

So what is a split test?

We are not talking about surveys!

Surveys Are Less Effective Than Split Tests
  • People pay to close attention which changes the results. You want real world results.
  • What people “like” and what people click on are not the same.
  • The survey often asks too few people and often the wrong people. You don’t want to test your book title on hundreds of people, you want to test it on tens of thousands of people.
What You Can Test With The Split Test Method
  • Book Titles
  • Book Covers
  • Book Blurbs
Why This is a Good Idea
  • You are just one person, and if you like your cover, then you know one person likes your cover.
  • Hard to read the label when you are standing inside the bottle
  • Sometimes, a good title makes the difference between success and failure.
  • This can be useful for traditionally published authors as well when discussing decisions with your publisher.
  • Ideal test because it is in a noisy environment. The thing that makes Facebook ads bad makes Facebook split test excellent.
The Big Picture of How This Works
  • You create two versions of the same ad with one thing being different. You see which version performs better.
  • Expect to pay around $50 per test.
Two Principles:
  • Test One Thing at a Time
  • Test on the Right People
How to Make it Happen
  1. Create a page on your website to send people to. In a pinch, you can use your homepage.
  2. Go to https://www.facebook.com/business/ and click “Create Ad”
  3. Select “Get More Website Visitors”
  4. Create your ad using Facebook’s Ad Editor.
  5. You want to pick an audience with at least 25,000 people in it. No more than a million.
  6. Open Up the Facebook Ads Manager
  7. Select the ad you just created a click Duplicate. Now you have two copies of the ad running simultaneously.
  8. Click edit and change the one thing you want to test. (Book Cover, Title, or Blurb)
What about the money? What You Should Budget Sponsor:

MyBookTable is a way to quickly and easily build an online bookstore on your WordPress website. Use it to rank #1 on Google for your book and to boost your book sales on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Get it free at MyBookTable.com. Novel Marketing Patrons save 25% on MyBookTable Pro. www.mybooktable.com.

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In this episode we talk about what to in-between books to keep your brand top of mind with your readers.

This episode idea comes from an email loop I’m part of where one of the people asked what they should do to promote themselves during the down time in-between their book launches.

A number of people responded to the loop by saying they don’t do anything … they just wait for their next book and then start promoting it a few months before it releases. While that’s an option, we have some other suggestions we feel are more conducive to keeping your career going.

A Little Philosophy
  • Airplanes
  • Exercise Equipment Center
  • You are not an author, you are a product
Seven Things You Should Be Doing In-between Books
  1. Website Review
  2. Revise Your Reader Magnet
    • Create a New Lead Magnet
    • Writing Short Stories / Tip Sheets
  3. Guest blogging
  4. Focus on Your Newsletter
    • Work on your drip campaign write an onboarding drip sequence
    • Develop a reserve of strong content
    • Study Mailchimp or whatever company you use
    • Keep your emailing your list some of that great content. At least quarterly.
  5. Get involved
    • GoodReads
    • Facebook Groups
  6. Promote your backlist
  7. Learn
    • Mail Chimp
    • Binge Novel Marketing
    • Take a Novel Marketing Course
  8. Rest
Featured Patron

Driver Confessional by David L. Winters           

A Christian ride-share driver lands in hot water with the Russian mob. Antonio and his cop brother must solve a murder before it’s too late.

Sponsor

Rubart Writing Academy

  • March 21st – 24th in Blairsville, Georgia
  • April 25th – 28th in gorgeous Chelan, Washington
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In this episode we are going to talk about the critical mindset you need to have going into the New Year in order to make 2019 your best ever. And to help us out … we have back, for the second time … Susan May Warren!

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and RITA award–winning author of more than sixty novels. She has four grown children and is married to her real-life hero, going on 30 years now! She loves traveling and telling stories about life, adventure and faith. She’s a skydiver, scuba diver, accomplished dancer … and is a nationally acclaimed writing teacher who runs a writing academy called Novel.Academy. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com.

Questions

  • Looking back on the last year, a lot of authors wished they accomplished more in terms of their careers. What are some of the biggest things holding authors back?
  • What is the one critical mindset that you would encourage writers to have going into the New Year?
  • A vast number of writers are female which means families and taking care of kids and grandkids and taking on the business of running a home for a lot of them … so they need to be skilled at time management and organization. You’re an author that has done exactly that. Four children, husband, and writing a million books every year, plus running your teaching companies … how do you do it?
  • It’s that time of the year when many people set goals … how do you go about setting goals? I know you have a little bit different approach … tell us about that …
  • Over the years you’ve developed a number of innovative systems for keeping track of projects, goals, staying motivated … and you’ve put all those ideas into a planner that you’re now selling. Tell about why you added developing a planner to your already crazy life and even if someone doesn’t buy your planner (which they should!) how they can use the principles you have in in for their writing career.
  • ___________________

Links:

Featured Patron

95 Tweets: Celebrating Martin Luther in the 21st Century by Peter DeHaan.

Celebrate the Protestant Reformation, with Martin Luther’s ninety-five concerns updated as Tweets for a modern audience.

Sponsor:

5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

This plan was crafted by Thomas & Jim to be step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.

Thomas’s Other Podcasts
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In this episode we are going to have a special crossover episode with my new podcast. As some of you know, I’ve launched a new podcast called the Christian Publishing Show. This podcast explores everything about publishing in the Christian market.

One of my guests on that podcast was our very own James L. Rubart. As we did that interview I realized we have never shared his story on this podcast. So if you have ever wanted to know where Jim came from here is his origin story. Stick around, after the interview Jim and I will come back on this show.

Chances are you are friends with other writers but have you heard their stories? Ask them sometime you may be surprised at what you learn. Telling each other your stories can inspire, encourage, build a deeper relationships … and often be quite humorous.

Sponsor:

5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

This plan was crafted by Thomas & Jim to be step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.

Featured Patron

Pathway of Peace: Living in a Growing Relationship with Christ by Cheryl Elton

Heal from broken relational patterns so you can choose safer friends. Evaluate when it’s time to press into a friendship or let it go.

Other Links
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In this episode we are going to talk about why Facebook is overrated!

Background

When I joined Facebook, it was only for college students. When I purchased my first Facebook ad, they were called “Campus Fliers.” I was the marketing coordinator for one of the first political campaigns to use Facebook for statewide political advertisements in Texas. I have run marketing companies, purchased tens of thousands of dollars of Facebook ads and done dozens of hours of Facebook Live. I have taught at conferences on how Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm works.

In short, I know what I am talking about when I say Facebook is nearly useless as a marketing platform for authors.

It is overrated for the following reasons:

Reason #1 Sharecropping

The fundamental problem with building your platform on Facebook is that it is digital sharecropping.

Sharecropping is when a wealthy landlord allows a poor person to farm his field in exchange for a share of the crops. The problem with sharecropping is that the poor farmer can be kicked off at any time from “his farm” since he doesn’t technically own it. Most of the economic advantages go to the landlord and most of the risk goes to the tenant. Sharecropping is a technique the rich have used to exploit the poor for millennia.

There is nothing new under the sun.

You don’t own Facebook. You sharecrop on Facebook’s digital land. Facebook gets nearly all of the economic advantages of your activity and if you find something that does advantage you, they will adjust their algotherm to stop you.

I remember when Facebook groups were transcendent. Then when groups got too powerful they destroyed them in favor of pages. Now pages are de-optimized in favor of groups, but only new groups, not the legacy groups. So the cycle continues.

Reason #2 State of Mind

Facebook is a party where people talk about politics and show off photos of their grandchildren.

Trying to sell something on Facebook is like selling Amway at a party.

Now let’s say you throw your own party, a Tupperware party lets say, in this setting people are in the mood for hearing from you about your product. The medium is the message. Trying to break into someone’s political conversation with a commercial is very hard to do successfully.

Throw your own party instead.

Reason #3 EdgeRank

Facebook has an algorithm called EdgeRank. I explain how EdgeRank works in this post. As we talked about in Novle Marketing Episode 123 the algorithm has been tweaked in many ways that hurt authors.

Currently, any post about something not on Facebook (like a book for instance) will be hidden from about 96% of followers give or take depending on various EdgeRank factors. Let’s say that 1% of people who see a post about a book will go on to buy it (not an unrealistic conversion rate expectation).

So, you have 1,000 fans on Facebook, only 4% will see the post or 40 people. Of those 40 people only 1% will buy it so 0.4 people. That rounds down to zero. To sell a single book through a Facebook page with the current EdgeRank algorithm you need 2,500 fans. Do you have 10,000 fans? Congratulations! You can expect to sell 4 books.

Now some authors work long and hard to improve their EdgeRank score so they can sell maybe one book per 1000 fans but in reality most sales come from some other channel.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is most likely looking at pre-2018 data.

Anyone notice the difference between posting on their Page and their Profile?

Jim’s example when he posted on winning the Christy Award a few weeks ago.

Reason #4 Opportunity Cost

Some authors spend an hour a day on Facebook. Before you think this is not you, check the screen time app on your iPhone and then add the time you spend on Facebook on your computer.

Opportunity cost is the cost of the next best alternative to Facebook. So what is your next best alternative? It depends on you.

An hour a day is about 300 hours a year, assuming you take Sundays and holidays off. That is about how much time it takes to write a book. So the opportunity cost of Facebook is about a book a year for many authors. That is a very high opportunity cost!

Other things you could do rather than spend time on Facebook:

  • Get better at speaking. 6 hours a week is enough time for three toastmasters meetings a week. Then start speaking small, start speaking on your own YouTube channel …
  • Telling people directly about your book, never underestimate the power of one on one sales. Jim’s story of telling people when he flies.
  • Podcasting. The fastest growing medium for book marketing.
  • Blogging. The benefit of blogging is that it gives your readers something to share on Facebook so you can have your cake and eat it too.
  • Write more books. This needs to be said again it is so important. The best way to sell a book is to write another book. This is especially true for fiction.
Reason #5 Fake News Machines

Whenever there is an algorithm, there are people with a reason to try to outsmart that algorithm. This is true for Google’s search results and Facebook’s EdgeRank.

Right now there are many state and privately funded “fake news machines” that use Facebook for various political and commercial reasons. There are also political groups doing the same thing for both the red and blue teams. These organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars at what they do. What was released about Cambridge Analytica is just the tip of the iceberg.

Trying to compete with a hundred million dollar budget by posting clever images with your book cover on them is like walking up to a skyscraper and trying to push it over with your hands.

Some of what Facebook is doing to fight fake news is hurting authors as well.

The battleground of mighty titans is not a good place to build a platform.

Reason #6 Bubbles

One result of EdgeRank is that what people see on Facebook is what they have liked in the past. This results in people sharing in bubbles that seldom break demographic boundaries. If you are a 50 year old middle class white woman, chances are most of what you see on Facebook is from other people with very similar demographics.

This is not to mention the political polarization into three camps, red, blue, and “please don’t talk about politics.” So the spread of an idea on Facebook is limited by faction as much as by demographics.

Reason #7 Demographic Changes

Speaking of demographics, Facebook is getting grayer. This is not necessarily bad. If your book  targets retirees, then this change won’t hurt you. But young people are spending less and less time on Facebook. My wife, who was once active on Facebook, now shows up just long enough to drop of some baby photos and then she leaves for a different social network.

Reason # 8 What Publishers Want

If you want to go traditional publishing, you need to be aware that publishers aren’t impressed by huge Facebook numbers any longer. They know what’s going on, at least the savvy ones do. The realize massive FB numbers and interaction, don’t mean big book sales.

What do they want? Huge email lists. Great ideas. Great writing.

Why Do Authors Still Use Facebook?

So why do authors use a social network that has so many problems?

For several reasons:

  1. It used to work. Back in 2010, Facebook strategies worked well. Ads were cheap and impressions were easy to get on free content. In 2012 when Michael Hyatt wrote the book Platform (Affiliate LInk), Facebook had already crested its zenith in terms of usability. There is a reason he only devotes two pages to Facebook and that was five years ago.
  2. It’s affermational. The reason some authors write is because they have a psychological need for affirmation and acknowledgement. Getting “likes” on posts can make authors feel validated in the moment even though it rings hollow in the end. This is why studies show that Facebook makes people sad and people use it anyway.
  3. It’s easy. Compared to building a website, blogging, or public speaking, Facebook feels easy. The problem with easy, is that there are likely a million other authors taking the easy path too. The road to success requires walking the hard path.
TL;DR

Why should you avoid Facebook?

Because:

  • you don’t want to become a digital peasant farmer
  • it reaches people in the wrong state of mind
  • Facebook hides your content from 96% of fans.
  • you could be doing something more valuable with your time
  • you are competing with multimillion dollar shadow organizations that will outspend and out optimize you.
Sponsor:

5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

This plan was crafted by Thomas & Jim to be step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.

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Last episode we talked about how to find book clubs, and how to get them to choose you, so if you haven’t listed to episode 164, you might want to listen to it first.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to make a great impression on a book club, so they’ll invite you back … which means another batch of books sold in bulk. Did you like that alliteration, Thomas?

Show Notes

Add a Reading Group Resources Section to Your Book

  • Include discussion questions after each chapter (nonfiction)
  • Include discussion questions at the end of the book. (fiction)
  • At the end of your book, mention that you have Reading Club Resources on your website.

Add a Reading Group Resources section to your website.

  • Include discussion questions on your website.
  • Record short “discussion kickstarter” videos and upload them to YouTube.
  • Add a bulk book ordering feature to your website.
  • Add slides for a powerpoint introducing the themes of the book

Create a Leader’s Guide

Things to consider including:

  • All the discussion questions from the book.
  • Bonus discussion questions
  • Meeting outline with timing suggestions. Assume the meeting will be 1 hour. It is easier for leaders to let segments go long rather than cut them short.
  • Icebreakers related to the topic.
  • If your book is inspirational, include prayer points/topics.
  • Related group activities
  • Food ideas for the snack/meal. Recipes for meals served in the story. Especially good for period stories.
  • Action steps that the leader can suggest to the group at the end, especially powerful for non-fiction books

Participate

  • Offer to Skype in, or call in during one of the meetings
  • Put together a one sheet for your book with trivia and/or easter eggs
  • Share photos that inspired your book or real life locations
  • Cut a short video specific to that group
  • Get questions from the leader of the club and answer them on video ahead of time
  • Offer a freebie to the book club for signing up for your newsletter

Follow Up

  • Send a thank you note to the organizer a few days later
  • Ask the organizer if they know of any other book clubs that might be interested in reading one of your books
  • Ask for a photo of the group holding your book and post it on social media, and remind folks that you love taking part in book clubs
Sponsor:

5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

This plan was crafted by Thomas & Jim to be step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.

New Price: $199

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