ook marketing is exceptionally tricky these days. There are more books on the market than ever before, so the competition for readers is fierce. Authors often drop thousands of advertising dollars to get their books in front of Facebook, BookBub, Goodreads, and Amazon customers. But if you’re an author that relies on Facebook ads to sell books, you NEED to hear this story.
“I’ve been using Facebook ads since 2015 to sell books,” said paranormal and contemporary romance author Isabel Jordan. “Advertising romance novels on Facebook has gotten trickier over the past year or so due to changes within the platform’s guidelines, but I never had any problem getting ads approved. I intentionally keep my ads very ‘PG’—nothing that could even remotely be construed as sexual or inappropriate in nature. So when they shut down my ad account on 7/11/19, stating that I was ‘consistently’ in violation of their community standards, I was sure it was some kind of mistake. I immediately appealed the decision and asked for an explanation of what I’d done wrong.”
Here’s the reply Isabel received.
And just to make matters more baffling, the link they provided to the training module was broken.
“At that point,” Isabel went on, “I was still sure there’d been some kind of mistake. I mean, they’d been taking my money and running my ads for years. They’d even taken an ad payment from me that day. So, I appealed again and asked—again—what I’d done wrong.”
Here’s the reply she received for the second appeal.
“By that point, I was pretty much over the whole thing,” Isabel said. “Frankly, I’d been noticing diminishing returns on my Facebook ads for a while, and had been considering shutting them down anyway. Ads were getting more and more expensive, and Facebook seemed to be showing them to fewer and fewer people, unless I was willing to keep increasing my budgets. So, I took this account deactivation as the kick in the butt I needed to give up on the Facebook ads platform completely. But on principle, I still wanted to know what I did wrong. With that in mind, I sent a 3rd and final message to the Facebook ads team stating that I no longer wanted my account reinstated because I wouldn’t be needing it, but I did still want to know what I’d done wrong.”
Here’s the 3rd reply she received to a simple message asking what she’d done wrong.
We did a little research on our own and without looking very hard, uncovered about 20 other authors who had experiences similar to Isabel’s. None of them received their ads accounts back. In fact, they received the same barely intelligible, obviously bot-created form responses to inquires and appeals. Several authors also claimed that after several appeals, Facebook shut off their ability to even send messages to the help center.
It would seem that the Facebook ads platform is severely flawed. And while Facebook is still more than willing to take your ad dollars, they don’t have any interest in improving their system or correcting their mistakes.
So, what’s the lesson to be learned here?
Isabel says, “I think the lesson to be learned—the whole reason I’m talking about this at all—is that I want authors to be aware that Facebook can shut down your ads account without reason at any time. If you’re depending on Facebook ads for book sales, losing your ad account could be crippling to your income. I don’t want to see that happen to any author or publisher. It’s hard enough to navigate the publishing business these days without worrying about losing your entire marketing strategy because some Facebook bot makes a bad call. The best advice I can give authors at this point is to diversify your ads strategy. Don’t put all your faith and money in Facebook.”
That’s probably good advice for all business, actually—not just authors. Facebook doesn’t even show the posts on our Romance Rehab Facebook page to all of the people who liked our page and said they wanted to get updates from us...unless we agree to pay them to boost the post, that is. In other words, unless we give into their money grab, our words only reach about half our audience at a time. And that’s the people WHO SAID THEY WANTED TO HEAR FROM US. It’s pretty much extortion, frankly. So why should any business base their marketing strategy on an entity that’s willing to extort money at every opportunity? (Hint: They shouldn’t. We highly recommend diversification. Like, now!)
And for those of you who feel bad for Isabel, s’all good.
“I’m honestly not upset about it and don’t plan to even try to get my account back. I just don’t need it,” she said. “I refuse to fight to get an advertiser to take my money. I’ve had better luck with Amazon ads these days, anyway. If there’s anything I’ve learned about the publishing business over the years, it’s that everything changes. What worked for you yesterday might not work tomorrow. You have to roll with the punches if you want to succeed. Personally, I’m just going to adjust on the fly and see it as an opportunity to fine-tune my marketing strategies without Facebook. In my mind, it's a loss for their membership. Facebook is overflowing with romance fans who are looking for new books and actually WANT to get ads from authors so they can find new books. Now there's one less author they'll be hearing from.”
What about all you authors out there? Have anything you’d like to add? Any Facebook horror stories to share? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you!
And if you want to connect with Isabel, you can find her all over the interwebs:
Amazon, BookBub, Goodreads, Facebook, Facebook Reader Group (Bitch, Write Faster), Twitter, Instagram.
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