My Journey Into FaceBook Ads – Round 1

round 1 fight

Before I get into the statistics of Round 1 with FaceBook ads, I’d like to start out with 2 things. First, somehow my author page was flagged by FaceBook as being a page that was “selling adult sexual products and/or services” and therefore absolutely NONE of my ads were being approved, regardless of the content (I even did one that stated “THIS IS A TEST” with no graphics and no links, still denied because my page had been flagged). No, none of my recent novels are classified as erotica, so I’m not really sure. There has been speculation someone must have reported the page at some point, but I cannot be sure as I do not remember getting any type of notification. Second, because of this, I had to run my first ad through my publishing house page, which I do not advertise or promote. Since the running of this ad, the problems with my author page have been fixed.



Below is the first ad I ran:


A beauty shot of a young blue eyed woman with her red hair looking at the camera.

“I won’t ask you to do anything I am not willing to do myself.”


Hopeless, pointless. Those were the words on the lips of every supernatural being still left standing in our small community.


Clans were being eradicated, families scattered to the winds. But we would not stand idly by and watch as we were being destroyed. We would unite, fight, all declaring as one that we had the right to exist. Battle lines have been drawn, but the war has just begun.


If you love paranormal fantasy packed with action and romance, then Nicola C. Matthews’ The Red Fang – Book One in the Before the Sun Rises Series – is for you.




I set a targeted audience of women between the ages of 21 and 65 & ran the ad in the US, Canada, England, and Japan. I targeted those who showed interest in reading romance, fiction, books, and ebooks. According to Facebook, that was a potential reach of 49 million users with these demographics.


Budget and Time Frame:

I started my ad at 12 pm on 9/27/15 and ran it through 9/29/15 for a total of 2.5 days with a $2 budget per day. My total amount spent for the 2.5 day run was $6. According to the analytics of FB, that was a potential reach of 1100 to 1600 people per day.

Day 2:

Since my ad only ran for 12 hours on day 1, I am starting my analysis on Day 2 after a full 24 hours. At the end of 9/28/15, I had a post reach of approximately 361 people and 9 total post engagements.


For the record, I have no idea how FB calculates their “post reach.” I am assuming this is how many different people’s newsfeed the ad showed in. This does not mean the people saw the ad, only that it had been placed in 361 different newsfeeds. An “engagement,” according to FB, is any interaction someone has with the ad – whether it is a “like” on the post, a “share,” if they click on the photo graphic, a comment, or if they click-through the link. At the end of 9/28/15 I had 2 total post likes, one of which was my own.


Day 3:

After the campaign ended on 9/29/15, the last day of my ad run, I had a post reach total of 1018 and 18 total post engagements.  I had a budget of $6 making each post engagement approximately $0.33 per engagement. This gave me a 1.83% return rate.


My total engagements were:

10 photo clicks of the graphic I used

1 link click-through

7 post likes (1 of which was my own)


To break this down, the more people who engage in the ad for your set budget, the less those engagements are costing you. Since I really have no control over how many times my ad shows up in any one person’s newsfeed, all I really have to go on is how much I’m paying per engagement, the type of engagement, and most importantly, the number of click-throughs on the book link.


Demographics Breakdown:

Approximately half of my audience was between the ages of 18 and 24, the other half between 25 and 65+ with 104 of those being in the 65+ category, which surprised me. I had thought about stopping my targeted audience at 55 but after seeing these numbers, I need to include the 65+ age group.


Of the 1018 post reach, only 51 was seen on a desktop with the rest being from some type of mobile device. 850 of those reached were from the US or Canada with more than 500 of those being from Canada.


Ranking Statistics:

Overall, neither my author ranking nor my individual book ranking increased during the run of my ad. I also ran a Twitter ad for the same book simultaneously (blog article regarding those analytics coming soon) and still did not see any increase in ranking. Since the ad I ran was for a book with a trade publisher, I will not have access to the sales statistics until the end of October. Given I saw a steady decline in the book’s ranking over the course of the ad run, I am predicting a zero percent in immediate sales from the ad placement.


My Advice for Future Ads:

I had a lot of people clicking the photo teaser. Since Amazon restricts photos with excessive text (a photo cannot have more than 20% of its area covered in text), I do not suggest using a graphic teaser when advertising books. Since I had so many problems getting my ads to go through my author page, I did not want to risk having my publishing page flagged as well so I opted to remove the photo snapshot of my book cover and replaced it with a very benign graphic teaser. My book cover is a bit “racy” according to FB ad standards so I had concerns. Next time, I will leave the book cover up and hope it does not get flagged.


I know my post was a bit longer than it should have been. People don’t want to click the “read more” in posts, so my next boosted posts will need to be just a few sentences. Since boosted posts also show the comments in the newsfeed, I plan to do an experiment on my next boosted post. I intend to ad graphic teasers into the comments section after the post goes lives to see if that will help the return rate, if FB will allow this.


In Summary:

I know a lot of authors have really spoken against FB ads, and yet some have had tremendous success. While I myself find it ridiculous to have to pay for my posts to reach additional people already on my list, FB does offer the option of showing those ads to friends of people who have liked your page, as well as to everyone BUT those who have liked your page. I chose the “friends of people who have liked your page” option so even though it was only 1018 people who had this ad included in their newsfeed, that is 1K people who have probably never heard of me or my books, which is what I’m going after.


In addition, everyone seems to think this should be a quick fix, when advertising and marketing is an ongoing business expense just like anything else. Business classes teach us the rule of 7, i.e. someone needs to be shown an advertisement approximately 7 times before they will act. Because of this, I intend to continue to run my ads off and on for at least half of the month each month, even if my budget only allows for $2/day. It’s a small investment which could yield large returns in the long run. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and as authors we need to stop thinking that overnight successes actually happen overnight.


I am reminded of those god-awful L. Ron Hubbard commercials for his book Dianetics.  I can’t tell you what the book is about, and I never bought one, but I damn sure remember his name, the commercial, and the name of the book. Why? Because that commercial used to come on at least three times a damn hour during local broadcasting when the book first came out. So before you think you are wasting money on advertising dollars that do not readily translate into sales for the first few months, remember L. Ron Hubbard. Even if people get sick of seeing your ads, at least they will be hating you and your stupid-ass ads ten years later.

My Vanity Forced Me Do It – Why I Signed a Trade Publishing Contract

Sign Here

Publishing a book is hard work. If you decide to do it on your own, it’s even harder. Unfortunately, writing the book is just the first step. From creation to completion, publication involves a lot of professionals. Once the book is written, it still has to go through editors, proofreaders, formatters for the different platforms, graphic artists for cover art, and then the hardest part of all – marketing and promotion. If you are an indie author, you either learn to do all this on your own or you contract it out to other professionals. The one constant which remains, however, is whether you are trade published or indie published, the vast majority of marketing and promotion will fall to the author.

There are many reasons for authors to decide to try to get their books published through traditional brick and mortar companies, just as there are many reasons for them to take on the work and responsibilities of being their own publisher. For some, going traditional seems like much less work. They either do not have the technical know-how to acquire the skill sets required to become their own publisher, or they do not want to break up their time between writing and publishing. Some authors are still under the “Happily Ever After” notion that once they are accepted by a trade publisher, all they have to do going forward is write a rough draft and pass it along. If only it were that simple.

For me, the reasons behind me tracking down a trade publisher were simplistic and selfish – vanity, and time.

In the beginning, I set out to prove to all the newbie writers who were still under the “HEA” guise that having a trade publisher did not equal large advancements and a lot less work than being indie published. I had been offered trade publishing deals on and off for years but still maintained publishing under my own house for one simple reason – none of the contracts stated anything about the publisher doing any marketing or promotion on my behalf. All those responsibilities fell onto my shoulders, while the publisher still only offered me the standard 25% royalty rate. The way I saw it, if I still had to do the majority of the work – and one of the most important jobs in publication – then I wasn’t going to sacrifice my royalties.

Yet so many newbies kept insisting I was wrong, despite me being able to point to at least six different trade published authors on my FB friends list who had been picked up by Random House and were still working upwards of four part time jobs just to keep food on their tables, and, oh yeah, they had to do the largest part of promotion and marketing on their own. But hey, what the hell do I know, right? I mean, thirty-two years of being a writer and more than half of that time spent wading in the muck with traditional publishers apparently made me know even less than the ones who woke up a month ago and decided they wanted to be a writer. What could I possible do to convince them otherwise?

Well, you know me, and so about a year ago I began to send out query letters and submit to those larger publishers who were still taking unsolicited manuscripts. Some of them I never heard a word out of, even after a year, and I’m assuming that was a “silent” rejection on their part. Others had submission pages where I could watch them reject my manuscript in real time. The record for rejection goes to Kensington for rejecting my manuscript in exactly 45 minutes from the time their editor clocked in at 8 a.m. I’m assuming they make a habit of rejecting all manuscripts as soon as they are submitted and then take their time reading through them. It’s a great way to keep the authors from blowing up their email with update requests. Yeah, they don’t know me very well either, do they?

After spending a few months being reminded why I hate the publishing business so much, I was growing tired of breaking what little bit of time I had for writing into the different aspects of running my own publishing house. I mean, my ass works a full time day job to pay my bills. I did not have the time to do everything, and so when I was actually offered a publication deal with a fairly large hybrid house, I went against my better judgment and signed the contract.

WHY? Like I said, my vanity made me do it. I must admit it was nice finally having someone in the “industry” to “validate” me as a writer. And that is all it was, my ego and vanity needing a bit of a pick-me-up from someone who supposedly knew the difference between a well written manuscript and someone who pumped out as much gutter trash as possible to make a few quick bucks. Let’s face it, it is one thing to have a few hundred readers tell you they like your work, but nothing makes you feel like you actually ARE a real writer like having a publisher offer to publish your work.

So I signed the contract. I will say this, if you know absolutely NOTHING about being a published author, have no desire to learn the business or do not have the technical know-how to do it, then getting a publisher is a great idea. But if you already know the different aspects of the business, have already published work on your own and are working to get better at it, are hiring the right professionals to produce the absolute best work you can, then getting a publisher is probably not the best move for you, and it certainly isn’t going to lighten your work load. If anything, it is going to drag out the publication process, it is going to create more work for you, and if you are used to doing things yourself, you are going to find yourself at odds with your creative team.

Trade publishing is not for everyone, just like indie publishing is not for everyone. There are pros and cons to both paths, which I will cover in another blog post. I will only say that for me, being indie is probably going to be my path from here on out. After spending 5 months revamping a book for publication using time I really needed to devote to writing, I can honestly say I have no desire to go down that path again. The only thing about that entire ordeal that I found even remotely helpful was the FB group, and that has its limits. I can say that for the first time in years, I don’t feel a twinge of jealousy when I see other authors announce their writing contracts. If anything, I pity them, because I have walked both paths. I have seen the amount of time and work which goes into both sides of the business, I know what a trade publisher will and will not do for me as an author. And in case you are wondering, NO, there was no money spent on promotions or advertisements by anyone other than myself.

Well, after giving this a go just to see if things had changed over the past fifteen years, I can now say I was right. And I didn’t want to be right. If anything, I had hoped the industry had changed, were starting to take authors more seriously and offering to do more for their careers. I had really hoped all I would have to do was write a rough draft and hand it off to my publisher and then wait for my shiny, new proof copy to arrive. Unfortunately, if anything, the indie revolution has pushed the trade publishing companies to offer even less for their authors. What more can you expect with so much competition?

I can’t say that my experience was all bad, and if I didn’t know as much as I know about the industry then it most likely would have been a pleasant experience. Knowledge, it would seem, was my undoing. There are many, many authors who happily sign with trade publishers and are happy as clams to do so. I, however, know it is not the right choice for me.

So, for now at least, I will continue to publish under my own house. Whether you like to admit it or not, the only person who really cares who publishes your book is YOU. I still feel if I have to go behind someone and check their work, be my own proofreader, my own copy editor, and market and promote my own works, then I’ll do it with 70% royalties, thank you very much. No, being indie isn’t for everyone, but being trade published isn’t for everyone either. My only words of wisdom are: know what you are getting into, don’t be afraid to ask questions, trust your instincts, and above all, do NOT be afraid to learn things on your own.

Interview: Underground Musician Detour169


Today The Alternative Underground sat down with Russell Pluss, the mastermind behind the underground cult sensation, musical artist Detour169. For those who have not heard of D169, you are missing out of some of the most unique, cutting-edge music in the industry today.

Russell handles absolutely everything for his projects, the original “one-man show” if you will, from conception to completion. All of the photos included in this piece were taken and created by Russell. He is his own makeup artist and graphic artist. He creates, writes, records, and mixes his own music, markets and promotes, and even performs live shows.

In addition to being his own marketing manager, he founded Dead Nation Records, an independent label dedicated to helping market and promote other underground artists. It’s amazing everything he has learned to do over the years, and we are very lucky to have him carve out a few minutes in his tight schedule to speak with us.

Russell, I’d like to thank you for taking a few moments to discuss your career and your new release. Sore Thumb is scheduled to be released soon. How many albums have you released to date?

Sore Thumb is still to be announced for the release date. I have (technically) four albums available currently. “Vizionz” is my first. It was my debut in the horrorcore rap scene. “Book Of The Dead, Vol.1” is my second. It’s about the time I first started to experiment with different styles, and genres. The Third/fourth is “Mind of a monster.” It is a double disc album that featured a cd of all rap, and the other being all rock. These albums are going to be released separately, and the double album is only available at live shows. I am also part of a horrorcore rap group called “Tha Jokaz”, and have been for 8 years.

How would you describe your music? Is there any specific genre you feel your music fits into more than others?

I describe my music as “dark rap meets synth rock”.


Who are/were your musical influences?

My influences range from Marilyn Manson in his mechanical animals era, to Orgy, Power Man 5000, Nine Inch Nails, to Wu Tang.

What all types of instruments do you play?

I play guitar on stage sometimes, and I produce my own music, so I play everything from keyboards, guitars, to drums and more.

How long have you been writing and producing music?

I have been producing my own music from the start, which started 15 years ago, tho I was known back home in Connecticut as a guitar prodigy.


Dead Nation Records is your own label. What is the story behind its creation?

Dead Nation is a label I started because I had to find a place where I actually belonged musically, and my story has been a tough one, and I want the label to be a place where others who have a unique sound and look can fit in, a place where the dark beauty of music goes unjudged, and appreciated!

Do you have any plans to sign with a more traditional record label?

 I would love to sign with a major label, but Dead Nation Records will always be there, and will grow.

What motivates you to keep going in the industry?

What motivates me into continuing what I do is that I love the beauty of the art. Music is emotional, and can be created to tell any and every thing! I am a story teller, so in a way, I view my songs as an “audiobook”, because I can give the listener a mental image of what I am singing about.

Most people wonder why I look and sound the way I do. My answer is is: I am Detour. I go in different directions all the time. I don’t listen to the radio. If I want to hear a song, I just make it. There is a beauty in writing all different types of styles. I am versatile.

D169 Show Flyer

Catch Detour169 at THE JAM SPOT on October 30th.

For all things Detour169, check out Russell on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, & catch some cool tunes on Reverbnation and Soundcloud.

The DOs and DON’Ts of Social Media

DOs and DON'Ts

Thanks to the internet, there are now a wide range of social media celebrities all seeking their claim to fame. With this influx of authors, YouTubers, podcasters, and bloggers, social media as a marketing platform has become more important than ever. Unfortunately, most people are ill-equiped to handle the attention and backlash that can come from posting their thoughts and opinions. In fact, these internet sensations can quickly lose followers and supporters with the most innocent of comments. I’m not afraid to say that I have stopped supporting a huge chunk of indie authors based solely on how they behave on FB.

With that said, below is a short list of basic DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to posting on social media. Most of these are geared more towards writers, but the basic principles still apply to most artistic mediums across the board. This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but will give some basic guidelines.

DO “like” other people’s posts, share posts, comment on posts, & be social with your network.

DON’T expect other people to “like”, comment, & share your posts when you can’t be bothered to do the same. Social media is a two way street. These days, people expect everyone in the entertainment biz to not only be accessible, but also to be socially involved with their audience.

DO celebrate your milestones & accomplishments with a happy dance or a quick status update.

DON’T keep a running tally on FB of your current Amazon ranking. Seriously. When was the last time you saw Anne Rice screenshot her Amazon ranking?

DO excuse yourself from social media when you have a family emergency or just need some “you” time.

DON’T use said emergency or hard times as an excuse to guilt-trip your audience into buying whatever it is you are selling. If you want a guaranteed way to cause people to black-list your ass, then start using a sob story as a business ploy.

DO get a second, third, or fourth job to help pay your bills.

DON’T use your passion as another business ploy to sell crap. Seriously. We all have bills to pay and we all want to use our talents & passions as a way to pay our bills. Even the brightest of celebrity stars had to work outside their passion to keep food in their stomachs while they pounded the pavement during their off time.

DO listen to veterans who have been in the industry. They are a wealth of information & can really help you along the way.

DON’T assume you know everything. Even veterans can learn something new.

DO treat others with kindness.

DON’T be a total jerk when you disagree with someone. You never know who is actually behind that computer screen or how much pull they have in the real world.

DO help others out.

DON’T be a jackass & only help those who help you first. You never know when that person you helped might suddenly have some serious pull in your industry & can in turn help make your dreams a reality.

DO share content from 3rd party sources.

DON’T make self-promotion your only interaction.

DO post your material in FB groups & communities according to their guidelines.

DON’T post promotional links to your own material on other people’s FB walls without asking permission. Their FB wall is their space. It’s considered rude and greatly frowned upon.

If you do not want links and tags to appear on your wall without checking them out first, DO set your FB settings so link posts & tags will have to be approved prior to them appearing on your FB wall.

DON’T go psycho on someone when they post a link on your FB wall. Quietly remove it if you don’t want it there and adjust your FB settings. Going off the deep end will only cause people to stop supporting you.

DO set up auto-replies on Twitter, but DON’T include a promotional link unless you are offering a freebie. In the case of bands, DON’T have every band member using the same auto-reply.

DO thank your audience and your followers. They are the only reason why you are still participating in your chosen line of entertainment.

DON’T be a jerk to your fans and ignore them. Again, these days people expect celebrities to be accessible and to actually converse with their audience. Nothing will cause supporters to turn against you quicker than for you to act like your fans owe you something.

DO share your opinion with tact and respect.

DON’T attack someone for sharing their opinion. Better yet, don’t share any type of hot-topic opinion at all. It’s safer.