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Friday, October 07, 2016

Friday Speak Out!: The Story of My First Facebook Ad

by Elen Ghulam

Allow me to tell you a story. It’s kinda a sad story, but I hope it will give you a laugh.

A few weeks ago I saw a YouTube video of an author exalting the power of Facebook ads in helping him sell his book. I love the internet. Ideas travel across it at the speed of a virus. Immediately, I thought: “Aha! I can do that as well! How hard can it be?” Who needs to wait for the organic slow reach of word of mouth? Just throw some money on it and viola! ….. thousands …. Maybe millions of copies sold. Success is with in my reach. After all, I am an intelligent person. I can figure it out on my own. Move over Elizabeth Gilbert! The other E.G. is about to move into your best seller territory.

So I put my thinking hat on, drank extra coffee and set out designing my first foray into the world of advertising. I thought I was being very clever. I spent hours putting the graphic together. Agonized over the blurb. Wrote it and rewrote it until it was just so. I thought: "Yes!" this is it. I am ready to be a business woman, take matters into my own hands, be in control of my own success. Unknown indie author no more. I am ready to announce myself to the whole world. I set my targeting for women, aged 21 - 65+ who live in Texas, Florida or Washington DC who are fans of Chuck Palahniuk and have expressed interest in Amazon Kindle. To be displayed in the desktop news feed only. I set the budget for 5 dollars per day to run for three days.

In my head I imagined Palahniuk fans flocking over to buy my creation. The world was about to become my oyster.

Right! ....... Wrong! Cue in the violin please. One person clicked on the ad. You are reading that right. Over 300 people saw the ad and only one person had the courage to click on it. A lone brave soul. Perhaps somebody who felt sorry for me. Usually, I sell one or two copies of my novel per week. That week, I sold none. It is as if the ad had a repellent effect on potential buyers. Oh! failure so spectacular. I have no idea what I did wrong, or what I should have done differently. At the very least this can serve as a case study of what not to do. Now excuse me while I eat a giant humble pie.

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Elen Ghulam worked as a computer programmer for 18 years. Telling stories to silicon chips proved to be easy, and so she graduated to amusing humans. She is an Iraqi-Canadian living in Vancouver, BC. You can visit her at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Elen--If I had seen it, I might have clicked on it, but alas, I don't do Facebook. (My favorite of his is "Haunted.")

    You do some incredibly creative things on your blog. I'm going to have to check out more of your posts and videos when I'm not about to dash off to work.

    From what I've gathered, you could market your book in so many different ways. At a dance demonstration? At a workshop on creating videos (that you teach) at your local library... You are multi-talented and think outside the box. Think about other out-of-the-box ways you can lure potential readers...

  2. So I have done some Facebook ads, and they are tough. What has worked the best for me is when I ask people a question or have some call to action, other than buying my book or visiting my blog. I think Facebook ads work if you want to announce something to a following you already have. I think they don't work too well in this fast-paced world we live in to gain book sellers who have to click off of Facebook to go to Amazon.

    So I have a Facebook professional page. I have asked people for advice and gotten some clicks on through to my blog and some likes on my page once they gave me the advice. This I hope will turn into sales if I ever write another book. :)

    Also, I always do Facebook ads to friends of friends--that way some of these people might have heard their friends talk about you and be more likely to click and check you out.

    I don't think you should feel embarrassed for trying something new. And I'm glad you told us about it here!

  3. I meant gain book buyers. :)

  4. Hello Sioux,
    Thank you for your words of encouragement. Hoping one of my efforts is successful. I like your suggestions. I haven't read Haunted yet, on my to-read list. I just finished reading Beautiful You ... so so ... kinda funny and fun.

  5. Thank you Margo Dill for your advise. I have taken notes and will try to revise my adds.


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