What I Love about Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) via KDP

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AMAZON MARKETING SERVICES FOR KDP

My post will include both the benefits and challenges of using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to advertise Kindle e-books.

I don’t intend for my title to imply that it will give instant success to all books. It won’t.

I will begin with what I like about AMS—for which there is much—and then I will address some of the challenges and offer tips for attempting to use it effectively.

A few years before AMS was introduced to KDP, I had discovered the Amazon Media Group. Many big vendors for a wide variety of products have used and continue to use the Amazon Media Group’s advertising services.

I had a conversation with the Amazon Media Group about their advertising services several years ago about possibly running an advertising campaign for one or more of my books.

This was before indie authors had the opportunity to advertise directly on Amazon using AMS via KDP Select.

The problem was that the minimum campaign budget was $10,000. If I recall correctly, an ad would generate 10,000,000 impressions over the course of a month.

If you achieved a typical click-through rate (ctr) of 0.1%, you would net 10,000 visitors to your product page. If you achieved a better than average closing rate of 10%, you would net 1000 sales.

But then you would need to earn $10 per sale just to break even.

And if your ctr was below average, or if your closing rate was 1% to 5%, which isn’t uncommon for e-books, and if your royalty was around $2 to $3 per book, you could easily lose thousands of dollars on the deal.

I didn’t place an ad back then because it was very high risk. I’ve since heard stories of a few authors who shelled out the big bucks for a campaign back in those days who lost big.

That’s one reason I love the AMS option for Kindle e-books.

A minimum campaign budget of $100 is tiny compared to $10,000. AMS made advertising accessible to KDP authors. (It used to be just for KDP Select, but now it’s for all Kindle e-books.)

It’s much lower risk now. It basically wasn’t an option before, as most authors didn’t know about it and those who did generally couldn’t afford it (even if they had the funds, the risk was high).

And you don’t even have to spend the $100 budget. You can pause or terminate your campaign at any time, keeping any losses to a minimum. (Though there are reporting delays, so even after you end a campaign, for several days it can continue to accrue costs. By not bidding too high, you minimize this risk.)

Every author naturally wonders if advertising will help. Now by publishing an e-book with KDP, you can find out, and it doesn’t cost too much to see the results (provided that you don’t get impatient and bid too high). Then you won’t have to wonder if advertising is the answer you’ve been searching for: You’ll know firsthand.

Here’s another thing I love about AMS.

You can advertise your Kindle e-book right on Amazon itself.

That’s prime real estate.

People who see your ad are already at Amazon, shopping for products, with their wallets out, ready to make a purchase.

When you advertise your book anywhere else, your ad is basically asking people to stop whatever they are presently doing, leave the website they’re currently at, and visit Amazon to shop for a book.

For several years, indie authors have pleaded for a reasonably priced advertising option at Amazon.

Well, here it is.

What AMS is and what it isn’t.

Advertising with AMS via KDP is an opportunity. It’s a tool.

Like the opportunity to self-publish on Amazon itself, and like all other marketing tools, some authors and some books will utilize it more effectively than others.

It will work well for some books, okay for some books, and poorly for others.

What AMS isn’t:

  • It’s not a magic genie.
  • It won’t yield instant success for each and every book. (But for some books it will help.)
  • It probably isn’t the solution for a book that hasn’t been selling on its own. (But you sure can find out.)
  • It’s not guaranteed to provide a positive return on investment (ROI).

If AMS were guaranteed to yield 100% ROI, every author would use it, and then we might as well wrap up every customer in the world with wallpaper packed with Amazon ads.

Using AMS effectively comes with some challenges.

AMS won’t bring instant, automatic success to most books.

But for many books, there exists some beneficial way to use it effectively.

Here are the challenges:

  • Landing a decent impression rate when many other authors are also running ads for similar books.
  • Not bidding more than you can afford to bid.
  • Getting a strong conversion rate.
  • Earning a positive return on investment (ROI).

Too many authors don’t use AMS as effectively as they could:

  • Blindly using KDP’s recommended bid, which is fairly high.
  • Impatiently raising the bid.
  • Not running enough controlled experiments to learn how to optimize the variables.
  • Not using enough creativity with targeting methods.
  • Bidding more than they can afford to bid.
  • Not being content with a low impression rate, if that’s all you can afford and manage to get out of it.

I see many authors make one or more of these mistakes, and then terminate their campaigns.

But you don’t need to terminate your campaign. Your last resort is to greatly reduce your bid and accept whatever impression rate you can afford, even if it’s meager. It may not be what you want, but if it doesn’t yield a negative ROI, even rare impressions are better than nothing, and you only pay for clicks.

On top of this, your ad is competing against authors who have a distinct advantage:

  • Series authors have the potential to generate multiple sales from a single click. They can afford to bid higher, banking on those future sales.
  • Authors with several similar books also have the potential for multiple sales. They can also afford to bid higher.
  • Successful authors know they will have ample royalties from regular sales even if the ad performs poorly. They are playing with the house’s money, so to speak.
  • Some authors use advertising for other purposes besides immediate profits. They might bid higher, not minding a short-term loss, with their sights set on branding or building an initial fan base.

And then your ad also competes against newbie authors who don’t have an advertising advantage, but who bid much higher than they should.

Here are suggestions for how to optimize AMS advertisements.

My first tips are:

  • Be very, very patient.
  • Bid very low to begin with.
  • Always wait a few days before raising your bid to allow for possible reporting delays. Even better, wait a week.
  • Only raise your bid very slightly. I’m talking pennies.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. Waiting diminishes your risk, and makes it easier to assess what may or may not be working.
  • Run multiple campaigns for the same book.* With one campaign, use narrow targeting where customers are very likely to be interested in your book. In an experimental campaign, try to be a little more creative with your targeting, thinking of other kinds of books or non-book products which are likely to appeal to your target audience.**
  • Your bid isn’t the only factor, or necessarily the most important factor, in landing impressions. Amazon measures ad performance. Good targeting and product page appeal can improve your ad performance. If you get a strong initial click rate, your ad can generate more impressions at a lower bid. This is one reason that raising the bid often isn’t the solution. Instead, you should strive to improve your targeting and improve your product page to help improve on ad performance metrics.

* Don’t worry: Your campaigns won’t bid against one another. Any campaigns on your KDP account won’t bid against any other campaigns on your same KDP account.

** Beware though that if the targeting isn’t relevant enough, if you get fewer than about 1 click per 2000 impressions, your campaign is likely to be stopped by Amazon. This doesn’t mean you can’t explore though.

Following are some more tips:

  • Don’t use ellipsis (…) or hyphens (-), for example, in your advertising phrase as these might be considered grammatical errors (!), preventing your ad from displaying on Kindle devices.
  • Read your ad approval email carefully, just in case there are any notes about your ad not being displayed on certain devices.
  • Experiment by running additional ad campaigns. Explore your targeting options. Analyze your data. Try to find the magic combination that will help you learn how to advertise more effectively.
  • If you’re getting fewer than 1 click per 2000 impressions, it probably means that either your targeting isn’t a good fit for your book or you cover isn’t attracting your target audience. Challenge yourself to improve your click-through rate. Although you don’t pay for impressions, this is a sign that your ad could perform better.
  • If you’re getting fewer than 1 sale per 20 clicks, it probably means that either your product page doesn’t match customers’ expectations based on your cover or advertising phrase, or that your product page isn’t closing the deal as effectively as it could. Maybe it’s the blurb or the Look Inside, for example. Challenge yourself to make your product page more effective.
  • If your impression rate is very slow for a couple of weeks, it could be a sign of poor scoring on ad performance metrics. If your initial click rate is low, try pausing the ad and running a new one in its place. But it could also mean that you should try to improve your targeting relevance or improve your cover or product page appeal or keywords or categories. You have so many variables to play with, it can take a while to learn how to optimize them.
  • You could have a higher ROI than you realize. The ad report currently doesn’t show Kindle Unlimited borrows or paperback sales. Customers may also buy other of your books in the future. If you can just break even, approximately, it will probably be worth it in the long run.
  • You don’t have to spend the whole $100 minimum budget. You can pause or terminate your ad at any time. If you’re losing money with your ad, don’t be afraid to stop it. But realize that due to reporting delays, you may continue to accrue clicks for several days after stopping your ad. The lower your bid, the less your risk. (If you bid very high, you can blow your whole budget long before it shows in your ad report. Another reason to bid low and exercise patience.)
  • Note that you can now copy an ad to preserve your original targeting when placing a new ad.
  • Avoid pausing or terminating an ad that’s performing well. An ad that’s generating good results has a high score on ad performance, and it’s hard to rebuild that ad performance. If things are going well, don’t touch your ad with a ten-foot pole. Well, you should edit the end date as needed so that the ad doesn’t expire.
  • Note that product targeting doesn’t actually target the products that you select. Rather, it targets customers who have browsed for similar products in the past. So if you target sci-fi books, your ad could show up on a romance page. If so, it means that the customer has viewed both romance and sci-fi books (at least once) in the past. Still, by targeting sci-fi books, your ad is being shown to customers who have viewed other sci-fi books in the past.

What do I know about advertising through AMS?

How do I know? Fair question:

  • I have placed over 100 ads through AMS via KDP over the past 14 months.
  • It took me a few dozen tries to get it to really work, but overall my last 70 ads have done well on average.
  • One ad has generated over 6,000,000 impressions and 3,000 clicks at an average cost of $0.28 per click.
  • I have several ads (more than 25) which each have accumulated over 1,000,000 impressions.
  • Overall, AMS has worked very well for me.

This doesn’t mean that you will have instant success with advertising. I’ve tried to share tips that I’ve learned from my experience, but you will likely need some experience of your own.

There is something to gain no matter what.

Even if your ad loses money:

  • You get information about what percentage of visitors to your product page actually make a purchase. This is valuable information. 10% is well above average. Strive for that. At around 5% or below, you know firsthand that your product page has room for improvement. Knowing that the best covers, blurbs, and Look Insides can close 10% of the time gives you a lofty target.
  • You discover that advertising wasn’t the magic answer you had been hoping for. At least you learned it’s something else. Is it your cover? blurb? Look Inside? Maybe the idea just isn’t marketable.
  • If you change your cover, blurb, or Look Inside, by running a new ad, you could invest a little money to get valuable data: You can find out whether or not the changes you made improve your closing rate (sales divided by clicks).
  • Although you should terminate an ad that’s losing money, you did get your cover and name out there, and you did get visitors to your product page. This is branding. You at least have hope for a few future sales. And if your ad drew in short-term sales, maybe a few of those customers will buy more of your books in the future, or even recommend your book to others. You gained some hope, if nothing else.

Advertising with AMS is relatively low risk, especially if you bid low and keep a close eye on your reports, prepared to exit early if need be.

Good luck!

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Article on Advertising with AMS and other Publicity Services by Sally Jenkins

Advertising Research

ARTICLE ON ADVERTISING WITH AMS & MORE

Author Sally Jenkins published a great article on paid-for publicity services, including advertising on Amazon with AMS.

The article is called “Get Professional” and appears in the UK magazine called Writers’ Forum.

You can find Writers’ Forum online at writers-forum.com. Or if you reside in the UK, you can pick up a hard copy.

Sally Jenkins was kind enough to include a quote from my blog in her article, which covers:

  • advertising on Amazon with AMS
  • other paid publicity services, such as seeking personal assistance

Check out Sally Jenkins’ website here: sally-jenkins.com.

Here is her author page: viewAuthor.at/SallyJenkins.

Follow her on Twitter: @sallyjenkinsuk.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Relevance: The Key to Advertising/Marketing

Relevance

RELEVANCE

Many advertising and marketing concepts can be understood, and then applied, by considering this one word: relevance.

And what a difference relevance can make.

Yet, very often, the advertiser or marketer hasn’t given this concept due consideration.

In your wildest dreams, your audience is anyone who has a head.

But in reality, you throw your money away with such thinking.

Unless maybe you’re selling hairbrushes.

But even then, you’re wasting money showing your advertisement to people who are bald, strongly prefer combs, or don’t care about their appearance.

Let’s look at some specific examples of how the word relevance impacts advertising and marketing. (Many of the examples are specific to self-published books, but the same principle can be generalized to the sale of other kinds of products or services.)

BOOK COVER DESIGN

Can you imagine walking into a covenant to sell a book about how to plan the perfect spring break vacation?

Well, it’s not much different when 80% of your audience glances at the cover of your sci-fi thriller and expects it to be a western.

(If you’re thinking about the movie Cowboys & Aliens right now, you’re totally missing the point!)

If it looks like a western, it probably is a western, so if you’re looking for sci-fi, why waste your time checking it out?

When there are other sci-fi books that actually look like science fiction.

The most important goal of book cover design is to create a cover that is relevant to your specific target audience.

WRITING <—> MARKETING

There are two ways to approach the combination of writing and marketing that have good prospects for success.

If you can execute your approach well.

  • You can find an existing target audience* and write a book relevant for that audience. (Where you are interested in the topic and have the right experience to write it.)
  • Or you can write what interests you (and where you have the right experience), then find the audience relevant for what you’ve written and market to that audience.†

* You don’t have to write for the most popular audience. It can be a niche audience and still be quite successful.

† The latter carries more risk. The worst-case scenario is that the audience perfect for your book doesn’t even exist. It happens…

AMAZON MARKETING SERVICES

Billboard advertising doesn’t make sense for most books. Even though many people do read, only a fraction read any particular genre, and some of those readers are biased towards certain authors or subgenres, so that the majority of the people who see the billboard advertisement result in wasted impressions. On top of that, the sale of a single book usually results in a low royalty, so you can’t afford wasted impressions.

But if you sell automotive parts and advertise on a billboard overlooking a highway, nearly 100% of your audience drives a car, so even though many prefer to get their service done by a dealer or a mechanic, the advertisement is more effective because of the greatly improved relevance.

On top of that, most advertising largely involves branding, which requires repeated impressions over a long period of time. With advertising, the importance of relevance gets compounded through this repetition.

Where should you advertise your product (or service)? Think long and hard about where it would be highly relevant to show your product.

One reason to use Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to advertise products that you sell on Amazon has to do with relevance:

  • Customers are already there browsing for similar products.
  • You’re not trying to persuade them to stop what they’re doing, leave one site, and visit another site.

To get the most out of AMS, focus on relevance.

For example, when advertising a KDP Select self-published Kindle e-book through AMS:

  • All else being equal, Amazon is more likely to show AMS ads that generate and maintain a high click-through rate. That’s a strong indication of relevance.
  • Precise targeting makes your ad more relevant to the customers who view it.
  • A cover that conveys the precise subgenre/subcategory and content at the tiny size shown in the ads is a big plus.
  • The short marketing pitch shown with the ad can also help to convey relevance.
  • Thus, relevance can help you generate impressions without raising your bid sky high.
  • Ultimately, the blurb, the rest of your product page, and the Look Inside must also be relevant to convert clicks into sales.

CONTENT MARKETING & SEO

I use a free WordPress blog. I will soon pass 300,000 views (if I haven’t already), as I average 500 to 800 visitors per day finding my blog through search engines.

Yet I don’t employ any SEO “tactics.”

My goal has always been simple: Provide helpful content to anyone interested in self-publishing.

If the content is relevant to your audience, you have a strong organic marketing edge with much potential for long-term success.

Relevant content will naturally include the right keywords and keyphrases, lead to recommendations and referrals, generate followers, and encourage discussion.

You can blog successfully with short articles. What matters is that the content is relevant and helpful.

Trying to “fool” search engines into thinking that an article is relevant when it’s not won’t lead to long-term success.

THE DREADED BLURB

To help close the sale, the blurb needs to implicitly convince the customer (with help from the Look Inside) that the content is relevant to the buyer.

It must reinforce the subgenre/subcategory and content conveyed by the cover, title, category, and keywords.

The style of writing and storytelling must also be relevant to the customer.

It needs to be the kind of story and characters that the customer wants to read.

Without giving the story away. Because once the customer knows the story, it’s no longer relevant.

Fiction blurbs need to be short, while nonfiction blurbs should highlight important points with bullets, since the customer doesn’t want to waste time—not yet sure if reading the blurb is relevant or not.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Ad Performance Impacts Your Ad’s Chance of Being Shown with Amazon’s AMS

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

AMS ADVERTISING: CLICK HISTORY

It’s not just your cost-per-click (CPC) bid that matters.

It’s also your click history.

When you advertise with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), click history in addition to your CPC bid determine the chances that your ad will be shown to customers.

Amazon’s bidding algorithm for advertising space via AMS takes into account the click-through rate (CTR) as well as the CPC bid.

That should make sense. You only pay for clicks; impressions are free. Also, ads with higher CTR’s and closing rates (sales per click) are more relevant to customers.

Amazon would prefer to show ads that are (A) more relevant for customers and (B) where customers are more likely to click on the ad (and then buy the product, and then be satisfied with their purchase).

A good CTR also helps you. For example, if you’re a self-published author advertising with AMS via KDP Select, a higher CTR and a higher closing rate mean that customers are interested in your book. Those are also the customers who are more likely to purchase and then enjoy your book.

Here are ways to improve the CTR of your ad, and hence improve the chances of your ad being shown to customers:

  • Choose your targeting well so that it’s a good match for your customers. If you target by product or keyword, use keywords that are a good fit for your specific target audience.
  • The ad thumbnail should clearly reveal the nature of the product. For a book, the tiny cover thumbnail that appears in the ad should make the expectations clear.
  • The title of the product and the tag line should both create interest and help to make the nature of the content clear.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Advertising: Amazon vs. Goodreads

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

ADVERTISING e-BOOKS

Since KDP introduced Advertising Marketing Services (AMS) for KDP Select books earlier this year, I’ve placed 50 ads on a variety of nonfiction Kindle e-books.

I’ve also placed over a dozen ads with Goodreads. It’s interesting to compare the two options for advertising e-books.

AUDIENCE

There are two great things about advertising right on Amazon’s website or on a Kindle device (both are possible with AMS via KDP):

  • Many of the customers who see your ad are already shopping for other books, i.e. they are looking for books to read, they have their wallets out, and they are ready to spend money.
  • Since they are already on Amazon, your ad isn’t interrupting some other activity and trying to persuade customers to leave one site to visit another.

If you advertise at Goodreads with a link to your Amazon product page, you’re asking readers who were busy doing something else at Goodreads to stop what they were doing and visit another site all together.

You could instead advertise at Goodreads with a link to your book’s Goodreads page or a giveaway page, but if your ultimate goal is a sale, that’s an indirect way to go about it.

However, the way the self-service advertising options are presently setup, Goodreads ads seem to have an advantage with branding. We’ll return to this important point later.

TARGETING

The targeting options are considerably different with Amazon and Goodreads advertisements.

Amazon offers two kinds of targeting with AMS via KDP:

  • Interest targeting competes for ads based on category. Amazon has recently improved interest targeting by adding subcategories. Some books do fall nicely into one of those subcategories, but those subcategories are still too broad for other books, especially in nonfiction.
  • Product targeting lets you search for specific books or other products by keyword. Amazon has an advantage here, as Goodreads doesn’t offer keyword targeting, nor does Goodreads let you target specific books, nor does Goodreads let you target other products besides books (like movies).

Goodreads also offers two main kinds of targeting:

  • Goodreads also has categories to choose from, but these tend to be very broad.
  • I prefer not to select any categories, but to target by author instead. Visit Amazon and search for very popular books that your specific target audience is likely to read. Then enter those author names at Goodreads to target readers of those authors.

A great thing about Goodreads is that when you target specific authors, they will show your ad to Goodreads readers who have given those authors high ratings.

Imagine if you could target customers at Amazon who rated similar books 4 or 5 stars. You have to love Goodreads for this option.

I try to avoid other targeting options at Goodreads, such as gender, age, or country, since some accounts may not have selected an option.

COST

Advertising with AMS via KDP requires a minimum $100 budget. You’re not required to spend your whole budget: You can pause or terminate your ad at any time. But if you bid high, you could blow through your budget quickly without knowing it because the ad report sometimes has significant delays.

I find that I can get very low-cost advertisements with effective results at Amazon. I have several ads with average CPC bids of a dime or less.

In comparison, I find that I must bid much higher at Goodreads.

My strategy with AMS is to bid very low in the beginning, and always wait at least 3 days before raising my bid, knowing that the ad report can be delayed. When I do raise my bid, I only raise it a little. I’m in no hurry, but after a few weeks, I finally start to generate impressions, clicks, and sales at a good rate, and my strategy minimizes my expenses (and lets me opt out before spending too much, if necessary).

IMPRESSIONS > CLICKS > SALES

Both services charge by the click. Impressions are free. Click-through rates (ctr) can be quite low (clicks divided by impressions): You might get 0.1% (1 click for every 1000 impressions), which is typical of much online advertising these days. But the ctr doesn’t really matter, since those impressions are free. Every impression helps with branding; you only pay for clicks.

While I often generate impressions at a good rate with AMS with average CPC bids of 10 cents or less, I often must spend 50 cents or more to generate impressions at a good rate at Goodreads.

AMS seems better for generating sales directly, while Goodreads seems better for branding, generating activity at Goodreads (followers at Goodreads, getting on to-read lists), and generating interest in a Goodreads giveaway. That branding issue is big.

BRANDING

Most companies who pay big money for advertisements don’t expect to generate immediate sales from it; they use advertisements to help with branding.

When you drive by a billboard, see a commercial on television, or hear an advertisement on the radio, do you stop what you were doing and race over to the store to buy a product that sounds great? Probably not.

But the next time you’re shopping for a product, see if you favor products you’ve heard of before. If so, branding has worked on you. And even if it didn’t work on you, it does work on the majority of consumers.

It’s not easy to break even in the short-term from advertising. The bigger goal is long-term, through branding.

That said, I do have some advertisements through AMS that have paid for themselves or brought a profit short-term, and I have benefited indirectly through more sales of paperbacks, similar books, and Kindle Unlimited pages read. This is partly because I apply a low bidding strategy, and partly because these ads aren’t asking customers to stop doing one thing to start doing another (they’re already shopping for books on Amazon).

But I also feel that I get better branding out of Goodreads, and this is an important long-term goal. However, you don’t want to lose too much short-term with branding hopes. Unlike AMS, it’s not as easy to gauge short-term ROI at Goodreads. You can see how much the ad is costing you, and you can see the clicks, but you don’t know how many of those clicks lead to sales.

If you use AMS, you can find out what your conversion rate is (sales divided by clicks). If it’s around 1% to 3%, that’s pretty low; if it’s 8% or higher, that’s pretty good. But if you spend too much on your clicks, or draw a low royalty, you can still lose out even with a nice conversion rate. You want to look at your royalties earned compared to money invested, but also want to consider possible indirect benefits like Kindle Unlimited borrows, print sales, sales of similar books, and potential for future sales through branding.

TAG LINE

Both AMS and Goodreads let you enter a short tag line. This is text that will appear alongside your ad to help generate interest. Goodreads lets you enter a longer tag line.

Put some time and thought into how to use this valuable advertising space. It can make a big difference.

FACTORS

Advertising isn’t for all books. It probably won’t be the cure for a book that isn’t selling.

Here are some factors that can impact the effectiveness of an advertisement:

  • content has a significant audience
  • wise targeting choices
  • wise bidding strategy
  • tiny thumbnail of cover attracts target audience
  • how likely blurb, Look Inside, price, reviews, etc. help in closing the deal
  • how much royalty you will earn for each sale
  • effectiveness of your tag line

OTHER ADS

There are many places to advertise on the internet.

Ideally, you want to be able to target readers, namely your specific target audience. You want to generate impressions and clicks at a good rate, but with little cost.

Some services, like Bookbub, E-reader News Today, and a host of similar sites, can help to advertise short-term promotional prices. In this case, the short-term promotion can help create a compelling impulse to buy now. But you need an external promotional service that can help your book reach its specific target audience to get the most out of this strategy.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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A Pleasant Surprise from @bookSCREAM #bookpromotion 99-cent #CountdownDeal

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

bookSCREAM

I received a pleasant surprise this morning.

I found myself mentioned in a tweet from @bookSCREAM:

@ChrisDMcMullen Another great deal! We featured HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK in today’s newsletter! bkscr.me/9P9Um

Cover design by Melissa Stevens at theillustratedauthor.net

What a cool surprise.

I clicked on the link mentioned in the tweet and found my original self-publishing book featured with one of four non-fiction books on the bookSCREAM page.

  • How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon.com
  • by Chris McMullen
  • Informative, Tips, Advice
  • $0.99 was $2.99

I like the concise description that they included with the ad: “informative, tips, advice.”

This was totally unexpected:

  • I didn’t contact or approach bookSCREAM.
  • I haven’t advertised my Countdown Deal anywhere. This is the first I’ve mentioned it just now.
  • bookSCREAM discovered my Countdown Deal all on their own.
  • bookSCREAM advertised my book promotion all on their own.
  • I only discovered their advertisement after they had placed the ad.

Very cool! Thank you, bookSCREAM.

What’s the opposite of being rejected by BookBub? Being featured by bookSCREAM out of the blue.

I was just testing out the Countdown Deals. My intention was to let it run unadvertised and see how it does.

However, I don’t mind that it picked up an external promotion all on its own. I don’t mind at all. 😉

Partly, I was also testing out the lower price. In the past, I haven’t had any success with 99 cents on any books (which is why you’ll find my Kindle e-books priced between $2.99 and $7.99, except for rare deals like this).

How to Self-Publish a book on Amazon.com is my original book on self-publishing. I originally published this back in May, 2009. A lot has changed since then, which is why I updated this book significantly in 2014, but it’s also why I have since published A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing (Volumes 1 and 2). (I also have a four-book boxed set, which includes all of these.)

Of course, you can find a ton of FREE information about self-publishing right here on my blog.

I wouldn’t mind dropping the prices of my self-publishing books. But like I said, I haven’t had much success with 99 cents or $1.99. I wouldn’t mind making it more affordable to learn about self-publishing. (Again, you can learn much for free right on my blog. I would even make one or more of these books perma-free—these books are more about sharing knowledge and helping other authors—but it seems ridiculous that I would have to publish these books outside of Amazon to get them free on Amazon.)

But I thought I would test out lower prices with a few Countdown Deals to see if things may have changed recently.

And that’s when I received this pleasant surprise from bookSCREAM.

Unexpected free marketing for fellow authors is a great thing. It makes self-publishing better for everyone.

If it happens to you, pay it forward.

It’s about reading. All authors work together to inspire more quality reading.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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KDP’s AMS Advertising now offers Subcategories… Finally

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

ADVERTISING IMPROVEMENT WITH AMS AT KDP

Kindle books enrolled in KDP Select can be advertised on Amazon via AMS through KDP.

There have always been two targeting choices:

  • product targeting. Select specific products to target.
  • interest targeting. Select a category to target.

Until now, the category choices for interest targeting were very broad.

But now, after you select a category, you can select a subcategory.

Some of the subcategories are still themselves quite broad.

  • For example, for a math or science book, I must choose the category called Other.
  • Then the appropriate subcategory is Math and Science. But that includes very many different subjects.
  • It would be better if the subcategories were further divided. For example, I might choose astronomy, if available.

However, it is an improvement. Interest targeting is better now. It’s a nice step in the right direction.

If you want more precise targeting, the obvious solution is to choose product targeting instead.

KINDLE ADVERTISING TIPS

  • I used to recommend product targeting. I still favor that, but I just tested out the refined interest targeting so that I can compare. It has some merit.
  • Set the end date as far in advance as possible. It lets you go about six months ahead.
  • Choose to display your ad as quickly as possible. Generally, it’s not easy to make impressions unless you overbid. This option helps if you bid reasonably.
  • Make a catchy headline that’s likely to help create interest in your book, and which is quite relevant for your content.
  • Bid low to begin with. It’s okay to underbid.
  • Wait 3 days before raising your bid. Sometimes reporting is significantly delayed. See how it’s going before you ‘fix’ it.
  • Try expanding your targeting before raising your bid to see if that helps make more impressions.
  • If you do raise your bid, just raise it a little. And wait 3 more days before raising it again.
  • You’re not obligated to invest the whole $100. You can pause or terminate your ad at any time.

With my strategy, I have several affordable bids. Sometimes, I’m able to generate 100,000 to 400,000 impressions in one month with less than $10 spent. I have multiple ads where I spent about $12 to generate $24 in sales (at 70% royalty).

I observe some nice indirect effects on similar books and on my print books. (I tend to sell more print books to begin with, so that makes sense for my books.)

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Advertising on Amazon with AMS via KDP: Research, Experience, & Tips

Advertising Research

Images from ShutterStock

 

ADVERTISING BOOKS WITH AMS

KDP now lets indie authors advertise their KDP Select books directly on Amazon.com through AMS (Amazon Marketing Services).

I’ve now placed 36 different ads through AMS on over a dozen books in multiple author names, with different targeting and bids from 2 cents to $1.01 per click. So I have quite a bit of firsthand experience with this. Although I publish nonfiction, I’ve also discussed AMS with several fiction authors who have used it—including some who love it, some who hate it, and more with mixed feelings. Many of these authors have shared their AMS numbers.

EASY MONEY, HUH?

Well, not ‘easy.’

Marketing books is never easy. But advertising books on Amazon through AMS, like other marketing tools, has potential; the trick is learning how to use the tool effectively, and whether or not this tool is a good fit for you and your books.

BENEFITS OF ADVERTISING WITH AMS

  • Prime real estate. Your ad shows directly on Amazon product pages, where customers are already shopping for books. You’re not trying to make people leave one site to visit another.
  • Optional product targeting. You can hand-pick specific books (and even movies and other products, if applicable) to target. This allows you to tailor your targeting to your unique book.
  • Budget-friendly. Although you must set an advertising budget of at least $100, you’re not committed to spend one penny. You can pause or terminate your AMS ad campaign at any time. (However, the ad report does not show in real-time, so when you pause your campaign, the expenses may be higher than you realize. If you bid low, this won’t be an issue, but if you bid very high, you can be out of budget before you realize it.)
  • Free impressions. You only pay for clicks. If 2,000 people see your ad, but nobody clicks on the ad, you don’t pay a penny.
  • Product page data. The AMS ad report shows impressions, clicks, detail page views, and sales generated through the ads. This lets you see what percentage of traffic to your product page actually buys your book. Even in the worst case that your ad is an utter failure, learning your sales-to-clicks ratio can help you assess the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of your book’s product page at selling your book to your target audience.
  • Improving. AMS at KDP is improving. For example, you can now enter a phrase designed to catch interest and at least one of the possible ad locations shows this as an orange headline directly above your ad.

CHALLENGES YOU MUST OVERCOME

  • Competition. Many other authors bid high (often, much higher than they should), which can make it challenging to get impressions with an affordable bid, especially in competitive genres. However, there are ways to deal with this (like wise targeting).
  • Tiny thumbnail. The ads show a tiny image of your cover thumbnail. The ads come in a few different sizes, but many book covers are difficult to make out in the ads. (Obviously, if you design a cover that stands out well and is easy to read at this tiny size—possible, as I’ve seen it done—you have a distinct advantage.) So although impressions are free (you only pay for clicks), possible branding benefits from those impressions are somewhat limited.
  • Click-throughs. The CTR (click-through rate) can vary considerably from one book to another, but often it’s in the ballpark of 0.1%. That is, for every 1000 times your ad displays, 1 person will click on your ad. This isn’t really a downside though, since you only pay for clicks; impressions where the customer ignored your ad don’t cost you a penny.
  • Closing rate. The closing rate and your average CPC show whether or not your ad is a success or failure. The closing rate is your sales-to-click ratio. The books with the most marketable product pages and wise targeting can achieve a closing rate of 10% or better, but some books achieve a much lower closing rate.
  • Not real time. The ads do not show in real time; there are often delays of several hours (or more). So you must be patient and wise. Too many authors conclude prematurely that nothing is happening, so what do they do? They raise their bids to make something happen. That’s a great way to lose money fast.
  • Targeting. Take time to target wisely. This is one thing you have much control over, but you have to take the time to do the research. And when things don’t seem to be working, this is one area you can try to improve. The more frequently your ad shows to customers who are likely to be interested in your book, the better your chances of achieving a better closing rate.
  • Stoppage. Your AMS can actually be stopped due to low relevance by Amazon. Low relevance is either a sign of poor targeting, or a product page that has room for improvement (cover, blurb, Look Inside, even the book idea comes into play here). Your ad is likely to be stopped due to low relevance if your CTR is well under 0.1%. If only 1 out of 3000 people who see your ad click on it, there is a good chance that your ad will be stopped. If your ad is stopped, you can create a new ad, but be sure to strive for more relevant targeting.

RESEARCH & EXPERIENCE WITH AMS

I placed my first ad through AMS on January 29, 2015, shortly after the program was launched at KDP. I have now placed 36 different ads through AMS on several different books under a few different author names.

In February and early March, I had bid too high (upwards of $1 per click). But my primary goal was to get valuable data, even if that meant cutting into my ROI.

Most of my early ads were making many impressions (as many as 461,673 impressions). I received as many as 661 clicks (on an ad with 108,689 impressions). Most of my CTR’s (click-through rates) were in the neighborhood of 0.1% (1 in 1000), though I had a few above 0.5%, but also a few below 0.05%. But the CTR really doesn’t matter, since you only pay for clicks. (Well, it does matter now: If your CTR is well below 0.1%, there is a good chance that your ad will be stopped for low relevance.) From my numbers and stats that other authors have shared, 0.05% (1 in 2000) to 0.5% (1 in 200) is typical; if your CTR is below this, you can probably improve it through targeting (well, your cover matters, too).

I had a few ads with a closing rate (sales to clicks) of 10% or more, but most of my ads had closing rates below 10%. I had some closing rates of just a few percent. This stat is very important, as it determines how much you can afford to bid and whether or not your short-term ROI (return on investment) is worthwhile. With a variety of books, success rates, and targeting strategies, I’ve learned some ways to help improve my closing rates (reflected in my more recent ads). I’ve met a few other authors who achieved closing rates above 10%, but many more authors with closing rates closer to 5% or less.

I’ve placed 12 new ads since April 19, 2015, with wiser bids and targeting, based on my prior experience. The new ads are much more successful in terms of short-term ROI. I now have more ads where the short-term royalties exceed the amount spent on the ad. I also have some slower-running ads that are getting very cheap exposure. For example, I have one ad that’s been running for 31 days, which has cost me a total of $2.16, but has generated 177,537 impressions, 73 clicks, and already returned over $4 in royalties. That’s not much in terms of sales for a whole month of advertising, but look, that’s not bad for having invested a whole two dollars. I have some ads generating activity with as little as 2-cent bids. A low bid may not make many impressions (though occasionally it does), but it’s also more likely to earn a short-term return rather than a loss (and if it earns a loss, imagine how much you would have lost bidding high).

Another thing that I’ve seen are indirect benefits. Many other authors have seen similar indirect benefits. Several authors have seen an increase in borrows. A couple authors reported an increase in borrows, then a decrease in both sales and borrows when the ad stopped, and a return when a new ad was run. A few series authors have reported improvement in other books in the series. But not all authors have seen such improvements; indirect benefits are not guaranteed.

I sell about 9 paperbacks for every Kindle e-book, overall (I have a few books where it’s the other way around). When I ran my ads in February and early March, I saw a substantial increase in related paperback books. I toned down my advertising significantly in late March and early April (I had been bidding upwards of $1 per click; I stopped some of my ads, and lowered my bids in others). My paperback sales declined. Around April 19, I placed several new ads (remember, the ads are for Kindle e-books), but with lower bids, and I’ve seen sales of paperback books improve again.

I’ve tried a variety of targeting strategies. I only used category targeting for a couple of ads, and didn’t generate many impressions that way. The problem is that every other book with the same targeting category is competing for the exact same list of books. Product targeting seems to give you an edge, even when all of the books on your list seem to fit into the same broad category. But product targeting also lets you select specific books outside your genre or category, and even other kinds of products, like movies. I’ve tried compiling narrow lists of 50 books, long lists with 1000 books, books of very popular and very similar products, movies and other products likely to interest my target audience, and lists of books that aren’t too popular and which are more likely to appeal to an indie audience. There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to targeting.

If you select fewer than 50 products, it will be tough to make impressions (unless you pick some hugely popular products, even then, you have to outbid others). If you target movies or other products likely to interest your target audience, but they only interest a small fraction of your audience, this can greatly diminish your CTR, putting you in danger of low relevance (so your ad may be stopped), especially if those movies or other products are hot items. You really have to judge your target audience well to make the most of your targeting (you can go back and change product targeting; but if you select category targeting, the only way to change it is to pause your ad and start a new one). If you target books where the readers are more likely to actually purchase your book once they reach your product page, this can help your conversion rate. It pays to spend extra time contemplating the probable habits and interests of much of your target audience (and it may take some trial and error).

But you probably don’t care so much about my experience, as what I’ve learned from it. So let me move onto tips and suggestions, based on my experience with AMS.

TIPS & SUGGESTIONS FOR USING AMS

  • Create a short catch-phrase likely to interest your target audience (and sound relevant to the subgenre, subcategory or content) to use for your headline. Don’t simply copy your title into the headline. This shows above your ad (when the headline displays).
  • Click the option to display your ad as quickly as possible (don’t let Amazon spread it out evenly). Unless you’re overbidding, it’s hard to make impressions, so get as many as you can.
  • Change the month of the end date. Set the end date as far into the future as the system will let you (several months). You can end it anytime manually.
  • Choose product targeting instead of interest targeting. Check the box to include similar products.
  • Devote some time to research books (and perhaps other products, like movies) to target. Think about whether the majority of the target audience for those books (or products) is likely to be interested in your book. Browse for similar books and products on Amazon before you start working on your ad campaign so that you have ideas ready. Select a minimum of 50 books, perhaps several hundred is better, but it really depends on your book and audience.
  • Some of the books you target need to be popular enough for your ad to show enough times to make impressions. Some need to be not too popular, otherwise you’ll be consistently outbid (or you’ll be overpaying). Select several less popular books too, as there may be less competition for those ads.
  • Enter specific keywords, even key-phrases, highly relevant to your book, in order to help find more books like yours. Try a variety of keywords and phrases, but remember that relevance is key.
  • Relevance matters when targeting, not only to get the most out of your ad (you want it to sell once you get traffic), but also to prevent your ad from being stopped.
  • Bid low to begin with. You can always raise your bid later. If you do, only raise it a little at a time.
  • Don’t raisee your bid more than once in a 48-hour period (better yet, wait at least 1 week). Stats don’t show in real time, but can actually be delayed by several hours (even more than a day). Don’t let your impatience squander your money.
  • Be patient. What’s the hurry? Why pay $1 to spend your money fast, possibly with little to show for it? Let your ad run for weeks, or even months, if necessary. The most common way to lose money with AMS is to bid too high too fast.
  • Remember that there are many other authors, and their bids and targeting change over time. So if you aren’t getting many impressions now, a few weeks from now when other ads run out, you might get more. Sometimes, simply waiting out higher bidders can help you generate impressions at a lower cost.
  • Remember that you can go back and change product targeting. Try to find wiser ways to target effectively before yielding to the temptation to raise your bid.
  • Keep an eye on your ad report. You can lose a lot of money fast if you’re not careful. Out of the blue, an ad that had been going slow can start getting several clicks. If you’re spending tens of dollars, but not generating sales, stop your ad before you lose more money. Try to improve your ad before running it again.
  • Look at your short-term ROI (return on investment). Compare your royalties (the report shows sales instead; you have to figure this out) to the money spent so far. If you’re losing money (more than you wish to risk), pause the ad. You can try changing your targeting. Try bidding less. Something isn’t working, so either stop the ad or try to improve it. (Or if it’s only a small loss, maybe indirect or long-term benefits will offset this; that’s a tough decision that you have to make.)
  • If your closing rate (# of sales divided by # of clicks) times your royalty exceeds your average CPC, your ad is making money; if not, your ad is losing money short-term. Example: 100 clicks, 8 sales, royalty $2.10, average CPC is 15 cents. Divide 8 sales by 100 clicks to get 0.08. Multiply 0.08 by $2.10 to get $0.168. This exceeds the average CPC of $0.15, so this ad is yielding a short-term ROI (so any indirect or long-term benefits will be gravy).
  • Bidding much less can improve your short-term ROI. If you’re losing significant money short-term, first try lowering your bid significantly. Your impressions, clicks, and sales rates may go down, too, but your short-term ROI is likely to be better. It’s better to make a small profit at a slow rate, than to lose money at a fast rate. Only bid what you can afford to bid.
  • The alternative to lowering your bid is improved targeting (or improving your product page and Look Inside). In some cases, it may take a combination of a lower bid and improved targeting. And we know that not every book can be saved, so the same is true with ads. Sometimes, it’s just not in the cards.
  • If your CTR (clicks divided by impressions) is less than 0.05% (1 in 2000), your ad is in greater danger of being stopped due to low relevance. Try changing your product targeting. (If it does get stopped, you can start a new ad, but again you’ll want to try to improve your product targeting.)
  • If you plan on using this in the future, when designing your next cover, strive for a layout and color scheme that will catch attention even at this tiny ad thumbnail size (and still look good as a regular thumbnail and also full-size).
  • You’re not obligated to spend your whole ad campaign budget. You can pause or terminate your ad at any time.
  • Imagine you’re at a casino. If you’re having bad luck, get out fast! Walking away when you’ve lost $15 is a lot better than losing $100.
  • Don’t place ads for multiple books simultaneously, unless you can do so with significantly different targeting.
  • If you have multiple books or plan to run multiple ads, change the name of your ad campaign to help you remember which book the ad is for. The default names aren’t helpful at all.
  • Create an ad with limited, focused targeting. After getting appreciable data, stop the ad. Start a new ad with different, but still limited, focused targeting. Compare your results. You can learn a lot with brief controlled experiments like this.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Why Was Your AMS Ad Stopped?

Stopped

AMS AD STOPPED

Advertisements for KDP Select books placed through Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) can now be stopped by Amazon.

Why are some KDP ad campaigns stopping?

Due to low relevance.

Low relevance can mean more than one thing.

The most common explanation is that the click-to-views ratio is very small, probably small compared to 1 in 1000 (or 0.1%). If you’re getting 4000 views per click, for example, your AMS ad is likely to be stopped due to low relevance.

That’s not the only possible explanation, but the click-to-views ratio is the simplest way for Amazon to measure the relevance of your ad. If only 1 out of 4000 people who see your ad clicks on it, your ad evidently isn’t very relevant to the people who see it. In contrast, if 1 out of 300 people who see an ad click on it, that ad is more relevant to the people who see it.

There are other ways to determine relevance, such as comparing the list of targeted products to the categories and keywords of the book.

Most of the factors that affect relevance also impact the click-to-views ratio, so this probably is a very good indicator.

Why does Amazon care?

  • Authors only pay for clicks, not views. So Amazon is losing money on ads with very low click-to-view ratios.
  • The advertisements will lose their effectiveness if many ads have low relevance, as people will start ignoring them out of habit. (Don’t worry: Amazon is preventing this by stopping ads that show low relevance.)
  • A few authors have indubitably abused the system by intentionally targeting products with low relevance. (Yes, I can think of examples, but I won’t share them. Let’s not add to the abuse.)

HOW TO IMPROVE RELEVANCE

If your AMS ad was stopped due to low relevance, you can start a new KDP ad campaign for the same book.

You’ll want to improve the relevance for your ad so that your next ad doesn’t get stopped.

Here are ways to improve your ad’s relevance:

  • If you originally targeted by interest, switch to product targeting instead.
  • If you originally targeted by product, select a shorter list of more relevant products. Spend more time researching a product list.
  • If your cover may not instantly reveal the book’s genre or content, a cover that better attracts your target audience may impact your relevance.

Better targeting is usually the cure to improved relevance.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Advertising Books with AMS, BookBub, ENT, GR, FB, Twitter & More

Images from Shutterstock

Images from Shutterstock

ADVERTISING BOOKS

Millions of books are on the market, with a few thousand released each day.

Striving to get your book discovered, advertising is one option.

It may not be the best option for you. But if you’re thinking about placing an advertisement for your book, you want to advertise in the right place and you want to get the most out of it.

But there are so many places to advertise:

  • Right on Amazon with AMS (if your book is enrolled in KDP Select).
  • Through social media with Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • On websites geared toward readers, such as Goodreads.
  • E-book promotion websites, like BookBub, Ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, and a host of others. See the end of this article for a more comprehensive list.
  • Websites related to the interests of your specific target audience.
  • Contacting bloggers, going on blog tours, social media groups, and so on.
  • Local newspapers, local radio stations, magazines, online magazines, etc.
  • Offline advertising with flyers, bookmarks, business cards, etc.
  • With contests or giveaways.
  • Running a blog or building a content-rich website.
  • & many more.

WHICH IS MOST EFFECTIVE?

Wouldn’t you love to know?

Author Nicholas Rossis has taken the initiative to find out. How? By asking authors to complete a simple 3-question survey.

If you’ve ever placed an advertisement for a book, please visit the following page to share your book advertising experience:

http://nicholasrossis.me/2015/03/02/take-the-3-question-ad-results-survey

Please help. We need more authors to complete the survey for the results to be meaningful.

It’s quick. It’s easy. And when you finish, please encourage other authors to take the survey, too.

Once there is enough participation, Nicholas Rossis will share the results with helpful analysis.

That will help us answer the important question, “Which advertising service should you use?”

BOOK ADVERTISING ADVICE

Here is my advice for getting the most out of your book advertisements:

  • If you write a series, once you have multiple volumes out, you have a distinct advantage as one sale can lead to multiple sales. If you have multiple similar books, you have a similar advantage. If you only have one book out, advertising may help to build a small fan base and establish your brand, but might be more effective after you deliver more quality content to the market. In that case, you might invest more of your current time toward writing.
  • If you have a complete online author platform and if you use free marketing strategies, that will help supplement your advertising efforts and the combined traffic may be more effective than driving traffic from just one source.
  • Start out with free and very low cost book marketing and advertising strategies. Gain experience with paid advertising by beginning with affordable options. This minimizes your risk, helps you assess your prospects for advertising, and helps you learn how to advertise effectively before investing larger sums of money. Advertise wisely.
  • Interact with other authors. Learn what they have tried in the way of advertising, including what worked and what didn’t. Research your advertising options before trying them out. However, realize that every book and author is unique, so what’s true for others may not be true for you.
  • Long-term planning and thinking is far more likely to lead to success. Put your priorities on (1) writing quality content, (2) targeting a viable audience, and (3) packaging your book wisely in terms of cover design and blurb. Devote a little time toward (4) slowly developing a complete author platform, (5) learning new marketing strategies and trying them out, (6) interacting with other authors, and (7) slowly growing a fan base, but put most of your time into writing until you have a few similar books out.
  • Throwing money at advertising isn’t a substitute for learning how to market your book effectively and developing your brand as an author.
  • The more your cover attracts your specific target audience and the better it visually signifies the precise subgenre or subject, the more potential your advertising will have. The better your blurb and Look Inside sell your book, the more effective your advertising will be.
  • Advertising options with more specific targeting will be more effective, all other things being equal.
  • Driving traffic to your book’s product page isn’t your only advertising option. For example, at Goodreads you can place an advertisement to drive traffic to a giveaway or to help get your book added to more to-read lists. At Twitter or Facebook, you can place an advertisement to help grow a following or drive social media engagement. If you run an Amazon Giveaway for a print book, this can help you attract a following at Twitter. These other options may not be as good as driving traffic directly to your book’s product page, especially if your main focus is on immediate sales, but they may have some relevance depending on your goals.
  • Short-term discounts and freebies help you promote a sale price, rather than simply announcing your book. These tools can be effective if you promote the discount effectively; they also help to provide a sense of urgency to the customer. However, price by itself doesn’t sell books. To get the most out of a discount, you must research websites and blogs that can help you spread the word about your sale price to your target audience. This includes e-book promotion websites like BookBub, E-reader News Today, Book Gorilla, and more, as well as blogs and even other kinds of websites on topics that may interest your readers (like a sport that relates to your book).
  • Branding, marketing, and advertising take time and patience. People don’t run to the store after they see a commercial on television. Rather, months later when they’re shopping for a product, they tend to prefer a product they’ve heard of before. Similarly, many people who see your ad won’t run over and buy it immediately. Branding, through occasional repetition among your target audience over a period of months, can help readers recognize your book months down the line when shopping for a book like yours.

LIST OF E-BOOK PROMOTION WEBSITES

There are several e-book promotion websites that can help you spread the word about a temporary price reduction:

Tip: Type the names of a few of these sites together into a Google search to help pull up comprehensive lists.

READING SURVEY

If you haven’t already done so, please participate in a survey on how people read books. The more participation we get, the more meaningful the results will be.

Here is one question, for your convenience. (If you’ve already answered this before, please don’t answer it a second time.)

You can find more questions here:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/surveys

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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