Advertising Your Books Part Three: Amazon Ads
Advertising Your Books – Part One taught you how to get started with BookBub ads. With continued testing on this platform, I've updated that article HERE. Part Two focused on Facebook advertising. I’ve continued to have very good success with Facebook advertising for myself and for my clients. With that information (as well as adapting to Facebook's platform changes), I've updated that tutorial HERE.
Originally, I crafted the BookBub and Facebook ad tutorials in the summer of 2019 and meant to provide the Amazon tutorial shortly after, but that didn’t happen for a few reasons:
- The more I worked on my Amazon ads, the more I realized I needed to learn.
- The more I learned, the more complex my approach to Amazon advertising became.
- The sheer complexity of Amazon ads made me realize that there was no way a single blog post could cover this.
- And, while I could have created an entire course on Amazon ads, a lot of others have done such a good job with books and tutorials (often free ones), that I decided that there was no point in duplicating those efforts.
HOWEVER, I will recommend the best books and tutorials on the subject and tell you what I’ve learned about managing Amazon ads and give my two cents when some of their advice conflicts.
Dave Chesson’s free Amazon Book Advertising course is easy to follow and will give you a solid footing for creating ads that work. You can return to it again and again. I like that it shows you were you left off, so you can pick up the thread in the right place.
Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors is excellent but may be a bit expensive for your budget. I’ve taken the free portions of his courses and other webinars. He’s a trusted advisor on this and other book marketing topics.
Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge – a free course with a helpful Facebook group – can ease you into advertising. It’s a safe place to start with low budgets and bids, but you’ll need to advance your tactics pretty quickly, which you can do with his paid services. I did not go beyond the free offerings, however, I am still part of the Facebook group which I visit from time to time.
Before reading any books, I’d suggest familiarizing yourself with the Amazon ad dashboard by working your way through one of the free courses above—at least the first module or two. That way you’ll have a better understanding of the lingo/definitions and be able to picture the areas of the dashboard that are being addressed in the books.
Amazon Ad$ for Authors 2021: Tips and Strategies to Sell Your Books by Deb Potter is my favorite book on Amazon ads. She explains her concepts and how ads work in an approachable easy-to-understand manner.
Amazon Ads Unleashed: Advanced Publishing and Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors by Robert J. Ryan is a great book with lots of 'holy cow' moments when you catch on to some of his more complex strategies. I’m glad I had already done some advertising on Amazon before I read it. Some sections are complex, but not unnecessarily so—Amazon ad wrangling will bring you into some difficult territory at times and Ryan knows what he’s talking about. I recommend his other books, pictured below. Click on them to be taken to their Amazon sales’ page. (Note those are affiliate links.)
My Favorite Amazon Ad Tips
These come from the books/tutorials listed above and others—along with my own experience.
►You will most likely be an indie pub or hybrid published author if you are seeking to run Amazon ads. WHY? Because the access point to the Amazon ad dashboard is through your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Dashboard and only books that are loaded in through that system are available for advertising.
►Join Facebook Author groups geared toward book advertising and learn from each other. These groups are great for asking questions when you’re stumped by something. Usually someone knows the answer.
►It’s worth your time to learn Amazon ads because visitors to this ecommerce site are already in buying mode . . . you are much more likely to sell books on this platform.
►Amazon ads spend your money slowly – unlike BookBub or Facebook, which will spend your budget quickly.
►Don’t give up . . . it takes perseverance to learn this platform.
►If you have a niche book, Amazon is the only place that will likely work for advertising because you won’t be able to find comp authors or categories to target on BookBub nor will they be available on Facebook.
►When some of these tutorials advise you to spend 2 or 3 hours a day on their Amazon ads – ignore that. Yes, you need to pay attention to your ads but that is an insane concept. Plan to check in a few times per week and do major tweaking twice per month.
►You may be tempted to delete adds that appear to not be working . . . most of the time you don’t want to do that. You lose all of the relevance your ad has earned if you start over—instead remove the parts of your ads that aren’t working. This might mean that you remove keywords that are underperforming. If you need to, you can turn an add off, but you can always revive it later.
Exception: I was targeting a category that was spending a lot of money without the purchases to support it. My book was a poor fit for this category, which buyers learned when they clicked on the ad and read the book’s description. In this case I turned the ad off. I haven’t deleted it, but I don’t think I will ever turn this one back on again.
►Rule of 7 = the number of times someone needs to see an ad before they purchase. (Thanks Robert Ryan.)
►You pay only if someone clicks on your ad – you don’t pay for impressions (when someone views your ad.)
►Budgeting $5/day per ad may seem like a good idea at first (as with Cohen’s program) but you will need to increase that budget to scale your ads up for higher profitability. (Don’t worry . . . you will rarely spend your full budget.)
►Keep good records. Spreadsheets are your friends. You’ll need to organize the keywords and products you’re targeting and keep track of which ones worked. You can download your ad results into reports/spreadsheets, too.
►The reporting functions inside the Amazon ad dashboard are great, but be sure to set the Search Term report to run once per month. (Data only goes back 65 days, and you need to capture this information before it is no longer available to you.)
►You can run another promotion at the same time (on a different platform) and still know where your sales are being generated because the Amazon ad dashboard will report which ads generated sales for you. I routinely run Facebook ads at the same time as my ongoing Amazon ads.
►You can sell regularly priced ebooks with Amazon ads and still get sales. (Now, we’re talking about indie pub priced ebooks here – not traditionally published $14.99 ebooks. A 4.99 book is competitive on Amazon with an ad, which is something that you don’t see working at all over on BookBub or working well on Facebook.)
►It is okay to use author names and titles as keywords as targets for Amazon ads even though you can’t use them as keyword phrases when putting in your book’s metadata/description etc.. during your book set up.
►When ads aren’t working, it’s possible that you don’t have a problem with your ads—you may have a problem with your book. (See the six things you should do before you advertise below.)
A lot of authors are unsure if spending money on advertising can increase book sales. I’m here to tell you that it can; however, it takes perseverance. Overall, there are six things to do or know before you start advertising.
The SIX most important things to do or know before you start spending money on ads:
1. REVIEW YOUR COVER COPY AND BOOK DESCRIPTION
Make sure your book description and cover copy are enticing and well-written. (Ideally, you will have done this before hitting the publish button; however, before spending money on ads, it is a must to double check these details. Compare your book to other bestsellers in your genre to make sure you’re hitting all the right points with your cover and description.)
2. READ/WATCH THE TUTORIALS
I can’t emphasize enough that you need to take your time to read or watch tutorials for each type of advertising you’re considering. There’s a lot to learn, and it’s important not to rush.
3. TAKE THE TIME FOR AD TESTING
No matter which platform you’re advertising on, you will be testing different ad copy and images alongside different target audiences to see which works best. It will take some time to get the right combination. NOTE: On Amazon you can test which audiences work the best and you can create custom ad copy if you like, but you won’t be creating ad images on this platform because Amazon pulls your book cover image in for the visual component of your ad.
4. BE PREPARED TO LOSE A LITTLE MONEY (AT FIRST)
And, unfortunately, you need to be prepared to lose a little money during this testing phase. (particularly with BookBub and to a lesser extend with Facebook and Amazon.)
5. SERIES CONCERNS AND READ THROUGH or SELL THROUGH RATE
If your book is part of a series, don’t jump into spending much on advertising until your series is complete (or there are at least three books out) and then focus your advertising dollars on book one. WHY? Because you can afford to lose a little money drawing readers into your series because of something called the “read through” or “sell through” rate, which is the percentage of book one buyers who will then buy book two and three and so on.
NOTE: Please make sure the back matter of your book is updated with information and direct links to the other books in your series. For instance, at the back of your book one, make sure there’s a little blurb or excerpt for the other books in the series along with link to the sale’s pages. We are binge-readers these days, and the best time to capture the “read-through” sale is when a reader has just finished the first book and is wanting to continue. Make it easy for them by including that link. If the book is a Kindle book, the link will go to the Amazon sale’s page. For other formats/bookstores, I use a universal book link that has all the direct sale’s links for the other stores, like B&N, Kobo, iBooks/Apple etc… I get my universal book link from Draft2Digital (my distributor for everything but my Kindle ebooks), but you can create your own with these instructions: https://justpublishingadvice.com/promote-your-book-better-with-universal-buy-links/
6. WHERE AND HOW YOU ADVERTISE IS INFLUENCED BY WHERE YOUR BOOK IS FOR SALE
If you are exclusive to Kindle, Amazon ads might work better for you than the author who has their books available across a wide variety of ebook platforms. WHY? Because with Kindle exclusivity your book is available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers as part of their unlimited page reads each month. However, if your book is available widely on other platforms such as Kobo, iBooks, or Nook, your advertising on BookBub and Facebook can be targeted to readers who have identified which platform they use.
David Gaughran has a great overview of book advertising that includes these six tips and more. Access his article HERE.
Do you need to know more? I give one-on-one Amazon ad tutorials for authors. Send me an email at LostLakePress@gmail.com if you want help diving into Amazon ads.