Adventures in Amazon Advertising
In May 2022, I self-published Murder Is Revealing. Before releasing it, I decided on a wide distribution plan, establishing accounts on Draft2Digital, Kobo, Smashwords, and IngramSpark. Of course, I distributed the book on Amazon. Despite criticisms and concerns, not publishing on Amazon severely limits an author’s exposure to readers.
As a physician with no book marketing experience, I contracted Books Go Social to run an Amazon Ads campaign. Part of the reason I chose to self-publish, though, was to learn the process and maintain control. Understanding Amazon Ads was part of the self-publishing education process. I don’t intend to condense everything regarding Amazon advertising into this article. However, I provided a snapshot of my experience. In August, I launched several Amazon Ad campaigns.
First, I watched Kindlepreneur’s Book Marketing 101 video. Dave Chesson designed an online beginner’s course on KDP advertising. Kindlepreneur offers more comprehensive courses, but I haven’t viewed those courses. Amazon provides many videos and resources for understanding their advertising program. After watching videos and reading countless articles, I was thoroughly confused. But a pediatrician is not easily intimidated.
How do Amazon ads work? When a reader looks for a book on Amazon, they search by author name, book title, or genre.
Decisions for launching a campaign?Location – I chose every English-speaking region available, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. That’s right. An author can conduct campaigns in any country where their book(s) are available for purchase.
Amount – KDP allows an author to determine a daily budget. The platform recommends starting at ten dollars/day. An author can alter the amount as needed.
Type – There are sponsored ads, sponsored brands, or lock screen ads, but not available in every region. In fact, I believe locked screen ads are only available in the US. A locked screen ad is what a reader sees when they turn on a reader device.
Targeting – Manual or automatic. The author can control the keyword options or allow KDP to decide. I chose manual. With manual targeting, there is keyword or product targeting. A keyword can be a simple word like mystery, Agatha Christie, or Salem’s Lot. The KDP algorithm can use that keyword exactly as written, broadly, as a phrase. Product targeting might include using an ASIN, Amazon Standard Identification Number.
Ad format – Add custom text to describe a book, giving customers a glimpse of what to expect.
Products – Presently, I only have one book, but an author can include books in a series or a similar genre for a specific campaign.
Campaign bidding strategy – Options include dynamic bids down, dynamic bids up and down, and fixed bids. In dynamic bid down, the author never pays more than the bid amount.
Dynamic bid up and down charges may be more or less than the bid. With fixed bids, there is no variation.
Bid amount - An amount spent on each individual ad. In Amazon advertising, the author only pays when a reader clicks on their ad. The goal is for each ad click to lead to a book sale. Ideally, an author chooses keywords that attract customers interested in purchasing their novel.
Depending on the keyword, prices for ads can range from 0.02 cents to over seven dollars. Most ad bids in my Canada campaign were under twenty-five cents. In the US, authors with some of the highest bids are Joanne Fluke, Ellery Adams, and Tess Gerritsen. Those same authors have lower bids in other countries. Mystery and murder are high bids ads in the US.
In my US campaign, the most profitable keywords were Walter Mosley, Louise Penny, Kate Carlisle, and best books 2022. Miss Fortune books did better overseas than in the US. I spent a lot of money on keywords mystery and cozy mystery without obtaining significant sales, so I turned off those words. KDP allows an author to pause a complete campaign, or keywords inside a campaign. So, if you losing money with a specific word, shut it off.
To compare different types, I created a product specific campaign using ASIN . Remember, ASIN is Amazon’s ISBN. ASINs performed better in Canada and the UK than in the US.
Negative keyword targeting – An author can determine words to exclude from campaigns. I added free, free book, free eBook, and true crime books. Why? Because I didn’t want customers to search for a free book, click on my ad, and discover the novel was not free. Resulting in an upset customer and a click ad charge without a sale. Two disappointed people. How to manage campaigns?
KDP provides a dashboard containing a monthly and month-to-date sales report graph. This measures how campaign adjustments affect sales. Book type reported returns. Amazon allows readers 7-14 days to return a book. It also lists pre-orders. Included on the dashboard are royalties paid per month and projected royalties. If your book is on Kindle, Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read (KENP) reports the number of pages read.
My adventure with Amazon ads—though short—has been intense. Good news, I sold over a hundred books in August. Bad news, I spent about a thousand dollars. The goal is to sell books while spending less money. Sign up for the newsletter and read more of my adventures in self-publishing. Below are links regarding KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) marketing. I want to hear about your experiences. Email me at news@MichelleCorbier.com and share your experiences with KDP. Sign in to Your KDP Account Advertising solutions for books | Amazon AdsBooks Go Social Authors Book Marketing | Kindlepreneur