Amazon ads offers self-published authors and publishing houses one of the most powerful advertising platforms on the Internet. When you advertise a book on Amazon, you guarantee the ability for people to see that your book exists. Even better, you reach avid readers who are ready to buy at the click of a button.
But, what if you’ve bought Amazon ads and they aren’t working?
Is it bad luck? Have you written a bad book? Did you do something to turn Amazon against you? Fortunately, the answer isn’t related to any mysterious conspiracies. Jeff Bezos isn’t out to get you. If your Amazon ads aren’t working well, the problem is usually related to one of the four issues below:
1. Your Expectations are Unrealistic
If you buy Amazon ads with the wrong goals in mind, you’re going to get the wrong results. For instance, it’s unrealistic to assume Amazon ads will work overnight and suddenly triple your book sales. Their system doesn’t work that way.
Everything is dependent on data, which takes time to harvest, analyze, and optimize. Your first ads will rarely be perfect. But, as you hone your ads over several months, they will tend to perform better.
Here’s a secret that Amazon doesn’t tell you: The authors who turn a profit with their ad campaigns usually fall into one of two groups:
1. Novelists who write books in a long series that enables profit to be made by selling multiple books to one reader.
2. Nonfiction authors who price their books high enough to withstand the ad expense.
In addition, Amazon ads by themselves will not transform your author career. My Amazon ads typically boost monthly book sales by 15% – 25%. That’s a nice bump, but not enough to retire to a private island. You should only buy Amazon ads as part of a balanced marketing plan, not as the sole hope to save your book.
2. Your Bid Prices are Too High
People don’t buy your book every time they see an Amazon ad. It can take anywhere from 10 – 25 clicks to produce one sale. If your average bid price is $.75 and it takes 15 clicks to close a sale, then it’s going to cost $11.25 just to sell one book! ($.75 x 15 = $11.25) No author can remain profitable at that level.
If you’re losing money on Amazon ads, then you must lower your bid prices to a number that coincides with your profit margin. For example, if your book’s profit margin is $3.50 and it typically takes 12 clicks to produce a sale, then you need to set bid prices less than $.29 ($3.50 / 12 = $.29).
Unfortunately, the word on the street is that highly competitive genres, such as romance, mystery, and thrillers, require winning bids to be around $.75 – $1.00. Thus, you can’t turn a profit on a single book. Instead, you’ve got two options.
You can either write a book series that generates profit as people buy multiple titles. Or, you can raise the price of your books to increase the profit margin. In my own experiments, I’ve sold more books as I raised the price. So, don’t be afraid to test different pricing levels.
3. Your Ad Targeting is Incorrect
No matter how high or low your bid prices might be, your ads won’t work if your targeting is incorrect. Showing ads to the wrong readers is a fast way to lose money. The easiest way to identify the right targets is to use the names and book titles of bestselling authors in your specific genre. In addition, use the Amazon “automatic” targeting feature to harvest data about additional targets that generate sales.
When you first begin buying Amazon ads, you must use a lot of different keyword targets. But, as a few months go by, you can review the data from your ad campaigns and quickly identify which targets work and which targets waste money. Honing your ads over time will make them perform better by enabling you to “target smarter.”
4. Your Book Detail Page Looks Bad
You can have properly targeted ads at low bid prices. But, you will still fail to convert sales if your Amazon book detail page looks unprofessional. “Bad” means a homemade-looking cover image, less than 25 customer reviews, or a poorly-written book description. All of these factors play a major role in convincing or preventing readers from purchasing.
Before you spend any money on Amazon ads, make sure your book detail page looks as persuasive as possible. The good news is that you can improve your book detail page using the Author Central account to upload new marketing text. And, if you self-published using Amazon KDP, you can upload a better cover image at any time. Improving your book detail page has the single greatest impact on your sales – and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Amazon ads aren’t for everyone. In fact, they’re not available to traditionally-published authors. Only publishing houses and self-published authors who use Amazon KDP can buy them. But, when you understand how the ad platform works and apply the right expectations, they can provide a significant boost in sales.
I believe in Amazon ads so much that I teach how to use them in my online course, Mastering Amazon for Authors. Based on numerous requests, I’m planning to reopen registration for this course in early-July for “Author Summer School.” The price will be $399. If you’d like to get on the waiting list to reserve your slot, email me today.
In addition, I recommend Mark Dawson’s course, Ads for Authors, which features instruction on Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and BookBub ads. If you’re a self-published novelist, this is a great resource for fiction writers. The price is $849. However, act fast – because Mark’s course closes this Wednesday, June 24th.
Are you using Amazon ads? Let me know what’s working for your campaigns by leaving a comment below.