I hang out in a lot of Facebook groups and sub-Reddits for self-published authors, and one of the most seemingly eternal debates is “Is Amazon Paid Advertising Worth it?”
Well, that depends. Are you Jeff Bezos? I’m sure it’s always worth it for him!
Paid advertising on Amazon is totally worth it, but you have to have a few things in place to make it pay off for you. The first thing you want to do is read this post, because it’s going to help you avoid giving Amazon an all-access pass to spend your money however they would like. I have a four-part strategy for Amazon advertising that I have (begrudgingly) evolved over many years of writing and publishing, and it works well for me. Before authors start randomly throwing money at Amazon Advertising, though, I strongly recommend they put links inside all of their books that leads to a landing page (either on their site or their email service), giving the reader something for free. This “incentivized signup” strategy is really effective because readers are already reading your book and liking your work, so there is never a better time to offer them something for free.
If you don’t have that part set up already, that is fine, but don’t run ads yet. Alot of authors are holding out on setting this up because they don’t have websites yet, which I get, but you can set up a landing page through your email service, and I’ve covered three email services that offer free introductory accounts in this book. It’s free! What do you have to lose?
So, yes– Amazon Advertising for books is totally worth it, but you have to make sure you put the legwork in first, to make sure you (and your career) are getting the value out of it. One good thing to remember is that Amazon Ads are best used when you’re using them to scale a business, not just to sell single books. If you’re doing that, you’re likely to fall into the trap that this unfortunate person experienced with their book (and the ad that went with it):
Yikes! This is rough for many reasons!
I’ll tell you why.
First off, this person has spent $41.09 to make 2 sales, totaling $19.98. That’s already terrible, but it gets even worse when you consider the fact the the sales” number that Amazon shows you is the GROSS amount of money THEY made, not the royalty you earned. They don’t care about that! This person makes approximately $3 in royalty per book, so they paid $41.09 to make $6.
The biggest problem with this is (obviously) the bid, which is just way too high. NEVER take the “suggested bid” that Amazon shows you when you are setting up the ad, or you will end up here, screaming at your computer screen and posting frustratedly in Facebook groups, asking for advice. This person actually got a lot of clicks for 2,903 impressions, which means their cover is appealing and on-target for the market, but since it took them 27 clicks to make one sale (really that number should be closer to 10), that cost per click would have to have been no higher than 10 cents to make that profitable (27 clicks X 10 cents = $2.70, which is still under the $3 royalty earned per book).
The other story this report is telling me is that something is wrong with the book itself. I didn’t actually see the book so I don’t know what it is, but if 54 people clicked the ad (the book cover) and only two of them bought the book, that could mean the description sucks, there’s a typo somewhere in the title/ subtitle, or the book’s subject matter could use the “Look Inside” feature (or some A+ Content) but neither of those are present.
Another thing I would speculate about this book is that the keywords are maybe not targeted tightly enough, so maybe those expensive clicks are from buyers that are not targeted enough. By that I mean that they are sort of interested in the subject matter (thus the click), but when they got to the actual book listing, the book either wasn’t specific enough or was too specific, but either way was not what they thought so they left.
Overall, this ACOS is terrible (even against the gross sales number), so this person has some work to do to make Amazon Ads worth it for them.
How’s that for a long-winded example? Ha!
To make Amazon Ads worth it for you (meaning they either profit or break even/ get you a new subscriber), you would need to do the following:
— Never take the “suggested bid” for any Amazon ad, especially for a brand-new book. This is a recipe for disaster! Again, read this post for my whole argument against taking any of Amazon’s “suggestions.”
— Start your bid at something super low, like 10 or 20 cents. Pay close attention to how much you make per book, and do not go over the “bid X 10” number, since your ad (or your book) is likely going to take some refining before it starts achieving that metric.
— Make sure your book has an email signup/ link to a freebie in it. That is the whole topic of this book, which is free and please go read it. If you’re going to pay for advertising, make sure it’s to build your business, not just for a one-off sale!
Thank you for coming to my Amazon Ads TED Talk. Remember, if you don’t keep an eye on your ads, it is almost guaranteed that you will pay the “Amazon Ad Tax,” as the person above has. That tax sucks, because while they should be happy that they sold those two books, they are actually sad because they lost $36 doing so.
The good news is, once you get the hang of Amazon ads, you can use them to scale up not only your book sales, but your whole career as a working author. Who doesn’t want that?!