How Not to use Amazon Ads

amazon adsI started experimenting with Amazon Ads in April 2017 — yes, I was one of those perennially sceptic/ late bloomers, who take time to jump on any bandwagon! But after playing around with it for over a year, I’m now a full convert. During this journey, I’ve learnt a few things, exchanged notes about other writers’ experiences, and have had some success that I just can’t ignore.

So, here’s my two-bit on how you SHOULDN’T use Amazon Ads.

First, don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight: Okay, you may have heard of fantastic stories of authors who sold millions of books just by using Amazon Ads. But if that is your expectation, you’re setting yourself up for failure. From Day 1. My goal always was to sell a few books here and there and also to get a good ROI so that I was never out-of-pocket. If that is your aim, please read on.

In 2017-18, I spent around $100 on Amazon Ads that according to its Dashboard (actually it was KDP and Createspace dashboard) resulted in almost $700 in sales. Yes, I didn’t become a celebrity. But I’m happy because I made a profit of $7 for every dollar I spent on advertising. And I never had such a boost in my four-year writing career. I have shared my experiences elsewhere of dabbling with FREE, or 99 cent promotions, of buying advertising space on Fussy Librarian and so many other sites I don’t even remember now; but the point to underline is: I never had such a good ROI on any other platform.

Bid high if you’re rich: I cannot tell you how many Discussion Forums and Kindle Boards discuss how high authors are currently bidding. Most begin with a decent bid and start immediately checking their Ads Dashboard. Now if they think they aren’t getting the expected number of impressions or clicks, they become uneasy. So, they raise their bids to as high as $1 per click. Again, nothing happens, except that after fifteen days, Amazon bills them $100 which resulted in $20 worth of sales. Ouch! Don’t do this. This is the price you pay for becoming impatient.

When I started Amazon Ads, I too used to bid high, to around 50 cents per click.  I soon realised that not only was I losing money, but I was also blowing up my entire monthly budget in ten days flat. I had to course-correct and now, my ads are anywhere between 5 cents to 20 cents. Funnily, some ads do really well at 5 cents! Take a look at this screenshot.

amazon ads

Yes, I don’t get as many clicks and impressions as I used to get but now I can leave my ads up indefinitely without worrying about getting a hefty bill. Incidentally, this idea I picked up from Brian D. Meeks book on Mastering Amazon Ads.  

Amazon doesn’t show my ads, maybe they have something against me: If your dashboard says the ad is running, it is running. Relax and don’t fret about it. Many authors check their dashboard every day and worry that they’ve stopped getting impressions and clicks. They panic and increase their bids which can finish them financially sooner than later.

Understand there is always a lag in reporting. And that lag can be from a few days to even a few weeks. Or months or years. So, don’t worry. I’ve managed to pick up sales even on those ads I once considered dead. And whenever I check my book pages on Amazon, I do see them running even though the dashboard isn’t reporting any impressions or clicks. So, I take it they’re running.

Another tip: Don’t check your ads dashboard daily. Leave your ads up. If you’re bidding low, you’re probably not losing money. Check once in a week or better, once in month. And tally the results with your Kindle and CreateSpace sales.

I’m getting clicks but not sales; so readers don’t like me: Always remember that readers are not in a hurry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found interesting books through Amazon Ads that I didn’t buy immediately. I’m sure you do the same. Usually, I add that book to my wish list or download a sample on my Kindle. So, why should I fret if readers are not buying my books immediately but only adding those books to their wish lists?

That being said, there could be some other reasons you’re getting clicks but not sales (assuming your cover, blurb, interior and opening are okay).

Remember Amazon links last for 14 days: So, if a buyer clicks on a link, say on 1 November, and buys the book on 20 November, the sale won’t get credited against that link. But a sale is a sale, so why worry.

The sale may happen outside Amazon.com: At present, authors can only run ads on Amazon.com and not on any other Amazon site. But readers from around the world go to Amazon.com, because it is so huge, and it has so many more user reviews. I’ve noticed that when I run my ads, I get sales in Europe and India also which I didn’t earlier. So, it’s possible that those readers came across the ad on Amazon.com and then bought the book on Amazon.in or de or uk. BUT since the sale didn’t happen on Amazon.com, it won’t be credited.

Have you ever seen an ad on TV for a free product? No? So, if you run a FREE or 99 cent promotion on Amazon Ads, you will guarantee getting a negative ROI. The lesson: the higher the price, the better would be the margin. For novels, your price should be at least $4.99 to get a good return. Print books too do well. So do box sets priced anywhere from $7.99-$9.99. For a longer discussion on why FREE and 99 cent books do not work, do feel free to check out my book How to Market Your Books WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME.

I hope this blog post helps you in identifying where you may be going wrong with Amazon Ads. The key is to bid low, leave your ads up and check your dashboard once in a month.

And use the rest of the time to do what you love doing. Writing, I hope.

 

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11 Comments

  • Cris says:

    I absolutely love this post. You can tell you are a good writer and that you speak from experience.
    I am horrible with ads and marketing my books.
    I am doing my best, but I am utterly overwhelmed.
    Thanks for this. It’s truly helpful.
    Cheers and good luck.

    • Prasenjeet says:

      Thanks, Cris. Please don’t get overwhelmed. 🙂 Relax. Sometimes it is good not to take things so seriously. Have a great day! 🙂

  • I’ll as well consider your idea! Thanks for this Prasen.

    Writers want that humble vibrant house; Lovely home; Million-dollar investment success and Mercedes-Benz?

    They will be available if they can choose to face and deal with these business problems.

    I personally don’t call them problems, I name them “challenges”. And you will face them. I have been facing them and believe me, it has been uplifting me more than I can ever imagine financially and mentally.

    These challenges are the reasons why Neil Patel advised that Business are not for kids.

    They are frustration, finance, insults, lifestyle change, fear and failure, and the likes…

    Patrick David said it’s easy for a successful business person to tell you how easy it was to achieve. You would need to sit him down, sink inside his emotion before he’ld reveal to you how tough it took him to attain that stage.

    Making money blogging should be fun, and that’s how successful bloggers would paint it for you. But they rarely tell you the bitter truths they faced. Smiles! Well, I actually analyzed how best it is to solve those problems in my blog…

    Thanks once again Prasen

  • Andrea says:

    At this time it appears like Drupal is the best blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  • Great blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like
    Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused
    .. Any tips? Appreciate it!

    • Prasenjeet says:

      In my opinion serious writers should buy a domain name and a hosting account. A site on a free platform like WordPress or Blogger is good but you won’t own your site. In other words, those companies can shut down your for blog (for whatever reason including low traffic) since they’re the owners not you. You can check plenty of videos on You Tube that can teach you how to set up your blog. 🙂

  • macky lasmu says:

    Great post with a lot of detail. WordPress is free and what most people use.

    Thanks for the help

  • Rahulj says:

    Nicely explained

  • Mike says:

    Another tip: Don’t check your ads dashboard daily. Leave your ads up.

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