My Publishing Journey: Promotion & Advertising

Another week has flown by as I work to test the Amazon Marketing Services available through KDP along with price promotions and arrangements for first author signing events and trying to get my nose into editing Before The End, along with approving chapters for the audiobook of In The End.

I’ll go into a bit more detail below, in particular with my experiences and initial conclusions with advertising on Amazon in the US.

Advertising & Promotion

Halfway through these tests Amazon deployed a key update to their service which brought a large number of the Amazon Advantage advertising services to authors, plus brought a new advertising opportunity to the platform. I won’t go into the detail of Amazon advertising as there is way too much information to go into here. If you want to get into the detail I would highly recommend the ‘Amazon Ads for Authors’ course which I think is available as a stand alone course from SelfPublishingFormula.com, if not then it is certainly available as part of the comprehensive ‘Ads for Authors’ course.

My aim was to gain hands-on experience with the AMS platform and to get an idea of what type of ads would work for me and which targets would be the most effective. Coupled with setting adverts, I also ran a Kindle Countdown Deal (KCD) in both the UK and US to see how sales were effected. This information also provides me with a baseline to compare to when my professional ad copy and updated blurb are delivered and deployed early next month.

During the week I tested the following:

  • Targeting by popular author in my genre
  • Targeting by popular books in my genre
  • Targeting by genre category
  • Kindle lockscreen advertising
  • Alternative Ad Copy
  • Pricing

The results were analysed using the following metrics provided by the AMS platform:

  • Impressions – Number of times the ad is seen (You don’t pay for these)
  • Clicks – Number of times the ad is clicked (You pay for each click)
  • CTR – Click Through Rate
  • Sales – Total value of sales receipt (You need to multiply by your royalty level to get your income)
  • Cost – Total amount you have been charged. This relates to the number of times the ad has been clicked.
  • Kindle Unlimited Page Views – This is not directly measured through the ad platform but it is useful to consider when looking at the effect

What Did I Find Out?

Now to the meat! In total I sold nine books in the US as a result of the advertising and price promotion. I sold four books in the UK which I will put down to the price promotion only.

  • Price promotion in the UK earned me four readers for the profit of one reader at the full kindle price. I need readers and not profit at the moment, so this is positive.
  • In the US I sold one full price book via the ads but this was early days in my testing so not a good benchmark.
  • Targeting authors in the genre yielded a very high CTR of 0.42%, so a lot of people were clicking, but only 3 books were sold. This makes the ad very expensive to run, but gives hope that an improved blurb may improve conversion. (A CTR of 0.15% is considered good).
  • Targeting a high level product category, in this case ‘Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction with an average review score of four or higher’, gave a low CTR but a higher sales level of five units. The ad reached many more people and those that clicked were more convinced with the blurb. I think this is because they already have a good idea of what they’re going to get in the category, whereas the same might not be true for the author targets.
  • The ad copy where I mentioned The Walking Dead had significantly higher clicks and sales than a generic copy about the apocalypse.
  • Kindle Unlimited page views are up by around 100 pages per day as I run the ads.
  • Kindle Lockscreen advertising has so far yielded zero clicks!

It’s important to note that these results are applicable to my genre only and may work differently for other genres. However I hope it may be a useful starting point for those thinking about getting into AMS.

How much did it cost to test?

Using minimum budget levels and keeping an eye on ads that weren’t performing, I spent just over $40 and generated a royalty of around $12. So for a modest $28 I have loads of really useful data to take things forward with. Going forward the ads will be less expensive as I will use the conclusions from above.

Further Testing

For the countdown deal the first half of the week the price was $0.99 / £0.99 and rose to $1.99 / £1.99 on Thursday and then the price promotion ends on Sunday evening in each territory. I will monitor the results with a view to the price changes to gather more information on the effect on sales.

I will run the ads for a clear week at full price and then turn them all off and measure results for another full week to get a clear view of their effect.

I will then be able to judge how much the ads will cost and whether I want to lose money getting a higher volume of readers, or break-even / make a profit getting a just a few new readers. I plan to repeat the entire exercise with the new blurb and ad copy.

What Else have I been up to?

Book Signings

I now have a date of 16th February hot off the press this morning. I’m in discussion over the value I’ll be selling the books to the store. They’ve recommended being on site from 11 – 3pm to catch the best sales times. Now I need to get prepared and start the promotion wagon. Three more venues (at least) still to be organised for later in the year. I’ll be making a proper announcement when the details go live on the retailer’s website.

Audiobook

I haven’t spoken about this for a while, but it’s 60% recorded and checked by myself finding very few edits to be made. I’m expecting to take delivery of the final chapters for approval before the end of the week. After listening to a chapter last night I had to email the producer immediately to show my admiration for the way he delivered a line. His work is wonderful and I can’t wait for people to listen to it.

I have to choose a section of the recording for a mandatory promotional clip. There’s a load of guidelines about it I have to read first. We’re well on track for the release by the end of February at the latest!

Before The End

Editing is slow, but I’ still enjoying the process. However I’m finding it too easy to veer off and work on interviews and blog posts rather than get my head down to the hard graft. I’m itching to write as Logan again in book three!

That’s it for now. Next week I’ll be back with some more progress on the advertising and details of the first book signing events.

12 comments

  • very much congrats to you for the debut novel. i would love to read it. your post is inspiring one.

    i write poetry and blogs on various topics,
    i have two books published.
    straight from the heart. non fiction
    by BRIJ KAUL
    Cascade of Love poetry book
    BY BRIJ KAUL
    both are available on Amazon . THANKS AND CONGRATS ONCE AGAIN

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hi Garth,
    We know that the big publishers have a planned budget for advertising and marketing, and of course the brand also sells the product. Their advantage is understanding what their sales will be before creating a publishing deal. Knowing your projected sales is a hard one when starting out, I’ve not reached that stage of project planning – must start. So I was not surprised to learn how Adam Croft rode his successful wave, he also did a Mark Dawson course and went on to spend almost £250,000 experimenting with marketing. (of course the budget came from his escalation of success). – Info from Writing Magazine November 2016.
    My ‘fiction short story book’ in 2014 reached No 11 in the Amazon Free Rankings for one day – and always gets a readership when it is offered for free – last time 75 downloads in one day – so frustrating. Must be on the ‘wait until he’ll put it up for free list.’

    I read your analyse with great interest – asking myself how do you go from break even sales/advertisement to real profit. Exposure! i expect is the answer.

    If only your book cover was on the billboard on the blog picture, above, instead of the girl with the flowers.

    Great news about the book event – will you be advertising in the shop your next follow book at the same time?

    All the best.
    James

    Like

    • Yes if only!! Thanks for the info as always. I will be mentioning the next book to those who I speak to and handing out cards for my site and mailing list so hopefully I can get a handful more recurring sales.

      Liked by 1 person

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