Authors are always wondering how to sell self published books with Amazon ads, and over the past few months Amazon has rolled out some exciting changes!
I’ve outlined a quick update of everything I’ve been learning and tracking recently so let’s dig in – and be sure to check the Resources and Free Downloads section for a special discount!
Page Reads Have Been Added
One of the most recent updates is that they’re now showing page reads, which is great for those of you who have your books in Kindle Unlimited and this changes our whole relationship with ACOS (average cost of sales).
Automatic Ads Are Trickier Than They Seem
Basically, with these ads you don’t need to do a thing, which sounds great doesn’t it?
All you have to do is tee up the ad and in theory, Amazon does the rest.
But here’s the catch: you have to monitor these particular ads very closely – in fact closer than you would any of the other ad sets because it can eat through a lot of your budget very quickly.
I used these ads for my book How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon and discovered quickly that checking search terms was imperative.
I recommend checking “search terms” every few days, because that’s where you’ll find how folks are finding your book, and sometimes the results are scary.
I found that Amazon was showing the ad for odd searches like memoir, new-age and poetry and in all likelihood none of the people searching for these titles would ever want or need my book. And if you’re trying to figure out how to sell self published books the first step is always ensuring your targeting is spot on – in everything you do.
Once you identify places you don’t wish to show up, add the book titles or keywords to “negative targeting” to prevent this from happening again.
In almost every case, as it relates to this particular ad set, negative targeting is a great resource to use.
Keyword Suggestions Have Gotten Better
These have improved, I’ll give them that, but it still takes a lot of time.
When you start your ads, they keyword suggestions won’t be great – but as your ads age and Amazon learns your book, you’ll get some better suggestions which you can add to your database of keywords.
Don’t rely on these at the start, but make it a part of your long term plan for how to sell self published books on Amazon with a better conversion rate.
Running Multiple Ads is Tempting But Dangerous
I’ve been seeing a lot of recommendations around running multiple ads and while I understand the mindset around it, it’s not something I recommend when figuring out how to sell self published books with Amazon.
We know that Amazon is modeling Google Ad Words, we’ve seen this in the changes they’ve made to their ads dashboard and structure.
When I was running AdWords there were a lot of experts who said to run lots and lots of ads, but the problem is that if you do that, you start to cannibalize your own keywords – because for most of us, finding 300-400 keywords is already a stretch, so essentially, you’re spending money to potentially outbid your own ad sets, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The Google person I spoke to said that while multiple ads makes more money for Google they don’t recommend it for actual ad success – it dilutes all of your ad sets and you spend more money for what is, essentially, the same thing.
It’s also, frankly, a lot to monitor.
It’s been my experience that running 2-4 ads is generally plenty, especially as you’re getting your feet wet.
The Ongoing ACOS Debate
There’s a lot of debate around this, a LOT – some experts claim that ACOS (Average Cost of Sales) doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t matter and my question is: why not?
I mean, don’t I want to know how much it costs me to sell one book?
The idea behind the “ignore ACOS approach” is based on the fact that Amazon didn’t used to monitor page reads, but that’s all changed now.
The other issue are the sales numbers, which run about 5-7 days behind.
ACOS is not an exact science, and I can see why folks might suggest to ignore it, but here’s the thing with Amazon ads: everything matters. And your Amazon relevancy score is determined by any ads you’re running.
You can easily do the math on ACOS for your overall sales and page reads (if your book is in KU) and get a sense of what the actual cost is from the numbers Amazon gives you, I’ve not seen that it’s terribly far off, in my testing.
Much like the Google machine, when you run ads on Google your ads are shown more if they perform better, meaning if they convert.
Amazon is the same way, but Amazon also factors in the overall algorithm to your book page, because if people are clicking the ad, then clicking off your book page, it means your book isn’t converting them to a sale and that counts against your Amazon relevancy score.
So personally, I wouldn’t ignore any of the Amazon stats, if it didn’t matter, Amazon wouldn’t put it in there.
We’ve updated our Master Amazon Video course to include a fun workaround for this, a quick way to get a better understanding out of the data Amazon gives you. Check the link at the bottom to get access!
As Amazon Gets More Sophisticated, So Do You
And much like the Google Adwords, if you ask three experts, you’ll get three different answers, because everyone’s methodology is different.
You have to decide for yourself what makes the most sense to your book sales and optimization and leave the rest on the cutting room floor – but having an understanding of all the options and moving parts is critical, and that’s my goal with our Video Membership!