For most indie authors, Amazon ads are an unavoidable fact of life. But Amazon’s oversimplified reports can leave the author with the wrong impression. Getting to the truth of the numbers requires a little digging.
Tag: Book Marketing
Faceoff:Amazon vs. Facebook ads
Last weekend I ran a 99¢ special on my book, Your Novel This Month as part of the Prep_tober kickoff for NaNoWriMo. Since I have no mailing list and a small website following, I knew that I would need to pay to promote the sale.
At this point I already have an Amazon ad that is making a small return on investment and I wanted to reach a bigger audience. Facebook with its thousands of writing pages and groups seemed like a logical choice. I could target my ad to a specific audience: writers, and Facebook would show my ad to those who fit this description.
Setting up the ad was easy and I made a custom graphic that was more interesting than what Amazon auto populated. I set the budget at $10/day and ran it during the three days of the sale.
While the ad generated over 20,000 impressions, it only received 301 clicks. This is a better than average click through rate CTR, which means Facebook did a fair job of placing my ad with the right audience.
The Cost-per-click (CPC) was .09¢ for a total of $28 for the entire campaign.
The number of sales generated was 9 (That’s it. 9 books.) for a conversion rate of 3%. As a comparison the average conversion rate for a Facebook ad is 9% across all industries. At 99¢ each, I generated $8.91 in sales. This means that for every dollar I made, I spent $3 for an average cost per sale (ACoS) rate of 314%. If the book had been full price and the sales the same, the ACoS would have been 110%
Let’s compare that to the performance of my Amazon ad
(these numbers are for the month because Amazon doesn’t break the numbers down into weeks)
My Amazon ad had 160 clicks at an average CPC of .30¢ each. Yes, this means that per click I paid over 3x the amount. Both ads pointed to the exact same landing page, but the Amazon ad generated 17 sales for a conversion rate of 11%. This conversion rate is far above the average. And this does not include any KU pages read as a result of the ad.
*Since many of these sales were full price, comparing the ACoS wouldn’t be fair.
Since both ads point to the exact same page (my book’s landing page on Amazon) we know that it isn’t the landing page. The only difference is the source of the ad traffic
People who clicked on my ad on Amazon were far more likely to buy my book than people who clicked on my Facebook ad.
So the question is, why is the traffic generated by the Amazon ad so much better at generating sales than traffic generated by Facebook when the target is viewing the exact same book landing page?
My conclusion is that people who are on Amazon are looking to buy books. This is the same reason that specialty candles will sell better in a candle shop than they will in the produce aisle in the grocery story. People in a candle shop are looking to buy candles.
Unfortunately, selling books is more art than science and its more luck than anything. My book is non-fiction. Fiction will likely produce completely different results.
What were your results with paid ads? Amazon, Facebook, or any other paid promotion. Let me know in the comments
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Effective online book descriptions are more than just the words. The internet is a visual medium, much like a magazine. Readers expect content to be presented in a visually interesting way. This means thinking about your description as a web design project, including visual arts elements, like white space, and formatting your text using HTML. Even if you are not a programmer, simple tags for bold, italic, H1, H2 are easy enough for the novice. (If you still need help, use a WYSIWYG HTML generator. Then, cut and paste the results in your Amazon description.)
Here is a book description that needs revision. Notice how the large block of text is unappealing, even daunting. Readers are conditioned to expect efficient content online, smaller chunks of text, and variety.
When designing your book descriptions, consider how all the elements of the page will work together. You will have three elements: the cover, the short hook, and the full description.
The cover is your number 1 sales tool. It will be the reason a prospective reader will click on your description. If your cover looks bad or does not accurately reflect your genre/content, a reader will never see your written description. A solid, professional cover is money well spent.
The Short Hook
The short hook is the first 40-60 words of your description (depending on how you format it) that Amazon shows on your book’s landing page. At the end of the short hook, readers have the option to click on “read more.” The primary function of the short hook is to entice readers to click on that link. No click=no sale.
Think of the short hook as your “above the fold content” (content a reader will see without performing any actions). Many writers will use this space for a meaningful review, or a tagline.
In this example, the short hook leads with bestseller achievements, follows with reviews, and then manipulates the break to only show the tagline ending with the ellipsis. Notice how this all comes before the “read more” link. This is a carefully crafted sales pitch.
The Full Hook
The third element is the full hook. This will only be revealed if your first two elements have been a success. It’s the third act of your story. Just like you can’t wait until the end of your book to make the story interesting, you can’t put all your best information at the end of your hook. The full hook must deliver on the promise created in the first two elements. It must expand on what has already been created and deliver a satisfying message. In this case, a compelling reason to read your story.
Notice, in this example, how the blurb doesn’t even begin until the “read more’ has been clicked. This is one option. Another option is to create a mystery in your short hook to compel the reader forward.
Once you have your description written, you must create a layout with visual interest.
An effective layout will have plenty of white space, giving the eyes an opportunity to rest. Too much text creates an uncomfortable experience for the reader.
Now let’s create yours
Begin with a great tagline, or meaningful review (and change the text with tags or bold/italic text)
The short hook-, use 50-60 words or less engage your reader. This means making a promise that intrigues the reader. By the end of his paragraph, your reader must want to click on the “read more” to find out the answer.
The second paragraph (Below the “read more” link-Now that the reader has clicked “read more”, we don’t want them to regret it. In the second paragraph, you must expand on the original hook, creating more depth. Add your complicating factor. You do not have to use all the allotted space for your hook. Giant blocks of text turn readers off.
Have lots of text? Consider breaking things up with subheadings
The Close- the final paragraph. Congratulations you’ve hooked your reader. They clicked on ‘read more’ and made it to the end. It’s time to reel them in with a great close.
If you did not lead with a positive review, you can use the extra space here to quote it, and be sure to use italics to distinguish it from the rest of your hook.
Taking the time to optimize your online hook will give your description a more professional appearance, convince your readers that your content is higher quality, and ultimately help you achieve stronger sales.
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No matter how good your novel is, no one is going to read it if they can’t find it. Marketing can seem like the most daunting task in self-publishing/indie publishing, but it doesn’t have to be. Author Megan Cutler takes us through the three easiest methods to increase your novel’s visibility and ultimately improve your sales.
A Beginner’s Guide to Promoting your Novel
In May of 2014, I decided to self-publish for the first time. It was terrifying. I knew how to write the book and format it, but there my knowledge ended. I did my research, started following other indie authors on twitter and tried to follow their examples. But I had no idea how much I had left to learn.
I did it anyway. Part of me knew that if I didn’t hit that publish button, I was never going to get serious. There would always be some excuse to put off all the learning I had to do. Perhaps there would be an excuse to keep flitting from project to project without ever finishing anything too. So I took the plunge.
I don’t regret that decision, but I do wish I could write a letter to my past self about everything I’ve learned since that day. The next best thing is sharing my knowledge with all of you!
Amazon Categories and Keywords
Once you have an awesome story, book cover, and blurb, you need to figure out how to list your book on Amazon. I’ve spent a lot of time pulling my hair out about categories and keywords and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of them.
First things first, you want to find out what category your book fits into. This is harder than it sounds. I was confident my first novel fit under Urban Fantasy, but after talking to other indies, I’ve come to the conclusion it fits better under Fantasy and Adventure. It’s important to know where your book fits because you’re going to want your cover composition to match the most popular covers in your genre. Otherwise, you won’t attract an audience, or you might attract the wrong audience (which could lead to negative reviews).
Readers use keywords to find your book. The trick is finding keywords that get a lot of results (meaning that they’re popular), but few enough results that your book will still rise to the top. The best place to start is Amazon’s guide to keywords; some categories require a specific keyword to get your book listed. After that, you want to make a list of all the terms that might apply to your book. Think about your settings, your character types and roles, your plot themes and your story tones. When you exhaust those, start thinking about what you would search if you were trying to find your book on Google.
With this list, you can start testing Amazon search results. Amazon’s autopopulation function is personalized, but you can still use search results to gauge how popular a search term is. If you hardly get any results, the term probably isn’t going to help people find your book. Likewise, if you get 40,000 results, your book might get lost in the hoard. Take some time determining the best search terms and use those. You can always adjust these later (in fact some people recommend shuffling keywords to reinvigorate sales), and remember that you aren’t limited to single words – you can use phrases.
Building a Newsletter and Street Team
Newsletters are hot right now. The fastest way to connect to your readers about new releases, after all, is having a straight line to their inbox. Many social media platform algorithms restrict the reach of your posts no matter how many followers you have, but nothing can prevent your readers from checking their email.
The best way to get a reader interested in your future work is to give them a taste of what you’ve already written. Many authors offer the first book of a series free to anyone who subscribes to their newsletter. Others will offer a novella that ties in with the series, but isn’t available anywhere else. What you choose to give to your subscribers will be largely based on what you have available – but again, you can always adjust it later.
You want to make your newsletter sign-up link prominent on your author website and your various social media platforms. If you can pin a post, you probably want to make your newsletter the pin. You can also use services like Instafreebie to attract new subscribers; while Instafreebie does charge $20 for direct newsletter integration, you can still use their service for free. Upload a preview of your book, or a short story, with a link to your newsletter sign-up in the front and back. You get a better subscriber rate if you pay, but the service is useful for spreading the word about your work either way. Another great way to grow your list is by doing newsletter swaps with other authors.
Once you have a subscriber base, you can use it to build your street team. This group will help promote your work by building buzz and posting reviews. How you communicate with your street team is up to you; many suggest creating a Facebook group. Start by putting a general call in your newsletter and see who’s interested. You can encourage people to join by offering incentives like review copies of your new releases or opportunities to serve as beta readers for your upcoming projects.
When you’re ready, you’ll want to start building buzz for your release at least a month in advance. Some people recommend starting as early as two months. There are lots of ways to build buzz around your work; you can release a teaser excerpt or the first chapter. You can do a cover reveal, and you can do a giveaway.
Whatever you decide to do, a blog tour is a good way to promote it. The basic idea behind a blog tour is that other authors will show your stuff to their readers, and you return the favor later. Lots of places will organize a blog tour for you for a fee, but you can put one together for yourself if you’re willing to make connections and arrangements.
First, you’ll want to approach authors about hosting your tour. It helps if you have previous connections to them, via social media or participation in other events. Always check the guidelines on the author’s site to make sure you know their guest post policy. You may want to offer to host the other authors on your blog while you’re on tour so the event becomes an exchange. Once you have the dates and places arranged, you want to write a unique post for each stop on the tour (repeat content ranks lower on search engines, so make sure you’ve got a lot of topics reserved for your tour).
If you’ve decided self-published, keep in mind that it’s never too late to implement a new strategy. Book covers, blurbs, and category settings can be tweaked as needed. Your newsletter subscribers will never complain about more free content. Keep meeting new authors and learning from them.
The most important thing is to keep writing. Many authors indicate their sales picked up after releasing several books, especially if they were a series.
Success doesn’t happen overnight so keep at it!
Novel Promotion Links:
(This link does have a product that it suggests using (kindle rocket), but the article is very useful on its own, and really helped me understand the process.)
Muse tamer, character wrangler, creator and destroyer of worlds, Megan Cutler writes the kind of science fiction and fantasy stories she has always enjoyed reading. She grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania and moved to Canada after marrying the love of her life. In 2013 she published her first book, Island of Lost Forevers, the beginning of the Mystical Island Trilogy. She spends her days honing her craft, trying to develop enough ice crystals in her blood to stop feeling the cold during Canadian winters and hoping to appease her characters enough that they will allow her to sleep.
Find Megan at
Island of Lost Forevers Purchase Link: