Back in the mid-2010s, Amazon KDP was like the wild west. You could literally publish almost anything and it would sell. It was a time nestled between the release of the Kindle eReader and the point where most readers became jaded by the amount of crap that was allowed on the platform.
Over the years, Amazon has cracked down to reduce the amount of poor quality content. The competition has become fierce. Unless you’re lucky enough to find one of the few remaining untouched niches like werebear shapeshifters who dress like santa claus (just kidding), you’re in for a fight.
The truth of the matter is that Amazon, like so many other things online, is a pay to play platform if you want to make actual money.
The good news is that it won’t break the bank to give it a try if you have a few bucks you can afford to lose. Speaking of that, let’s cover the rules.
Table of Contents
The Rules of Amazon Advertising
- Do not invest what you can’t stand to lose.
- Monitor your ads daily.
- Adjust your campaigns to prevent unnecessary spending.
- When one ad dies, replace it with a new one.
Amazon Advertising isn’t for everyone. If you’re not patient enough to learn the platform and you can’t afford to dedicate 15 to 30 minutes a day, don’t do it. However, if you do have those things and the cash flow to get started, this is a great way to see a profit from your books.
Why Should You Consider Amazon Advertising?
Amazon has billions of products with millions of new items being added every day. It’s highly probable that you will publish your book only to watch it fall into obscurity in the vast sea of products. Amazon Advertising is one of the best ways to stand out and be heard above the noise.
Ultimately, Amazon wants to make money and they’ve provided you with the tools to help you make money. When you make money, they make money. Amazon wants you to succeed. The problem is they don’t lose anything if you dump money blindly into advertising campaigns that don’t yield any results.
They won’t email you to let you know what you’re doing wrong. It’s on you to learn how Amazon Advertising works. Don’t worry, I’m here to help you out with that.
Are You Retail Ready?
Amazon recommends that you have 15 reviews of 3.5 stars or higher to be retail ready. That might sound daunting, but it’s quite possible to have 15 reviews on launch day if you have an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) team. You can build one from your current audience with social media and your email marketing platform or you can use a platform like StoryOrigin to help.
Here’s a few more resources for getting those reviews under your belt – https://selfpub.substack.com/p/getting-reviews-on-amazon-for-your
Aside from reviews, your book cover, keywords and categories, and your book description should all be dialed in. These are all things I’ve covered extensively here on my blog, on my YouTube channel, and podcast. The best one-stop shop I can give you is this post. Make sure to grab that PDF!
Essential Metrics of Amazon Advertising
When you’re ready to pull the trigger on Amazon Advertising and you set up your first campaign, there are 3 main metrics you need to monitor:
- Impressions – when Amazon places your ad in front of a customer. Impressions don’t cost you anything. They are simply a count of how many people have viewed your ad.
- Clicks – when a customer clicks your ad to find out more about your book. These determine the success of your ad.
- Sales – when a customer buys your book after clicking on your ad. These are the ultimate goal!
Go into your Amazon Ads with a competitive mindset. You are competing for the attention of your customer alongside millions of other authors.
Getting Started with Amazon Advertising for Authors
The best way to get started with Amazon ads is to just do it. To access Amazon Advertising, in your KDP dashboard, click the ellipsis (three dots) menu next to the book you want to promote. Select Promote and Advertise from the drop-down menu.
Select your marketplace from the drop-down menu and then click the yellow Create an ad campaign button.
Also worth noting here are the links to resources in the lower left corner to learn more about Amazon Advertising. I recommend checking them out!
That’s it. We’re off to the races.
Now, we need to run our research ad. Once you’re in the ads dashboard, you are presented with three options:
You will almost always being working with Sponsored Products. Until you get the hang of things, ignore the other two. Lockscreen ads are a bottomless pit. I don’t recommend them at all for most authors.
Ad Format – It’s up to you. You can explore both options.
Products – Your book should be added by default, but in case it’s not, click the Add button next to the book you want to advertise. You can also search if you need to. You may want to add all formats of your title to your ad.
Targeting – Select Automatic targeting.
Negative keyword targeting – You’ll use this after your first week of running your ad. Sift through your Search Terms report. Dump anything that you rank for not relevant to your book or that is not converting well in here. If that includes books, drop the ASIN in here. This will stop Amazon from targeting these keywords, serving your ads to non-relevant shoppers, and wasting your daily budget. Make sure you do this here on the campaign level.
Negative product targeting – This is optional. Notice how it’s not expanded. You don’t really need to worry about this for the time being.
Creative – This is how your ad will appear to Amazon shoppers.
Campaign bidding strategy – Select Dynamic bids – down only or Fixed bids.
Campaign name – Name your campaign something that will help you keep up with what you’re doing.
Start/End – Set your start and end dates. Keep your ad running and kill it manually any time by selecting No end date.
Country – Selected by default based on your location.
Daily Budget – Set your daily budget at what you can afford to lose. I recommend a minimum of $1 per day to start. If you can’t afford that, you’re probably not ready for Amazon Advertising.
Monitor your ad(s) daily. When you start to see sales, you’re headed in the right direction. Make small adjustments until you hit optimum profit margins. Amazon Advertising isn’t a set it and forget it tool. You’re going to spend a lot of time messing around with it. It’s not for everyone, but for some, it’s paydirt.
I have a book dedicated to Amazon Advertising coming out later this year. In the meantime, you can grab Promotional Strategies for Books to learn how to effectively market your books using Amazon Ads and many other methods.
Amazon Ads for beginners was also a topic I covered with Book Rescue candidate Sarah Hualde. Check out the post and video here.
There are two free courses available out there to help you understand Amazon Advertising more thoroughly than this blog post ever could. They both come from reputable sources: one being Amazon themselves and the other being Dave Chesson, the Kindlepreneur. I recommend them both!
This is an older interview, but you still may find it useful.