Journey to a Bestseller: Creating an Amazon Ad for Fiction Authors (Series #32)

Good day everyone! I have super news! I have the ten required Amazon reviews I need to buy ads for launch. I am throwing the net wide, but not without advice from those who have had success with ads.

Launch day for The Final Rescue is March 22nd, 2020. Which happens to be a Sunday and I don’t remember my plan for doing it that day, but it’s the date I set. I told you I would tell you what ads I bought for launch. Now that I have my 10 reviews, I can set up most of my ads. The ones that included multiple days in the promotion, I just spread it throughout the week.

I plan to purchase Amazon and Bookbub ads for that week (till the 27th or 28th. I may get the Amazon ad ready to go soon, so I don’t have to worry about it later. Plus, I could always put it on pause. I haven’t learned Bookbub ads yet. Maybe we can do that next week? Let me know if you’re interested. I am buying promo spots for that week from Booksends, The Fussy Librarian, Ereader News Today, Bknights, Facebook, Buckbooks, and I’m joining a promo with Booksweeps that week to get some extra exposure.

I do have a conundrum, however. The book I’m launching is the third book in my trilogy. I am going to be pushing book three on launch week, but you really need to read the other books previously to understand why people behave the way they do, and witness the characters grow. So, for launch week I will be lowering the price of the first two books to $0.99 or free on KDP Select.

My membership with KDP Select runs out sometime around the end of March, but I’m not sure when. I am not renewing simply because my books were in lockdown. I couldn’t do much with them as far price changes go, or making the first one *permafree.

*I understand the way to do that is to publish your book on another site, like Kobo, and make it free. Then go to Amazon and ask them to do a price match. I just haven’t taken the time because I’m locked into KDP Select.

Why did I start it? Because an author friend told me that 50% of her income came from KDP Select, so I wanted to give it a shot. I will tell you after the quarter how the books did.

Most of those ads are simple to purchase and the instructions are self-explanatory on various sites. Most of them wanted between three and thirty days to order your ads. Meaning, say today’s sunday; they will allow you to schedule an ad now but nothing sooner than three days from now and no further out than thirty days. And the other sites require you to apply so they can check you out before agreeing to the ad.

But Amazon and Bookbub have different ad systems. I don’t understand all the pay-per-click business or how a lot of it works, but I can tell you what I did. I am going to walk you through the making of an effective Amazon ad today from start to finish. I decided to use my first book for this because I want to learn before the launch, and if people read the first book now, they will soon be ready for book three when I advertise it. And the reader will find out you can buy the whole trilogy for less than $3 and hopefully just buy the set. I need to box it, but that will be another day.

I ordered my Official Book Trailer video from Electrafox. She does a fabulous job. Worth every penny. The book trailer I did for my first book shot my exposure up the top. Hopefully it will drum up excitement for the whole series. But I know you guys are excited to get to the Amazon ads. Okay, okay. I’m going. :^D Sheesh.

The first thing you want to do is go to your KDP dashboard (called your “Bookshelf”) and find your book(s). Click on the button to the right side where it says “Promote and Advertise.”

Under “Run an ad campaign” click your Amazon marketplace. Then click “Create an ad campaign.”

Today I am going to show you “Sponsored Product Ads.” We will most likely do “Lockscreen ads” another day. So click the “continue” button under Sponsored Product.

Next, you need to name your campaign. First put an abbreviation of the book’s title. I put “Key.” Then put what the test is for, what_______, a descriptor, and the date.

Don’t give it an end date. Amazon says, “Choosing no end date means your campaign will run longer, and a longer time frame can give you better insights on search terms and keyword performance to further optimize your campaign.” So just leave it open, and you can pause it later.

I can’t tell you how much to make your budget for. I know that when you do the lockscreen ads, there is a minimum order of $100. If you’re like me, you need these ads to do well, to make money for that. Lol. I suggest a budget under $10 a day and a bid under $0.50.

Choose “manual targeting” to be able to customize your keywords. Then scroll down to the Campaign Bidding section. I chose Dynamic bids up and down because I set aside a little money just for this and I know that I can afford some wiggle room. But, if you are just setting out and need the ROI to run the ads, click “Down only” which means if it is to your advantage to bid lower, Amazon will do that for you. You will never go over your daily budget. However, if you choose up and down like I did, Amazon will not only lower your bid, but they will raise it up to 100% of the original bid, but no more.

Edit 4/19/20: Choose the “Dynamic bids-down only.” There’s no reason to spend more for your ads than you are expecting to.

[Update 7/27/20: If you give Amazon an end date of 2 to 4 weeks from the start of your ad, it will tell Amazon that your ad is important and temporary, and it will try to show your ad as much as it can since your expected duration is short. (It is easy to change the end date, just remember to change it before your ads end.)

Also, make your daily budget for $5 a day, you can always raise it by a dollar if the ad performs well. And bid $0.35 max per click.

This is the way to be profitable on Amazon: bid low and bid often. Make as many ads as you can, targeting different keywords–about 100 to 200 at a time. If you have ad copy that seems to perform really well, feel free to use it for all your ads.

Personally, I like to change it up, but you’ll see from your clicks which ads are getting love and which aren’t. You should be getting about 10 clicks to every 1,000 impressions, and for every 10 ten clicks, you should get 1 sale. Those are pretty normal numbers. so don’t freak out if your ads don’t look like they’re performing but you are getting clicks and/or sales.

Leave your ads running for a week minimum, before changing anything. You need to gather the data to see what to do with the ads and determine which ones are profitable and which are not. ]

Click “custom ad text” to be able to write your own engaging ad copy, using keywords that will put the ad in front of the right people.

You don’t need to do anything about the “Product” if you only have one book because it will select the book for you, but if you have more than one, click the book you want to advertise, or enter your ASIN to search for it, and select it from the choices.

Next, click on Keyword Targeting. That’s what we want today, if you want to base results on keywords that are great matches for your books. If you select “Product Targeting” you can enter search categories that you want to appear under.

Under “Keyword Targeting” there are three headings. 1. Related 2. Enter List 3. Upload file. For the first one, Amazon suggests using the words that they think match your book, check them out. If they are applicable, click the button that says, “add keywords.”

**Then click “enter list” and use your KDP Rocket tool to easily find the keywords you want. Do not just use your targeted KDP keywords. Do the research, because to be effective, you need about 200-300 keyword phrases. You can export lists from Rocket and paste into an Excel sheet to fill it in.

**I’ll show you how to do this below.

Next up are “negative” keywords. What’s that? A negative keyword is one that you ABSOLUTELY do not want your book to show up under. If you are political, you may want to stay away from opponents’ pages, or if you are a wholesome romance writer who doesn’t want to come up under hot and steamy, you’d want to add those.

Another author said that you should add the words “free,” “free ebook,” or any other “free” phrases. Because the people who are searching for a “free read” may see my cover come up in their fantasy search and click on it, but my book is not free so they wouldn’t buy. And I would have paid for the click. Make sense? You only want to pay for clicks that turn into sales, though it generally takes 10-20 clicks to equal 1 sale.

The last thing is designing the “Creative” ad copy. Then you’re done. Too simple? It sounds too easy? You’re right. Any monkey can fill out the sheet, but how do you get those clicks to turn into sales?

Ads provide exposure. YOU are the one who has to make sure that once the reader arrives at your page, they will buy. How is this done? It’s the same things I preach every week it seems like. Make sure your cover is dynamic, attractive, professional looking, tells the genre and age group by the picture and/or cover design. Then, make your sales copy sparkle. Don’t make it a book report. People can read the sample for that. Other readers want to know: will I like this book? Is it worth the money? What specific type of romance is it? Does it sound exciting? Does it sound interesting enough for a stranger to think, “Ooh, I want to check that out”??

So what is going to drive people to your page? Categories and keywords. I hear you. Really? You have a right to be skeptical. Lots of people put in keywords and fail. First of all, did they have the right keywords? And did they have enough of them? Your book is going to appear when people type in those keywords (if your bid is right) and a minute difference can be very lucrative or disappointing. I would NOT recommend you do any of these ads without the KDP Rocket tool (And this is my affiliate link so I will get credit if you purchase through my blog). But that’s not why I love it. I love it because it takes work that would cost me HOURS of time, and reports it to me seconds. It’s worth the cost of $97 for lifetime access. You’ll be writing other books, right? I would jump in now because soon, it will go up to a higher price and a monthly subscription.

So tell us, Jenn. We got the Rocket thingy and we’ve got an ad page. What do we do now?

First, get out a piece of paper and jot down a few categories that pertain to your book. You can have the themes inside your book, like magic and mystery. You can talk about the book, saying it’s a must-read, fast-paced, or a page turner. And you can talk about the type of trope it is, like friends-to-lovers, or a bad boy romance, maybe a love triangle, strong female lead, as well as the genre. I used a few variations of my genre, putting down: YA fantasy romance, Young adult fiction, dystopian, romantic suspense for teens. You’ve got the idea.

Now, take that list and get your dash board up on KDP Rocket. Looks like this:

Click on AMS Keyword search and a box pops up that looks like this:

Now, type in one of those phrases. The idea is to find out what terms people are using to search for your book. Let’s enter “young adult fiction.” When you press enter, it brings up a list of keyword phrases, that people are using to search for that. You will also notice they list comp books and authors.

Click the orange “Export” button on the top right. That will save that list of keywords in the folder of your choice. From this screen click “AMS keyword search” again and pull up keywords for the next descriptor on your list. In this way it is very easy to get 200- 300 keywords. Make one master spreadsheet titled: [Book title] keywords [date]. Then copy each list’s “A” column and paste them in the master spreadsheet next to each other. Each list has it’s own column. Like this:

Once you’ve got them all in Excel, go to the “Data” tab and click on the option “Remove Duplicates.” Go through each list to make sure it is relevant to your book, and there’s nothing objectionable to you or your book. My book is titled The Key of F, however it is not about music, nor is it non-fiction about key repair, it’s a fantasy about a key that’s her destiny.

When you’ve weeded out the ones you don’t want, I found I had to put all the lists into one column if I wanted to delete the duplicates. So I did and I had well over 2000 keywords so I copied and pasted my list and when it hit 1,000 it stopped. You can only use 1,000 keywords per campaign. Which totally bums me out because now I want to make sure it included the most important ones and nothing superfluous. But you can make as many ads as you want, so keep your bids low and make another ad with different keywords to see which ad converts better.

Also you will find, that when you make a bid, sometimes the minimum bid for a word is over what your bid is. You will NOT have to change it. You can also use Amazon’s suggested bid for you, but you’ll most likely being paying too much.

[Update 7/27/20: change both the custom bid, AND the default bid to $0.35 or lower before adding your list to make sure you pay low for your clicks.]

Now you are ready to write your ad copy. You only get 150 characters, so you have to make them count. I couldn’t find much teaching on ad copy so I gathered a few notes together. The first thing you want to do is appeal to the reader’s emotions. Either how they feel about your book, how they WILL feel after reading your book, how it will help them, and feed into their sense of entitlement, that feeling that they deserve what you’re offering. Like, “You deserve a new book today–where you fly to new worlds of adventure and romance, to be your own strong female heroine.”

If you can, use their words back at them. Like, “Want to escape to another world of adventure? Read this ya fantasy romance for your journey.” If your book is non-fiction, include as many numbers and statistics that will catch a reader’s eye. Target those relevant keywords and comp books, too, like: “If the Hunger Games and A Wrinkle in Time had a baby.”

This is what mine looked like:

I don’t know why, but I’m nervous to hit the launch button. What if I did it wrong? Will I be able to fix it? What if my keywords are bad, or the book shows up in all the wrong places? What if I don’t understand the cost-per-click part and overbid–will that overcharge me? Or will my book not show up? What about the other 1,000 keywords I have–are they better than these?

Stop. Breathe… Push the button.

Whew. So glad I did. Here’s the page that pops up next:

You want to click that button on the upper left hand, “Go to campaign manager.” This is where you will go to keep tabs on your ad campaign and make tweaks. Bookmark this page. You will be coming back here. But let your ad run for about a week before you mess with anything. Next week I’ll give you some tips on what to do if things aren’t working the way you want.

This is what your campaign manager dashboard looks like:

That may not seem like a lot, but I did it in real time (you can see the time on my screenshots) and those keywords took me several hours to get right. If you want your ad to be effective, if you want it to bring you sales, you have got to get these things right: good cover, and great ad copy. They will get you the click, that’s when you pay. But if you are showing up in the wrong places, the reader will trust that Amazon brought them something relevant to their search, and they’ll click [that costs you money], but when they realize it isn’t what they were searching for, it doesn’t matter how good your ad copy is, you won’t make that sale.

Conversely, If your cover is eye-catching, your ad copy intriguing, and you show up in front of your target audience, you will get the click. Then, it’s the job of your Amazon description and your price to seal the deal. If you can tick off all those boxes with confidence, you will do great. I’m excited to show you “how it worked” next week.

I hope this was informative and took some of the scary unknown element out of it. Anyone can do it. Choose to do it right, and the ads will pay off. We will be checking these ads now and then. I will run an ad campaign for the third book during the week of its launch.

We’ll discuss more next week! Keep writing!


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