If you’re a self-published author and have a Kindle version of your book, you may have heard about a relatively new ad campaign service offered by Amazon Marketing Services as part of the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program.
Here’s how it works:
1. First, you first create an Amazon Marketing Services account on the KDP website.
2. You set the overall budget you’re willing to spend and the maximum amount you are willing to pay when a customer clicks on your ad. The minimum price you can set per click is 2 cents, but don’t get your hopes up. You’re competing in an online auction for clicks. As Amazon explains it, “Your book’s ads automatically compete in an online auction. You’ll choose your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid when you schedule your ad. Your CPC bid is the maximum amount you will be charged when a customer clicks your ad.”
I’ve set a maximum amount of 77 cents per click in my latest campaigns to market Psycho-Tropics, and Amazon tells me that the average amount I’m paying per click is about 70 cents. In just a few of months of using these campaigns, I’ve already noticed that as the program becomes more well-known and popular, bids for clicks appear to be increasing fairly rapidly.
3. You can target your ad campaigns in one of two ways: by interest (e.g., mystery, thriller, humor, romance, etc.) or by specific products. For a product-based campaign, you can search for and list as many products as you want. So, for example, I have one campaign listing books by other authors of zany Florida fiction and a much broader one where I selected about 150 books by authors whose readers might relate well to Psycho-Tropics in terms of either content or writing style. Because my book features a surfer protagonist and has a surfer on the cover, I even targeted a few non-book surfing products.
(Note that once a campaign expires, you have to start over. I learned this to my chagrin when I tried to re-run a product-targeted campaign and realized I had to go search for all of the books all over again. So if you have a product-targeted campaign that you’re happy with, be sure to extend it before it runs out, which you can easily do on the dashboard. Note to Amazon: Seems like this could be easily fixed.)
You can run multiple campaigns to experiment with what works best for your book. Since you only pay by the click, it does not cost any more to run multiple campaigns. You can terminate them at any time.
4. Your ad (see accompanying sample) will show your book title, author name, cover image, and number of Amazon reviews and average star-rating. Thus, it it might be worth waiting until you get several reviews before running a campaign. A great new feature allows you to include a headline. You can review campaign reports at any time, which will show you the number of page impressions, number of clicks, average price per click, and resulting sales.
5. Customers who click on your ad are taken to your book’s detail page where, hopefully, they decide to buy your book. Amazon recently added two features that are likely to boost sales. First, for ad campaigns targeting interests–but not for those targeting specific products–your ad may appear as a display ad on a person’s Kindle. No information is provided yet, however, as to how often this occurs. Second, as mentioned and shown by the image above, you can now include a short headline (60 characters max) to accompany your ad, which gives you the luxury of adding an attention-getting teaser of some sort.
Are Kindle ad campaigns worth the investment? It depends on what you are seeking. As a new fiction writer with a debut novel, I’m currently paying more for ad clicks than the royalties being generated by resulting sales. On the other hand, my ad campaigns have resulted in the sale of several dozen Kindle copies in a short time at a relatively low investment cost, which means several dozen more people are reading my book than otherwise would be.
As a self-published author, your best hope for success is to get as many people as possible to read your book and hope they like it enough to spread the word, by word of mouth, posting reviews, or otherwise.
Of course, there are other avenues to accomplish that, like giveaway programs on Goodreads and Amazon, etc. But there’s something to say for a program that helps indie-publishers get the attention of actual book-buyers on the world’s largest bookselling network.