5 Things I Learnt Using Amazon Marketing Serives (AMS)

5 Things I Learnt Using Amazon Marketing Serives (AMS)

Let me first say that while I’ve done plenty of research and have been running ads on most of my books for a while now, I’m not an expert when it comes to marketing. But hopefully you might find some of the tricks and tips I’ve learned in my experience useful, so let’s jump right into it.

1. Overspend on daily budget

You can create an ad campaign from as little as $1 per day. Sounds great, right? The problem is Amazon assumes whoever sees your ad will click on it. If each click costs you $0.25, then the largest number of impressions you can get on your ad at one time is limited to just 4.

However, if you increase your daily budget then the maximum number of simultaneous impressions grows too. You might be worried about spending more money than you would like, but I’ve never heard of anyone actually hitting their daily budget; I certainly never have.

With the twenty or so ad campaigns I put together to begin with, I set daily budgets of $2 each because I didn’t want to burn through my advertising budget too fast. However, realising how little I was actually spending on my ads, I increased them to all $10, and plan to increase them further. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve only spent $20-30 on my ads, despite the daily budgets of my ads tallying up to hundreds.

2. Update campaigns frequently

AMS is not a “set it and forget it” system. If you want successful, profitable campaigns to sell your books then you need to constantly work on your keyword lists, keeping them up to date to stay relevant with new authors and releases.

You never know which keywords might bring you success, so you need to check in at least a couple of times a week. Every few days I update my campaigns, removing useless keywords and finding new relevant ones to plug in.

You can find these keywords manually, searching through “Also Boughts” and Bestseller lists, but if you want to save yourself some time, and don’t mind buying some software, give KDP Rocket a try. One of its features is an AMS Keyword Search, in which you enter a keyword and it’ll live search Amazon for a list of relevant keywords for your campaign.

3. Test ads with A/B tests

What makes one ad work and another fail? Well instead of taking a stab in the dark and hoping you get lucky, you can employ something called an A/B test. You run two ads that are identical except for one changed variable — this gives you a point of reference to compare them. When you see one doing better than the other, you drop the worse performer and repeat the process with the winner.

It’s a simple process, but vital if you want to optimise your ads into something profitable.

The only downside to this when it comes to AMS is you can’t remove old campaigns from your dashboard. Despite being terminated, they just sit there, uselessly taking up space forever.

4. Name your campaigns

Which brings me on to my next point: use proper naming conventions to keep your campaigns organised from the start. A list of random names isn’t going to help you find a specific campaign, and it certainly won’t help your productivity.

I use this format for naming my campaigns:

Name of Book/Campaign Information/Date

A real example for one of my books would be:

A Funeral of Feuds/dark comedy/13.10.18

This way I can see all the relevant information at a glance — the campaign is my book A Funeral of Feuds, the keywords and ad copy are targeted at dark comedy, and it started on 13.10.18.

The naming format is entirely your choice, just make sure to find something consistent that works for you.

5. Relevance is everything

Amazon runs on automated algorithms; algorithms rank on relevance. That’s the reason George R R Martin’s books shows up first when you search for “game of thrones.”

If you’re getting impressions, clicks, and sales, then you’re gaining relevance. The more relevant your products and ads are, the higher your books will appear in searches. The higher they appear, the more sales — it’s a positive feedback loop.

So while you might not be raking in bestseller numbers yet, or maybe you’re losing a bit of cash on your ad campaigns, try not to worry. As authors we’re in this for the long game; once you get some momentum behind you, you’ll forget why you were ever worried.

Summary

  • Set a high daily budget.
  • Monitor your campaigns.
  • Test and optimise with A/B tests.
  • Get organised before you start.
  • Be patient.

I’m barely scratching the surface with this post, but I hope you found parts of it useful. If you want to learn more about AMS, there are some fantastic resources out there, including Dave Chesson’s free AMS course for authors at Kindlepreneur. It’s great for beginners, explaining every step of the process.

If you have any of your own helpful tips when it comes to AMS, feel free to leave a comment below.


Image by Phil Murphy licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

National Novel Writing Month 2018

National Novel Writing Month Banner

With November and National Novel Writing Month just a few days away, writers everywhere are stocking up on ink, canned soup, and self-doubt.

I took part ‘officially’ through their website a few years ago, but it was an irritating experience I’m not looking to repeat. In strangely fortuitous timing, I’ll be writing the first draft of a cyberpunk heist novel in November, which, if the characters play nice, I’m planning to spin into a series. The idea has been percolating for a few months now as I’ve been busy finishing off my last book, Zenith Rising (releasing in December), so I’m confident it’ll come together. I’m also excited to be writing in a new genre, bring on the megacorps and cyberware!

Think you’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, good luck — try not to get lost in the big picture, just put down one word after another; it’s always worked for me.


Image Copyright © National Novel Writing Month

4 Writing Tips From Ray Bradbury

4 Writing Tips From Ray Bradbury

I stumbled over some of Ray Bradbury’s writing quotes today. His enthusiasm for writing shines through in his words — the man was so obviously a writer through and through. A handful of them caught my eye, so I figured I’d share a few that I liked (and also didn’t like).

Quantity creates quality:

The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week—it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done. At the end of 30 weeks or 40 weeks or at the end of the year, all of a sudden a story will come that’s just wonderful.

I frequent a few writing-focused subreddits and noticed a bit of a trend with newer writers who post there: they um and ah over whether their idea is any good before they start writing. That’s not how you do it. You just sit down and write, you get it out however you can. Don’t get self-congratulatory when you finish either, because it will in fact be rubbish. But don’t despair, almost any successful author will tell you that that’s the first step to writing a good story — you write a bad one, and then you fix it. So go ahead and write 52 bad short stories next year, you’ll find it’s freeing, and you’ll have 52 opportunities to put out a good one.

Don’t write towards a moral:

[Trying to write a cautionary story] is fatal. You must never do that. A lot of lousy novels come from people who want to do good. The do-gooder novel. The ecological novel. And if you tell me you’re doing a novel or a film about how a woodsman spares a tree, I’m not going to go see it for a minute.

Oh god yes. In our current politically-charged society, you can’t read a paragraph without seeing something deliberately partisan shoe-horned in there. It doesn’t bring people around to your point of view, it just makes your writing worse. When was the last time you read a book or watched a film for the political message? Forget the politics and the moral; the story always comes first.

If it’s work, stop and do something else:

I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun at it. Ignore the authors who say, oh my god, what work, oh Jesus Christ, you know. No, to hell with that. It is not work. If it’s work, stop it, and do something else.

This one I disagree with. Sure, making things up and writing them down can be more fun than a weekend Frasier marathon, but it can’t be all the time. Sometimes it’s difficult; sometimes you want to crawl back under the covers and give up; sometimes you want to slam your head repeatedly against the keyboard because you’re a fraud and even gibberish would be better than the crap you just wrote. That’s fine. It is a job after all, and no one is in love with their job all the time. Anyone who pretends to be is either lying to you or needs a physical because they’re not human. Writers who romanticise their craft to that level bother me (Bukowski is another one). Writing full-time isn’t an ideal, you need to turn up and do the work even when you don’t feel like it; in the words of Stephen King, “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

Read these three things every night:

What you’ve got to do from this night forward is stuff your head with more different things from various fields . . . I’ll give you a program to follow every night, very simple program. For the next thousand nights, before you go to bed every night, read one short story. That’ll take you ten minutes, 15 minutes. Okay, then read one poem a night from the vast history of poetry. Stay away from most modern poems. It’s crap. It’s not poetry! It’s not poetry. Now if you want to kid yourself and write lines that look like poems, go ahead and do it, but you’ll go nowhere. Read the great poets, go back and read Shakespeare, read Alexander Pope, read Robert Frost. But one poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights. From various fields: archaeology, zoology, biology, all the great philosophers of time, comparing them. Read the essays of Aldous Huxley, read Lauren Eisley, great anthropologist. . . I want you to read essays in every field. On politics, analyzing literature, pick your own. But that means that every night then, before you go to bed, you’re stuffing your head with one poem, one short story, one essay—at the end of a thousand nights, Jesus God, you’ll be full of stuff, won’t you?

Not sure most modern poems are crap, that’s a pretty broad stroke, but the idea is sound. I used to read short stories all the time, but as I started writing novels, I didn’t have as much time for short fiction. Well, I intend to pay Asimov or Philip K. Dick a visit tonight and, hopefully, pick up the daily habit of reading short stories again.


Image by James Vaughan licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.