Many independent publishers are wary of Kindle ad campaigns, which can ratchet up expenses with no guarantee of success. Spending money to run ads on Amazon seems like one more scam to throw away money without selling any books.
There’s also the Evil Amazon angle. Many independent publishers resist the Amazonization of the book world; they don’t want to participate in the online giant’s takeover of the industry. Participation in a Kindle ad campaign requires enrollment in Kindle Select, which demands that publishers exclusively list their e-books on Kindle, and dump all other e-book sales channels. Kindle Select books are also tossed into the Kindle Unlimited program, which allow members to read books for free. Some publishers don’t want to make that leap.
But maybe you’re willing to accept that, like or not, it is an Amazon world. And instead of fighting and whining about Amazon, maybe you want to take advantage of its vast audience. If that’s the case, than Kindle ad campaigns make sense. They are an effective method to specifically target readers interested in your type of books. More than most book promotion techniques, Amazon gets your titles in front of people ready and willing to buy a book.
Kindle campaigns are easy to set up and simple to execute. Publishers must be willing to commit a minimum of $100 for a campaign, but it can cost less if the campaign ends before all the money is spent. And you can cancel the campaign at any time.
Here are five tips for a successful campaign:
1. Don’t Set the Cost-per-Click Too Low: Amazon uses a bidding system to place ads–the higher the cost per click you’re willing to spend the more likely it will appear on a prime page. While it is tempting to set the rate low and earn more per purchase, you’re going to get better results with a higher rate, especially if you’re running the ad for a limited time. A higher click price translates to more exposure and a better chance to connect with the right people. While there is no science to it, typically a rate close to or slightly above the suggested average rate per click earns adequate placement.
2. Work on the Ad Text: You only get a few words to promote the book (and Amazon won’t let you use an excerpt from a review). You need to make the words count. This is a competitive environment, a world of people with short attention spans browsing the Internet. Don’t make the text complicated. Maybe ask a question to engage browsers—“Was JFK the victim of a mafia conspiracy?” If the book is on sale, give the discount a good old fashioned shout out: “On Sale for a Limited Time.” Try to focus on the interests of the categories you’re targeting. If it’s a mystery, emphasize the murder and intrigue.
3. Timing is Key: Ad campaigns are usually more effective if there is something special to promote. That could be a discounted price or a tie-in to a timely event. Play up the promotion and give the reader a sense of urgency to buy it now. A discounted price is one approach. But if you’re book is about music and the Grammy awards are coming up, use it. If your book is about politics and there is a political scandal in the news, emphasize the connection.
4. Target Your Readers: Kindle allows two strategies to target readers—by topics or specific Amazon books and products. There is no guarantee which pages will work best for you, but don’t take the decision lightly. If you’re using the category option, make sure you choose multiple categories. If you opt to target products, consider the interests and demographics that fit your book and link to the most popular items in those categories. Amazon lets you link to most products on the site. If you’re book is about gardening you can place ads next to garden tools; your book on the music industry can be advertised next to Rolling Stones CDs.
5. Experiment: No matter what so-called experts tell you, there is no set formula for success with an ad campaign. Every book is different. Try a variety of categories and different text. If it’s not working, cancel the campaign and try a different approach. Maybe you’ll have better success placing your ad next to different Amazon products, instead of the categories. If the ad is not generating enough impressions, than it is easy to adjust the cost per click during the campaign.
Keep in mind, not every book is going to generate sales based simply on the cover and a few catchy words. But Kindle ads give independent publishers easy access to the biggest book-buying population in the world, without spending too much money.