Episode 163 – Amazon Ads, Writing for Exposure, and KFC Romance Novels

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Question of the Week: What’s your experience been like with Amazon Ads thus far? Which of Brian Meeks’ tips do you think you’ll apply to your author business and why?

Brian Meeks filled in for Jim this week as the two Bryans tackled Amazon Ads and other important stories of the week in a jam-packed episode. After thanking their patrons Covermint Design, The Efficient Writer, and The Prosperous Writer’s Guide to Making More Money, B&B discussed tips on Kindle Unlimited, the Smarter Artist Summit, and branding. News stories included KFC romance novels, the California autograph law, magic adjectives for book descriptions, writing for exposure, and how to truly analyze Amazon Marketing Services ads. This week’s Question of the Week: What’s your experience been like with Amazon Ads thus far? Which of Brian Meeks’ tips do you think you’ll apply to your author business and why?

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What You’ll Learn:

  • Why one author was kicked out of KU and what he plans to do now
  • What were the most memorable moments from the Smarter Artist Summit
  • How authors can use multiple layers of branding to connect with readers
  • What spicy side dish did KFC serve up for Mother’s Day
  • What legal action booksellers in California are taking against the “Autograph Law”
  • Which words in each genre’s book description are most popular and how they can help
  • Why some authors are arguing in favor and against writing for exposure
  • Why authors misunderstand Amazon ads’ worth and how to improve calculations
Question of the Week: What’s your experience been like with Amazon Ads thus far? Which of Brian Meeks’ tips do you think you’ll apply to your author business and why?

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  • Lavie Margolin

    Wow. Great stuff. I think these sorts of deep dives are the most valuable tips to “sell more books”. I’ve found for my non-fiction career books that Sponsored Products works far better than Product Display. I put in the keywords (as most of Amazon’s suggestions are usually off case). I watch the ads closely and then prune for those that are working and pause those that are not (within the same campaign). I’ve attached an image of my most successful campaign thus far.

    • Lavie Margolin
      • Bryan

        Great ACoS on that! I bet if you use Brian’s methods on determining ROI the ad would look even better. I agree, this was a fun deep dive.

        • Lavie Margolin

          Thanks. I’ve joined the FB group. That was the best of 59 campaigns thus far. Business idea: Perhaps you’d want to include the AMS advert copy as part of your services or as an add-on?

          • Bryan

            I have been recently as part of the package :).

  • Honoree Corder

    Loved hearing my author buddy on the show! Great choice! QoTW: I’ve taken all of his suggestions because he’s so smart and has won me over to loving data. So of course I will do ALL of Brian’s suggestions because I’m smart like that!

    • Bryan

      It was great chatting with him :). Thanks for the comment, Honoree!

  • Spider McGee

    Did Brian Meeks just out himself as being Data Guy?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

    • Brian D. Meeks

      I am not THE Data Guy.

      I do have a HUGE man crush on him though. His data ninja skills are awesome. Also, I’m a little jealous that he gets to be buddies with Hugh Howie.

      I want to be him when I grow up.

    • Simon Goodson

      I thought that when data guy was on a show recently (Self Publishing Formula maybe?) and I’d just heard another interview with Brian. I was all “Aha! I’m going to hear the same voice and the same stories and I’ll KNOW.” And then it was a different voice and different stories. 🙂

      • Bryan

        Maybe Brian used a voice disguiser :).

        • Simon Goodson

          lol – I considered that but the careers were totally different!

  • Excellent show today. Interesting interaction with Brian Meeks. Couldn’t find the link in the show notes for the magic adjectives article, so for anyone else hunting: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/best-selling-amazon-book-descriptions/ Tallyho!

  • Craig Lea Gordon

    Great show gents.

    This sounds the link to the 5 most powerful words that Brian was talking about…

    The word he was missing was ‘free’

    Now I just have to try working them all into some copy 😉

    • Brian D. Meeks

      That is it!!!!

      I can’t believe I missed “FREE”. I guess I didn’t write it down because I assumed I’d remember it. I did not.

      This is actually a bit of a relief to know the 5th word!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Craig! And for the link.

    • Crissy Moss

      “You will love this new book because it will instantly transport you to a magical world. And it’s FREE!”
      Am I doing it right?

      • Bryan

        Worth a shot, right? 🙂

  • Melissa E Beckwith-Author

    Really interesting and education show this week. I hate math but this data is intriguing.

    I had completely flat sales/pages reads for the past 2 months so I was starting from 0 before I started running this ad. I started running a sponsored ad with AMS 9 days ago. The first 4 days I did not get one buy or page read. Finally on the 5th day I started getting page reads. 9 days in I still have not gotten one sale, however I have had 717 pages read. So by my estimation (did I say I am horrible at math?) I have made about $35 and I’ve spent, as of today, $22.19.

    This is my very first book and my first time advertising with anyone so I’m not sure if this is average or if I’m in trouble here.

    Thanks again for a wonderful show this week!! 🙂

    • Brian D. Meeks

      I think you may have made a math error. 717 would yield about $3.50 not $35.00.

      But don’t worry, despite what you may tell yourself, you can improve at math.

      • Melissa E Beckwith-Author

        Thanks!! hehehe I am really, REALLY bad at math…hehe

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Melissa :).

  • Daniel Martone

    I’ve played around a bit but have had a tough time giving the mighty Zon my money. We have a launch this weekend so I think we’ll be deep into AMS. Based on Brian’s experience, I think we’ll be working with both methods. Can’t hurt. 🙂

    • Bryan

      You can do it, Dan!

  • Simon Goodson

    Well the two obvious tips will be trying the product placement ads and joining the FB group. 🙂

    One part of the return on investment which I don’t think was covered (or my brain has forgotten it) is that selling book one in a series then has a chance of leading to someone buying more books in the series. That can make the return on a $0.99 book actually much, much healthier.

    • Bryan

      I saw a really interesting FB post on read-throughs this week that we’ll probably cover next week, Simon.

      • Simon Goodson

        Cool. 🙂

  • Blaine Moore

    We were doing _really_ well with AMS for a while, and our best ads are still around 18-20% ACoS, but right around easter the impressions started to dry up. So they’re still doing well when they show, but need to revitalize them. I’ve got a few tests going now with new keywords and new ways of pushing the ads out, still waiting on sales data to show up with enough info to be useful. Lots of ideas on things to test from this show, so thanks for that! I’m definitely planning on testing out the sponsored products again as well, we didn’t have much luck last time we tried those but it’ll be interesting if we push the ads towards non-book products that might be relevant (and will also give us the chance to be featured on Kindle lock screens, though that wasn’t mentioned in the show.)

    • Bryan

      Hooray for revitalization, Blaine!

  • Jeff Geoghan

    Great episode. My first time listening! is the FB link to Brian’s “ads recalculated” piece working? I get an error.

    • Bryan

      Hey Jeff, you need to be a part of his group to read the post. That’s probably why you’re getting the error. Hope that helps. Thanks so much for listening! Welcome to the show :).

      • Jeff Geoghan

        I should have thought of that! From the conversation on the cast it seemed to be an article you were reading.

  • Crissy Moss

    I’ve tried Amazon ads a couple times. It hasn’t worked out well for me yet, but I think it’s because I don’t have great copy. (150 characters is tough to make copy for). He said the cost per click was 3 cents, but it only allows me to make it as low as 15 cents. maybe I’m missing something? But I have spent $50 and made $20 according to amazon. I’m not sure how good those figures are though. I’ve also gotten a lot of kindle unlimited page reads during that time, and put in other advertisement that have gotten me a lot of sales in other places. I do know that over the last six months or so I have had a steady increase of sales each month so I’m confident that is growing, and I am going to attempt a few more ads from amazon before throwing in the towel.

    • Bryan

      Just because you bid 15 cents, doesn’t mean you’ll pay 15 cents. Sometimes you’ll pay less. $20 in sales plus pages read is great! You should determine if it’s more than $30 worth of pages read. If so, your ads are turning a profit! Remember, ACoS isn’t a great source of data. Assume all your sales are coming through ads and total those and pages read up. That should help you get a more accurate indication of what’s working!

  • QOTW – I’ve been running sponsored product ads for a while now, and doing better than breaking even, but both the spend and the amount sold are both very low so far. I’m going to try the Product Display ads now and see how it goes.

    Did you say Brian was putting out a book on this stuff? I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a copy of the book today. I would actually just pay now for the chapters as they come, but you know what I mean.

    • Bryan

      He is putting out a book! And he’s got a few beta chapters up in the FB Group if you go searching through the files. Better than breaking even is the advertiser’s dream :).

  • Jason Riou

    Great Show! Love to get a different perspective and a dose of new expertise.

    I will use AMS to get a ‘heat-map’ of what people are searching for. I’ll list dozens of authors as search terms, note who’s generating the most impressions on my AMS report and use that to direct my marketing. For example Diana Gabaldon might get 10,000 impressions to five different authors’ 2000. This tells me what people are searching for and it can shape marketing and help hone the keyword targeting.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Jason!

  • Pingback: Rock Your Also-Boughts for Bigger, Better Book Sales — HonoreeCorder()

  • This was an awesome episode. Lots of pieces of author treasure for everyone to use. Thank you as always for sharing the info.

    • Bryan

      Happy to provide, Yvonne. Thanks! 🙂

  • M.T. Ellis

    I had a ROI of negative 1000% haha! After listening to the podcast I have added another 70 keywords and lowered my click budget of $1 per click to 25c, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m also going to add some keywords to the cover copy and see if it makes a difference. How long do you think I should trial this ad for before changing tactic?

    Thanks for the tips!

    • Bryan

      I’d give it at least a week! And remember, if your book is in KU, you may also have some pages read that came in through the $1 ad :).

      • Oh yeah, I did get quite a few page reads. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked, ha!

        • Bryan

          Haha, worth a second look then :).