WTF Amazon?!

I’m going to start this with the caveat that math and I are not the best of friends. That said, even my puny abilities to work the kinks out of math problems find this beyond screwy.

While I can say the last ad did a lot for me in some intangible ways, I didn’t make a profit off it. The purpose of attempting this finer tuned version was to try and bring back some of those intangible results with the hopes of trying to balance out the profit end of the last ad. When you are talking about the low margin you get with each book sale, you have very little wiggle room when it comes to number of clicks and cost per click before you are dropping quickly into the red for the cost of the ad overall.

Last month’s test ad generated, on average across the span of the ad, an ad associated sale for about every 5.3 clicks. This did fluctuate over time, but I still had what seemed to be regular sales. You can’t see the metrics for how many of those clicks convert to KU reads, but I also had some very regular page reads throughout the entire add. For the purposes of this comparison, I’m not even going to go into the cost of those clicks, because it is that turn over ratio that is blowing my mind at the moment.

My current ad? I’ve now had 27 clicks register so far and I haven’t gotten a single sale. I’ve also only had a single, partial KU read. That’s it. I honestly haven’t a frickin’ clue what is going on, but something definitely isn’t right. It makes it all the more odd in that my click through rate is about the same for both ads.

Anyone that is familiar with statistics can look at the numbers and probably tell you way more than my brief assumptions here, but this isn’t giving me warm feelings towards spending my precious advertising dollars with Amazon. I’ve yet to see how the math works between the two different ads and why I would be seeing such drastic differences when the set up is essentially the same. The only difference is that I focused on the single genre I was getting results in and I am not allowing up bidding, every single other aspect is the same.

I get that there are millions of tiny factors that can play into these statistics, but I cannot manage to twist them enough in my head to make my current numbers make sense. I’m really kind of ticked off and extremely frustrated at the moment.

It also has me really wondering if there is a saturation point that books reach when it comes to sales and readers. Obviously there are only so many readers on the planet, so that seems logical. Are these numbers telling me that I’ve reached my saturation point? If that is the case, then why am I still even getting clicks? That part doesn’t seem to make sense, either. The whole thing is just making my brain hurt.

For all my posts about my ads so far:

Amazon Ad: Round 2
Amazon Book Ad Progress
Indie Author: Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Ad: Round 2

My last Amazon ad ran for about a month. It was supposed to be more of a test and to learn about the process, but it seemed to be relatively successful, though so much of it wasn’t a direct 1 to 1 kind of a result. I’ve decided to take what I learned from that experience and try again.

One of the things that I noticed after the last ad finished was a drastic tapering off of sales and KU reads. Even though the sales I saw weren’t tied specifically to the ad, they were still because of the ad in a roundabout way. The improved rankings allowed me to get placements in the “also viewed/bought” sections of Amazon which got me a few reads and sales outside of the ad. Once my rankings started to sink, so did those placements, sales and reads. It was interesting to see that correlation.

The last ad run showed me which genre I needed to target. It also showed me what bid price I needed to hit to make the ad profitable. This time around, I’m going to see what kind of traction I can get if I maintain that bid price point. My goal for this round is to see if I can keep my book at a relevant rank level without veering sharply into the red on cost.

At this point, the last ad round doesn’t appear to have generated any reviews, but just because the book sold, doesn’t mean it’s been read, though. The KU reads I’ve gotten haven’t translated to any reviews yet, so I’m still hoping on that end of things.

I’m also hoping the addition of the couple of 4 star reviews I’ve gotten lately (thanks to BookSirens) will make a bit of a difference to readers willing to take a chance.

Amazon Book Ad Progress

I want to start this by saying that I am by no means an expert. This is only what I’ve learned about Amazon ads from a very narrow perspective and the results from that experience.

I have been running my add for about 20 days now. I’ve learned quite a bit, but I think I still have a long way to go before I feel like I have a solid feel for how it all works. I’ve honestly been pleased even though there have been a few mixed results with it.

The type of campaign I chose was a manual targeted campaign by genre as a sponsored product. You can also do one that targets keywords or you can allow Amazon to run the direction with automatic targeting. There are a couple of different options for placement. You can be a sponsored product or you can choose to show up on lockscreens. These settings cannot be changed (that I’ve found) once you’ve begun your campaign.

Ads are based on bids for a per click price. There are lots of different options for setting this up and I won’t go into that here, but these are things that you can change at any time throughout the life of the ad.

I initially attempted to target two different genres, neither of which were what I would have said my main genre was (not sure why I missed my main one when I set it up, but… ), but one wasn’t one that is a breakdown of genres in the menu list, but something you often see related to rankings. This is something I’ve never fully understood about Amazon, but it has been where I saw every bit of my success. I would normally say my main genre is Family Life Fiction as this is the menu option when searching for books. What I tripped across when setting up my ad was Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, which isn’t in that breakdown list, but is one of my ranking categories. The most significant difference from what I could see between these two with regards to my ad was the fact that the top of the bid price range for the WDLF genre was less than half that of the FLF genre.

There is a lot to figure out with regards to bid price, how that translates into cost per click and, what isn’t something your ad metrics track, the percentage of those clicks that translate into a sale. The biggest problem I seem to have run into is trying to find the sweet spot of a price per click result that at least broke even to the amount I made per book sale. The metrics in your ad only shows you total dollars sold and total orders, so you have to do some work outside of your reporting to figure all this out (and thankfully I’m married to a math geek to help me with all that) because orders also does not equal number of books. If someone bought 5 books, it only shows as one order, so this throws things off. Every single one of these pieces vary depending on how much you make per book, which may be different for an ebook than it is for a paperback.

I still don’t completely understand the purpose of the bid range, but I did see that if I had my bid price at the high end, if not just over the max, I got a lot of impressions, clicks and at least an order per day. That is awesome to an extent. The problem is that per click price plus the number of clicks ended up being more than what I made on those orders. Some days. If I dropped my bid price to the lower end or even the recommended price, I got very little to no clicks. When you have such a low dollar profit, those click prices need to be really low, so finding a target that works for your book and has a low range are critical.

Overall so far, I’ve spent more on the ad than I’ve earned. If I’m seeing the numbers correctly, all of my sales have been because of the ad. But, the amount earned vs. spent is only one obvious part to this. Ads do other things that impact your book. When you are selling, it improves your ranking which improves your chances of being seen organically outside of your ad. It also gets you more readers that will potentially review your book (I haven’t seen this happen yet, but not everyone gobbles a book up as quickly as I do).

It also gets you reads through Kindle Unlimited and those reads do not show in your ad metrics at all so you have no clue how many of them are because someone saw your ad. These reads do get you additional payment and are quite possibly because of your add which would skew your spent vs. earned ratio. The way KU pays out, you may not know for a month or so how much you made from those reads, especially if you are new to KU.

Because this was mostly a test run, I didn’t exactly expect to see a lot of tangible results. I’m calling this a win even if I spent more than I earned at this point. I think, since launching this ad, I’ve more than tripled the number of sales I’d gotten since I released my book and that is a win all it’s own. I’ve seen nearly 4,000 page reads through KU. Again, I see this as a huge win even if I have zero clue if this number is high or low or average. It is more than zero, so… win. I have learned how to run an Amazon ad and what and how to tweak things along the way.

There are other cons to the Amazon ads. You can only access these ads if you are enrolled in Kindle Select (from everything I’ve seen). KU reads not showing as part of the ad metrics. The ad metrics aren’t live and the data could be off by 12 hours, give or take. Needing to monitor the bid pricing because these do fluctuate often and sometimes by a wide margin which is a big part of why these numbers not being live are problematic. Paperback sales tend to show up in ad metrics before sales metrics, but ebooks show up in sales before in the ad metrics, so this can throw your numbers off.

Everyone has to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. Someone in a different genre may find they have a completely different experience. There was recently a discussion on Twitter about this and several others had mention their success with a keyword campaign. I’m thinking that may be my next test if I can manage to get a bit closer to the break even point with this ad.

Free Book Anyone?

So, I’m going to try this again even though this is the part that I still despise with a fiery passion: asking for help. As a raging introvert, this part is excruciating, but necessary when you are an indie author.

I’m offering up my book, An Unexpected Turn, in exchange for a review. If you are awesome enough to volunteer, please drop me a note through my contact page with a link to where you review books (blog, Goodreads, Instagram, wherever). My only requirement is that you DO write book reviews and that you will give me a heads up when you post the review (sorry, I have to set some boundaries). Do note: I’m not asking for a GOOD review, just an honest one.

I’ll provide your preferred ebook format for any platform I’ve published on. I also have 2 paperback copies available (first come, first serve to US residents only on the paperback) if that is your preference. I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review to my AUT page with a link back to your review site as an additional thanks. (unless you don’t want that, then that’s okay too!)

Massive thank you in advance to those that volunteer!

If you are feeling especially generous, feel free to help in my quest to get into as many libraries as possible. Simply request the ebook version through your local library.

For those that haven’t seen it… the blurb… (oh, and I thought I’d mention that this falls into the women’s fiction and family life/drama genres)

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

Rainy Day Thoughts & Indie Book Marketing

So much for the pool. Maybe later I guess. Instead, I’ve been tossing around ideas and concepts with regards to indie authors and book marketing.

I have seen a whole lot of hurdles, not just for me but for other indie authors, with regards to even getting your book in front of other people. I do recognize that this is coming from a narrow perspective and I’ve probably just not yet found the right groups or people to give me a better perspective, so this is potentially a bit skewed.

I’ve seen a lot of talk about supporting other indie authors. As I’ve mentioned before, this tends to be a bit cliquish. Authors tend to support other authors in their own genres or those they are friends with. If you don’t fit into one of those two areas, you don’t get that support (and I don’t entirely disagree with this). You also see a lot of groups dedicated to supporting all indie authors without regards to genre, but they seem to only have indie author followings.

Another side of this lovely book marketing coin is the readers, which seem to be left out of the equation. Not all authors read all genres. Some authors may not even be readers (this kind of breaks my brain but it is a truth). So why are all of these groups and support systems targeting only other indie authors? Why are they not attempting to connect those authors with readers or book bloggers who have an interest in the genres for the books they are trying to promote? Those are the ones that genuinely have the ability to get a book noticed.

If you were to look at this from just about any other business marketing standpoint, this system wouldn’t make sense. You wouldn’t cultivate support and a following for say video games among other video game manufacturers, because they aren’t going to be the ones buying your games. You would want to connect with the gamers.

That isn’t to say an indie author should not support another author, just that it kind of feels a little like barking up the wrong tree. Like that whole support system is unbalanced and energy is too heavily focused in the wrong area.

The idea that there should be some way to somehow create a group of both readers/book bloggers and indie authors and pair them together based on genre interests is something I’d absolutely love to pursue. The problem with that, for me at least, is one of the same roadblocks I have with marketing my own book. That is the lack of connections to get it all off the ground. That and I am struggling to find bloggers that are willing to even look at indie books and authors.

I’d love to find out if it is even possible or if others, from either the indie author side or the book blogger side, would even be interested in a set up like this, if they felt like it would be of use to them. If you have thoughts or suggestions, please chime in!



An Unexpected Turn July Library Book Boost!

One of my goals when I published my book was to get into my local library. I’ve met that goal, but now I’d like to see how many more libraries I can get in and I need your help!

I’m asking readers, other indie authors, book bloggers/reviewers and just anyone that wants to help:

1) go to their local library
2) request An Unexpected Turn in ebook
3) share a picture or a link of the book in that library
4) share this post

Requesting an author’s book from the library is just as important as buying because it helps to get that book into the hands of other readers. Anyone that takes it a step further and wants to read and review it, then you are an amazing human being. I’ll be retweeting (for twitter) and sharing all blog posts (if you send me the link) and keeping track of library locations for anyone wanting to follow along. I want to keep this going for the month of July to celebrate summer reading and the TBR’s everyone has.

Not all libraries have this ability and I don’t know if it is even possible outside of the US, but I’d love to find out, so be sure to let me know what you find! I also highly encourage you to do this for any indie author you’d like to support.

Just A Little Nudge And A Question

I’m dropping this little nudge for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet or is new around here. I did this thing called “writing a book” a while back. I’m kinda proud of it. At the same time, I’m trying to get really creative in ways to promote it besides spamming people here, on twitter and through their contact pages if they are book bloggers asking if they’d be interested in reviewing.

Would any bloggers be interesting in participating in a post-release party kind of thing (because I can’t do things in the logical, normal way and have done this PRIOR to releasing my book)? Especially book bloggers, but I’m not going to hold it to just that. Basically, I thought it might be fun for bloggers to host either a review or even a book club like discussion around this. Obviously, they’d get a copy of the book in exchange. It might even be fun to offer up a copy to one of their readers for participating if the blogger wanted.

This is just an idea I’ve been tossing around and thought I’d get some feedback or thoughts on whether this is a good/viable idea or not. Feel free to drop any other ideas or suggestions into the mix as well.

If you want to have a look at what the book is about, it is sitting quietly over here.


New Book Image

I wanted more options for promo images, so I decided to play a little bit this morning and this is my favorite at the moment. There are other things I want to try, but this was a good start in the right direction. And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll just leave the link for my book here – An Unexpected Turn – You can even request it at the library.