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Secret Sauce For Self-Published Writers and Publishers

The biggest challenge for self-publishing book authors is generating sales. Marketing is the bane of an independent writer’s existence, since most of us don’t have anything but a minimal budget for book promotion. Obviously, there are multiple ways and channels to get exposure for your book, but I want to focus on something I bet you haven’t tried. This simple method is giving me a significant Return On Investment (ROI):

For every dollar I spend on ads, I generate about $11 in sales.

Ad Buying Online

You probably know you can buy ads on various platforms (LinkedIn, Google (adwords), Facebook) on a pay for click basis (usually called CPC ads). That means that you pay for every person who clicks on your ad and ends up on your landing/sales page. Your Return On Investment is a function of the cost you pay per click, and the conversion rate (how many people actually buy what you are selling).

What you will find if you try purchasing ads on LinkedIn, and Facebook is that the amounts you need to bid in order to receive exposure can be as much as $4.00 – $7.00 per click. Google tends to be a little cheaper (mileage varies on CPC costs — the more popular the keywords (and hence volume of exposure, the more you pay).

Some quick mental arithmetic tells us that if you are paying $5.00 a click, and your profit margin for a book is, let’s say $4.00. you will need an impossible conversion rate (each person clicking buys). Very quickly, you end up losing money on each sale. On these major platforms, it’s easy to lose money VERY FAST.

My experience with these three pay for click options I’ve tried on the major platforms is that it’s virtually impossible to make it work. And, you can spend an awful lot of money trying to get it to work.

Amazon Ad Campaigns Work!

If you self-publish through Amazon’s Kindle platform (now expanded to include both paperback and digital versions), you can take advantage of Amazon’s ad campaigns facility that exists within the Kindle dashboard interface.

It’s your standard self-serve system, and can be accessed by clicking on the¬† “ad campaigns” tab within the Kindle dashboard.

As is the case with other CPC systems, you pick your landing page (your book), and can bid on keywords. The big difference here is that your bids are much lower. For example, on my campaigns, I pay about thirty five cents per click, and the conversion rate is high enough to not only create gross sales revenue, but to also yield a nice profit.

As I said earlier, for every dollar I spend I sell about $11.00 in books from Amazon. I won’t share my profit margins (it varies by book), but it suffices to say that it’s profitable for me.

Tracking Spend and Sales

Amazon ads has an excellent system for displaying how much you are spending, your cost of customer acquisition, and total sales coming from people who clicked on your ad, and purchased. This makes it very easy to track and experiment. At a low base CPC price, you can afford to make mistakes with ad copy and experiment.

The Kicker: Increased Sales Overall

One question one has to answer is whether the people who buy through your ads would have bought anyway, thus the idea of cannibalizing your own naturally occurring sales. My experience is that increased sales are a result of people who wouldn’t have come across the product if there had been no advertising displayed to them.

The second observation is that not only do these ads result in incremental “new” sales attributed directly to the ad, but that there’s some sort of splash over effect, where sales occur without an actual ad click. I have a book that has, historically, not sold at all. Since I have been advertising the book, sales for that book have increased a lot, even though I’m not getting sales recorded as a result of an actual click through. In effect, it seems people are seeing the ad, NOT clicking on it, then looking for the book on their own. And then buying. Kind of free advertising, really.

A Few More Things To Know About Amazon Ads And Promoting Book Sales

Volume and Scaling: If you could scale this process (and maybe you can), it might seem like a license to print money, particularly if your book price is high, and you can create high volumes of click throughs while maintaining your conversion rates. I suspect it’s not easy to scale up, and still receive the return on investment I am currently experiencing. So, this is probably not going to make you rich, but it’s extra money.

Pricing: If your book prices are low, then you will still run into problems with your spend exceeding your profit margin on each book. Hence, pricing becomes extra important. There’s kind of a catch here, because the lower you price your book, the more likely you are to create sales, but the lower your profit margin. And the less you can spend on advertising. My books are based on margins, not volume, but your mileage may vary.

If you would like more detailed information on the system, or have additional hints for authors looking to promote their books sales, please leave a comment.

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Copyright 2018 Robert Bacal Please do not re-distribute content without permission