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Running Ads on Amazon for Self Publishers

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Joseph Alexander – Case Study
Part 1 “Overview Summary

Joseph Alexander is a guitarist, music tutor, and prolific author of over 30 books about guitar playing. He started writing books around 2012 and in that time has gone from being “just one guy writing books” to becoming a small company that turns over $500,000/year in sales and employs several people.

Joseph states, When I started, I didn’t have the advantage that Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) gives new authors today.

Let’s take an overview. The first item to notice is that Joseph went 100% with SPONSORED PRODUCTS. He tried ‘display ads’, but couldn't get them to work for him.

Next, take a look at the overall average daily spend. He set up his budget at $5/day but was never able to spend that budget. In fact, he only spent $95 in the first 35 days ($2.71 per day).

1. The Overall Cost (ACoS)
Joseph’s books cost around $7 each. The bottom line is Joseph spends $6.55 to sell $100-worth of his books!

2. Email Subscriber Listing
In addition, Joseph is also getting his email subscriber list because with all books sold, he sends a free audio download to the buyer in order for them to sign up on his website. For the cost of 9 cents per click, Joseph also gets a new subscriber to his mailing list. Joseph states, I know that on average any member of my mailing list will buy up to five (5) more books. That .09-¢ click has now turned into $100!

3. Brand Awareness
Finally, not only do his books appear in the Customer Also Bought row, but right under many other sponsored books, too. He has virtually captured the Amazon product page, establishing a clear branding awareness with good reviews!

Part 2 “In Detail”

It’s important to see the overall summary, but even more important is to study the specific details that enabled Joseph to parlay his .09¢ ads into a success story that every author would like. Here are the three details:

  1. Joseph set his ad campaign cost-per-bid at 30¢ per click.
  2. He then set his targeting on “AUTOMATIC”, letting Amazon handle it.
  3. To create his 150-character advertisement, he simply edited and pasted a phrase from his own sales page, which read there are many common mistakes that beginner guitarists make that limit musical development over one’s lifetime. Beginner’s Guitar: The Complete Guide teaches you to play the right way from day one, the first day you pick up the instrument, forming a foundation of chords, and effortless, good technique and skills that will last a lifetime.

It was a verbatim copy, past and edit to make it fit on the ad. In fact, setting up 40 ads took him about an hour.

Yes, it was really just that simple. Simple as...
1) 30¢ CPC Bid,
2) Automatic targeting,
3) Decent ad.

Amazon AMS Case Study

Mark Dawson

Mark states, I’ve been a writer for years. I had a couple of novels published traditionally fifteen years ago, but no one read them. (Truth be told, they’re not very good.) It was only when self-publishing became a viable way to get my books into the hands of my readers that sales really took off. These days, I’m a best-selling author on amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple. Advertising played an important part in my writing career. I have built up a mailing list of over 70,000 readers.

Brand Awareness GetPublished.ProMy two most successful campaigns have been sponsored ads, with manual keyword targeting to promote my ‘Milton Box Set’. I also sell individual books, but I’ve had the most success with box sets. Their higher retail price means it’s easy to keep my ACoS down, as the book set sells for $9.99 with a cost per click of 20¢. Meaning that if I can get 10 out of every 100 who click on to buy the books, I’m then spending $20 to make $48.

Dawson sets a budget of $50 per ad campaign, yet he hasn’t been able to spend more than $2.50/day on average because AMS charges per click, not per impression.

So, what is the solution?

Dawson suggests, instead of raising your campaign’s budgets, increase the number of campaigns!

Hence the formula: 100 campaigns x $1 > $10.

Final Pro Tips on Amazon Advertising

The most influential reasons that determine the effectiveness of your AMS books Ads are these:

  1. The copy (ad) isn’t catchy enough;
  2. The cover (image) isn’t professional enough;
  3. The creative (copy/cover) is not adapted to your audience;
  4. You’re not bidding high enough.


The easiest one to measure is #4, so if you feel you’re not getting enough clicks: First, raise your bid to a higher cost-per-click. Remember, you are only charged when you ad is shown. Also, if you are using Amazon’s AUTOMATIC targeting features, then it is even more important, because the higher the bid, the more Amazon is going to show your ad.

The two most important conversations to watch in measuring and in determining the effectiveness of your advertising on Amazon are these:

1. The click-through-rate (CTR) conversion rate—This is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. What that means is this: The number of impressions is simply the number of people who browsed by the ad, while the number of clicks will represent those who clicked on out of those who merely browsed by. You will want to keep a running tally of these, tracking them on a spreadsheet, in order to follow them closely, to determine what trend you see projected.

2. The other is the click-to-sale rate. This is the number of readers who click your ad compared to those who purchase the book.

Track both these conversion rates meticulously on a separate spreadsheet, and consider working with a professional AMS marketer if need be.

AMS Platform Author/Book Marketing Venue
While the email list is essential for authors to build up their following, what makes the email list effective is the AMAZON ALGORITHM.

Once you understand how the Amazon Algorithm works, you will begin to build your career, book by book, because it’s the Algorithm that makes your books sell. Therefore, your number one goal is to get ranked on the Amazon Algorithm (among the most popular authors/bestselling).

Why? Because the algorithm is key in processing the information leading Amazon to predicting and drawing conclusions about what your customers like, buy and shop for, in their effort to assist in the sales and marketing of their products/clients. It’s like a visible machine that works on autopilot for you, emailing your customers with recommendations, book offers, featuring your books on the front page for customers with relevant browsing history, creating more visibility for your books, resulting in more sales.

How The Algorithm Works

There are Two Categories

  1. Hourly Ranking algorithm listing
  2. 30-day Rolling Average popularity listing

1. Hourly Ranking; Bestseller Listing
The Hourly Ranking Listing is an hourly snapshot of your book sales compared to all other books in the store, determining the bestseller list as well as the hot new releases ranking. This is also called the sales rank.

2. 30-Day Rolling Average Listing; Popularity Listing
This average is calculated by adding up the number of your sales over the past 30 days, and then dividing that number by 30 to determine your ranking.

That key factor to remember or take into consideration is this, that your listing in the Popularity Listing, Bestselling Listing is determined primarily by the selection of the high traffic category, and a low traffic category. Additionally, the search engine is determined by your keyword choices. (So, find the high traffic keywords that match best - not too broad, and not to narrow).

How or Where to Find the Best Keywords

Keywords bring visibility, and sales, increasing your rankings in popularity listing (author’s ranking) and the bestseller’s listing. So where do you find them?

  • Google Keyword Tool can assist
  • Ask yourself what do my target readers search for on Amazon?
  • Recommended blog post The Importance of Keywords for Metadata and the Discoverability of Your Book, by Joanna Penn
  • Recommended blog post What I Love About Amazon Marketing Services for KDP Select

How or Where to Find the Best Categories for Efficacious Traffic

The category you choose will determine where your book will be found on Amazon, and which listing your book will be placed on, and when or if it becomes a bestseller, where your book is found in the popularity listing … so choosing the best category is of the utmost importance.

A good tip is to check the bestseller listing for your category genre, and by checking the 100th ranked book, if you discover it has a sales ranking for between 10,000 and 100,000, then you are on the right track, but if it’s higher or much lower, then you should look elsewhere.

If you have trouble placing your book in a category:
-- Reach out to Amazon, on the contact us button, at the bottom of the KDP dashboard, and they should fix it for you.

Reader Reviews Can Make You A Star or Devastate Your Sales
When your book is new and has only a few reviews it’s super important that every review be positive, otherwise the star rating will suffer. Five stars is good, one star is BAD.

Your Book’s Title, Cover and Description


It must GRAB the reader


Your book design is the eye candy, and visibly just as important as the title.


This is your only opportunity to hook the reader. You want the description to leave the reader feeling they must read your book.


These are the first words your reader ever reads from you. Take this opportunity to hook the reader, so this is your most important first impression, so make it good. There’s no room for second chances when it comes to that first impression.


The lower the price, the greater the sales quantities.

All five of these must be in alignment, working together. If any one of these is out of kilter, the entire building will fall.

In Summary

To create an effective Amazon algorithm:

  • Get ranked, get listed, and use the best keywords and the best categories
  • Get the best reviews; make your title and cover grab the readers’ eye
  • Write your description and sample to hook the reader
  • Put your price as low as possible, and
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid to launch a free book promotion!

If you have a story to tell, let Leadership Book help you tell it!

Leadership Books Publishing is an emerging powerhouse in book publishing. We’ve joined the two worlds of traditional and self-publishing into one company that can help do it all. Our capabilities and relationships allow us to create targeted and integrated book campaigns that mobilize high-profile contacts in your niche, capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing through social marketers, and extend your reach into the most prominent media publications. Our authors have the unparalleled service of an Executive Editor, one who will work with you in putting your story ideas into book form. Once that’s completed, our professional designers will work with you to design the cover and interior to make your book ready to sell.

Leadership Book markets your book by distributing to every major book seller on three continents.

About Michael Stickler

To set up an appointment to speak to a Literary Agent:
Email: Alfredo Baguio
Call: (702) 605-4354


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