Winning Amazon Ads and Book Cover and Title Snafus

I recently attended an informative talk on winning Amazon ads given by Anna-Marie Abell.  Anna-Marie’s credentials are exceptional. Between her being an author, accomplished presenter, marketing and advertising expert, and successful businesswoman, I was very impressed. The cherry on top of the sundae was when I heard the creative title of her book, which put a smile on my face: Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth. It’s part of a science fiction trilogy called The Anunnaki Chronicles.

With all of her talents, considering the YA, heated, comical aliens she writes about, I couldn’t help but wonder if she herself wasn’t from another planet sent to lead us where few authors had succeeded before. What are these mystery Amazon Ads, and how can we use them to our advantage?

Most authors sell their books through Amazon, so this information is key to learning how to improve online book sales. You can sell even more by placing ads through Amazon Marketing Services. Even though my book isn’t set to launch until fall, I was able to derive significant help from her lecture. Many of the same marketing tools are transferrable, for instance researching keywords for your title.

It was also clear that in the world of Kindle Publishing and Amazon, there are so many unique terms and programs with specific dos and don’ts and specified can’ts and won’ts, my head was spinning…Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle Unlimited (same as KDP Select), Kindle Countdown Deals, Free Day for 90 day terms, Page reads, and higher rankings, to name a few.  It would benefit you to take some time to analyze each and verify what works for your book and genre. OMG, this stuff is not for the faint of heart.

Anna-Marie advised using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for your book distribution, if you write fiction. (Remember to turn off Amazon distribution if you are going this route.) But it’s less beneficial if you are a non-fiction author, since you probably will want to get into bookstores, so for me this would be the wrong move. REPEAT. PROBABLY NOT GOOD FOR NON-FICTION AUTHORS.

Otherwise, given that most authors want those online book sales, she strongly recommended KDP as the way to help make authors successful. To utilize Kindle Unlimited, you do have to agree to be exclusive.

Benefits of using KDP are that you’ll get better algorithms, you can choose ten different genre categories (you’ll have to send an email request to get the additional categories), up from two categories using Amazon. It will increase your sales and you’ll get better customer service when issues arise.

Keep in mind that with KDP you pay only if someone clicks on your ad; its cost-per-click advertising.

One major helpful hint for trying to make your book the most successful is to not try to reinvent the wheel yourself. Look at what other flourishing authors in your genre did and are doing. Okay, I know at least some of you must be like me, thinking, “But we were always taught not to look at someone else’s paper!” I know, get over it. They are successful and the information isn’t proprietary, it’s public. Use it! Don’t merely copy it, though; think about how it applies to your book, and then use their proven success route like you would advise from a respected mentor.

Developing a list of keywords is essential. Use an Excel spreadsheet to help avoid duplicating words. Anna-Marie recommended starting with 500, but you can have as many as 1,000 keywords/phrases.

To develop your list of keywords, she said to capture competing books’ titles, series names, and author names. Then she walked us through where to find each, and we were able to begin our individual unique lists of keywords during a few-minutes’ pause in the presentation. This was very useful!

Look at:

  • Best sellers in your categories
  • Popular books in your genre
  • Best sellers and popular books on Amazon (if they fit your genre)
  • Goodreads 5-star reviews (compare books and pull five star matches)
  • Awards (Hugo)
  • Best seller list names (New York Times Best Seller)
  • Venerable lists and publications (e.g., Oprah’s Book Club), general keywords, Auto-predict Amazon (incognito or from a private browser)
  • KDP Rocket

If you have multiple markets, keep separate lists of keywords; you will do different ads for each market.

You should check out how to do a sponsored campaign which she recommended as being most cost-effective and practical, if you weren’t famous yet, or doing display ads through writing our own ad copy. You should name your campaigns, set budgets and timing, and develop your keywords determined from your research.

Finally, she made recommendations for your ad copy:

  • Ads should be 50–150 characters (use the “&” sign to save space).
  • Create at least two ads with different copy to do A/B tests, but more ads are better.
  • Descriptions need hooks, e.g. “Fans of so and so will like….”
  • Book baby: If When Harry Met Sally met Raiders of the Lost Ark, this book might have been born….
  • Don’t use a review in copy unless it’s from a publication.

You may have several ads running at once, especially if you have specific target markets with different creative copy. She gave the example of having an ad targeting Paranormal Romance fans and another targeting fans of Ancient Aliens and UFO for her own book.

One important tip: You can’t edit campaign text once you’ve clicked Submit. You will need to create another, corrected ad (you can copy your old ad, which makes it easy) and then cancel the first one. But this means starting from scratch and having to build momentum again on impression. The bottom line seemed to be that although it wasn’t difficult, the process could be very detailed, requiring you to possibly get out of your comfort zone and that it was essential to pay attention to details.

Anna-Marie made the case that “the reporting from the system sucks,” and she gave detailed explanations of how to counter that fact and obtain the information that you need to evaluate your campaigns.

Next we spent some time on ensuring you pick the correct category, which she assured us could be the difference between having a best seller label affixed to your front cover or not. Ultimately this all led to The Land of Rankings, which was another stop along our journey filled with hidden passageways and alleyways to avoid, lest you come to a complete halt in the Evil Kingdom of Few Sales.

Ultimately, if you aren’t getting the results you had hoped for, she advised it could be due to:

  • Bad ad copy
  • Irrelevant keywords
  • Bad cover
  • Poor description

The last important topic we covered was the importance of a kick-ass cover. She told us how a change of cover on her Holy Crap! book improved her sales by 90%. She had to look closely at how her cover was perceived and change it to what her primary audience wanted. As authors, we have to switch hats and become marketers, that is, if you actually want to sell books and not just delight in Aunt Martha’s compliments about your great story…

As I am in the throes of Cover and Title Development Hell right now, my eyes were wide and my ears were open. In my blog I not only talk about great things that happen, but also pitfalls I fall into that I hope I can help you avoid. Sometimes you really get hurt, sometimes just a few scratches.

I too could have told the tale of thinking we had the perfect cover, and title too, oey. Then by asking others what they thought I discovered that it was time to go back to the drawing board.

I had asked my cover designer to put the iconic Wall picture of Jerusalem and my BFF Iron Dome on the

Finding Peace in Israel Proposed Cover

Finding Peace in Israel Proposed Cover

cover. I wanted to be sure he showed both women and men praying at The Wall showing my feminist inklings. Beautiful picture, great.

Next was Iron Dome who had saved us during our fateful trip to Israel in July 2014. I will be forever grateful to Israeli technology that stops the Palestinian missiles in the sky before they can land and kill Israelis. Great, he found a Tamir missile used by Iron Dome to shoot down the rockets and cleverly placed it careening just behind the word Peace in my title.

At the time my title, “Finding Peace in Israel, A Mother’s Tale of Terror & Transformation,” had Peace in it, and it probably still will although it may be in Hebrew…Shalom. I always knew Shalom had several definitions and I was familiar with it as a greeting of hello and goodbye and Peace. Great because the impact of the missiles made me want to work on Peace.

However during our research another definition for Shalom was found. It is “to make whole” with the intent to give back. Perfect for describing what happened to me on my trip and the purpose of my book.

Because of our trip, I found what I believe is my life’s purpose. After analyzing what had happened to us, I discovered more of who I am. I wanted to give back by teaching people about our experience and the beauty and terror that Israel lives with daily. Stay tuned for my new title hopefully to be agreed upon soon.

Back to my cover snafu. I was thrilled, beautiful pictures, clever construction, what could go wrong? I began to show it to people whose opinion I respected. First a long-tenured publisher…Penny, with a title like “Finding Peace in Israel,” and those pictures, people are going to think it’s a geo-political book, not a memoir. Oey.

Next after showing it to a friend who was on the trip with us, she blew up the clever missile…”Do you realize given how Israel is portrayed in the news that the general public will think that missile is an Israeli rocket going to kill Palestinians? ARGGHHH! Are you kidding me! The antithesis of my message. Iron Dome’s Israeli missiles stop Palestinian rockets from killing Israelis and are a defensive weapon, not an offensive one. Back to the drawing board.

At least I hadn’t published my book yet, so the only offenses were to my ego, time wasted and wallet. Be sure you take polls and do A/B Test marketing… do members of your audience prefer Cover A or Cover B? Pre-publishing is the best place to make those mistakes, though it’s still painful.

The great news is if this information whet your appetite, you can find the slides of her informative presentation at WrittenByAnna.com. Please note: To obtain the file, you will be providing your email to add yourself to her list—definitely worth it for such great material!

So stay tuned and I’m hoping that my title and new cover will be out soon. When it does come out I hope you will write me at Penny@PennySTee.com and let me know what you think. After all, it still will be several months until my book is published…I could still make changes if I had to. Please tell me me beforehand if like the emperor, I forgot to wear clothes…I know in this weather it might feel good, but after our trip, I know what terror feels like and I’d hate to do that to anyone.

As always, I invite you to Join Me on My Journey…

 

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