Posts Tagged With: amazon ads

More Tweaks, and some Thoughts on Pricing

Self Publishing Update

Well, it’s been three weeks since the new cover for Blue Gentian launched.  It’s been a wild success.  I’m selling out my Amazon ads almost every day, and I think I’ll keep it.  Trial and error begat success this time (law of averages?  Who knows, but there was bound to be a success eventually).

Whenever my ads sell out, Amazon sends me an email notification and suggests that I up my daily budget.  Right now, I’m telling it no more than $2 a day.  I have not increased this.  Why not, you ask?  Because sales still don’t warrant it.  I’m still in that tenuous territory where I’m ALMOST breaking even, but not quite.  Which means there’s still more work to do.

What am I tweaking next, you ask?  I’m glad you did.

During the $0.99 sale I ran, I sold a grand total of 17 books.  That’s A LOT for me, you guys.  I’m extremely lucky if I sell 17 books in a month, and I was able to do it in 7 days during the sale.  Which suggests to me that I might be able to sell more books if I dropped the price a little.

I want to discuss price, because it’s a complicated issue and I don’t think I’ve explained how I got to my amount for Blue Gentian.  But in case you just want the nitty-gritty and don’t want the whys and wherefores, Blue Gentian will be on sale for $3.99 as a permanent price, down from $4.99, in a few days.  We’ll see if that tweak works in favor of more sales.  I’ll report back.

Now some thoughts about pricing in general:

I considered price carefully when launching Blue Gentian.  I’m a relatively unknown author, and therefore my works will probably not sell at the same price as an established author.  I have to be real about it.  That being said, price also implies quality.  If you’re attempting to give your book away at $0.99 when it’s not sale time, it leaves me wondering if it’s cheap for a reason.  Sometimes the reason is because it’s the first of a series.  I think that’s fine.  But if I don’t know the author and can’t figure out why their book is cheap, I assume it’s because it’s bad.  This has also borne out from my experience.  I’ve downloaded some truly terrible books, guys.  Almost all of them were insanely cheap and by self-published authors.

I’m not denigrating self-publishing.  First of all, I’m a self-published author and take great pride in my work and my business.  Second of all, I have read some AMAZING books by self-published authors.  The difference between the good and the bad?  I have found that good authors expect me to pay a decent, fair market value for their work.  I’m happy to do so.  But price then becomes correlated with quality.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this perception.

This means that how I price Blue Gentian will tell people how good it is.  Also, I know from some research that it’s MUCH easier to price a book down if you make a mistake than to price a book low at first and raise it.  Better to overestimate yourself than to underestimate.  So I decided I would go in at semi-established author rates and cut as needed.

I did a lot of research on well regarded books by self-published fantasy authors and their manuscripts of about the same length (62,000 words in case you were interested).  Most were priced at $4.99.  That’s how I got the starting price of Blue Gentian.  And now that I have some data, I’m going to cut to $3.99 and see how we do.

I might cut again to $2.99 if I see no better outcomes in the next couple of months, but I don’t see going lower than that.  Most other people don’t, even bad authors, since they’re trying to take advantage of the 70% royalty KDP offers on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.  Blue Gentian is supposed to eventually be part of a series, so it will also eventually go to $0.99 for good when the next books are published (a LONG way off). Still, that means I’m not feeling terribly precious about the price of it.  Whatever gets me the sales, man.

And that’s all I’ve got right now.  Thanks for listening to me about a complicated subject…

 

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Self Publishing: September

Self Publishing Update

Well, I had a much better September than I did an August.  I realized after reviewing the data for my August ads that I was getting many more hits on keywords that tied to authors or book series that were similar to my book, instead of tags like “fantasy,” or “sword.” I also upped my bid on each keyword to be $0.76 instead of $0.66.  For some reason, that made all the difference.  Instead of being in the hundreds of views, I’m now in the tens of thousands of views and I can make some decisions based on actual aggregated data.  Amazing!

My first ad (runaway and subversive print shop copy) didn’t do so well.  People were clicking (31 of them), but no one was buying.  I actually ended this campaign early since it had cost me almost $15 and had brought me no book sales.  It seemed a waste to keep running it.

My second ad (epic fantasy with a strong female lead copy) did fairly well.  I had 42 clicks and sold 3 books.  Since almost 80,000 people saw my ad before clicking this is the data I was able to get: someone would click through to my page after about 1850 people had viewed the ad. Once people viewed the book, about 11 people visited for every one person who bought.

This isn’t great.  Most click-throughs cost me about $0.50, which means that I need my numbers to be more like 5 click-throughs for every buy to just break even.  I’m getting closer to that on my third ad.

Ad number three (LOTR/Little Women mashup copy) is almost where I’d like it to be.  I had 58 click-throughs and sold 8 books.  81,000 people viewed the ad, and so I’m looking at about 1400 people to visit before I get a click-through, and 7 people to look at the page before I get a sale.  Still not where I want to be, but MUCH closer.

I’m rejiggering a few things, per normal.  First of all, I’m only running ads 2 and 3 this month.  I’ve added keywords, too: Robin McKinley, The Hero and the Crown, Jessica Day George, Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted, His Dark Materials, Narnia, and CS Lewis.

Second, I have changed my book blurb to be a little more punchy.  We’ll see if that works out to equal more clicks.  The great thing about self-publishing is that I can change it all back if the other was working better.  Nice.

Lastly, I put up an ask for my friends who have read the book to please leave me a review.  I ran the free promotion almost two months ago, so I feel like people have probably finished the book and maybe just haven’t remembered to review? We’ll see if that’s actually a thing.  Over 100 people downloaded the book, and right now I have 5 reviews, so either people take a really long time to finish things or most people aren’t review-leavers, or they forgot.  We’ll see…

That’s all for this month.  I’ll report back on how that all did next month per usual.  I have modest goals.  I’d really love to have 7-10 reviews by the end of the month, sell more than 11 books, and have a better click-through to buy rate on both ads.

I hope this helps!

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Self Publishing: The First Month – Amazon Ads

Self Publishing Update

So, I’ve now been the self-published author of a novel for a month.  Aside from the free promotion, I haven’t done anything except run ads via the Amazon system.  I feel like I’ve learned something? Maybe?

I think the book is doing pretty well, actually, for being a first novel in a genre that doesn’t typically sell in the indie market.  And for being a book with only four reviews.

I have sold 4 books since I ended the free promotion.  3 of those were hard copy and another 1 was a Kindle copy.  Kindle copies are where I make my money, so it was nice to have one.  The profit margin on the print book is slim (although not nothing, and I’m not really in this for the money anyway at this point).

I also had several Kindle Unlimited pages read, though that’s also hard to break down.  The reports tell me how many pages, since I get paid by the page.  But is it the same people re-picking up the book, or is it new readers?  We’ll never know…

My ads haven’t been working okay.  I’ve never written copy before, nor do I have any experience with advertising, so I’m being gentle with myself about it.  I’ll be rejiggering the ads today to make them better.

You may already know this, but with Kindle ads, you bid on a keyword.  If you’ve bid the most, whenever someone visits a book that’s classified under that keyword, they see your ad.  You pay if they click on it, otherwise it’s free.

I currently have 4 ads running.  On the first, I let Amazon pick my keywords. Hardly anyone has seen the book on this one – about 74.  On two other ads, I have about 450 people who have viewed it, but only one person on each ad has clicked on the ad and the report estimates I haven’t had any sales.  They don’t take Kindle Unlimited into account, though, so I think this might be where I’m getting some of those extra Kindle Unlimited pages from. On my third ad, about 650 people have seen it, but no one has clicked.

I ran the same exact keywords for all three ads I set up myself, so I’m not sure why everyone’s seeing the one and not the others.

So, I have two goals this month.  The first is to re-do the book description on the ad so it’s a little more punchy.  The second thing is to pick better keywords.  Right now, the ones I’m getting the most hits on are the names of other authors.  I plan to add in a greater swath of authors who I think write things that are like this book.  I’ll leave the Amazon auto-target ad alone, probably.

That’s a rundown of the basics.  In addition to redoing the ads, I’m considering a blog tour.  Most authors I’ve seen who have done it say they basically break even – they make about as much in book sales as they paid for the tour.  Still, I think it might be worth it for me from a review perspective.  The blog tour I’m considering would have 15 stops, so that would be 19 reviews on the book once I’m done if you add the ones that are already there.  I’d definitely consider buying a book with 19 reviews, where I’d look askance at 4.

That’s mostly all I have to say. For those who want to get into the nitty-gritty with me on the ad portion, I’ll post a little more detail below.

The book descriptions I went with on the ads are as follows:

  1. What do a spy, a runaway, a subversive print shop, and a queen have in common? Blue Gentian. You won’t be able to put this book down. (450-ish views)
  2. “Love at first page!” Looking for something new to read? You just found your next favorite epic fantasy with a strong female lead. (450-ish views)
  3. Traditional fantasy gets a makeover in this epic coming-of-age tale about leaving home to find it. You won’t be able to put this book down! (650-ish views)

I went with these descriptions partly because I read a book that told me that ads with “you” in them tend to do better than ads that don’t.

In this next cycle of ads, I intend to run descriptions 1 and 2, but not 3.  I also intend to run one that says “If Lord of the Rings and Little Women had a baby, Blue Gentian would be it. You’ll love this epic fantasy about leaving home to find it.”

I ran the following Keywords:

action, adventure, caravan, coming of age, council, epic, fantasy, female voice, gentian, healer, intrigue, kwed, little women, low magic, medicine, mission, notlimah, printing, queen, quest, shaman, spy, strong female lead, sword, tolkien, traditional fantasy, travel, travelers, traveling, wise woman, young adult

BY FAR Tolkien got me the most views.  Wise woman, shaman, and travel got me the next most, although I’m not sure travel is really doing for me what I’d like it to do.

This month I’ll add:

Shannon Hale, Le Guin, Dianna Wynne Jones, Chrestomanci, Uprooted, Naomi Novik, Wheel of Time, Rothfuss, Jane Austen, Jeff Wheeler, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Harry Potter, Patricia C. Wrede

I may also take out some of the others that are probably deceptive (like travel), although it doesn’t cost me anything to bid unless the ad gets clicked on.  We’ll see where that gets me, and I’ll report back in another month!

Here we go…

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Self Publishing: First Book, First Week

First some housekeeping stuff.  I want to continue posting about how I’m doing with the book and what marketing I’m working on and all of that in service to someone else learning from my experiences, but I also realize that’s not why a lot of people follow this thing.  I’m going to be prefacing the headlines of these types of posts with Self Publishing: so you can ignore them if you’re not all about it.

That being said… here we go!  Week 1 of Blue Gentian was incredibly successful.  130 people downloaded the book for free.  It’s AMAZING that 130 people were interested enough in this thing to check it out. Thank you!

2 things I’ve learned over the last few weeks.

Thing 1: Several friends were asking me if they could actually PAY for the novel.  I wasn’t sure what to do about that, since I wanted to start running the book right out of the gate for free.  Does Amazon give pre-orderers the free price?  I didn’t know. So… it turns out that people who have pre-ordered the book pay for it, even if you run a free promotion on the day of the book’s release.  If you have people who actually want to pay, ask them to pre-order.  You can have your cake and eat it too!

Thing 2: I had originally planned to run a Kindle Free promotion, and then go for a Countdown Deal right after.  It turns out that Amazon won’t let you run those within the same KDP sign up time.  Every 90 days I can run either a Free promotion or a Countdown Deal promotion, but not both.  Boo.  But good to know for planning purposes.

Next we’re on to marketing:

Now that the book costs money, I’m wading into the area of Amazon Ads.  So far I only have Sponsored Product ads out there, and no Product Placement ads.  Product Placement got expensive, guys!  $100 is the minimum spend (yikes!). So, I’ll refine my copy on the cheap stuff and then worry about those costly ads when I have something I know probably works.

I know absolutely nothing about copywriting, and I think it shows… since the free promotion ended I have sold NO books.  I’m not terribly worried yet.  I’m playing the long game with this, not the short one.  I had also heard about this phenomenon.  Since Amazon separates out free from paid, you essentially start out at square one again when the free deal ends.  The internet warned me. But I am downloading copywriting books and faffing around with the copy on my ads now because things can always be improved.  I have five ads running right now, and they all have different descriptions enticing people to buy. We’ll see which ones actually do something.

Once I know I have copy that works, I’ll start faffing with Keywords.  That’s at least a month away, though.  I want to give the ads a chance to work if they’re going to.

Last is the bigger picture:

I’ve been thinking critically about how the book is presented and I realized today that I actually wouldn’t buy it if it came up in my feed as-is.  Everything looks great, but I always want a slew of reviews on my self-published titles to prove that they’re readable.  Right now, that’s the biggest thing I lack.  I’m discussing a possible blog tour because of it, though that’s also probably at least a month away.  I don’t want to be too annoying to my friends and family either, but I’ll also probably do a big social media request for reviews in about a month.  I’ll give everyone some time to read it first, though. And then after that, I’ll knock it off with the “please do this for me?” stuff so my friends don’t start to hate me.

What do I do while waiting for all the ads to aggregate and everything?  Work on my next book, of course!

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Book Advertising Update

Untitled design

I’ve done a little digging on how to get people reading Blue Gentian, and it looks like I can’t offer a free promotion until the book is officially published on August 1st.  Amazon also limits free books to 5 days, although I can do a “Kindle Countdown” deal for a low price for 7 days more.

So, the plan is to come right out the gate with a free title from August 1-5.  I’ll remind you that it’s happening so you can pick up the book for free and see what you think.  If you don’t manage to get the book within the 5 day window, don’t despair.  I’ll be running it for 99 cents from the August 6-13.  Only after the first two weeks will the price go up to the regular one of $6.99.  If you’re interested in adding the book to your wish list or just checking out the fancy pre-order listing, it’s here.

Why free or cheap?  First, I want to thank you all for following me and a free book seems like a good way to do that.  Second, I’m hoping you’ll think about giving me a little review in return.  The magic number to hit for Amazon to start promoting your book on it’s own is 50 reviews.  I think that’s a little optimistic for my first week (or several months, even), but any dent in that number helps. And any quality of review helps (kinda).  If you tell people you hated it, it still gets me closer to 50.  Just saying…

I also had a great talk with a friend who helps his mom with her self-published stuff.  He was amazed by Amazon ads, swears they’re the way to go, and gave me a couple of books to read on how to do it.  I’ll undoubtedly be running some ads, too, once I figure out what I’m doing.  I’ll report back and let you know how that went.  All this is new and exciting, and hopefully the stuff I’m learning will come in handy to someone else.

Lastly, There was some confusion about Blatantly False in the first few days, so I want to clarify… if you’re keen on reading this thing but don’t have a Kindle, you still can without shelling out hundreds of dollars for the actual Kindle equipment.  Kindle has an app that will go on any computing device you have (from laptop to tablet to smartphone) that you can download for free. I read most of my books with it on my phone and like it lots. Not thrilled with gunking up your devices with another app?  There will also be a print version available at $9.99.   Unfortunately, I can’t run this one under any of the Kindle sales, though, because of the cost to print.

Nano is still going well! I’ll be in touch…

 

 

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