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Advertising on Amazon

As I’ve written about many times before, I’m a lot better at writing books than I am at selling them. Those are entirely different disciplines, and it’s just not in my nature to sell.

Recently I decided to experiment with advertising my books on Amazon. It uses a cost-per-click model similar to what Google and Bing use. It’s a pay-as-you-go model.

You set up an ad and define a budget you’re willing to spend per day. Amazon displays your ad based on the various keywords you define and also bid amounts you specify. For any given page view, Amazon decides appropriateness based on your keywords. If you meet those criteria, it conducts a sort of auction between you and other advertisers. The amount each advertiser bids for their keywords determines the chances their ad will be seen. Bid more and your ad gets displayed more often.

The trick seems to be finding the optimal combination of keywords so that when your ad is displayed, it has the highest chance of getting the visitor to click on it. Once they click on it, the chance of them making a purchase is decided by several other factors that are downstream from the Amazon advertising engine.

My intention was to advertise the first book in The Taesian Chronicles, Ohlen’s Arrow. My theory was that those who buy the book would want to read the next book in the series (Ohlen’s Bane), and so on. Those books are not advertised, and subsequent sales would be considered organic.

Although I am still experimenting and learning how to optimize my Amazon advertising results, I have been very pleased to see organic purchases occurring. I can track when people buy Ohlen’s Arrow, and then see purchases of Ohlen’s Bane 4-7 days afterward. Then, about 4-7 days after that, I see a correlated increase in purchases of book three, Paragon’s Call.

I am paying for people to click on my Ohlen’s Arrow ads, but once they have purchased additional books on their own, that effectively lowers my per-purchase costs of Ohlen’s Arrow.

So far I’m paying more for advertising than I am earning through sales, but the cost-of-acquisition is dropping and my revenues are increasing. I hope that soon two things will happen: I will find the optimum combination of keywords and bid amounts for my ads, and organic sales will increase to bring down my overall advertising costs below my revenues.

One of the things I’ve heard consistently from readers is that my books are hard to put down once they start reading them. Getting them to start is the hard part for someone like me who doesn’t have a selling bone in their body.

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