Promoting books on Kindle Pt 2: Paid Kindle ads

December 7, 2017


Kindle ads cost. How much-what are the options-who to aim them at-where do they go-are they worth it and should you bother? Read on.


Assuming you already have a novel on kindle, log into your KDP account and click the promote and advertise button to the right of the image of your book. Don’t worry, it doesn’t commit you to a promotion, it just leads to guidance on the options. But it only tells you so much. What I’ll do here is add what I’ve found out from my efforts and research.


The options:


  • A kindle price promotion: Reduce the price of your book to 99 pence/cents for a limited period. You can reduce the price without going through this promotional link but don’t because then you won’t have kindle pushing the book as a ‘limited offer’ i.e. you won’t get publicity. I haven’t tried this yet so can’t comment on its success or otherwise, but the cost to you will be 30% rather than 70% in royalties on sales, and on a much smaller sum.


  • Product display ad: I nearly went for this option before I read Jane Friedman's helpful article.  Seems it’s a complicated and potentially costlier process than the third option, committing you to a $100 minimum spend. It may also appear by products rather than books, which is fine if your ski jacket ad is appearing alongside snowboards but not, I imagine, great if your thriller novel appears alongside a kid’s kite. The problem is, these ads are placed by computer algorithms, not people, and algorithms for all their complex sense have no common sense.


  • Sponsored ad: My chosen route. This option allows you to advertise for a smaller outlay and promotes your book, along with others, on a ribbon below commercially successful books. You only pay when someone clicks on your book within that ribbon, which takes them to your book page. The rest of this post is about sponsored ads.


How to limit sponsored ad costs: Once you’ve clicked on this option, you’ll be asked to set a maximum cost per click bid (it defaults to 25 cents or pence), a maximum daily spend and the dates you want the ad to run from. If you set your ad to £5 a day max for ten days, your maximum spend will be £50, regardless of your bid per click. But you can make it more or less by changing your daily max spend or the number of days it runs for.


The click auction: With millions of books out there and thousands on promotion, amazon auctions the prominence your book will receive to the highest bidder. So you have to bid a click price. The default .25 option I chose gave me thousands of appearances on promotional ribbons (impressions is the word they use) but how prominent they were I can’t answer. I suggest you stick with 25p to start with.


But regardless of how much you bid, you’ll only spend to the daily limit you’ve set. This means that if I bid £5 per click and set a maximum spend of £5 a day over 10 days, I’ll still only spend a maximum of £50 even though I get more prominence. The downside is that after one £5 click my book would cease to be promoted that day, whereas at.25p a click, I could get potentially many more clicks (potential customers) a day.


Key words: Having set you click bid etc, you’ll be asked to set key words. These key words will dictate on which webpages your ad (impression) appears. Amazon will do this for you or you can click manual and choose them yourself. Do both. Let amazon choose then add your own by clicking manual. The more key words (and we’re talking hundreds—yes hundreds) the better.


How to choose key words: Authors names, the titles of popular books and obvious phrases like ‘action packed thriller’ or ‘historical romance’ are obvious choices. Look up the top twenty/thirty/forty/fifty books in your and related genres and stick in the author’s name as one key word and the book title as another. This key word tool gives you data on amazon's most used key words. Stick those in too.


Tag line: This is a short hook—a mini-blurb—that appears with your book cover on the promotional ribbon. It’s limited in both length and content. There’s a link to guidance to tell you the dos and don’ts but, essentially, don’t put in websites, third party opinions, obscenities and hyper hyperbole. ‘A must read best thriller since I am Pilgrim’ would probably be rejected whereas: ‘An action packed thriller in the style of…’ probably wouldn’t.


And that’s it!


Does promotions work?


I’ve run two campaigns (the third’s currently in progress) with little success but enough sales to cover costs, which were tiny because, although I set a click bid of .25p, that’s a maximum. Some of my clicks cost as little as 5p (amazon decide that not you).


But my disappointing sales could be down to a number of factors. Some, like the design of the book cover and the contents, are not going to change, but other factors can. And because the cost is so low, I can run one campaign after another, experimenting with different approaches until the book takes off or I accept failure.


In the first campaign, I focused on the thriller element. The tag line was something like, ‘An action packed thriller without heroes until fear conjures the blood’. In the second, even less successful campaign, I key worded women writers and brought in a love element with the line, ‘A thriller without heroes until fear and love conjure the blood.’ (You get the picture.) I’ve also changed the book’s main blurb, hopefully improving it. In the current campaign, I’ve tried to be more intriguing with ‘When fear conjures the blood, unremarkable people do remarkable things.’


The total sum of those campaigns have been just nineteen clicks but, on the plus side, at a cost of only £3.00. It’s peanuts and I’ve covered my diddy costs. Give it a go.


Am I giving up any time soon? No. The hard work is setting up hundreds of key words. Once that’s done you can copy it over for the next ad, and add as many extra key words as you like. And you can change or leave the tag line. It only takes seconds. My plan for the next campaign is to Americanise it along the lines of, ‘These guys are friendless losers but when fear conjures the blood, when losing’s not an option… you fight to win.’ But that’s for after Christmas.


Merry Christmas!



Book Review/Recommendation: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry


Theirs a society out there somewhere for the preservation of the Gothic Victorian novel. I read a book last year by one of it's members. I won't name it or him but it was overblown and awful. Sarah's book on the other hand captures the style (sentence structure) and content (the friction between religion and science, humanism and metaphysics) perfectly. The protagonist and the man she loves argue over myths: is it the Essex serpent or religion or both? Plenty of subplots and dark corners as you'd expect, and a wonderful evocation of Victorian Essex. Did you know there was an earthquake in Colchester in 1884 strong enough to topple buildings? I checked and there was. Miss Perry has used unusual facts to give her fiction a would-you-believe-it ring of truth.

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