Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Ad Divide

How's that advertising going? 

A couple of months ago, I dipped my toe into the process of advertising my book on Amazon. It was an interesting experiment, and I let the ads keep running. Why wouldn't I? Hardly anyone ever clicks on them, so I don't get charged much. I've spent less than $2 in the last two months.

That would be fine, I guess, but I also haven't sold any copies through the Amazon ads either. Maybe. It seems like it should be an easy thing to figure out -- Amazon keeps track of who clicks and what they do afterward -- but it's not so simple. What happens if someone clicks on the ad and then downloads a sample, but doesn't get around to reading it for a few weeks? Even if they buy it at that point, I think that doesn't count as a sale attributed to the ads.

If your book is in the Kindle Unlimited program (where you are paid for the number of pages read by KU subscribers), it gets even murkier.

All this is to say that I think my Amazon ads are probably not doing anything, but maybe they are, and since they're costing me $1/month, it's probably worth letting them ride. But the graphs always make me laugh. Look! Someone clicked on my ad a few days ago!

Graphs showing impressions and clicks versus time
The brown bars are the number of times Amazon showed the ad, the blue spiky line shows the three times someone clicked on it. Thankfully I only pay for clicks.

Surely there must be a better way!

Assuming you have accurate information on how many sales are coming from the ads, the basic math is simple. Let's say you have a stand-alone book and that you make a profit of $3 on every ebook that is sold. If an ad costs $0.30 per click, you need to have at least one person out of every ten that clicks on the ad buy the book just in order to break even. And one in ten is actually pretty good.

If, on the other hand, you have a 5-book series, and one person in every ten buys the first book, but some of those buyers also buy the next books in the series, it's a lot easier for the ad to become profitable because you're not making just $3 -- you can easily be making twice that depending on how many people keep reading past the first book.

That previous paragraph is why pretty much every independently published author who is making money from their writing is writing one or more series. Uh, yes, I just published a standalone book. I wanted to work out some of the kinks in the process first. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

I'm writing on the treadmill so I can't take a picture of Sir Goofy Legs

Here, have this one instead:
Alaskan Husky standing on a paved path near Putah Creek
Such a noble beast when he's standing up

Hey, I warned everyone at the beginning of the month that this blog might have a lot of independent publishing info. Maybe tomorrow there will be something funny. (Funnier than my pathetic ad performance, I mean.)


KarenD said...

I like hearing about the publishing stuff, even though I have no plans to do any of that myself. It's always interesting to hear how things work.

(doing Holildailies at hatontop.com but I can't figure out how to make that clear to Blogger)

fairbetty said...

I love these posts! Also I think there's a way to tweak just how much credit you give Amazon ads for a sale and for how long (assuming it's similar to FB in that way)

Also, I totally relate to that graph... I do this with my Google analytics on my blog... which are popping off right now because I think maybe 3 people a day are reading? *wipes eyes... what? those tears are from laughing!*