• Amanda Clemmer

Are Your Amazon Ads Paying Out? Conversion Rates, Tracking, and Optimization


Bookselling giant Amazon has a number of different built-in ways for authors to market their books to interested readers. Every new technique you master will lead to your cover getting shown to more readers and reaching more people who actually want to read your book.


These options include the popular CPC (cost-per-click) category, where instead of paying for your ad upfront, you pay as readers click on your link for the duration of the campaign. This kind of advertising always has a good click-through rate. After all, if no one clicks, then you won’t have to pay anything in the end.


Clicking itself is worth something. If Amazon sees that your book’s page is getting a lot of attention with frequent visits, it will boost your visibility and make your book more available to more readers.


Unfortunately, CPC advertising can also lead to losing money if you don’t know how to handle and manage your campaign effectively. Just because someone clicks on your link doesn’t mean she has a strong interest in reading your book. She could be curious or decide after reading your description that she isn’t the right reader. In the end, your clicks might be nothing more than idle clicks.


How do we fix this?


To better understand how your ads are performing and what work needs to be done on your part, always launch your ads in sets or pairs so that you can compare them. A single ad won’t tell you enough: there are too many variables to look at.


Maybe you should word your ad differently. Maybe you should set the clicking cost higher than you thought or market to a different genre. You don’t know unless you launch different ads that rely on different factors.


After your ads have launched, track them to see which ones are performing. You can probably guess in a single glance which of your strategies have paid out.


Note: this is going to cost money if you want to do it well. Some authors recommend waiting to do paid advertising at all until you can afford to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars perfecting your strategy. I say you can start whenever you want. The more you commit, the better your results!


Crunching The Numbers


Now we’ll have to do some math. Again, how far you want to take this is up to you, but the more work you put in, the better return you’ll see.


There’s a growing trend among authorpreneurs to investigate one book’s progress to learn how many books you’ll need to write if you want to publish full-time. We don’t need to get that elaborate, but it is important to know the net value of your book.


Net Value: how much your book earns or loses overall.


Let's say you spend $50 on your cover and another $200 advertising your book in a release, $250 total. Your book sells modestly, and your initial sales chart tells you that you profited $100 in royalties. That sounds great, but it isn't sustainable--you're still $150 behind where you were in the beginning, losing money overall. Your net value is -$150.


Later on, you use the same $250 budget to publish a different book. People remember loving your earlier release, and this time even more readers jump onboard and a podcast interview makes you famous on the small scale. Your first sales report here reads a whopping $600. At this point, you got out more than you poured in, and your net value is $350. You're not breaking the bank, but if you land a few more similar successes, you'll be in good shape.


It's worth noting that your first few books will likely put you in the hole. When no one knows who you are, and when you don't have much of an audience to stand on yourself, you can't count on commercial success. What even counts as "commercial success" varies. Writers who publish frequently aim to earn three to five times as much as they spend per book so that they can turn fiction writing into a lucrative career.


There’s no magic number there. How many books you can write in a year, how well each book sells, and how much exactly you wish to earn are all different factors that will change what your perfect fit is.


After you add up your production and publishing costs with the amount that you plan to spend on ads, you can set your book price at a point where, with a certain number of sales, you can pay it off.


The Bottom Line


CPC advertising can get complicated. If you don’t spend time working out what a successful ad looks like for your book and what you need to earn to make a profit, you could miss out on a lot of what your advertising could get you.


Take the long road. Do the math and put in the money with the intent to learn what gets your dream readers to click--and from there to read.


Have you tried CPC advertising on Amazon or somewhere else? Please share your experiences and suggestions in the comment section below or join our Facebook group for self-publishing fiction writers for further discussion.