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Where Can I Promote My Book? > How Key Are Keywords in Amazon Marketing?

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message 1: by Peter (last edited Jan 23, 2019 03:46PM) (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments Hey Everyone,

Can I get market insight from my esteemed fellow writers - when you search for a book on Amazon, do you know exactly what you want to buy or do you 'browse' looking for something new that might be intriguing? If you browse, do you search by genre? Or do you browse by favorite author/title hoping to find something similar to what you've previously enjoyed?

I'm interested because I'm using AMS to run ads for my environmental fantasy and, as many of you know, keywords theoretically help target ads to the appropriate audience.

On a related note, I'm finding the logic rather obscure behind what keywords generate the most impressions/clicks/sales. Keywords that seem to fit my book like a glove don't even get impressions let alone clicks and sales. Conversely, keywords that seem marginally relevant get lots of impressions. My bids are reasonably high, so I don't think low-ball pricing is to blame. Anyway, my tactics perforce have had to be trial and error to identify good keywords for secondary rounds of ads.

Thanks!


message 2: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Bentley (hellno) | 4 comments Peter wrote: "Hey Everyone,

Can I get market insight from my esteemed fellow writers - when you search for a book on Amazon, do you know exactly what you want to buy or do 'browse' looking for something new th..."

Hi Peter
Good question! I also find it's a trial and error process. How many keywords are you using? Do you manually insert them or allow AMS to suggest?
If it's the latter, I suggest you do the former. Dave Chesson, the Kindlepreneur guy, will advide a minimum of 200-300 keywords. I agree.
To find those yourself is a nightmare. Chesson sells an app called KDP Rocket. It is worth every cent. Using it, I recently inserted over 600 keywords!
I'm not saying that alone will prove successful because it's not true. The other factors are your bid price, and your ad copy. Chesson explains all that on free videos.
The other alternative is to enrol on Mark Dawson's course but I think it is too expensive, certainly for me on my limited budget.
Btw I am not an affiliate of Kindlepreneur :) Check it out.
Best
Stephen
Author of Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments Hey Stephen, Thanks for the insights! AMS can seem like a black box - no doubt this is partly intentional on Amazon's part.

Anyway, I'm using about 100 keywords and, yes, I'm plugging them in manually as I've read several articles suggesting that AMS's auto-select does less well than you can yourself (I think even Chesson recommends generating these yourself or via his Rocket tool), but I'm happy to reconsider.

Instead of Rocket, I've used yasiv which is free and maps books related to a title by similarity to the source keyword (in this case the book title). It's not perfect, but fairly helpful.

I think I'm cost competitive - if anything, the bids are generous especially in popular genres based on the actual cost per clicks that I'm seeing (on a related note, it's unclear to me whether pushing the bid up actually helps i.e. is there a threshold bid beyond which you get no further benefit? Obviously, ROI is a factor here too!)

Agree that many of the courses are expensive and much of what they tell you can be gleaned on your own from free sources.

Thinking about this from the customers' POV, when you're book shopping on Amazon, do you know exactly what you want to buy or do you 'browse' looking for something new that might be intriguing? If you browse, do you search by genre? Or do you browse by favorite author/title hoping to find something similar to what you've previously enjoyed?


message 4: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 245 comments Keywords are essential to helping your book get notoriety on Amazon although it can be tricky choosing the right ones. One thing Amazon does is they already have keywords in your search bar when you type letters in these are popular and you should use these if your book fits under any of them(use KDP Rocket to see how they rank). Keywords are are certainly key but can also be hard to go by if your not having much luck.


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments Thanks, Justin. Yep, agree that AMS ads may give a book exposure even if the ads don't directly result in sales.

In the spirit of sharing tribal lore, a few further notes on Amazon (AMS) book ads after completing an initial campaign for my environmental fantasy thriller…

- Expect modest results on this platform especially for indie authors without an established readership; AMS ads compliment (but most certainly doesn’t replace) other essential efforts to promote a book and build a base (e.g. book signings have been far more successful than AMS ads to date – though signings have their own challenges).

- Though initially, results will be modest, so are costs. For indie authors with a nano-scale budget, AMS ads are a good ‘laboratory’ to test assumptions about a book’s potential readership and how to reach them.

- As many others have noted, the best keywords seem to be genres that you think your book fits within, authors that you assume readers may find similar to your work, and titles of books with motifs/plots/characters similar to your own. There are several paid or free tools to generate the boatloads of keywords that are gist for the mill in determining what ultimately works in connecting a given book to a readership that might actually buy it.

- In experimenting with keywords, we all know that our own work is utterly unique and impossible to categorize (gentle sarcasm intended), but for this exercise, staying humble and looking for genres/titles/authors in spaces similar to our own work is helpful.

- There are any number of places to get free or paid expertise that may (or may not) better inform you about navigating AMS. However, the platform remains something of a black box with regard to how its algorithms translate an author’s keywords and bids into targeted ads for a given book. Predicting what will work and determining whether it was customer psychology or a nuance of AMS (or a combination of the two) that drove a particular keyword’s success is tricky. Even the definition of ‘impression’ isn’t clear – probably it doesn’t mean actual eyeballs on a particular ad given that many sponsored product ads are buried many, many pages deep. Having said that…

- There is value in pouring over the metrics generated by your campaign for leads on who might buy your book and how to reach them with follow-up efforts.

It’s a trial and error process, so more with be forthcoming in an upcoming post…


message 6: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 1183 comments I run with a few of their suggestions and then I manually insert about another 20 - 50 depending on the book.

If I find some are running up plenty of clicks but producing no sales after several months, I pause them.

One book on AMS US looks good to me (!!!!!) but gets very few clicks and most of those are on one series of books I manually inserted. Two sales from AMS in about six months or more. Complete failure really. There are, however, some KU downloads which don't show up in the sales charts.

But the other book racks up heaps of clicks, costs a fortune but produces some sales and KU reads.

Amazon is the winner, but it's cheaper than playing golf, tennis or skiing.


message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments Anna Faversham wrote: "I run with a few of their suggestions and then I manually insert about another 20 - 50 depending on the book.

If I find some are running up plenty of clicks but producing no sales after several m..."


Good comments and sorry for the tardy reply - I wanted to get more data from two on-going campaigns supporting my modern fantasy. I'm up to > 100 K impressions on one of these and seem to be getting about 2 e-book sales per week. The other campaign with different copy is still too new to say anything.

So, a few further observations based on my experience:

- Creating AMS ads is good training for an author's intuition about their market. Keywords that I thought would have no perceived relevance to potential buyers actually did well.

- Author names work better than book titles and much better than genres in generating impressions, clicks and sales. This makes sense given potential buyer psychology which probably uses an author's name to generate Amazon recommendations for similar books.

- Per all the comments above, it truly is a numbers game; the more author names that you include as keywords in your campaign, the better you can hone in on your customer.

- Ad copy is critical and with a 150 characters to describe your novel, there is a premium on pithy blurbs. At least, I can test which blurb resonates best.

- I keep reminding myself that in selecting authors as keywords, it doesn't matter whether I think a given author is aligned (or not) with my book, it's what the customer thinks.

- No surprise, if you use a best selling author as a keyword, Amazon wants significantly higher bids.

To compliment the AMS e-book ads, I'm planning to give KU a try and will provide updates on this front in coming comments.


message 8: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 1183 comments Thanks, Peter, it's always good to get feedback from actual trials (and errors!).


message 9: by Dalma (new)

Dalma Szentpály (snowithish13) | 4 comments Hey Everyone,

if you want to learn how to smartly use keywords on Amazon and on any other platform learn a bit more about metadata. On Wednesday 9/19/2018 4:00 PM (EST) PublishDrive is holding a FREE webinar about metadata management. You'll learn how you should choose the perfect category for your books, the most searched-for keywords and how to compose the most compelling description for your book, Even if can't attend the webinar if you register you'll receive a notification, when the recording of the webinar is available, You can find the registration link for the webinar here: http://go.pardot.com/l/583913/2018-07... .


message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments Thanks for this resource, Dalma.

To everyone on this small, but select, string of indie authors, here are a few more observations from my 3 on-going AMS e-book 'sponsored product' ad campaigns supporting my modern fantasy/magical realism novel which have now been running for ~ 2 months:

- Spend time looking at your summary data; it's your window into who your reader really is. If possible, validate this presumptive reader profile at in-person signings/readings (e.g. I'm doing a signing at a San Francisco SciFi/Fantasy bookstore in a few weeks and besides selling books, it will be a good informal focus group to meet readers - are they who I think they are?).

- Using best-selling authors as keywords can be problematic even if one is willing to pay the high CPC recommended by AMS since your ad will likely be buried many, many, many pages down beneath better known writers' ads. And the closer to the 'top' of the search results your book is, the better the chances that it will be clicked and possibly bought. So, when I use other authors as keywords, I tend to steer clear of best-sellers in favor of 'mid-tier' writers in my genre. Having said that, if a keyword author is getting too few impressions, that's not helpful either to my ad's visibility and I'l drop that keyword. As in life generally, the happy medium appears to work best.

- Related to the point above, it's a sobering exercise to actually look for your ad if you're using authors as keywords. You may have to go through innumerable pages to find your ad. This may also show up as an ad with tons of 'impressions', but few clicks on your AMS ad summary; browsers/shoppers simply aren't going to troll through dozens of pages to get to your book.

- Tweeking both the 150 character ad copy and the actual book description every several weeks based on which keywords appear to resonate with readers per the # of clicks and actual sales is a way of validating my intuition about who is actually interested in the book and how to reach them.

- I'm still debating whether to jump into KU or 'go broad' and try Kobo, iBook or Nook. Learned discussions in other forums have covered this in great (excruciating!) detail, but ultimately it's a choice for individual authors to make based on their needs and goals. I'll post on my own experience in the future.

Enough marketing for the moment, good luck on the writing front to everyone!


message 11: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 1183 comments Thanks, Peter, some good info in this. I'm finding that after having run an ad for over a year, it hardly gets any clicks. I think people get fed up with seeing it. I've paused one of mine and I'm about to pause the other - this is for the US ads.


message 12: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments Anna Faversham wrote: "Thanks, Peter, some good info in this. I'm finding that after having run an ad for over a year, it hardly gets any clicks. I think people get fed up with seeing it. I've paused one of mine and I'm ..."

Do you do ex-US ads? Which platform and how do those play out?


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 11 comments On the off chance that folks are still following this exchange of tribal lore about book marketing on KDP...

I've recently experimented with Kindle Unlimited (KU) to support my fantasy/action novel. Here are some initial impressions after a couple of months (I've got more on my website):

There are several advantages to using KU. Obviously, it’s one more channel to get your work in front of readers – potentially lots and lots of readers. A recently released data analysis indicates that there are about 3 million KU readers. Further, these folks appear to both read and review books at higher levels than non-KU members. In addition, if your book is already published as an Amazon eBook, it’s an extraordinarily easy process to authorize its availability on KU.

However, there are disadvantages that indie authors need to consider before deploying KU. Among these are the potential for cannibalization of actual eBook sales where your profit margins are higher. After all, if you’re a reader using KU, why buy something that you’ve already paid to access with your monthly subscription? This is analogous to a conundrum from the traditional days of hard-copy books which when sold to a library meant potential readers could simply check a book out without buying it. Of course, then as now, many of these readers would only read your book as a library checkout and would never pay to own it.

My own experience is that Amazon eBook sales did indeed drop once I’d made my book available on KU. And while Amazon currently pays a 70% royalty on sales of my $5.95 eBook ($4.17), I only get about $1.25 for every 300 pages read on KU. Naturally, if you price your eBook at $2.99 (the lowest price that Amazon pays a 70% royalty), the difference between a KU read and an eBook sale is smaller. However, whatever you set your price at, you’ll need to sell enormous numbers of books to make any significant money via KU – no wonder some writers take an almost factory production approach to their writing.

It’s tricky to quantitate exactly how many shoppers would have bought my eBook had it not also been available on KU given that I couldn’t control key variables including seasonal sales fluctuations, introduction of competing books by other authors, and changes in my advertising. However, a review of the profits before and after KU availability indicates reduced income. This implies that though KU may well have expanded my reader base (yeah!), this didn’t offset the drop in profitability (sigh!).

I’ll plan to observe this effect for several more months to better quantitate the net impact of the competing effects of expanded readership vs reduced profitability.

Another disadvantage for authors considering KU is Amazon’s prohibition against using other platforms to sell electronic versions of your book (at the moment, hard-copy sales are unaffected by this requirement). Of course, this creates a dependency on a single channel for your book’s electronic sales. However competing distribution channels for eBook distribution come with their own set of challenges including the need to format your book to meet their platform’s standards and the lack of compatibility across platforms. Further, at the moment, Amazon’s rivals simply can’t compete on reaching readers. Perhaps if Apple makes a serious effort with its Apple Books platform, this will introduce needed competition into this space.

Conclusion

For indie authors with micro scale operating and marketing budgets, KU offers a chance to dramatically increase your ability to potentially get your work in front of interested readers’ eyeballs. And you may derive some modest income from this effort at the expense of more profitable sales in other formats. In fact, this is a classic business challenge: whether to opt for market share or higher margins. Anyway, for writers with little name recognition, KU is a useful distribution conduit though you’ll still need to market like crazy to get anyone to actually be aware of your book(s) and leverage this channel’s capabilities.


message 14: by Carole (last edited Jan 23, 2019 07:15PM) (new)

Carole P. Roman | 4639 comments Mod
"This implies that though KU may well have expanded my reader base (yeah!), this didn’t offset the drop in profitability (sigh!)."


Thanks, Peter- Great post!


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