A weekly column by digital book marketer, Caoimhe O’Brien.

Amazon Marketing Services paid advertising options might seem daunting, complicated and a potential money drain to the inexperienced author but I hope to make the process a little less complicated.

I’m relatively new to AMS and in the same position as lot of authors approaching it for the first time with some cautiousness. So I hope that what I’ve learned will help you to approach Amazon ads with more confidence and positivity.

I have just set the ad for After the Rising today, so below is my guide to setting up. Next week I will report on the results of the first week.

First of all, find your book on KDP (you don’t need to be KDP exclusive to avail of this program).

  • Click Promote and Advertise then select Create an Ad Campaign
  • This will automatically bring you to the Amazon Marketing Services website where you create and run your ad
  • First you need to Choose Your Campaign Type. The two options are Sponsored Products and Product Display Ads. Most ebook marketing experts recommend choosing Sponsored Product ads but I will explain both

Sponsored Product ads are keyword targeted ads which show up in the search results and the product pages of other books. Keywords are a great way to get your book in front of an audience who wants to read it. Having your book show up in the search results when a reader enters a search term means that they see your book while they are actively searching for a book to buy.

Product Display ads are interest or product targeted ads. They are displayed on the product display page of a similar product to yours. An advantage of this is that they know your book is similar to one that they are interested in. However, they may be on that page because they have already made up their mind that they want to buy the book, probably making them less likely to buy yours.

Let’s say you choose Sponsored Product ads:

  • Your first choice is your daily budget. My advice would be to go very low to begin with. You can raise this amount at any point during your campaign but, as I explain below, there is lots of tinkering involved with Amazon ads and having a low daily budget means you won’t bankrupt yourself while you do this. We have started with $2 per day but will re-assess in a couple of days.
  • You must now choose between Automatic or Manual Targeting. If you choose Automatic, Amazon will select the keywords for you. This is the easiest way to do it but spending a little time collating your own list of keywords will give your book the best possible chance of success.

Choosing Keywords

By choosing to add your own keywords, you are controlling the search terms related to your book and maybe adding in some niche keywords that Amazon wouldn’t automatically pick up. When you start to get the results of the campaign, you can easily see which keywords are working and giving the best results.

You can add lots of keywords to your campaign but aiming for 200-300 is a good idea.

There are various ways to compile this list.

First you should think about the way readers might search for your book on Amazon. They might not necessarily use the same terminology that the author community uses. You call your book a “murder mystery” but a reader might search for the term “books about murder”.

The great thing about being allowed to use so many keywords is that you can cover many various versions of the same search terms. Add as many of these as possible.

Think about all the different themes in your book that would appeal to readers. Also think about setting. For Orna’s books, I have included lots of keywords like “Irish books”.

You should also start typing terms into the search box on Amazon and see what the auto finish options are. These will be the most popular search terms. List any that you think are relevant to your book.

Other authors and their books are really good search terms to use. Make note of which books come up first when you search for your keywords. These are the books that are most popular in your genre and you want your book to be associated with these. Add the first five or ten books/authors to your list. Repeat this process for all our major keywords.

For example, for After the Rising, I added the highest-ranking authors for the following keywords: literary fiction, literary mystery, murder mystery, historical crime fiction, Irish fiction, Irish historical fiction… (the list can go on).

When you have entered and added all your keywords, you have to set a Cost Per Click Price. This is the maximum amount that you are willing to spend on each click on your ad. You won’t necessarily pay this amount ever time but it means that you will outbid anyone who bids below this price. I have set this at $0.20 per bid and again will measure and change this depending on results.

The final part is writing the content of your ad. You can look at other sponsored ads on Amazon to get an idea of what other authors use. The maximum space you can use is 150 characters so keep it snappy and interesting. The example we used for After the Rising is below.

Lovers torn apart by murder and an Irish conflict that haunts the generations… Can Jo uncover her family’s past and reclaim what was lost?

Next week, I will be able to begin to measure and report on how the Amazon ad is running and what changes I have made to improve it.

Orna Ross
Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is an award-winning author-publisher, advocate for independent authors and other creative entrepreneurs and, as Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" (The Bookseller).