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July 27, 2022

            As many of you know, marketing sucks. Of all the things about writing that I love, marketing is the one that gets my stomach grinding. Having to go out and “beg” people to buy my book rubs me wrong, yet without marketing, nobody will know I even exist.

            Now in the grand scheme of things, we’re going to continue to explore Amazon Ads.

            Besides having to deal with a sucky web site, there’s minimum daily budget, setting up a professional looking page, and it all gets down to keywords.

            My guess is that Amazon calculates all the keyword clicks, and when you reach your budget, it drops your ad for that day.


            I attended a writer’s conference years ago where one of the classes was on keywords. It was like trying to learn Chinese in a day. Despite that, I managed to retain a small bit of insight in using them in this ads campaign.

            Keywords designate where your book is placed. Whenever you search for something on Amazon, you’ll notice the exact match (say an author name) and then a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated books (this would apply to any product).

            The “key” to all this is setting the keywords that will get the best results.


            There are three ways to utilize a keyword.

            Exact: This means if someone searches for your keyword and it matches exactly, your book is more likely to show up somewhere on the list.

            Phrase: This means if that keyword is part of a phrase (example “pine” as in “pine stick,” “pine box,” etc.

            Broad: This means the word or phrase could be anywhere in a search.

            The way I originally set it up, I only went for some of the three, usually exact or phrase. I was afraid of going over budget. Hah! Most of my keywords didn’t do diddly so I didn’t get charged for anything.

            When I created a campaign for the UK, I decided that all keywords would have all three, to better my chances of something showing up.


            I entered the word Glen Buxton. He was the lead guitar player in the original Alice Cooper Band and the book is dedicated to him. However, I only added phrase at the time.

            When I went to search for Glen Buxton, my book didn’t show up at all on the listings.

            Now, I used Clive Cussler, because my book is in a similar vein. For that I used all three and it is my top performer.


            Now things get tricky. Bids.

            You can go with the defaults set up by Amazon. I strongly suggest you do that at first. It can be from a few cents to a dollar or more to begin with. Don’t let those amounts fool you. If you use dynamic bidding, you aren’t going to get charged unless someone clicks on your ad or maybe lingers on that page (or maybe scrolls through it?, not sure).

            Impressions mean your ad came up on a search. Clicking on it is where the real money comes in and then if someone buys your book, they you get charged the full enchilada.

            The thing about bids is that the higher the bid, the closer your book with come to the first page of the search.

            Since Clive Cussler was getting the most bids, I increased the amount several times so that finally, when I went to search “Clive Cussler,” my book came up right at the top of the first page.

            The other thing about bidding though is that if you set your bid higher than your daily budget, you won’t get any results at all.


            To get the feel of your results (and to get any results at all), you need to run the ad for at least a month. It takes that long to build any meaningful statistics. Not just impressions (the highest number) but actual clicks or sales.

            I don’t suggest a campaign for just a month, which I did at first. When the month came to the end, I extended it two more months.

            My results so far are five books sold, two almost sold (I lost out) and my budget is sitting at $125.99. I’ve sold $38.77 worth of books, so you can see the payoff ratio at first isn’t all that great. Since I just started my UK campaign, I only have 3600 impressions and no clicks or sales so my budget is low (24 pence?). At the end of the first month, I should have better results to go off of.


            I’ve talked to several people that use Amazon Ads and they both had hundreds. Yup, that’s right, you need to get creative with your keywords and use a spray and pray approach at first.


            This is another critical factor. Getting creative with your keywords.

            My book, Spanish Gold is an adventure/thriller.

            At first I was just going with nouns for the most part. Thriller, adventure, and words that show up within the adventure like locations (Spain, England, Azores). However, I had a brilliant idea which nobody else brought up but probably use. How about similar authors?

            That’s right, don’t forget similar authors so your book shows up in the right place with similar titles.

            Turns out those author keywords are having the biggest results, at least so far.

            Even with my kitchen sink approach, I still only have about seventy or eighty keywords so far. It may expand more later, once I have several months of statistics.

            You can tell pretty quick which ones produce results all the time and which only once or not at all.

            Dump the bad ones?

            Not necessarily, just don’t go crazy on the bids. Keep them cheap. If for some reason, they start getting hits, then think of increasing your budget. No need to delete them if you get nothing at all.

            Now, there is also the negative bid thing which I still don’t understand that well.

            Say, you have a keyword that gets clicked all the time but you are getting no results at all. It may be a specific noun, phrase, or whatever. Then you start getting hits but no sales at all.

            You can designate that particular phrase, exact, or broad as a negative word so that Amazon will ignore it.

            That’s about all I know of negative keywords. So far, none of my results are giving me any useful info on how to go about using negative keywords. Like I said, the web site isn’t all that user friendly.


            Amazon Ads has the potential to be a great marketing tool for those of us that cannot get out all the time. It can work for anyone.

            Give it a try!

            Happy writing!

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