Author Topic: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch  (Read 7319 times)  

Offline juliatheswede

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 839
  • Gender: Female
  • NYC
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #75 on: May 16, 2017, 09:13:33 AM »
Hey, Chris, thanks for sharing and writing such a detailed post about your launch! I always read with interest.

Questions: Do you use the same amount of advertising for books 2 and 3's launches? I guess you wouldn't for book 2 since it's a preorder,  but what about book 3? Are the books standalones or do they end with a cliffhanger, btw? Last, would you ever launch a book using only your mailing list or would you consider that a waste of time? In other words, do you recommend always using ads when launching books 1, 2 and 3 (and more books in the series) for people with small mailing lists?

Offline BeachB

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 65
  • Gender: Female
  • Texas
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #76 on: May 16, 2017, 10:18:14 AM »
As always Chris - You Rock!  Thank you for always sharing with us what works and what doesn't.  I always look forward to your postings!!!

Stormy Adams | Blog

Offline Chris Fox

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1892
  • Gender: Male
  • Mill Valley, CA
    • View Profile
    • Chris Fox Writes
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #77 on: May 16, 2017, 10:45:30 AM »
Questions: Do you use the same amount of advertising for books 2 and 3's launches? I guess you wouldn't for book 2 since it's a preorder,  but what about book 3? Are the books standalones or do they end with a cliffhanger, btw? Last, would you ever launch a book using only your mailing list or would you consider that a waste of time? In other words, do you recommend always using ads when launching books 1, 2 and 3 (and more books in the series) for people with small mailing lists?

I did one mailing list announcement, and one boosted Facebook ad to announce book 2. I will do more for book 3-4, and will time a KKD for the release of book 3.

I recommend using ads if you have the capital, but you can absolutely launch a book just using your list and any mailing list swaps you might have. For many authors that's by far the best strategy.

Offline Glynn Stewart

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 282
  • Ontario, Canada
    • View Profile
    • Faolan's Pen
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #78 on: May 22, 2017, 05:20:34 PM »
No, I don't think it's integral. I used it because it's been almost nine months since my last release in this genre. My list was cold, and I wanted to give them a reason to re-invest. If you already have a following of people who love your work, try launching at full price. I know Glynn Stewart does that, and it seems to be working really well for him.

Heard my name taken in vain, figured I'd wade in!

I have tried the 99 cent launch before and I found that I lost a bit too much in terms of sales dollars the first few days.  Instead, I do one week at about a 40% discount ($2.99 instead of $4.99) to give the mailing list readers a bennie, and use a boosted FB post to promote it.

Gets me to the top 300 for what I'm sadly accepting is my least popular series, so I'd say it works well for me, yes :)


Glynn Stewart | Faolan's Pen (Blog) | Twitter

Offline John Ellsworth

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 535
  • Gender: Male
  • Southern California
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #79 on: May 22, 2017, 06:42:45 PM »
AMS is seemingly so schizophrenic that it's tough to know what'll work and what won't, even with high bids. I say "seemingly" because I'm sure there's method to the madness. But everything is hidden from us. There's no visible relevancy score. There's no visible quality score. There's no way to gauge ad placement per keyword.

I've bid high on some keywords for one book and seen no action while bidding low on the same keywords for a thematically-related book and been deluged with impressions and clicks.

No ad platform has ever made me mutter "WTF?!" as much as AMS.

I'm right there cursing with you. Most of the time the dearth of information is a show-stopper, yet I do have ads running even though they are negative ROI's. Trouble is, when I turn them off my rank slips. Go figure.

Chris: another amazing post. Keep it up, brother.

Offline RobCornell

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 416
  • Gender: Male
  • Michigan
  • Are you the keymaster?
    • View Profile
    • robcornellbooks.com
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #80 on: May 23, 2017, 05:53:42 AM »
Gets me to the top 300 for what I'm sadly accepting is my least popular series, so I'd say it works well for me, yes :)

I hope you're not talking about the Starship's Mage series. I just started in on the series, and it's freakin' awesome. Should be SUPER popular. (Of course, #300 suggests I'm not the only one who thinks so.)

Offline Glynn Stewart

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 282
  • Ontario, Canada
    • View Profile
    • Faolan's Pen
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #81 on: May 23, 2017, 06:53:12 AM »
I hope you're not talking about the Starship's Mage series. I just started in on the series, and it's freakin' awesome. Should be SUPER popular. (Of course, #300 suggests I'm not the only one who thinks so.)

Ha!  No. Starship's Mage is definitively my most popular series still :D Only one of mine that hits the top 100 so far.


Glynn Stewart | Faolan's Pen (Blog) | Twitter

Online Anarchist

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2050
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #82 on: May 23, 2017, 07:06:28 AM »
I'm right there cursing with you. Most of the time the dearth of information is a show-stopper, yet I do have ads running even though they are negative ROI's. Trouble is, when I turn them off my rank slips. Go figure.

I do the same thing as you. Although my ACOS on many campaigns is above 70%, I keep them running. They provide a lot of visibility and bring in a lot of subscribers. (I've tweaked the call to action in my books' front matter and optimized my main landing page to make the "ask" irresistible.)

I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.
 
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Offline Evenstar

  • Moderator
  • Status: A A Milne
  • *****
  • Posts: 4304
  • Gender: Female
  • South West England
  • YA and PNR
    • View Profile
    • Author Website
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #83 on: May 23, 2017, 07:15:53 AM »
I do the same thing as you. Although my ACOS on many campaigns is above 70%, I keep them running. They provide a lot of visibility and bring in a lot of subscribers. (I've tweaked the call to action in my books' front matter and optimized my main landing page to make the "ask" irresistible.)

I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.

I agree with this. I spend about $200 a month on Amazon ads which all run at a loss, but that is money that I was previously putting into a scatter gun approach on various promo sites. This way I maintain constant visibility and can keep tweaking as necessary to make them continuously better targeted.

Offline Glynn Stewart

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 282
  • Ontario, Canada
    • View Profile
    • Faolan's Pen
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #84 on: May 23, 2017, 07:25:11 AM »
I do the same thing as you. Although my ACOS on many campaigns is above 70%, I keep them running. They provide a lot of visibility and bring in a lot of subscribers. (I've tweaked the call to action in my books' front matter and optimized my main landing page to make the "ask" irresistible.)

I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.

I'm honestly running my ads at between 190 and 250% ACOS.

Why?

Because each of my ads is for book one in a series and the only thing ACOS is telling me is sales for book one.
It can't tell me follow-through sales - but I know those ratios.
It can't tell me kindle unlimited reads - but, again, I know those ratios.

For every dollar my ACOS thinks I make, it's closer to $5 to $7, and that's before baking in the three day delay in sales reporting in AMS.

I watch my total AMS spend and compare it to my total earnings. If that ratio ever goes too far out of whack, I might adjust, but for now I just update the ads with new keywords every month or two and mostly let them run.


Glynn Stewart | Faolan's Pen (Blog) | Twitter

Offline #############

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #85 on: May 23, 2017, 07:31:17 AM »
Valuable thread, Chris. Thank you to everyone in the conversation. Good stuff!

Online Anarchist

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2050
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #86 on: May 23, 2017, 07:44:04 AM »
I'm honestly running my ads at between 190 and 250% ACOS.

Why?

Because each of my ads is for book one in a series and the only thing ACOS is telling me is sales for book one.
It can't tell me follow-through sales - but I know those ratios.
It can't tell me kindle unlimited reads - but, again, I know those ratios.

For every dollar my ACOS thinks I make, it's closer to $5 to $7, and that's before baking in the three day delay in sales reporting in AMS.

I watch my total AMS spend and compare it to my total earnings. If that ratio ever goes too far out of whack, I might adjust, but for now I just update the ads with new keywords every month or two and mostly let them run.

Those are great points.

I don't write in series, but I see something similar once I've gotten people to join my lists. A lot of my subs tell me they buy everything I write. My job is to get them to opt in. I use AMS (and FB for that matter) with that in mind.

My reaction when I get a sale...




My reaction when I get a new subscriber...




My monthly AMS spend is well into the four figures. But my earnings make that spend a slam-dunk decision.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Offline edwardgtalbot

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2347
  • Gender: Male
  • Amherst, MA
  • Thriller and short story author
    • View Profile
    • author website for Edward G. Talbot
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #87 on: May 23, 2017, 07:57:07 AM »
I'm confident Amazon will eventually get its AMS act together, and provide more tracking and targeting features. It has a cash cow on its hands. It just seems reluctant to milk that puppy for all she's worth.
I think the reasons for this are a combination of two things which are likely driven by different "departments" from AMS.

First, Amazon wants to make sure that it is showing books in the ads which are relevant and likely to generate sales. Basically the ads are like "also boughts" except you pay for consideration of inclusion. This isn't massively different than what google or even facebook does with their ads, except it is clear to me perusing various book pages in my genre that Amazon is making more of an effort to restrict things than FB or google does. As part of this, they very purposefully want to obscure what it takes to have your book appear on page 1 of the product page or search page. Like with also boughts and popularity lists but even more so. Bid amount is probably the largest factor in whether an ad gets shown but it is far from the only factor. All of this means that advertisers have essentially no ability to do split testing and have very little ability to ensure that their ads get shown other than bids which are too high to be profitable. Doesn't mean some people aren't having great success, but I remain convinced that any apparent "repeatability" in terms of tweaking bids and keywords and text is either luck or a case of having enough prior success that the book now ranks high on some of those factors other than bid amount. Most people who are successful seem to be achieving it via "throw a bunch of stuff at it and see what sticks" as opposed to something which another person could specifically replicate.

Second, Amazon's tech systems have given AMS reporting an extremely low priority. It's clear from studying Amazon over the years that one of the side effects of how they handle their massively distributed infrastructure is varying priorities. Even in normal circumstances, KDP reporting and sales ranks have a lower priority than product pages and payment processing. When problems arise or load gets too big, these get even shorter shrift. We've all seen this, those times where ranks freeze or KDP gets behind. AMS reporting numbers are clearly prioritized even lower than sales ranks and KDP. And the "Sales" numbers in AMS suffer from bigger delays since they are derived from things which are already not high priorities.

Neither of the above are really driven by the department in charge of AMS. One could picture a theoretical management meeting with the AMS leader making the accurate point that Anarchist makes - this is a potential cash cow. The leader explains how less opacity and more predictability and better/more timely reporting are required to take advantage. The customer experience leader points out that a lot of things could be cash cows but they would take away from the customer experience. The infrastructure/data prioritization leader gives an estimate for what it would take to move reporting up the priority list and the sum is not small. Etc, etc. The AMS leader is reminded that AMS income is increasing massively already because authors and publishers are using it even with all its warts.

I still thing that more reporting detail and options should be a no-brainer. But most of the stuff we're complaining about has likely been analyzed thoroughly and determined to be sufficient not to take urgent action to change. I'm sure they have some improvements on the way, but I'm not at all sure we're going to get close to the level of predictability and repeatability you can get from google or FB.
Edward G. Talbot thrillers: Sometimes, everyone IS out to get you.

Offline baldricko

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 620
  • Sydney, Australia
    • View Profile
Re: Breaking down an Amazon bestseller launch
« Reply #88 on: June 24, 2017, 08:21:47 PM »
I agree completely that you need the great cover, great blurb, good niche. Those are non-negotiable. The ads are designed to capitalize on that. They are highly targeted at the authors whose books I think are most like mine. This solidified my also bought early, allowing all those new eyeballs to see the cover I worked so hard on =D
Hi Chris.

Did you really create your own cover? The Ganog Wars covers are great! I love the idea of a kind of storyboard effect when you set them up together. Although not sure they tells the story in sequence, they would look great lined up on a shelf.

Gerard O'Neill | Website | Facebook | Twitter
Erelong, Book 2 to be published soon.