Author Topic: A New AMS Thread  (Read 99685 times)  

Offline erikhanberg

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Re: A New AMS Thread
« Reply #550 on: February 25, 2018, 08:54:31 pm »
I've had some some real success with AMS ads in my nonfiction niche that I thought I would report for the greater good.

tl;dr: for two very very niche nonfiction books, with a relatively high purchase price, I've had a lot of success with Amazon's "automatic targeting" ads (as distinct from their automatically chosen keywords if you choose "manual targeting."

Background

As you can see in my sig, I have three books about nonprofits. Unlikely my fiction, they tend to sell themselves consistently (but in low quantities) through Amazon's basic search. As an example of how different they are than my fiction, for these three books, I sell more paperbacks and audiobook than Kindle books (probably says something about the nonprofit audience). They are priced at $6.99 for the Kindle and $16.99 in paperback (except that for the past year I'd had the Kindle book on nonprofit fundraising permafree. More on that in a second.)

First steps toward advertising them
Recently, I'd been experimenting with promoting my fiction through BookBub Ads, so that's where I initially started for the nonprofit books since I knew and liked the system. But then I discovered... not a single nonprofit author was on BookBub! That should tell you something about how small my niche is. I couldn't target by author and "nonfiction" seemed too generic, so I turned to AMS.

I started setting up a sponsored product ad for "The Little Book of Boards." And then I faced a question that, so far as I can tell, very few on these forums have grappled with: should I go automatic or should I use keywords? Normally, I would set up my own keywords in these situations. But something made me pause and eventually I set up the ad going "automatic."

Here was my theory:

  • Amazon is really smart and knows also-boughts and knows when my book comes up for searches already. Shouldn't their "automatic" listings, in theory, be as good both those things? (And yes, I know their recommended keywords are often terrible but maybe this would be different?)
  • I know from previous attempts with AMS that getting impressions and clicks can be hard, and this is clearly a super niche book. So what if instead of spending all that time on keywords I just let Amazon do its work and maybe I'd actually get some visibility?
  • With a $6.99 price tag for the Kindle, I had a healthy margin to work with, so even if I could spend the time to optimize, it would take several times the effort. So why not give it a try?

Results of Going Automatic in Niche Nonfiction

On January 21, I set up the ad for "The Little Book of Boards" with a daily budget of $4 and a CPC bid of $.50.

The results have been, to be honest, astoundingly good. So good that I delayed posting here in case the ad was going to self-correct. But it's been 35 days or so, and the results are still strong (if not getting a little better) so it seems like it's working well enough to post my experience.

Here are the numbers:

Impressions: 86,925
Clicks: 171
aCPC: $0.23
Total spent: $38.59 (yes, even set to "automatic" and with a high CPC, Amazon won't spend all my money).

And the big one...

Estimated total sales: $587.36  !!!!!!

ACoS: 6.57%  !!!!!!

ACoS was actually at about 10% to 15% for the first few weeks, but then it improved again and has stayed in the 5% to 8% range.

And, I should add, I am seeing the sales directly reflected in both Kindle and Createspace. Going back to the same period in 2017, or the 30 days before this one--either way you look at it, I'm several hundred dollars ahead of where I was. Again: hard to actually imagine it worked when the ad has spent less than $40.

One note: I do suspect that I am paying for at least *some* sales I would have gotten otherwise, because I've seen the ad show up right above my book in search results. But even then, the fact that I can see the positive change in comparison makes me feel pretty good about it.

Further Experimentation in Niche Nonfiction

As you might guess, the first thing I did was try this strategy on other books.

I tried running an automatic sponsored product ad on "The Little Book of Gold" (permafree book on nonprofit fundraising) and saw a large increase in free downloads and even some money tied to the ad (thanks to the paperback). My ACoS was about 115%. But then I realized: why not just take this book off permafree and try to sell a bunch of the books in the same way I was doing with the other one? I kept using the same ad, but took the book off permafree.

That was about a week ago. The ad now shows $48.42 spent, $78.22 in estimated sales, and 61.90% in ACoS. Since I paid a lot for free downloads earlier with not much revenue, it will take a while before this particular ad shows the same ACoS as the first. But if I just zero in on the last week, it's right-sized the ACoS in a handful of days and, as with the other book, I can see the corresponding sales. So it's also doing well (though maybe not quite as well as the first, but it's hard to say for sure because I'm using an ad I'd already started).

Trying it in fiction

I tried to replicate the same "automatic targeting" formula with The Marinara Murders (a mystery that is very very close to a cozy), and that, dear reader, is where I encountered my first fail with the experiment.

Amazon wasn't showing the ad *at all* and the CTR was bad too. I cut it after a week and only spent $0.27 because I could barely get impressions.

After that, I did try a traditional keyword ad campaign for The Marinara Murders as well and have seen not-great results. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the cover was conceived before I knew what a "cozy" mystery was (I was just writing a mystery novel I liked back in 2010 and 2011) so the cover is probably off for the genre the book is the best fit for. So maybe the issue wasn't "automatic" versus traditional key words but rather it's not the right cover fit. So I'm considering hiring out a new cover and then going back to test both "automatic" and regular ads with this one.

I suspect that all the fiction writers here are disappointed to see that this didn't translate! I am too.

That said, I *am* finishing up Book 3 of my sci-fi trilogy and will have it out by April-ish. So I'm going to wait until then and try some of these "automatic" strategies in sci-fi with Book 1 and see if I can do better. I'm not expecting that I will do as well as I am with the two nonprofit books. But I very much have appreciated that I haven't had to keyword monitor or optimize these "automatic" ads. In this one instance (niche nonfiction, relatively large margin) it has truly been "set it and forget it." A rare treat in marketing these days.

If there's anything in there that you can apply to your own experiments in ad runs, I hope it's useful. And if I do have any success with "automatic targeting" for my sci-fi novels I'll pass it along!

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    Offline BigSlimJim

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #551 on: February 26, 2018, 08:01:30 am »
    Congrats! Those numbers are nuts. I'd like a bag of them. I may have a niche-enough, nearly-non-fiction book that might make a good candidate for a modest, automated experiment (just when I've finished a week-long book harvest of descriptive, manual keywords).

    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #552 on: February 26, 2018, 08:09:20 am »
    I have a question for the hive mind. I started two new AMS ads a couple of weeks back for the first two books in a series. A week ago I started two more ads for books 3 and 4. When I checked this morning, book 1 has about 7 times as many impressions as book 2, and both books 3 and 4 have two or three times as many impressions as book 2. All are using essentially identical keywords and bids, outside of a handful of book-specific ones that generate a very low number of impressions.

    Does anyone have any ideas what would cause such a low number of impressions for book 2?

    Olivia Blake | Lessons in Love

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #553 on: February 26, 2018, 10:40:44 am »
    Congrats! Those numbers are nuts. I'd like a bag of them. I may have a niche-enough, nearly-non-fiction book that might make a good candidate for a modest, automated experiment (just when I've finished a week-long book harvest of descriptive, manual keywords).

    If you have the keywords, you may as well experiment with both! Would be interesting to see the comparison and whether one can outperform the other.

    Offline 39416

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #554 on: February 28, 2018, 09:14:01 am »
    According to my AMS graph I sold what was obviously a paperback. However, on my KDP graph, it has not shown up. Anyone know why this happens?

    Update --It finally showed up on my KDP graph ten days after appearing on the AMS graph!  :D

    Offline Philip Gibson

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #555 on: February 28, 2018, 02:42:50 pm »
    TOPIC: Ad Copy

    That's Ad Copy not Book Description (Blurb)

    Now that my ads have been running for a year and have accumulated hundreds of thousands of impressions and hundreds of clicks on each ad, I thought it was time to do a comprehensive survey to compare the effectiveness of the 7 different kinds of ad copy I have been using.

    The results are drawn from very large data samples - one ad has 3,208,336 impressions and 10,638 clicks.

    I found a REALLY BIG DIFFERENCE in the performance of the different ad copy examples.

    My 2 worst examples of ad copy needed 1,402 and 1,725 impressions to produce 1 click.

    My 3 best examples needed just 299, 302 and 356 impressions to produce 1 click.

    So for all future ads, I will be rotating between the 3 best ad copy examples.  I wrote those best performing ads after taking note of the following advice:

    8 words that boost engagement:

    new,   free,   because,   you,   now,   imagine,   limited (time),   instantly,
    « Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 04:10:10 pm by Philip Gibson »

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #556 on: February 28, 2018, 07:20:00 pm »
    TOPIC: Ad Copy

    That's Ad Copy not Book Description (Blurb)

    Now that my ads have been running for a year and have accumulated hundreds of thousands of impressions and hundreds of clicks on each ad, I thought it was time to do a comprehensive survey to compare the effectiveness of the 7 different kinds of ad copy I have been using.

    The results are drawn from very large data samples - one ad has 3,208,336 impressions and 10,638 clicks.

    I found a REALLY BIG DIFFERENCE in the performance of the different ad copy examples.

    My 2 worst examples of ad copy needed 1,402 and 1,725 impressions to produce 1 click.

    My 3 best examples needed just 299, 302 and 356 impressions to produce 1 click.

    So for all future ads, I will be rotating between the 3 best ad copy examples.  I wrote those best performing ads after taking note of the following advice:

    8 words that boost engagement:

    new,   free,   because,   you,   now,   imagine,   limited (time),   instantly,



    Thanks Phil.  Though you say "Not Blurb" you mean the ad copy jingle (blurb of sorts - you have 150 characters to work with I think).  I agree. That jingle is important. And the "word list" you provided for your books goes into the jingle and is not a keyword?  Correct me if I am wrong.

    Keywords seem to be tricky to me too.  I have 3 keywords that are hitting out of 12 keywords or pairs.  My lowest keyword has 5 impressions and I got one click out of the whole ad of 12 keywords. The others have 25 and 45 impressions.  One key word is "sci fi", one is "science fiction" and the other is "time travel".  "Science fiction" had the 5 impressions and one click. "Time Travel" had the most impressions.  The rest are zero impressions. So later I switch off the ones with no impressions - does not matter I guess.

    So the jingle has to match the book to me.  Expectations thing. If the book does not stand up to the jungle the reader will dump it.

    So my ad copy so far has cost me 15 cents.  I paused for a day and thought on it.  Turned it back on.  At $1 budget that is $30 a month of clicks. No biggy - does not bust the bank. I just hate that a click will cost me some money is all. The question is do sells of sorts offset the clicks. You need clicks for sells.  See what buys of whatever sort come through.  Give it some time.

    This whole concept WRT AMS is one of Bayes Philosophy (not Bayes' Rule - that is an erroneous obfuscation - but the philosophy is dead nuts correct) : i.e. if what you know about a system of choices is involved with what you want (buys) then your odds of getting what you want are improved had you known nothing.  This works well in thought and is true.  But this AMS system has more than a few variables I am seeing as I think on it and thanks for sharing. If I take you correctly, it makes good sense to me.

    I think it is important here, if what I take you to mean is right : the jingle is important to get as right as you can to match the book and the words you use excite the searchers imagination (if that is what they are looking for or be interested in).  Searchers could bust your budget if what you want is clicks and the reader decides the book does not meet the jingle.  Clicks that lead to buys is the target. 

    Best of luck guys ... I am off to the races.   :D

    Offline CassieL

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #557 on: March 03, 2018, 08:36:54 am »
    Edited to say: Sorry guys. Based on new ownership at this site and their response to legitimate author concerns I've chosen to withdraw from participation here.
    « Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 11:37:12 am by Cassie Leigh »

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    Offline 39416

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #558 on: March 07, 2018, 04:16:32 pm »
    AMS has royally screwed up my billing.* I'm on my fourth email with them, they do nothing. Does anyone have the phone number of somebody at AMS who would actually have the power to fix a problem? Thanks.

    *My credit card got hacked so Mastercard gave me a new one. I promptly deleted the old one in my Amazon account and entered the new one. AMS has been unable to adjust to this.  :-\

    Offline kalencap

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #559 on: March 07, 2018, 07:48:15 pm »
    Update --It finally showed up on my KDP graph ten days after appearing on the AMS graph!  :D

    10 days? Ugh. That is hard to track.

    Offline BigSlimJim

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #560 on: March 08, 2018, 06:35:24 am »
    AMS has royally screwed up my billing.* I'm on my fourth email with them, they do nothing. Does anyone have the phone number of somebody at AMS who would actually have the power to fix a problem? Thanks.

    *My credit card got hacked so Mastercard gave me a new one. I promptly deleted the old one in my Amazon account and entered the new one. AMS has been unable to adjust to this.  :-\

    Try authorcentral.amazon.com. There you can click on help>contact us, fill in the prompts and have Amazon "Call me now". If you've never activated your author central account, you can do so quickly as a KDP author. I used this for a KDP issue yesterday. My phone rang immediately, then I waited on hold for 10 minutes, then the first rep said, "Oh, that's a KDP issue," and transferred me to them. Five more minutes on hold got me a very savvy KDP rep (Krishna), who spoke English with a native's command and only a very slight accent. He was helpful and knowledgeable. I don't see an option to get phone help directly through the KDP help portal but this Author Central route worked.

    Offline 39416

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #561 on: March 08, 2018, 08:31:48 am »
    Thank you. I called them, they said Billing is automatic, there is nothing they can do, and they have no phone number to contact anyone about it.

    Jeeze, I just want them to charge my credit card!

    All I've got now is "Someone from Technical will look into it. Wait a few days."

    Everyone I have contacted at Amazon about this has just blown me off telling me to wait a few days --it's been more than a week.  >:(

    Offline rweir

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    AMS UK
    « Reply #562 on: March 08, 2018, 02:48:53 pm »
    Has anyone here setup AMS UK yet? I just setup mine today and it has a lot more reporting tools, and three different ad options. Though the Sponsor Ads don't have Ad Copy to create. But from what I understand since it's new you can get started with low bidding, I'm going with 0.05 to start. And they give you a 100.00 pound click credit to use for the first 90 days.
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    Offline CassieL

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #563 on: March 08, 2018, 02:58:59 pm »
    Edited to say: Sorry guys. Based on new ownership at this site and their response to legitimate author concerns I've chosen to withdraw from participation here.
    « Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 11:37:31 am by Cassie Leigh »

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    Offline rweir

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #564 on: March 08, 2018, 03:16:53 pm »
    You setup a Advantage Central account. Below is a link to a Google doc with instructions I got from a AMS Facebook Group run by Brian Meeks. Once you have the account setup, you login and put in your credit card info and so on. The instructions are pretty straight forward. Reporting is a little slower, impressions and click can take 24 hours before they show up, but has a whole lot more data you can access. You do have to deal with exchange rates and VAT, but with the 100 pound credit they give you it is worth a try to expand your sales, if your books are on Amazon UK.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eDgHEU_4d_Gm3-uH_EnwyXF9WUKiyZ2cpdzg6n212GI/edit
    « Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 03:20:07 pm by rweir »
    R Weir
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    Witty, sarcastic and tough
    You want this Denver P.I. fighting for you
    You can find them at:
    http://Https://www.rweir.net
    https://www.amazon.com/R-Weir/e/B00JH2Y5US

    Offline Jena H

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #565 on: March 08, 2018, 06:12:21 pm »
    Speaking of how AMS bills....   I got an email from them saying that I hit my daily budget limit (which is NOT large).  As a result, they automatically "paused" my campaign, and it remained paused until I raised my daily budget.

    I admit I never thought much about it, but I assumed that when a campaign reaches its daily budget, it would simply stop, or go dormant for the rest of that day, and pick up again when the clock strikes 12:01am the next day.  Why does the whole campaign fall into sleep mode?  Is it just Amazon's way to get you to shell out er, I mean add to your budget?  That's what a daily budget is:  the amount you're willing to spend on any given day.

    Jena

    Offline CassieL

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #566 on: March 08, 2018, 07:10:34 pm »
    Edited to say: Sorry guys. Based on new ownership at this site and their response to legitimate author concerns I've chosen to withdraw from participation here.
    « Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 11:37:48 am by Cassie Leigh »

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    Offline It's A Mystery

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #567 on: March 09, 2018, 12:15:37 am »
    You setup a Advantage Central account. Below is a link to a Google doc with instructions I got from a AMS Facebook Group run by Brian Meeks. Once you have the account setup, you login and put in your credit card info and so on. The instructions are pretty straight forward. Reporting is a little slower, impressions and click can take 24 hours before they show up, but has a whole lot more data you can access. You do have to deal with exchange rates and VAT, but with the 100 pound credit they give you it is worth a try to expand your sales, if your books are on Amazon UK.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eDgHEU_4d_Gm3-uH_EnwyXF9WUKiyZ2cpdzg6n212GI/edit

    Wow, thank you so much for this!

    I'm up and running! I'll report back on how it goes.

    Offline khotisarque

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #568 on: March 19, 2018, 06:58:51 pm »
    One more datapoint from the land of chaos.  Two books in their own campaigns sharing the same keyword [a book title].  One bid at $0.70, the other at $0.60.  I look up the title and both SP ads show.  Good.  But the lower bid comes up significantly earlier [higher ranked] than the higher bid.

    Now what sort of 'auction' is this?  I suggest 'chaotic'.  A cynic might suggest that there is no rational auction process at all; AMS is simply a device to ensure authors pay something while Mamazon's vaunted algos select books to display either randomly or via black magic.

     :P
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    Offline Accord64

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #569 on: March 20, 2018, 04:20:54 am »
    I'm tapping out of AMS for now. Something changed for my ads since the beginning of the year. While most continue get decent impressions/clicks, my sales have tanked. No amount of tweaking has helped.

    This is happening while promotion activity on other retail channels has consistently (and dramatically) outperformed Amazon. Kobo activity itself has skyrocketed, and their promotions haven't costed me anything out of pocket. I'm even seeing sales activity through the Smashwords store!  :o   

    I'm not in KDP Select, and I wonder if this is an AMS algorithm shift that's favoring those who are enrolled? Has anyone in Select seen significant upticks in page reads this year? Or maybe it's pointless to try to figure out why, because it's simply an algo change that's not favoring me at this time.

    I might dip my toes back into AMS after a while just to see if things have changed. And maybe (gasp) they will have improved their reporting? Until then I simply can't justify continuing to pay Amazon for something I hope might get better. 

       
    « Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 04:39:33 am by Accord64 »

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #570 on: March 20, 2018, 05:35:11 am »
    You setup a Advantage Central account. Below is a link to a Google doc with instructions I got from a AMS Facebook Group run by Brian Meeks. Once you have the account setup, you login and put in your credit card info and so on. The instructions are pretty straight forward. Reporting is a little slower, impressions and click can take 24 hours before they show up, but has a whole lot more data you can access. You do have to deal with exchange rates and VAT, but with the 100 pound credit they give you it is worth a try to expand your sales, if your books are on Amazon UK.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eDgHEU_4d_Gm3-uH_EnwyXF9WUKiyZ2cpdzg6n212GI/edit

    Thanks for that, I really appreciate it. My style of humour is suited to the UK market, so advertising there makes a lot of sense. I've set everything up and created a couple of campaigns, so we'll see how it goes.
     

    Also yWriter, free novel-writing software for Windows PCs. (Mac version in progress).
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    Offline Marian

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #571 on: March 20, 2018, 06:39:34 am »
    You setup a Advantage Central account. Below is a link to a Google doc with instructions I got from a AMS Facebook Group run by Brian Meeks. Once you have the account setup, you login and put in your credit card info and so on. The instructions are pretty straight forward. Reporting is a little slower, impressions and click can take 24 hours before they show up, but has a whole lot more data you can access. You do have to deal with exchange rates and VAT, but with the 100 pound credit they give you it is worth a try to expand your sales, if your books are on Amazon UK.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eDgHEU_4d_Gm3-uH_EnwyXF9WUKiyZ2cpdzg6n212GI/edit
    You get a 100 pound credit, but to get the account I believe you're charged 23 pounds. Also, there is an annual fee you agree to for a 100 pound charge every May. It's tough to sell fiction in the UK if your books don't have many UK reviews, so the the annual fee charge could be a burden if you don't get sales. I wonder if you can get out of the contract with Amazon if your experiment with AMS in the UK isn't successful. Does anyone know the answer to this?

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #572 on: March 20, 2018, 09:04:46 am »
    It says the Amazon Advantage annual fee is 23 pounds on their help page. Haven't found anything about a 100 pound annual fee.

    I signed the AA agreements but haven't put in any other info. Bank accounts/contact info/Return addresses all blank - we'll see what happens. They might just leave it if I have no intention of actually using the vendor account on AA to sell anything.

    After the initial setup of the Amazon Advantage account I headed over to AMS UK and set up four campaigns.
     

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    Offline It's A Mystery

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #573 on: March 21, 2018, 04:49:09 am »
    Do people use AMS ads on books other than book 1 in a series?

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: A New AMS Thread
    « Reply #574 on: March 21, 2018, 05:13:00 am »
    Do people use AMS ads on books other than book 1 in a series?

    I'm using it right now for a new release (book 8).
     

    Also yWriter, free novel-writing software for Windows PCs. (Mac version in progress).
    SalesScanner, free KDP/Google Play/Kobo/Smashwords report analyser & aggregator.

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