Author Topic: What is the bare minimum dollar amount you need to make advertising worth it?  (Read 1087 times)  

Offline K'Sennia Visitor

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 I know that nowadays amazon is basically pay to play, and that the authors making the most money are generally the ones paying the most for ads. I know this isn't always the case, but for the most part this seems to be true. So for those of you who are making bank by putting in half of your earnings into ads, what would you say is the minimum amount of money someone would need to make doing ads profitable?

 I know that the bare minimum is an awesome hooky book that readers want with a pro cover, and pro editing, plus being the first book of a series. So assuming you have all of this, but you have say, less than a $100 left for ads, could you double that to $200, or would you need at least a $1,000 before you saw any true results?

  I was watching this kid on Youtube who was spending 6k a month on ads for his nonfiction and it made me wonder if that is normal ad spend for most authors? He was spending 2k on publishing expenses. So his "how I went from $0 to $10k" was actually "how he went from $14k to $21k."

  What is the Kboards consensus, for those of you big sellers who are still here?
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    Online Jeff Hughes

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    Ad costs are going to vary widely depending upon genre. So there's no one minimum dollar amount that anyone could point to.  The more heated your genre, the more competition you're up against... the more you're going to have to pay for effective advertising.  Your ad is competing against all the other authors and books that you've targeted, after all.

    Rather than wonder how much you have to pay, I would suggest turning the question sideways and ask yourself "how effective is my advertising?"  That's easy to check... simply open a virgin browser (one with no cookies or history) and browse your book category like any other unknown, prospective buyer might.  Do you see your ad?  Is it showing up front and center, on page one of the carousel?  Or on page fifteen? 

    If your ad is down-carousel, and you want to move it up, you'll have to bump your bids.  If you're on page one, higher bids won't help.  Assuming accurate targeting - the people seeing your ad are the ones you want to see it - an ad appearing on page one has done all it can do.  At that point it's up to the rest of your marketing muscle (cover, blurb, Look Inside, reviews) to pick up the slack.

    Best of luck!


    Jeff Hughes

    Online LauraWestbrook

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    I'd say it depends on what you mean by "results," which can differ wildly.












    Offline K'Sennia Visitor

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    I'd say it depends on what you mean by "results," which can differ wildly.

     Well, for me, I'd consider making more than I spent on ads as "results." If I lost money or just broke even I'd consider that a "squib". 
    The Disabled Frog - Not Your Average Self Help Book
    https://www.amazon.com/Disabled-Frog-Stories-Productivity-Motivational-ebook/dp/B07LC4534L
    The Christmas Funeral - Not Your Mother's Christmas Story!
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07LCH28BN

    Offline Crystal_

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    It's harder to see results at low spends, but it's possible to make profits on $5-10/day.

    I've have an AMS ad running for the last year or so at $25/day. Some days it spends the full $25. Most days it doesn't. Everyday the series has made more than $25 in the US. (Usually $50-75).

    That's not a lot for me, but it's steady money. The series (a trilogy without cliffhangers X_X) is not especially commerical, so I'm happy with these numbers.

    Would I make the same profit without the ad spend, with just the read-through on my other books? Maybe. I don't know. I don't point to these books in my back matter anywhere, but they are part of my drip campaign.

    Part of advertising is coming to peace with that uncertainty. Or decision to minimize it by only advertising one book per region or only advertising to a certain ACoS. I have a very unscientific method of trying to spend less than X% of revenue on ads.

    I can't tell you where to set X, but in general, I'd say it's hard to do much better than doubling (or maybe tripling) your money on a given series once you start spending three figures plus. This will vary by category of course. I'm in contemporary romance, which is very competitive. In fact, I'm planning to reduce my US ad spend this year and start pursuing a less ambitious strategy. It's just too competitive. Especially with AMS.

    Offline CassieL

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    I've run ads with small amounts of money per day. You work with what you have. And then if the ad generates sales and makes a profit the next month you have a little more and you up your spend and work from there.

    8 Pen Names. Genres: Non-fiction, Speculative Fiction, Romance.

    Offline Patty Jansen

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    This is impossible to answer, because it will vary a lot.

    In general, I try to spend about 10% of my income on ads. I say try to because AMS and Bookbub ads don't always spend my budget because I bid low. Like really, really low. My books are wide and I'm a catalogue writer so I'm more interested in drawing people into a wide catalogue of books where they then buy everything than I am in making an immediate profit on my ads. In fact, I don't. I advertise a lot of permafrees and mailing list signups. I like directing people to buy on my website.

    In general, ad profitability is vastly improved with these things:

    - many books in the same or similar genres
    - long series
    - a nicely branded catalogue of a lot of novel-length books
    - many different formats (audio!)

    The more nicely-branded, nicely-presented books you have, the easier it will be to make ads profitable, even if you're like me and advertise permafrees. There comes a point that the halo effect of these ads completely eclipses the direct effect of the ads. Like, having a Facebook ads that's been running for two years and has hundreds of comments from readers. Like AMS ads for books that have had several Bookbub ads and have all that buyer history built in. A fellow went through my website and bought $175 worth of books. He came from a FB ad signup that cost me 40c. It's all these little things added up that make a difference, but this difference is more pronounced with long series of chunky books that have the social capital (like reviews) to show that other people are reading them.

    I do recommend starting with small amounts and then building up as your confidence with ads grows. But you have to have at least some ducks in a row first. "Advertising" by itself is not a tap, the more you put in, the more comes out. It depends on a lot of things. Don't lose too much money while you're learning and start carefully. Facebook WILL take your budget. If you do Bookbub CPM ads (as people recommend, but I don't do), they WILL spend your budget like there is no tomorrow. In both cases your money can be gone like POOF and you'll have little to show for it unless you know what you're doing. AMS, too, if you stick to bid values they recommend (again, I don't).

    Offline K'Sennia Visitor

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     Thanks Patty and everyone for the great responses and examples. I think I understand how it all works a little bit better now.  :)
    The Disabled Frog - Not Your Average Self Help Book
    https://www.amazon.com/Disabled-Frog-Stories-Productivity-Motivational-ebook/dp/B07LC4534L
    The Christmas Funeral - Not Your Mother's Christmas Story!
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07LCH28BN

    Online Decon

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    There isn't a figure that you can put on it, other than set against your own means in relation to a new release/new author, which will set the budget that you are prepared to expend regardless of income. When the budget runs out, unless you have generated income, then the figure could be zero if your full time income only covers living expenses.

    For someone with a back catalogue running publishing as a business, it will depend on if they are dependent on royalty income to make a living, or if they have a full time occupation to pay the bills. If they are not dependent of their royaltis, but dont wish to make a loss, they could spend as much as 100% of their net royalty income after taking account of other expenses.

    The average for all industries when set against turnover( not gross profit) is between 5 and 10%. As our income is 100% gross profit, that would equate to  somewhere between 10 and 20% against relative gross profit. However that 10/20% could be set against all royalty income, which could be slanted toward a new release rather across all the catalogue.

    If you are using pay per click, then a limit of around 20% of ACOS would be a good figure to set a limit, unless other income from page reads added  considerably to your income from the ad. However, with a new author, you could go to around 70%+ of ACOS if net profit were not a factor.
    « Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 03:07:41 am by Decon »


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    Online NikOK

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    I have just started advertising with amazon, and I don't have a good response to your question, but I was wondering if people had input about doing kindle lock screen ads versus sponsored products.  It seems like I have a lot more luck with lock screens, but I don't have a big sample size, so just kinda wanted to see if other people had other experiences.

    Offline unkownwriter

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    I like how Patty explained it. Simple and easy for me to understand, at least. :D

    Offline Crystal_

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    Even if you're just looking at pure profit on one book, I don't know why you'd cap your ACoS at anything below 60%.

    I would kill for 60%.

    That is not happening with popular keywords.

    Online Decon

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    Even if you're just looking at pure profit on one book, I don't know why you'd cap your ACoS at anything below 60%.

    I would kill for 60%.

    That is not happening with popular keywords.

    I get 70% royalty, less on a paper book. I pay withholding tax of 10%, so my break even after allowing for paperbacks is in the region of 55% that is my absolute overall cap when I have used Amazon advertising, with page reads providing a profit. Any keyword that approach 55% I would pause, or reduce the bid. True, popular keywords are expensive and will soon eat up your royalty, so I avoid those. Everyone has a different strategy


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    Offline PillowTalkBooks

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    Advertising is not a matter of minimum dollar amount you have to spend on advertising a book. It shall be cost effective. Targeted marketing shall be done to garb the most  number of readers in an effective yet smart way.
    Magazines, Websites, targeted newspapers, newsletters all have content that is read by an audience of people who are interested in that topic. Your advertisement in that medium can reach people who are already invested in learning more about your subject. This is different from normal advertising.
    Targeted print advertising can make your promotional budget more efficient and effective as you deliver it directly to the interests of a niche subscribers.

    Chelsea Parker

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    Offline jm2019

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    I treat advertising viability as any spend that leads to incremental profit after deducting both advertising costs and a daily cost of my annualized fixed spend.

    For e.g., if my annual expenses are, say, 900$ (3$/day approx) for web, email, beta readers, proofreading, cover etc. etc., and I spent 5$/day on Facebook ads, and if those ads generate 8$ or more in royalties, then it's worth it. You can average this over a week or month - however you want.

    Offline JeanetteRaleigh

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    If you can figure out the "downloads" per dollar, that will help.  I have a spreadsheet that will tell me how many downloads (above the normal average) were downloaded and how much the ad costs. By dividing it out, I get the number of downloads per dollar. I also have a rough idea of how many of the permafreebooks need to be downloaded to earn $1.00 in sell-through. By comparing the two, I can decide whether the ad is worthwhile or not. 
     










    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    I find that playing the AMS keyword game has become very expensive.

    Many advertisers are now well versed and schooled in how to play the system, that it makes it harder for everybody.

    The additional options, of dynamic bids, fixed bids, Dynamic up and down, bid placements etc...is getting very complicated and expensive to learn as you go.

    Also, AMS does a poor job of tracking sales to ad campaigns now.

    Mark

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