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I'm experimenting with AMS and Facebook ads to drive sales of my book (here's a https://www.amazon.com/Symphony-Wind-Raincatchers-Ballad-Book-ebook/dp/B07F1WWMYX/, since I removed it from my signature), but so far, it's been a struggle. FB ads aren't doing much (though I'm seeing some success with promoting my reader magnet), but for now, I'd like to concentrate on my AMS ads game.

For AMS, the Sponsored Product ads I had in place (currently paused) were getting just over one click per 10,000 impressions, working out at around 20 clicks a day for $5 per day, which I reckon is decent... Except it's not converting into sales, so there's clearly a disconnect somewhere. Is it the blurb? The cover? The Look Inside? Only having 2 (at the time of writing) reviews? The fact it's a first-in-series?

The AMS Product Display ads were less effective, with a more expensive cost per click and much fewer impressions (and without any sales directly attributable, I don't want to up my bids to more than 50c per click).

But for all that, the sales are ticking away. Most days I sell one, some none, and occasionally 2 - 4 (it came out on June 28th, 3 months to the day of this post *stares the 90-Day cliff in the eye). It's received a couple of bumps during the past 3 months, primarily due to being elevated to semi-final status as part of this year's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and getting a lovely write-up from Fantasybookreview.co.uk (I've included a couple of quotes for editorial reviews on Amazon US). So I'm reasonably confident it's a good book -- the cover usually gets praised, and I outsourced the blurb to someone who actually knows how to write them -- but is it working? Could the 3.99 price point be putting people off? Or the length (it's a beastly 195k words...)? Is the opening 10%/Look Inside putting people off (so far, the most common criticism is that the book is a slow-starter in terms of the plot kicking in, there is plenty of action in the opening three chapters)?

If it helps to identify potential issues, I've pasted the AMS ad text below:

"If you like hardened heroes, thrilling action, and dark magic and monsters, then you'll love [author name]'s visceral adventure."

Thank you for any comments and insights!
 

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The short answer is: You're going to need more books. With advertising, you're competing against other authors with large backlists, which means they can often spend more per click. Very hard to make a profit running ads to a single novel, though not impossible.

The slightly longer answer:

0) run one platform at a time while you're testing. This is the most important. For one, it allows you to focus all your energy on getting better at a single platform. Two, you can tell which is doing what - it's possible that FB is killing it, whereas AMS is incinerating money, or vice versa. This is heavily dependent on the book, so until you know what works for you and what works for that book, you want to run one platform at a time to make sure you can accurately analyze the results.
0a) during a launch, you just throw everything in there at once: promo sites, your newsletter, all the ad platforms. Otherwise with backlist, you want to methodically split things out and test them one at a time, layering things that work on top of each other like you're building a structure brick by brick.
0b) don't turn off things that work when you go onto test a new platform. If something works, keep it running, and just calculate the baseline # of sales w/ those ads running (see below/article).
1) for AMS, make 10 - 20 different keyword ads with completely different copy (here's a free blurb cheat sheet I put together with a bunch formulas). Try to accumulate a lot of relevant keywords to your genre, so you're not hitting all the same targets with the ads. Overlap is fine, but always work on expanding your keyword list.
1a) monitor the numbers over time - you need to monitor both sales and KENP, going by what's reported on the KDP dashboard, not on the AMS dashboard. The AMS dashboard is often wrong about things like sales, and doesn't factor in KENP at all.
1b) calculate a baseline # of sales/KENP over 7 days without any ads. This is the number of sales/KENP you generate organically without advertising.
1c) calculate the number of sales/KENP you get during a week with the ads on and subtract the baseline sales/KENP to get the number of sales generated by the advertising. See if the extra revenue is greater than the expense of the advertising.
2) increase your conversion by testing new blurbs for your Amazon description (formulas/ideas on the cheat sheet above)
3) write more books.

The nice thing about writing epic fantasy is that you get monster KENP #s due to the word count, so you can clean up with the reads if people like your book/series. So fantasy series that contains only two or three books can be super profitable to advertise, whereas other genre series of similar length would be in the red.

For the longest answer, you can check out this this free guide on How to Advertise I wrote for David Gaughran's site, which breaks down how to do all the numbers (conversion, sellthrough, baseline etc.) in step-by-step fashion.

Nick
 

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I absolutely love your cover. I actually remembered it by name from when I was browsing on Bookfly's site. But it occurs to me that it might be causing you a problem, because I kind of feel like your cover doesn't match with what you're describing in the blurb. That might be just me, and I could be completely wrong, but I thought I would put it out there just in case.
 

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I don't think it's the length, number of reviews, or the fact the book is first in a series (those first and last points are actually more likely to be positives in your favor). I can't comment on the inside of the book, since I haven't read it, so I'm going to take the easy explanations and say the $3.99 price point is a tougher sell than something lower and the cover, though beautiful, may be a factor. Don't get me wrong, I've admired that cover from the first time I saw it, because of its uniqueness. I always admire BookFly's designs. But for epic fantasy (or any genre, really), the indie books that do best tend to be very unsubtle. You can generally get further with a simple picture of a sword or fire-breathing dragon, even if it's not super well done, that with a beautiful, unique design that doesn't immediately scream epic fantasy at first glance.

That said, it may have nothing to do with either price or cover. It may be that you just haven't found your ideal audience to target for this type of book yet. I find that I generally have to test dozens of ads before I zero in on which ones are giving me the cheapest clicks or the strongest conversion. Once I get a few good ones going, I can leave them running in the background all the time with just a little monitoring. But finding the keywords/creative combinations is tough and much tougher if you don't have sequels to give you more chance of making your money back.

Also, very much this:

Nicholas Erik said:
1a) monitor the numbers over time - you need to monitor both sales and KENP, going by what's reported on the KDP dashboard, not on the AMS dashboard. The AMS dashboard is often wrong about things like sales, and doesn't factor in KENP at all.
1b) calculate a baseline # of sales/KENP over 7 days without any ads. This is the number of sales/KENP you generate organically without advertising.
1c) calculate the number of sales/KENP you get during a week with the ads on and subtract the baseline sales/KENP to get the number of sales generated by the advertising. See if the extra revenue is greater than the expense of the advertising.
 

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Carol (was Dara) said:
I can't comment on the inside of the book, since I haven't read it, so I'm going to take the easy explanations and say the $3.99 price point is a tougher sell than something lower.
I'd disagree with this. I sold more books at $4.99 than 2.99 (and .99 got me almost NO sales). With a book this size, 3.99 might even seem low and "low value." Regardless, I'm sure it's not price that's slowing sales. It just takes more books and more advertising. AND a killer blurb and first 3 pages!

As for AMS, for me it's always been a waste of time, mainly because AMS always stops showing my ads after a few days. I place a nice ad, get 100 clicks for 15000 views, and I'm happy with the sales (of books 2 and 3 as well as book 1 = something which isn't factored in by AMS), but AMS wants 700 or 800 clicks so they deem me *irrelevant* and just stop showing my ads.
I quickly quit AMS and moved to other ad platforms (Facebook, etc.).

But good luck to you! Maybe you can find the success I couldn't with AMS.

As for FB, just experiment with multiple Ad types. Eventually one will hit big. It took me two dozen tries before I found the ad that began laying golden eggs. :)

Try many $5 ads until one gives you good results (shift ad images and targeting).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nicholas Erik said:
The short answer is: You're going to need more books. With advertising, you're competing against other authors with large backlists, which means they can often spend more per click. Very hard to make a profit running ads to a single novel, though not impossible.

The slightly longer answer:

0) run one platform at a time while you're testing. This is the most important. For one, it allows you to focus all your energy on getting better at a single platform. Two, you can tell which is doing what - it's possible that FB is killing it, whereas AMS is incinerating money, or vice versa. This is heavily dependent on the book, so until you know what works for you and what works for that book, you want to run one platform at a time to make sure you can accurately analyze the results.
0a) during a launch, you just throw everything in there at once: promo sites, your newsletter, all the ad platforms. Otherwise with backlist, you want to methodically split things out and test them one at a time, layering things that work on top of each other like you're building a structure brick by brick.
0b) don't turn off things that work when you go onto test a new platform. If something works, keep it running, and just calculate the baseline # of sales w/ those ads running (see below/article).
1) for AMS, make 10 - 20 different keyword ads with completely different copy (here's a free blurb cheat sheet I put together with a bunch formulas). Try to accumulate a lot of relevant keywords to your genre, so you're not hitting all the same targets with the ads. Overlap is fine, but always work on expanding your keyword list.
1a) monitor the numbers over time - you need to monitor both sales and KENP, going by what's reported on the KDP dashboard, not on the AMS dashboard. The AMS dashboard is often wrong about things like sales, and doesn't factor in KENP at all.
1b) calculate a baseline # of sales/KENP over 7 days without any ads. This is the number of sales/KENP you generate organically without advertising.
1c) calculate the number of sales/KENP you get during a week with the ads on and subtract the baseline sales/KENP to get the number of sales generated by the advertising. See if the extra revenue is greater than the expense of the advertising.
2) increase your conversion by testing new blurbs for your Amazon description (formulas/ideas on the cheat sheet above)
3) write more books.

The nice thing about writing epic fantasy is that you get monster KENP #s due to the word count, so you can clean up with the reads if people like your book/series. So fantasy series that contains only two or three books can be super profitable to advertise, whereas other genre series of similar length would be in the red.

For the longest answer, you can check out this this free guide on How to Advertise I wrote for David Gaughran's site, which breaks down how to do all the numbers (conversion, sellthrough, baseline etc.) in step-by-step fashion.

Nick
Nick, thank you for the in-depth post -- not having more books in the series is definitely an issue, but one that will be resolved! (though not as quickly as I'd like, but that's on me). That cheat sheet will be immensely helpful -- I'm currently running 3 AMS ads but it sounds like I need to add more to get a more comprehensive view (definitely right about the AMS dashboard, too). I've bookmarked the David Gaughran post -- his weekly newsletter is useful too, so I'm sure this will be just as good.

ShayneRutherford said:
I absolutely love your cover. I actually remembered it by name from when I was browsing on Bookfly's site. But it occurs to me that it might be causing you a problem, because I kind of feel like your cover doesn't match with what you're describing in the blurb. That might be just me, and I could be completely wrong, but I thought I would put it out there just in case.
Thanks, Shayne! Interesting point -- the blurb and cover both fit the book, but if they don't also fit each other, maybe that's where the disconnect is. Worth thinking about.

Gareth K Pengelly said:
No real advice, but just wanna say UP THE IRONS!!!
ALWAYS.

Carol (was Dara) said:
I don't think it's the length, number of reviews, or the fact the book is first in a series (those first and last points are actually more likely to be positives in your favor). I can't comment on the inside of the book, since I haven't read it, so I'm going to take the easy explanations and say the $3.99 price point is a tougher sell than something lower and the cover, though beautiful, may be a factor. Don't get me wrong, I've admired that cover from the first time I saw it, because of its uniqueness. I always admire BookFly's designs. But for epic fantasy (or any genre, really), the indie books that do best tend to be very unsubtle. You can generally get further with a simple picture of a sword or fire-breathing dragon, even if it's not super well done, that with a beautiful, unique design that doesn't immediately scream epic fantasy at first glance.

That said, it may have nothing to do with either price or cover. It may be that you just haven't found your ideal audience to target for this type of book yet. I find that I generally have to test dozens of ads before I zero in on which ones are giving me the cheapest clicks or the strongest conversion. Once I get a few good ones going, I can leave them running in the background all the time with just a little monitoring. But finding the keywords/creative combinations is tough and much tougher if you don't have sequels to give you more chance of making your money back.
Ah, okay, sounds like I should have more ads to get a wider set of data to work from, and find that one that works. (And I hope the issue isn't the cover, but I'll have a long, hard think...)

Rod Little said:
I'd disagree with this. I sold more books at $4.99 than 2.99 (and .99 got me almost NO sales). With a book this size, 3.99 might even seem low and "low value." Regardless, I'm sure it's not price that's slowing sales. It just takes more books and more advertising. AND a killer blurb and first 3 pages!

As for AMS, for me it's always been a waste of time, mainly because AMS always stops showing my ads after a few days. I place a nice ad, get 100 clicks for 15000 views, and I'm happy with the sales (of books 2 and 3 as well as book 1 = something which isn't factored in by AMS), but AMS wants 700 or 800 clicks so they deem me *irrelevant* and just stop showing my ads.
I quickly quit AMS and moved to other ad platforms (Facebook, etc.).

But good luck to you! Maybe you can find the success I couldn't with AMS.

As for FB, just experiment with multiple Ad types. Eventually one will hit big. It took me two dozen tries before I found the ad that began laying golden eggs. :)

Try many $5 ads until one gives you good results (shift ad images and targeting).
I hope you're right! I'm advertising my reader magnet on FB just now, I'll step away from the sales, but I'll come back around. After yours and Carol's comments, I'd say it's at least worth experimenting with the price. If you do decide to return to the world of AMS, I hope it works out for you.

Thanks, everyone, for your advice.
 

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Reaper, on FB try different ads and price points, and also do put the price in the ad. Many people expect a book to be 9.99 and may be surprised yours is only 3.99 or 4.99  (readers not plugged into kdp or indie publishing are used to paying 7.99-12.99).  I found that my ad clicks (and sales) went up dramatically when I made that 1 change: I added the price at the end of my FB ad. xyz... now 4.99 on Kindle (Nook, etc).

Try many ads for $5 per day, and don't pour big money in until you find a couple of ads that work well. Once you find a "hit" ad, then increase it to $10 per day for a week, then $15, etc. Monitor it closely. I ran 42 ads before I found 3 that were winners. Now I just run those 3 (in various countries and markets).

Good Luck. :)
 

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A book that length should be $4.99, not $3.99.

The cover is great but you mentioned steampunk which doesn't reflect on the cover. It also doesn't show any obvious magical elements. If you look at The Aeronaut's Windlass, you see a second flying ship in the background which clearly points to fantasy world with ships.

I'd get to writing book 2 and get that published when you can. Until then, try to toy with AMS ads until you break even and try getting newsletter subscribers so that when you do have a book 2, you have people following you who buy it.
 

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ShayneRutherford said:
I absolutely love your cover. I actually remembered it by name from when I was browsing on Bookfly's site. But it occurs to me that it might be causing you a problem, because I kind of feel like your cover doesn't match with what you're describing in the blurb. That might be just me, and I could be completely wrong, but I thought I would put it out there just in case.
I got that feeling, too. The blurb mentions an airship, which suggests Steam Punk, but the cover has more of a magical fantasy feel to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Rod Little said:
Reaper, on FB try different ads and price points, and also do put the price in the ad. Many people expect a book to be 9.99 and may be surprised yours is only 3.99 or 4.99 (readers not plugged into kdp or indie publishing are used to paying 7.99-12.99). I found that my ad clicks (and sales) went up dramatically when I made that 1 change: I added the price at the end of my FB ad. xyz... now 4.99 on Kindle (Nook, etc).

Try many ads for $5 per day, and don't pour big money in until you find a couple of ads that work well. Once you find a "hit" ad, then increase it to $10 per day for a week, then $15, etc. Monitor it closely. I ran 42 ads before I found 3 that were winners. Now I just run those 3 (in various countries and markets).

Good Luck. :)
Cheers Rod! I'll give that a go re: the FB ad (I just upped my price to 4.99 without any promotion to see if it'd sell organically, and so far it's roughly the same as 3.99).

C. Gold said:
A book that length should be $4.99, not $3.99.

The cover is great but you mentioned steampunk which doesn't reflect on the cover. It also doesn't show any obvious magical elements. If you look at The Aeronaut's Windlass, you see a second flying ship in the background which clearly points to fantasy world with ships.

I'd get to writing book 2 and get that published when you can. Until then, try to toy with AMS ads until you break even and try getting newsletter subscribers so that when you do have a book 2, you have people following you who buy it.
Thanks for the advice! Yeah, the whole airship thing... Personally, I don't consider this a steampunk novel because it doesn't conform to the tropes, other than the presence of airships (so it's more of an aesthetic thing). I might remove that word from the blurb completely. My subscribers are steadily ticking along (just upgraded to the lowest-tiered paid Mailerlite plan today).

skylarker1 said:
I got that feeling, too. The blurb mentions an airship, which suggests Steam Punk, but the cover has more of a magical fantasy feel to it.
Agreed -- the magic in the book is fairly subtle, but as C. Gold mentions above, maybe it's not obvious enough.

Thanks go to everyone! I've upped the price per the advice here and I'll tinker with the blurb and think about the cover, too.
 
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