Do Amazon Ads Work for Self-Published Books? Hiring an Amazon Ads Manager w/ Reedsy | $700 Ad Spend

Today I am sharing my exact experience with advertising my self-published books with Amazon Ads.

Let’s start off with why? Why wasn’t I doing this before? Why now?

-Something has to give. My time to work on my author business exactly coincides with when my daughter is napping. And as she gets bigger, that time gets shorter. I knew I could either outsource something I’m currently doing or find someone to help with things I know I should be doing but don’t have the time for.

-I wasn’t advertising, or when I was it was haphazard. 

2020 I spent $28.04 on Amazon Ads

 2021 I spent: $48.45 on Amazon Ads

I had worked in digital marketing and done cost-per-click ads in the past. But always with some help and for different products and on different ad networks. Never with Amazon and never for books. So I was at this phase of “knowing enough to be dangerous.” 

I decided that if something needs to change, what got me here won’t get me their mindset, I can have a professional run my ads. They know it better than me and I can fully hand over the reins, because even if I learned the ins and outs, then I would still have to manage it. Which I didn’t have the time for. I thought,  “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.” 

-Take a course for hundreds of dollars or learn through my own mistakes or spend the same amount and hire a pro.

How to get started?
https://reedsy.com/r/m-k-williams

-I decided to find someone through Reedsy. My network is full of people who can do cost-per-click ads. And are helping sellers on Amazon with their product listings. (Again, a hazard of formerly working in digital marketing.) But I needed someone who knew books, specifically. And to be honest, I didn’t want to have to deal with the murky, part of paying a friend for work, and then what if something goes wrong or issues pop up and you lose the friend. Eh too messy. 

-Reedsy had a lot of great options for people posting that they could do paid ads for books on Amazon, BookBub, Facebook, etc. 

-I reached out to the person who had great reviews. We connected over the messaging app and did a call to go over my goals, potential trial period and what we could work on if that went well. We agreed to a fixed cost two-month trial, so one fee for his time, I still had to pay for the ad cost obviously. But if it went well I could sign on with his agency and he would then make a one-time fee and 10% of what was sold. So he had every incentive for this to work well. 

-We decided to run the ads for my Author Your Ambition series of books. From when Going Wide launched in late 2021 I had solid sales every day with my Author Your Ambition books. I would get single book sales as well as series sales. Even with Going Wide selling well, the first book in the series, Self-Publishing for the First-Time Author. I wanted to give these books a boost with ads. I also figured non-fiction would perhaps fare better, people are searching for information and an ad may help them find new books with the information they are looking for. 

-One thing that I liked about the person I worked with was their communication and that upfront they didn’t make any empty promises. They said we would work together and optimize and make decisions based on data. He also said he couldn’t guarantee success. Ads get people to the book’s page. But my work on the cover, description, and reviews was what would sell the books. 

-We signed the contract in Reedsy, they handled the payments and took their fee as well, and then I granted access to my Amazon Ads platform. This was nice, I didn’t have to share any passwords. 

-Organic sales plummeted in the first two weeks. I picked these books because they were selling well organically and I thought ads could help. Nope, whatever organic juice was going for them completely dropped once the ads started. Thankfully Brian talked me off the ledge and we stayed the course.

-Did see a sales surge, yay! But my experience of people buying the whole series went away.

-One month in, Amazon announced that traditionally published authors could start advertising.

-For the second month the only sales I saw were from the ads.

-So yeah, this was incredibly frustrating. 

Two-month trial: $300 dollars or $150/month

Paid in Euros so the final amount I paid in USD to Brian plus the Reedsy fee was:

Brian: EURO 291.50

Reedsy: EURO 26.50

Translated to $323.03 

Ads spend from 2/20-4/20

$396.79

“Sales”: $208.91

But that’s not the royalty I made on the sale, that’s the retail price

$700 spent on ads

$200 in sales, so let’s assume $120 in royalties. 

Yeah not great. Especially since all my organic sales fell off. 

-Organic sales plummeted in the first two weeks. I picked these books because they were selling well organically and I thought ads could help. Nope, whatever organic juice was going for them completely dropped once the ads started. Thankfully Brian talked me off the ledge and we stayed the course.
-Did see a sales surge, yay! But my experience of people buying the whole series went away.
-One month in, Amazon announced that traditionally published authors could start advertising.
-For the second month the only sales I saw were from the ads.

Two-month trial: $300 dollars or $150/month
Paid in Euros so the final amount I paid in USD to Brian plus the Reedsy fee was:
Brian: EURO 291.50
Reedsy: EURO 26.50
Translated to $323.03

Ads spend from 2/20-4/20
$396.79

“Sales”: $208.91
But that’s not the royalty I made on the sale, that’s the retail price

$700 spent on ads
$200 in sales, so let’s assume $120 in royalties.

Yeah not great. Especially since all my organic sales fell off.

Go forward thoughts/strategy

I obviously did not continue the ads or paying someone to manage them. As authors we are all on an individual journey. Perhaps you have a higher tolerance for spending and don’t have a budget in mind. I am frugal, and I have high standards for a return on any of my business spend. I don’t want it to seem that the person I hired did a bad job. They optimized the ads based on the data available. I do blame the Amazon algorithm because it seems a little too odd of timing that my organic sales for these books were so steady and then bottomed out as soon as the ads turned on. So I won’t be doing paid ads for a while. Thankfully I am still in the red for my AYA books but I’m going to focus on items I have a bit more control over for promoting my books. 

What has your experience been with Amazon Ads? Are you crushing it? Are you also frustrated with the cost? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below. 

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