Just in case you missed my last post, you have until October 31st to check out the free short fantasy fiction in this Promo: https://books.bookfunnel.com/free_fantasy_shorts/8fxbhg4kkq. Two of my short stories, “Wyldling Hope” and “Traveler’s Song,” are included. Over 40 different fantasy authors contributed at least one short story or novella. I’m sure you’ll find something to your taste in the collection. And did I mention they are all free?
Yep. I jumped on Another Marketing Bandwagon.
You’re probably asking yourself: “Author Ad School? What the heck is she talking about?” Allow me to explain. It all started about a year ago… actually, I don’t know exactly when this story began, calendar-wise, so you’ll just have to bear with me. One of my dear writer friends (she knows who she is) found this free five-day course called The 5-Day Author Ad Profit Challenge on Facebook somewhere. It’s primarily for indie authors who publish through Amazon KDP. She joined the group and told me I should, too. But I wasn’t published and felt rather weird about creating ads for a book that didn’t technically exist yet. I joined the private Facebook group but didn’t actually do anything for the challenge.
Once my book was up for pre-order on Amazon, I planned to join the next class and learn what all the hullabaloo was about. This didn’t happen. In July, my newly educated friend walked me through creating three ads on Amazon for the Wyldling Snare e-book before it launched. I did nothing with ads for the paperback version.
Fast-forward to September—Book Launch Month.
My friend gave me a crash-course on how to create keyword ads a week before Wyldling Snare officially came out on September 10th. The paperback was already available for purchase because I was impatient and just wanted it published. I won’t bore you with too many details; long story short, I gathered oodles of search terms someone might use on Amazon to find books. Namely, the titles of books in my genres—that’s young adult portal fantasy, and young adult Christian fantasy, in case you were wondering. When you create ads, it’s advisable to write a “hook” for the ad copy, but I decided to test out what would happen if I launched an ad campaign without ad copy. In this situation, the ad is just a picture of the book cover, the title, subtitle, and the author’s name. Needless to say, these ads didn’t appear to work very well, if at all. Since then, I “paused” those “no hook” ads and created nearly identical ones with the same keywords that included a hook.
What is a “hook?”
In the author universe, a hook is a short and visceral statement or statements that penetrate to the core of a story’s main character and/or conflict. It’s supposed to “hook” in a potential reader and inform them whether they would be interested in your book. Amazon allows you 149 characters for ad copy, so it has to be short, sweet, and punchy. I wrote over twenty different hooks for ad copy. Here are some examples, earliest to most recent:
“A grieving teenager, thrust into leadership before he’s ready, grapples with new magical powers and a friendship with a girl from a different world.”
“A rookie knight hides a secret. An ordinary girl dreams of other realms. A driven sorcerer yearns for power. When worlds collide, who will prevail?”
“He’s become a leader too soon. She’s the sister he needed. Will a sorcerer’s plot destroy their dreams for the future?”
“A knight’s first duty is to his realm. When another world calls, will he answer? The wrong choice might destroy all he loves.”
I’ll let you decide which one is the most compelling. If you were browsing through Amazon’s young adult Christian fantasy book selection and saw one of my ads, with an image of the Wyldling Snare book cover, would any of these “hooks” convince you to click on that ad and maybe buy the book? I would truly like to know. Feedback is most welcome here!
Amazon Ad Metrics… Fascinating Stuff!
Before you click, I should tell you that authors pay for every ad a potential reader clicks on. How much they spend depends on where they set the bidding amount. Based on what I learned second-hand through the Author Ad Challenge, I set my bids at thirty-nine cents for each keyword. Usually the amount I pay per click is even less than that. Authors are bidding against one another for these keywords. If you win the bid, your ad appears on the pertinent book’s sales page.
For example, if I used the book title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a keyword in an ad, every time an Amazon shopper typed that into the search bar, my ad would be pitted against all the other ads using that title as a keyword target. And I would most likely lose the bid since mine is set so low and someone with a higher bid would get their ad displayed on the sales page for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Which is why you don’t put all your metaphorical eggs in one basket; you can have up to 150 keywords in an ad. Preferably ones that are more similar to your book.
Don’t fret about costing an author money if you’ve clicked on an ad because a product looked interesting; that’s the whole point of the ad. Authors have an Ad Dashboard that shows different metrics for ads they create for their books. This data tells an author how often the ad has appeared on a sales page (impressions) when a particular target or search term is used, how many times an ad was clicked on (clicks), bringing a potential buyer to the sales page, how much it costed the author to get that click (spend), and whether this click led directly to a purchase (sales). Authors gather this information over time—usually until their ads cumulatively collect 100 clicks—and use it to determine if their book or series is profitable.
The October Ad Challenge
Now that I’ve given you the background, on to the main point of my rambling story. Let me assure you; Wyldling Snare was not written in the same style as my newsletters. October 12th, I joined the 5-Day Author Ad Profit Challenge, and I completed it yesterday. It’s a free trial of what the Author Ad School offers. This group genuinely wants to help indie authors become successful entrepreneurs. Already inclined to pay for the full service, I was impressed by what I saw and the testimonials of “authors who went before,” many of whom are now successful with six-figure royalty months. So, I followed my friend’s example and joined the Author Ad School. They give you a discount if you join during the challenge.
Do I expect to be wildly successful and be earning $10,000 in royalties in six months? Not really. How about in five years, so long as I do the things I learn in Ad School? God-willing, it’s possible. It’ll probably be more like $1,000, but I will take what I can get. Having more books published helps. And I intend to have at least six more books published by the end of 2027. Who knows? Maybe the Wyldling Dream Series will be complete! And then I can release a boxed set, and hardcover editions…
However, I’m leaping ahead of myself.
Come what may, this Amazon Ads adventure is a long-term investment and experiment. Consistency and tenacity are crucial elements in this process, but with support from the School—and a little help from my friends—I believe I can be a successful author. Besides, I find the keyword targeting research interesting… even if my dear writer friend (again, she knows who she is) doesn’t like that part so much.
PostScript: Oh, would you like the link to Author Ad School so you can listen to an expert explain what I was babbling about more succinctly? I swear, I’m not making any money talking about this. I’m just sharing resources with my fellow authors.
Here’s the Ad School info: https://bryancohen.lpages.co/ad-school-oct-2022/
Bryan Cohen is a hoot, by the way. You’ll like him.
I’ll keep you informed as events warrant…