Before publishing my first book I dreamed about fame and money. I hoped I could just hit the “publish” button and my book would start to sell automatically through the biggest bookstore in the world.
The reality was a bit different. I sold 145 copies of my books in the first 5 months and 5 days. And I put a hell of a lot of effort to create, publish and market them in the first place.
Since the beginning of September 2016 I’ve got a bit closer to that fairytale picture I imagined at the beginning. How so? Three words:
I learned how to set up a profitable Amazon ad campaign from Derek Doepker, my mentor-friend-peer and creator of the KD Sales Machine course. It took me a couple of hours to watch his videos and get to know the basics. After investing another ten or so hours of work, I had an ad campaign up and running on Amazon.
Since then I’ve created 9 more campaigns and my books have started to sell. At last.
Where I was with my book sales?
I published my last (and it wasn’t my ‘best’) book in May 2016. The launch wasn’t especially dazzling and since May my sales have been declining steadily. I sold 166 copies in June, 138 in July and 111 in August. My whole royalty income dwindled to $140 in August from Kindle and $100 from CreateSpace. I was ready to try something new.
I noticed one of Derek’s books featured on my book’s page and sent him a Facebook message asking how he had found the efficiency of those ads. He told me he had very nice results and shared with me his training videos even before they made it into his course.
Actions I took
I took 7 of my books back into the KDP Select program. I was a bit hesitant about committing my financial resources. I vividly remembered my failure with Facebook advertising. My books were simply too cheap to run a profitable campaign. I made back in sales about 40% of what I spent. It definitely wasn’t a good business.
My first campaign started on the 6th of September 2016. I quickly created 5 campaigns for 3 books. During the next month I created a few more, for 6 books overall. I also invested in creating a couple of paperbacks for two of those books.
I was amazed at the results I got after only about 2 hours of training.
My initial results
Take a look at the screen above. This is the sales chart of the Kindle version of my bestselling book “The Art of Persistence.” It has been very steadily selling 1-2 copies a day since it dropped out of the Hot New Release sections well over a year ago. Sometimes it sold zero copies, sometimes three in one day. As soon as I started advertising it, the sales jumped to a minimum two copies a day. And they were nicely consistent.
But after a few months it disappeared from the sales ranks. It was selling only a few copies a month. On the chart above you see the trend: 1 copy sold roughly every two weeks. When I started advertising it, it sold 7 copies in the same time.
Additionally, ads for both of those titles also generated paperback sales in the initial period: 12 copies of “The Art of Persistence” and 4 of “Trickle Down Mindset.”
The results after 2 months
I earned $410 and $467 on Kindle in September and October respectively.
My CreateSpace results were orbital: $180 in September and $767 in October.
The best of it? Even taking into account my all costs: fees for Amazon ads ($760 for two months), the 50-50 split on my best-selling book with its co-author, and 10% for withholding tax, my profit was still significantly greater than it was in August. In fact, my net profit was about 100% higher than in August.
Why is this so amazing?
- Most of the books I advertised were dead.
If you ever tried to put a new life into an old book, you know how challenging (read: close to impossible) is that. My books sold a few to several copies a month.
- I didn’t spend much time learning the ropes.
KD Sales Machine compressed my learning curve time to the minimum. After watching his video for a single time I knew what to do and, what is more, successfully executed based on that knowledge.
- It’s simple.
The most time consuming part of making Amazon ads is a keyword research. You can spend long hours looking for hundreds and hundreds of relevant titles and authors. Luckily, this process is very easy to outsource. I hired my 15 year old son to do that for me. (English is NOT his first language!).
- You don’t need to be a graphic designer.
That’s a huge relief for me, because I’m aesthetically impaired. Just have a look at the monsters I had for my covers:
The big part of my failure with (largely graphic) Facebook ads was that you REALLY need to have a few versions of the image to check which one works best. And it’s a lot of hassle to create these variations for the ad. As I could make those images only via a designer, the process was long and grueling.
In contrast, the only graphic element in an Amazon ad is your book cover and it’s already existing!
A word about paperbacks
I sold most paperback copies of my books in January 2016: 39. It was an exceptionally good month for my paperbacks. In following months, I was lucky if I sold more than 20 copies. But I sold 53 copies in September and 118 in October.
In August I finally created a paperback for “99 Perseverance Success Stories”. It sold one copy in August, 14 in September, 27 in October… plus 50 copies bought in bulk directly by Amazon.
Has KD Sales Machine any weak spots?
If anything, I think Derek’s course is a bit shallow on optimizing the campaigns. I can only guess that it was expert’s blind spot. Or maybe the fact, that his books aren’t the cheapest, so it was easier for him to make a profit.
No matter the reason, Derek does only briefly gloss over ad campaign optimization of and the reporting part of the system.
I found that this is not the right approach, if you want to run the campaign on autopilot. The reporting in AMS dashboard is a nightmare from an author’s perspective. You need to put quite a lot of effort to track your sales, track your ads’ metrics and figure out what’s working and what’s not. But hey, if I figured it out on my own, you can do it as well.
And, to Derek’s justification, he made such a great course, that “an author from the street” can go over it and launch successful campaigns. I had at least four campaigns (out of active 10) that have Advertising Cost of Sales less than 40% from the very beginning. They are like the money machines! Tracking their performance and optimizing them is more of a hobby than necessity.
My Kindle results, book by book
The picture is not complete without mentioning that I launched a new book at the beginning of September. It of course affected the overall sales. In all the charts you can also observe a dip around the 10th of October. I have no idea what happened, but I think it was some overall issue on Amazon. I barely tweaked any campaigns and after a few days the ads efficiency and sales returned to normal levels.
My paperback sales
|The Art of Persistence||7||6||4||15||19|
|Trickle Down Mindset||1||0||0||5||9|
|Making Business Connections That Count||4||1||1||5||5|
|99 Perseverance Success Stories||n/a||n/a||1||13||28|
|Know Yourself Like Your Success Depends on It||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||15|
Now, let me be upfront here. KD Sales Machine links in this post are affiliate links.
I promote Derek’s course because I truly believe that it may make a difference in your publishing business. I know how it is to be a lonely struggling author, and I want for you the same bump in sales, number of readers and satisfaction as I got from KD Sales Machine training.
As you can see by my results, it really can make the difference. Plus I’m convinced that the course’s bonuses Derek offers are well worth the price (A personal free book-revival consultation? Insane!).
And clicking those links won’t cost you anything extra. As a matter of fact, is you use my affiliate link and send me a copy of your receipt, I’ll give you a bonus on my own of your choice: either a set of keywords from 5 authors in your genre which will save you the time for setting up the campaign OR the consultation on how to maximize the poor AMS reporting, so you won’t lose money on your ads.
I will also share with you one tip about paperback sales that earned me well over $300.
Prerequisites for the KD Sales Machine
This course is not for everyone. Unless you just like to spend money and learn, you need some basics in place to get full advantage of this course:
- Have Kindle books priced at least $2.99 preferably with pricy paperback versions along.
I very much doubt if you can make your money back if you advertise books below the $2.99 threshold which means only 30% royalties. I have successfully advertised only one such a book and I have a profit because of its paperback sales.
- Have funds for ads.
I recommend to start with $100 per month per book. Yes, you can set your budgets even lower. The minimum allowed by Amazon is $1 a day, so about $30 for one book for one month.
Keep in mind that the period between sales and payment may be up to 3 months in case of Kindle and up to two months in case of paperbacks (if you sell them via CreateSpace.) For example, I’ll receive royalties from my September Kindle sales at the end of November.
- Have time to make it work.
The course itself is short, even with all the bonuses offered by Derek, you should be done with it in less than 10 hours. But if you really want to make money on your ads, you need to track your sales and metrics every day (it takes me about 10-15 minutes). And keyword research is time-consuming. It’s easy, but there is no way around it-you need to spend some time browsing through Amazon and collecting those book titles and author names.
I guess you can always hire your 15-year old son to do that, if you have one 😉
What are you waiting for?
The truth is that the moment to start your Amazon ads is now. As the tree-planting saying goes: the best moment for planting was 20 years ago, and the next best moment is now.
Well, Amazon didn’t even exist 20 years ago, but those sponsored product ads are working right now. Take an express training in KD Sales Machine and start your ad campaigns ASAP. Start making more money on your books, and most importantly, get more readers–readers you haven’t had prior access to, at that.
This window of opportunity is wide open, but if you’ve spent a number of months in self-publishing trenches, you know very well how quickly the modern publishing landscape can change. If you have a few books with good reviews, this is the best time to jump on the Amazon ads bandwagon.