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8 tips for effective book promotion using Amazon Advertising

Hi there, passing web traveller,

Welcome to the eye candy that is Sean Yeager Adventures – exceptional books for 8 to 12 years+.  Treat a youngster in your life to a fresh, new book series.

Here are some tips for using Amazon Advertising for book promotion. These are based on hands-on experience of the tool.

First, a brief glossary of terms.

  • Advert – a picture and text to promote your chosen product (book)
  • Custom text = an option to write your own copy for your advert.
  • Impressions = views of your Amazon advert by passing browsers or in a long list of product pages (i.e. potentially unread search results)
  • Campaign = your single advert and its settings, run with a budget for a timeline and with an on/off switch
  • Clicks = selection of your advert by a browser, a possible buyer, who is directed to your product page
  • Order = sale noticed by Amazon and linked to your advertising.
  • Placement = where the advert appears on Amazon search results
  • Targeting = where you manage keywords and bids after setting up your advert/campaign
  • Reporting = graphic measures per campaign or all campaigns for a selected timeline
  • Bidding = how much you are willing pay for a possible click when a keyword leads to an advert being clicked and a read of your product page
  • Manual bidding = you choose the bid cost (click cost) for each of your keywords.
  • Keyword = a search term or collection of search terms, much like on Google etc. Specifically, what the Amazon customer keyed in to search for a product
  • Negative keyword = a search term (or part of one) for which your advert will not appear.
  • Budget = how much you are willing to spend per day – from $1 minimum per advert per day
  • CTR = click through rate – percentage of impressions leading to clicks. Higher is better.
  • CPC = cost per click – averaged across the number of clicks per campaign and for a time period. Lower is better.
  • ACOS = average cost of sales – averaged from number of sales and the cost of clicks for the same period of time
  • Territory = Amazon Advertising is territory specific ie. US .com, UK .co.uk

1) To generate the most impressions: use broad keywords based on a title or author or stem of a keyword; use manual bidding within the recommended ranges; and refresh your adverts and bids at least weekly.

To promote your title go for stem keywords and keep them broad. The more keywords you include (up to 1000) the better to build an understanding of what works for your campaign. Think laterally about your book genre, competing titles, authors, series, collections, franchises, and variations of descriptive terms.  For example: ‘mystery book, Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie series. mystery series, crime novels, crime series, crime book series’ etc. It can be surprising what keyword combinations pick up the best traffic. Recent best sellers and generic descriptive terms seem to attract good volumes of impressions. Of course, the more relevant these terms are to your book,  the better. There’s little point promoting a non-crime book to people searching for crime novels. However, if you go too specific you are unlikely to attract enough impressions for your advert.

2) Pay attention to the recommended bid levels – they matter, they change, and they can be  expensive. You need to keep tweaking your keyword bids, daily if possible, to keep your impressions volumes up. High impression volumes mean a greater chance of clicks.

Bid levels seem to vary from about 39c to $1+ for most keywords based on authors and book titles. The highest I’ve seen was a recommended bid at $37!  What is strange is the lack of keywords with a recommended bid range 20c to 30c. However, if you set your bids lower than the recommended bids, you will still pick up a small volume of impressions. Bear this in mind. You need to target 1000+ impressions per day, per Campaign. And the best way to achieve this is – a wide range of relevant keywords, and going with recommended bids on manual bidding.

To update your bids in volume, select Campaign, Targeting, click the box next to ‘Active’ and either Adjust Bid to your selected bid. Bear in mind Pages are per 50 keywords, so you’ll need to navigate through your pages to update all your kyword bids.

Note: you still need to check that you have no ‘rogue’ recommended bids suggested e.g. at the crazy levels of $5 to $37 per click if you use ‘Apply Suggested Bid’  Your daily budget limit will be applied and kept within, but you will still spend that $1+  I would avoid those rogue keywords completely.

3) How to attract clicks – use a lot of keyword combinations to find the best impression counts and hone in on your audience. Also, try varying your approach to the custom copy you write for your adverts. What leads to a click through is not always predictable. A good image and compelling text will help.

Review your keywords by the volume of impressions over say three days – this is your audience. Now you could consider revising your bid prices for only the top performing keywords and switching off the rest (on / off control on the left tab of the Target screen) this will save you time and give you focus. OR you could run a wide range of keywords and pick up a trickle of impressions from the ‘long tail’ of lower performing keywords.

Your strategy is key here – it’s your money. Try a few approaches and see what works for your campaigns. It tends to be the higher bids that pick up the largest volumes of impressions and hence stand a great chance of clicks.

4) How to sell books?  Write compelling custom advert text, choose relevant and performing keywords, and be prepared to bid and spend highish click bids (80c to $1)

I’ve found that only with bids up to 80c or $1 and pitching them for ‘Top of Search’ using Placement (+10 to 30%) was there any meaningful action in terms of sales. The Custom Advert Text option is a must. Placement of the Ads seems to be key to gaining sales – top of search for browsers interested in your genre are important, BUT watch out for the cost of advertising. Your costs are likely to be at a click through rate of about 6% and a conversion rate of about 10% (at best), which adds up at a bid cost of 80c or higher.  (10 * 80c = $8 per sale). This is expensive and therefore not great value for money.

5) How can I get value for money? And how do I know when there were real clicks?

The only proof is when you make a sale. Beyond that, you are completely trusting Amazon Advertising and their reporting. You can slice and dice the reporting information by campaigns and timelines. There are also tools which claim to discover keywords that are more cost effective – based on books that sell. However, your impression counts for a broad range of keywords will show you directly how your adverts are performing on Amazon itself. Amazon uses bid demand, relevance and advert performance in its rules. This means you have to experiment and refine your campaign settings regularly. What worked last week might not work this week. Can we check the clicks are real? Unfortunately, no.

You could try to find evidence of your ad appearing as an impression on your own Amazon session. Good luck with that one. I’ve yet to see any of my own live ads. And don’t click it if you do see your own advert – it will cost you.

Bottom line – manage your budget and spend with care, experiment and review click and order results.

6) Keep your adverts fresh – and use Copy Campaign on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

After a time, a Campaign will fall below 6% click through rate and it will go stale. You’ll see this because there will be very few impressions on a daily basis. The way around this is to copy that campaign (right hand control on the campaign targetting grid) and create a clone of the original. It’s also an opportunity to try – fresh copy, perhaps a new image, new keywords and a different bid strategy. Also vary the Placement options. The new campaign will have to be approved, but it is worth the effort to kick-off a fresh start.

7) To maximise sales, regardless of cost

I’m not saying this is a great long-term idea, but for a period of time you could try:

  • Going broad and numerous with keywords – up to 1000
  • Use negative keywords to eliminate DVDs, toys, t-shirts etc. Anything irrelevant to your aims
  • BId high in the quoted keyword ranges – higher than the recommended range
  • Bid Upwards and put in a 30% percentage for Top of Search etc. on Placement – this is expensive so beware
  • Manage your bids daily, based on changes to Amazon’s pricing of bids and your impression counts
  • Target the highest impressions count and highest click through CTR – go after the maximum number of eyes to ensure clicks
  • Set your budget per campaign to not run out of funds – but within your budget of $x per day
  • Hone your custom copy and experiment with calls to action in the custom ad copy
  • Remember to refine your product page as well – buyers need to be impressed there too
  • Focus on what you see working and vary that on the next cycle of Campaigns.
  • Be prepared to spend $5 per day,

This approach will cost you $’s, but it will generate some sales. Whether it is economic, you’ll need to assess based on your campaign’s performance and total sales. In other words, it’s your rodeo, so it’s your call based on your ‘success’ measures.

Warning : I found this approach did not break even.

8) Amazon Advertising is a ‘black box‘ , so beware –  it really is a case that the ‘house wins’ so be cautious and start bidding at a cheap level until you learn the ropes. The click / order results are not always predictable. It is not a given that the bid levels are reliable when quoted to you. I cite the lack of Amazon recommended bids in the range 10c to 30c as evidence of this. The minimum bid level is 6c. Some recommended bid levels are crazy e.g. $37.

Consider this situation. Why would a campaign generate clicks priced at 22c with the following settings?

  • Impressions of about 1k per day
  • All bid levels set to 36c Manual
  • Placement set to Bid down
  • No Placement bid up percentages

In this case, Amazon Advertisings rules seem to have led to a favourable cost of click. A cheaper than expected advert and cheaper than expected clicks. Except, there are never any sales. Strange, huh?  Both for Amazon and for the source of the reported clicks.

The reason I mention this is as a cautionary note. We don’t know what Amazon Advertising is actually doing under the hood. The lack of recommended bids 10c to 30c 38c is a symptom of this. For less popular keywords, all you will see is ‘No information available’. There are also times where you will bid relatively high and receive no impressions for a popular keyword.

Therefore, as the advertiser – you need to be aware and manage your advertising spend with care when using Amazon Advertising.

Best of luck

D.M. Jarrett

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

Reading challenging books quickly, helps weaker readers to catch up – it’s official

Hi,

From time to time I have debates with people who defend easy read books as being fun and a great introduction to reading. And for younger readers (5 to 7) I tend to agree with them. However, what next? What is the best approach to natually coax along young reading skills and maintain their interest in reading while they learn?

I chanced upon a very interesting article in the TES (Times Education Supplement). It reports on a study looking at adolescent readers and their reading progress. The study’s conclusions are interesting – reading challenging books quickly (within 12 weeks) helps weaker readers to catch up. The study also dispels the myth that ‘poorer readers need simpler texts’ and supports the idea of letting the reader crack on with the reading. It seems so obvious doesn’t it?

The challenging books referred to in the study were: The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, Once by Morris Gleitzman, and Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams.

Here is the link so you can read directly what is reported about the study:

TES article about a reading study

As you may already suspect, I fully support an ‘aim for the stars’ ethos as opposed to ‘pigeon-holing’  or ‘dumbing down’. There are so many great books out there waiting for enthusiastic young readers. To the above list we could easily add Tolkien, Pullman, Morpurgo, Blackman and so many others. I recommend friendly chats with librarians and second-hand book staff to discover great books. At first, there may be a little resistance along the lines of ‘it’s boring’ and ‘I don’t want to read that.’ However, with the right themes, books, and writers, this can quickly turn into ‘light touch-paper and let them get on with it’. Which I believe this study confirms.

Happy reading.

D.M. Jarrett

 

 

10 tips for getting your child away from their video games and productive.

What can you do about your son/daughter’s gaming habit? They spend hours on their device and refuse to come off.

We’ve all been there. I suspect all parents of tweens and teens have. Your son/daughter is passionate about the latest video/computer/phone game and refuses to come off it. When they do, their mood has changed, and all they can think about is playing again. Here are some tips for how to manage the situation and strike a balance. From experience, this approach works provided we as parents are firm, fair and consistent.

1. Change the rules – so your child has to earn all game time on each and every platform.

Yes, that will be a sea change for some. No earning means no game time. The most important currency then becomes ‘how’ to earn game time. It can also be a valuable lever for getting homework, etc. done. It will most likely lead to a reduction in gaming time as well.

2. Enforce the ‘earning’ of game-time by making your child earn it upfront before they play.

No earning = no game time. Harsh at first, but guess what? Your child will learn and adapt provided they know you mean it.

3. Agree start and end times to gaming – and give a count-down ten and five minutes before ‘off-time’.

This is important. It is the deal. It goes something like – ‘it’s now seven o’clock, you need to come off your <device> by eight o’clock. Agreed?’ And when that time arrives – ideally on a clock next to the gaming screen – the session is declared over. Fresh air and exercise straight afterwards is a great idea – to calm them down.

4. Off means off – pull out the plug if necessary and be strong.

When the pre-agreed session is over, it has to end. By reason, then cajoling, and if all else fails by pulling out the plug/broadband. There are limiter devices out there if needed.

5. 60 minutes a weekend day maximum – and mean it – beware the 60 to 90 to 120 time creep. Should there be any game time allowed during the week? Your call.

It’s your call on how long a gaming session is allowed to be. My view is that 60 minutes a day at weekends is plenty. Week day gaming is probably not a great idea, because of homework, focus on school etc. Or perhaps you could agree the frequency upfront. Daily to me is a straight no way. Late night gaming is also a no, no. Sleep is important and gaming impairs sleep.

6. Bring in healthy and fun alternatives as well.

A reading hour – with a physical book (it’s why I began writing btw.). A walk. A sporting activity. A visit to somewhere fun. A fun TV program with the family. It’s your choice. I suggest including some of these as the means to earning gaming time as well. e.g. read a decent book for an hour. Swim ten lengths, etc.

7. Share their passion (within reason).

I suggest it is better to know what games they are playing, and to occasionally join in, than to disapprove of their gaming altogether. If their choice of game is completely unsuitable (e.g. 18 and immoral) withdrawing/uninstalling the game is clearly a good idea. You are in charge and you set the limits.

8. Grounded also means no gaming time.

If our child has earned a grounding that also means no gaming time. It may well be the most valuable currency you have to barter with for better behaviour.

9. No gaming machines in their bedrooms at night. And avoid outright bans if possible.

Whatever we think about gaming, I suggest it is better to suggest/promote a healthier game than to try and eliminate gaming from children’s lives. Prohibition tends to lead to rebellion, stand-offs and finding ways around the ban. Just as with adult bans.

That said, a gaming machine (of any kind) in their bedroom is just asking for an all-night session when you are asleep or the babysitter is in charge. If you allow it, you are allowing free-reign for your child in my humble opinion. Remember, games are fun and addictive.

10. The currency they have to ‘earn’ is what you decide. It is also your biggest bargaining chip.

I suggest it should include a mixture of: doing their homework, instrument practice, chores, having a good attitude, going for a run, working hard at school. walking the dog, tidying their room. Anything within reason provided the measures are ‘fair’ and ‘measurable’. This is where the balance comes in – which is where you set the standards as parents. Work = reward. Just as in life. You may find they work harder to earn the currency they want. If not, take a step back and review your options. Putting the games in the loft for a while is a possibility…

I hope you find these tips useful. From experience, they can lead to a win-win, with a few (inevitable) tantrums along the way.

I write books to encourage youngsters to read (and also because I enjoy it).

Best of luck,

D.M. Jarrett

www.SeanYeager.com

 

 

 

 

The summer of Sean Yeager Adventures is coming!

www.seanyeager.com

It’s all about to kick-off in style for Sean Yeager Adventures, thanks to readers’ feedback from around the world.

I’m delighted to announce a new, improved Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief (3rd edition) will be launched this summer in print. It is an enhanced and expanded ‘director’s cut’ version of the story first published in 2012. The plot is broadened and improved and has been completely re-written, drawing on reader’s feedback. Also, for the first time, there will be UK English and US English versions available in the respective territories.

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is an action, adventure, mystery with secret agents, sci-fi and humour. It is written to excite and entertain young readers from 8 years upwards, including young adults.  I’ve taken great care to ensure it is an easy read, while at the same time asking questions of the reader. The story has been described as a roller-coaster ride and an action movie in book form.

For those unfamiliar with the Sean Yeager Adventures series, each book is self-contained and builds on the previous books in the series. They tell the story of how Sean and Emily make sense of what is happening to them and how they discover their purpose in life. The stories are set in a near-real world like our own, with one major difference – there are sleepers, androbots, and secret agents hidden among us, and there is a secret battle waging between two ancient enemies.

Meanwhile, the earlier e-book versions of Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief will continue to be available as ‘beta’ versions at the lowest price possible. Since they have been pirated, I will not be updating them for a considerable time.  For those interested in the deluxe version, the print books are therefore the best choice.

Watch out for more exciting news coming soon.

May the mighty Quel shine kindly upon you.

D.M. Jarrett

http://www.SeanYeager.com

Upgrade time for Sean Yeager Adventures

www.seanyeager.comHunters Hunted Text 2l

Hi book-loving folk,

One of the advantages of being an independent author is that I have the opportunity to upgrade my earlier books. And guess what? This is exactly what I am doing at the moment. And by upgrade, I mean enhance, correct, polish and add additional material. You see a lot has happened in the six years since I wrote DNA Thief. Gee, time really does fly…

In fact, if there are any readers out there who have already picked up a copy of Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief or Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted, I would be very interested in your thoughts about improvements. Yes, I care and want to improve them.

While writing and editing Sean Yeager Claws of Time, which is currently ageing and maturing in the ether, I learned a lot more about the characters, world and events surrounding Sean and Emily. And a plethora of tips about improving the words on the page. So much so, that I felt compelled to upgrade the two earlier works and add in some elements that were overlooked or undercooked.

The good news is that, once completed, both books will be real shiny – that’s a reference to a much-loved sci-fi series by the way.

I also read an interesting comment on Goodreads – and I don’t receive many so it is treasured – musing that the mysteries in DNA Thief would probably never be explained later in the series. Hmm, I thought. I wonder where that idea came from? Perhaps other series that leave things hanging? Anyhow – a big part of the Sean Yeager saga is that the books do indeed build on each other and explain a whole raft of things. I have in fact mapped out the next two stories with the intention of explaining far more than is touched upon in DNA Thief and Hunters Hunted. The back story would be a book in itself. Maybe one day… When I go all Tolkien and invent an Aenaid language (and one for all the ancient tribes of Vaestrarel etc.) But I digress.

Which brings me back to Sean Yeager Claws of Time. It is written, it is edited and it is ready to roll. However, it occurred to me that it needs a fresh sprinkling of wonderfulness before I unleash it on the unsuspecting reader. And it is pretty mind-blowing, so watch out! To do it justice I need to come back to it again with fresh eyes. Now, if I was JK Rowling the pressures might be unbearable to release it this year, I imagine (while daydreaming). However, back in the real world, I have the security of obscurity which affords me the luxury of improving it. And since there is not a single publishing person on the planet who ‘gets’ Sean Yeager as a book series – apart from me. Let’s try again – And since there is not a second or third publishing person on the planet who ‘gets’ Sean Yeager – I don’t have anyone chasing my tail for deadline dates. Yay! So the bottom line is – it will most likely be polished up and super-shiny by next Easter. By which time, I hope to be started on book 4, which is really exciting me, so I can lay some more Easter eggs back into Claws of Time. Yep, I do that kinda thing.

If you made it this far, thanks! You have been listening to a stream of consciousness from an undiscovered and, dare I say it, ground-breaking author. Well, I do gardening every so often <smiles with tongue in cheek>.

Happy reading

DM Jarrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Yeager – the book series so far

Hi, a quick recap on the Sean Yeager Adventures series for newcomers. And boy are you missing out 😉

The stories circle around Sean Yeager and his friend Emily Campbell, who find themselves caught up in present-day England with two factions fighting a secret and ancient war for control of the Earth. Far from being the ‘chosen ones’, Sean and Emily must discover for themselves their place in this ancient struggle between the nearly good and the clearly far more evil. And what it has to do with them. (Best to avoid Dr Vex I’d suggest.)

DNA Thief – Sean comes home to discover a hole in his bedroom wall and his comics stolen. He is invited by some hapless agents (meant to be protecting him) to go after the thieves. They set off in a hi-tech flying car and bite off more than they can chew. Mrs Yeager goes crazy and Sean discovers he is wanted by a mad-man – Egbert Von Krankhausen.

Hunters Hunted – Sean and his mum are moved to a safe house, where he meets Emily. While exploring the stately home, Sean and Emily discover clues to a mysterious treasure which calls to Sean in his dreams. They leave the house and wander into a series of skirmishes with Sean’s evil nemesis – Darius Deveraux.

Claws of Time – Sean and Emily become bored and trick their way into a hidden study. Here, they find a clue linking Sean’s father to a familiar agent. While returning to school, they are caught up in a chaotic confrontation and given a choice – to help rescue the now missing agent or take their chances at home. They choose the mission.

Each story is self-contained and told at a breakneck speed from multiple perspectives – the good (Founder), the bad (Deveraux & Vrass) and the indifferent (Dr Vex). Things go wrong with gizmos and people’s decisions.

Book 4 (in preparation) builds on the origins of the ancient struggle and explores a whole new dimension to the back story (no spoilers here though). Sean and Emily find ‘themselves’ and meet several new, amazing characters, while doing their best to thwart Deveraux and his minions. Dr Vex? Hmm, let’s just say he’s up to his old tricks.

Happy reading

DM Jarrett

One simple way to plot out your story

Hi there, a quick tip about how to plot your story in a very easy way. And bear in mind you can always refine and elaborate it later when better ideas arrive. It is a starting point or a fresh way of thinking.

Firstly, imagine a steep hill.

At the top of that hill is your protagonist’s goal. They do have a goal right? You need a clear goal. What does your protagonist need? What will they die for / strive to achieve? What do they want more than anything?

To achieve that goal your protagonist must climb up the hill and overcome every challenge you can throw at them. The harsher the challenges, the more engaging the feat. There need to be setbacks. There need to be barriers. There need to be twists.  BUT and THEREFORE are your friends. X wants something BUT and THEREFORE X does this…

Now, find a big piece of paper (A3 or bigger). In pencil, draw a steep sigmoid curve from bottom (left)  to top (right)  – this is your Plot Hill.

In pencil, at the bottom of your hill write the protagonist’s starting place and their status. These needs to be pathetic or loathsome and far from their goal.

Starting at the bottom, add each step in your protagonist’s journey up the hill, one on top of the other. Add the challenges and the setbacks. Add whatever places, people, events you like. Include your twists in position.

When you have a continuous journey from ‘nowhere’ to your protagonist achieving their goal, you have the bare bones of your story. And now you can refine it, add to it, or start over again, Because it is visual and a mind-dump, it should freshen up your thinking. It should also be fun,

For other character’s sub-plots, draw a fresh hill with a fresh goal and add the relevant steps. The two Plot Hills can be later intertwined into a larger hill. And then you can write it up as a sequence from your beginning to your middle to your end. Bear in mind, that you might want to start telling your story in the middle.

If you have ideas with sufficient drama, you will already have low points, barriers, confrontations, set-backs, twists and such like. If not, back away, find a fresh piece of paper and try again a few days later. And note – you need a clear goal that is difficult to attain and lots of intervening sub-challenges and events. The rest is your protagonist’s journey up your Plot Hill.

Here’s a quick example (read from the bottom up):

Hilltop Goal : Recover the Black Pearl

Sails the Black Pearl away, leaves the captain

Defeats the Pearl’s captain & steals his booty

Boards the Black Pearl at night with his allies

Lures the Pearl’s captain to a deserted cave

Tricks the Pearl’s captain with promises of gold

Reaches Tortuga and finds the Pearl’s crew ashore

Pleads with Calypso to raise the wind

Becomes becalmed at sea, with no wind

Follows his magical compass

Sets course to find a hidden island in the fog

Escapes from the British

Steals a British Naval ship by tricking some soldiers

Recruits a miscreant crew from a rowdy public house

Finds Gibbs and sobers him up

Escapes from jail

Convinces someone to help him

Pirate, in jail, waiting to be hanged

         START HERE – and read back up the hill

Try it and see how you get on. It should be quick and painless, provided you have enough ideas. If not, come back later when your subconscious has got to work. And don’t worry about the order of the events – you can refine those later.  What is more important is getting down the main elements of the story you have in mind and refining it. You did write in pencil?

Happy plotting.

D M Jarrett

Author of Sean Yeager Adventures
Awesome books for bright, young minds