I have to start by acknowledging how annoying it is to be asked to give feedback on every single thing we do online. Every restaurant visited, product purchased, entertainment site enjoyed, business connection made. Sometimes I review and sometimes I delete the request. There is one time, however, when reviews are important, to me anyway, and that’s when you purchase a book.
For those of us who are self-published and don’t have a publishing house behind us creating ads, applying for awards, and pushing orders by stores, your reviews are paramount. There’s Goodreads, but I am primarily talking about reviews on Amazon, because they drive sales.
Getting reviews is a challenge for indie authors. There are a ton of people in the cybersphere who review books. They may have thousands of followers (potential buyers), so a review from them would be great. It takes a lot of research to find the right ones for your book and then you usually have to send them a copy. A few months back I agreed to send a book to a potential reviewer in the U.K. It cost a bit to mail the book (no media mail for overseas) and I never heard from her again.
So that leaves the hundreds (if you’re lucky, thousands) of folks who purchase your book in a store or on Amazon. Books with hundreds of positive reviews are more likely to be purchased. And negative reviews can hurt. A few people recently posted negative reviews on my Laugh and Live, Advice for Aging Boomers. It’s clear they either don’t have a sense of humor or were looking for something other than what my ad promises. But without a lot of positive reviews, those few ads will get too much attention from potential buyers. So I’m asking people who have read the book and liked it to please post a review.
To do a review on Amazon, you have to have an Amazon account, so if you’re a “never Amazon” shopper, thanks anyway. But, even if you find a book some other way, you can still do an Amazon review if you have an account and shop there, even occasionally. Your review need only be a sentence or two, but those 4 or 5 stars make a huge difference for the author. So when you really love a read, please review it!
In 2019, I paid a consultant to create an Amazon Ad campaign for my book, Laugh and Live, Advice for Aging Boomers. I had experimented on my own early in the year, but I didn’t know what I was doing and the results were not worth mentioning.
With the consultant’s help prior to the holiday shopping period, I had two ads running which helped increase my sales, but the cost was high. In November my royalties were $342, but the ads cost me $390. Way to go, Amazon! I came out ahead in December by about $70. Not much, but I was happy to have sold 90 books. Fortunately, I’m not planning to live off my profits! Things got better in January of 2020, but in February and March, I lost money.
Lucky for me, once the virus put me in my chair staring at a blank screen and wondering what to do with my time, I happened on Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Challenge course, a free, 5-day course on maximizing profits with Amazon ads. Believe me, learning about marketing is not something that rings my bell. Bryan, however, is an excellent teacher above all else. He presented the material in chunks that I could grasp, gave homework that urged me to understand, create ads, and post them on the challenge’s Facebook page for everyone else in the class of thousands to comment on. There were several sessions with communication directly with Bryan and his staff. I took voluminous notes.
For the month of April–I started the new ads mid-month–I came out $150 ahead. June is looking similar. My royalties, as I plot them from day to day, are averaging twice what I am spending on ads. Thank you, Bryan!
The Amazon adventure is way too complicated to boil down to a few simple rules and I highly recommend you to Bryan. He has an ongoing school for which he’ll charge you, but I am satisfied with what I learned from the free week of classes. Here are a few of the things I learned.
- Have lots of ads, new ones all the time, and make them short range–a month or two.
- Do automatic ads and category ads and keywords ads (the latter work the best for me)
- Write new ad copy all the time.
- Bid low. Bryan suggested 30 cents a click
- Look at your keyword data–which ones produce the most clicks?