How much did Amazon pay for Kindle Unlimited pages read in June, 2019?

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ FOR JUNE, 2019

The rate was $0.00464 per page for pages read through Kindle Unlimited in June, 2019.

The per-page rate has been very stable from March thru June. For example, it was $0.00466 in May.

The KDP Select Global Fund rose to $24.9 million for June. It continues to climb. The Global Fund was $24.6 million in May.

Happy Amazon Prime Days (July 15 thru July 16, 2019)!

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Amazon Prime Day, 2019: July 15-16

JULY 15-16, 2019: AMAZON PRIME DAY

Every July, Amazon has a special day of deals just for Prime members.

This year (2019), the event will actually span two days: Monday, July 15, to Tuesday, July 16.

It’s like a Black Friday in the summer just for Amazon Prime customers.

The event attracts much attention.

There are millions of customers who have Amazon Prime.

If you have that membership, naturally you want to make the most of it.

And thus you are enticed to check out Amazon on Prime Day, to see if there might be a good deal on something that you’d like to buy.

Occasionally, Prime Day, Black Friday, or even Cyber Monday can be very big even for Amazon.

Not only does Amazon often achieve record sales of some sort (like Kindle devices), but sometimes there is so much traffic early on that customers have to wait patiently for little delays relating to internet usage. Amazon surely works hard to resolve and prevent such issues, since these are huge sales days for Amazon. But even Amazon can occasionally be surprised by a huge surge in customer activity.

Many customers associate Amazon with books and ebooks, but Amazon has a huge inventory of all kinds of products.

More customers are regularly shopping on Amazon for birthday presents, holiday gifts, household items (with Subscribe & Save benefits), groceries (if you live in a metropolitan area where Amazon Fresh is available), and much more. You can even buy services from Amazon, like getting a ceiling fan installed.

It reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein’s hard-to-find short story, “We Also Walk Dogs” (one of my favorite stories).

Amazon’s big sale days, such as Amazon Prime Day, encourage more customers to explore Amazon’s other products (that is, way beyond just books).

Though you can usually find some books on sale, too.

Unfortunately, Amazon really hasn’t tapped into its KDP author base on the big holidays.

Even if an author’s KDP published print books are periodically on sale at Amazon (with Amazon paying the full royalty even when it’s on sale), they have seldom been on sale on the big sale days.

Kindle authors can run a Countdown Deal (if in KDP Select) or a temporary price reduction (though in this case it isn’t obvious that the book is on sale), but it may actually be better to schedule the promotional price at another time. Many customers are too busy chasing the main deals of the day. At another time, your book might be more likely to get noticed, or your own marketing might be more effective.

I keep waiting. One of these years, Amazon will announce to KDP authors when Prime Day is coming, along with plans to include some KDP books, encouraging KDP authors to help spread the word. Or at least include more of the KDP paperbacks on sale. I can list dozens of amazing ways that Amazon has improved KDP over the past ten years, including things many people said would never happen (like the ability to make a preorder, advertise KDP books, or add x-ray features to Kindle ebooks). So maybe including KDP authors with Prime Day will be one of those things someday. With over a million authors, there sure is potential to help market millions of books along with the big day.

Well, a couple of times over the years, CreateSpace or KDP has preordered one (or more) of my books for Amazon Prime Day. Like Amazon does for the holidays, stocking up on its better selling books helps Amazon meet its logistical challenges. I appreciate that the preorders help keep better selling books available during peak sales days. That’s a great start.

In the meantime, as a Prime customer, I will check out the event and see if any of the deals interest me this year.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Fun with Google Translate

 

FUN WITH GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Google Translate is actually pretty handy as an informal tool.

There have been times where I have wanted to have at least a partial understanding of something that I read in another language online, and Google Translate has helped me with that.

I’m also a little rusty with French, and Google Translate has helped to fill in some of my gaps.

But if you wrote something and wanted to have a professional translation of your writing into another language, well, as you will see in this article, that could result in some interesting consequences.

TRANSLATION EXPERIMENT

What I will do is type a variety of expressions in English.

I will copy and paste these expressions into Google Translate, and have them translated into a different language.

Then I will have them translated back into English.

(Isn’t this what everybody does when they feel like having some fun?)

LET’S START WITH SOMETHING EASY

We will start with a simple opinion in English. (As a person’s opinion, it is informal, not proper grammar.)

I strongly prefer slacks over blue jeans on the golf course.

I copied and pasted the above text into Google Translate.

https://translate.google.com/

I had the text translated from English to Chinese (traditional).

我非常喜歡高爾夫球場上的藍色牛仔褲。

Next I copied the Chinese text, deleted the original English text, and pasted the Chinese text into Google Translate.

I really like the blue jeans on the golf course.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the opposite of the original statement.

Let’s see if we can find some good sentences to translate.

SO CLICHÉ

Input. (Imagine a far too clichéd romance novel.)

Meet Chloe, a blond bombshell dressed to the nines.

Translated to Russian.

Познакомьтесь с Хлоей, белокурой бомбой, одетой в пух и прах.

Back to English.

Meet Chloe, a blonde bomb dressed in lint and dust.

(Hey, maybe the novel would be better this way…)

POETRY, ANYONE?

Input. (The awful, Vogon variety.) I put all of this into a single line of text (with spaces in place of the line breaks).

How did I get into this bad romance

He is so handsome but too psycho

How much I wish I could turn back time

And not ride on his motorcycle

Translated to Hindi.

मैं इस बुरे रोमांस में कैसे आया वह इतना सुंदर है, लेकिन बहुत ही मनोहर है कि मैं चाहता हूं कि मैं अपनी मोटरसाइकिल पर वापस समय बदल सकता हूं और नहीं

Back to English.

How did I come to this bad romance

is so beautiful, but very handsome

that I want to change my time

on my motorcycle and not

(It started out so well, too.)

You could imagine that song lyrics are even better.

SIMPLE SHOULD BE BETTER, RIGHT?

Input. Imagine that we’re making a very simple children’s book for beginning readers.

See Jeff. See Amazon. See Jeff run Amazon.

Translated to Latin.

Jeff videre. Vide Amazon. Jeff videre current Amazon.

Back to English.

Jeff further. Know Amazon. Jeff further current Amazon.

It’s interesting what a difference the middleman makes. When I tried using Japanese, it came out almost perfectly.

I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST

I bought a bicycle for my daughter on Amazon last year.

It was difficult to find the right color in the right price range.

When I finally did, there were several 5-star reviews with names that seemed indicative of a certain language (I won’t say which).

But there were a few 1-star reviews claiming that the instructions were virtually impossible to read.

Well, I have a Ph.D. in physics, so I figured I could assemble a bicycle myself.

My family had a blast reading the instruction manual. I’ve never read anything so funny!

It’s like someone typed the instructions in another language (still not saying!) and used Google Translate to turn them into English.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s what actually happened.

Let me share a few goodies from these instructions. I took care to copy all of the typos correctly, including the punctuation issues.

  • By now, there should not any touching between bicycle and your body.
  • The leg–length of a rider should be at least 2.54cm.
  • As photo shows,put the stem into head tube,adjust proper depth,before tighten stem binder bolt(not less than 18N.m)adjust handlebar perpendicular to forward direction,then tighten four bolts on aluminum cap orderly
  • If adjust slightly loose the adjusting nut and bolt, then lock nut. If adjust largely, loose nut ( as pic ), the loose or fasten brake line, then fasten nut.
  • BBzxle adjustment: loosethe left lock nut of BB axle adjust the space between “stationary cone” and “bearing and retainer” to the smallest,the tighten the nut
  • Do not use this bicycle as a transport facilities.

I kid you not. (I wish I were.)

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read Rate for May, 2019

MAY, 2019 KINDLE UNLIMITED PER PAGE RATE

For May, 2019, the KENP per-page rate for pages read through Kindle Unlimited was $0.00466.

This is nearly identical to what it was in April, and is a small improvement over March.

In May, the KDP Select Global fund climbed up to $24.6 million.

The Global fund was $24.1 in April and $24.0 million in March.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Word Search Puzzle for Book Lovers (Plus, How to Make One)

 

WORD SEARCH FOR READERS/AUTHORS

I made a word search puzzle for anyone who appreciates books.

Later, I will also show you how I made the puzzle.

First, here is the puzzle.

Here is the word list:

  • AMAZON
  • ANTAGONIST
  • AUTHOR
  • BESTSELLER
  • BLOG
  • BLURB
  • BOOKMARK
  • BOOKSTORE
  • CHAPTER
  • CHARACTER
  • CLASSIC
  • CLIMAX
  • CONTENTS
  • COVER
  • DESIGNER
  • EDITION
  • EDITOR
  • FANTASY
  • FICTION
  • FONT
  • GLOSSARY
  • GRAMMAR
  • HERO
  • INDEX
  • ISBN
  • JUSTIFIED
  • KINDLE
  • LEAF
  • MARGINS
  • MYSTERY
  • NICHE
  • OUTLINE
  • PAGE
  • PLOT
  • POEM
  • POET
  • PROTAGONIST
  • PUBLISH
  • QUOTE
  • READ
  • REVIEW
  • ROMANCE
  • SERIES
  • SETTING
  • SPINE
  • SUSPENSE
  • SYNOPSIS
  • TITLE
  • TRILOGY
  • TYPE
  • TYPO
  • UNIT
  • VOLUME
  • WORDS
  • WRITER

HOW TO MAKE A WORD SEARCH PUZZLE

I will show you how to make a word search puzzle in Microsoft Word or Excel.

I will focus specifically on Word for Windows, though Excel is very similar.

There are a few differences.

  • Word lets you enter the width of the columns and the height of the rows in inches so that you know they are exactly the same. The numerical measures for these values in Excel can be confusing, and unless you research what they mean you need to eyeball it. But you can still get them close enough that it doesn’t matter.
  • Word has a few formatting issues (like line spacing and cell margins) that can be problematic for the table, but I’ll show you how to deal with them.
  • If you’re trying to make a book, Excel can cause trouble trying to get predictable and consistent page margins, page headers, etc. on the final printed product. But a Word file with dozens of tables becomes a complex file prone to being slow to work with and becoming corrupt. For a book, if you can convert the tables individually into high-quality JPEGS (300 DPI) and insert these into Word (after researching the tricks to avoid having the pictures compressed), the file will be much more manageable. You can also separate the book into several smaller files and combine them together into a single PDF if you have access to Adobe Acrobat DC (not to be confused with the free Adobe Reader). Beware that many Word to PDF converters don’t have this capability, so find out what you have access to before working with a bunch of small files.

The first thing I did was come up with a list of related words. I made a list of words that relate to books, like “Kindle” and “poem.”

Next, I inserted a table in Microsoft Word using Insert > Table > Insert Table. My table has 18 rows and 18 columns, but you should pick the size that suits your table. If you need a smaller or larger table, you can easily insert or delete rows/columns as needed.

The default table has unequal column width and row height, so I adjusted this. I highlighted the entire table (but not beyond the table) and clicked the Layout tab on the top of the screen. I changed the Height and Width of all of my rows and columns to 0.25″. Depending on your font size, font style, and what suits your eye, you may need different values.

With the entire table highlighted, I also changed the font style to Courier New and the font size to 12 points on the Home ribbon. You can use a different font style or size. What I like about Courier New for a word search is that all of the letters are the same width. However, the font is a little light, so it’s not perfect. I suggest playing around with the font options, and print out a sample on paper before you commit.

There are two things you need to do in order to have good spacing and centering:

  • With the whole table highlighted (but not beyond the table), on the Layout tab select the center/middle alignment on the tic-tac-toe grid of icons in the Alignment group. This centers every cell horizontally and vertically, but it won’t be perfect unless you also complete the next step.
  • With the entire table highlighted, click the little arrow-like icon on the bottom right corner of the Paragraph group on the Home ribbon. This opens up the paragraph properties box. Set the line spacing to Single, and the Spacing Before and After to zero. Special should be set to None and the Indentation settings should be zero.

I put the CAPS lock on my keyboard since I prefer a word search with uppercase letters.

I started typing in words horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, forward and backward. I challenged myself to see how many words relating to books I could squeeze into the puzzle, and I managed to use words beginning with every letter of the alphabet from A thru W. It’s not necessarily the way to go; I just had fun doing it.

At this stage, my puzzle looked like this:

Next I added letters to the blank cells. I studied my word list, trying to create letter sequences that might make the word search slightly more challenging, and add a few letters that hadn’t been used much (like X). If you’re looking for BOOK and you see BOOI, for example, your eye and mind can get fixated on the wrong sequence and not find the right one as quickly. The more experience you have solving word searches, the more you learn about the kinds of things that affect you while solving the puzzle. But remember that other people may think differently.

Now I highlighted the entire table, went to the Design tab, clicked the little arrow beneath Borders, and selected No Border.

Then I changed the pen thickness to 1 pt (the default was 1/2 pt). If you plan to publish a book, Amazon KDP (for example) recommends a minimum of 1 pt for the thickness of line drawings.

Next, highlight the entire table, go back to Borders, and select Outside Borders. Your puzzle should look like this:

I zoomed in as far as I could and still see the whole table and used the Snapshot tool to take a picture of the table. (Pro tip: Make sure your cursor is below or above the table so that the cursor doesn’t show up in the picture of your table.) If making a book, you could change this to 300 DPI using image software like Photoshop. Beware that increasing the DPI isn’t magic: If it has to invent pixels, the picture may look blurry or pixilated. My computer takes 192 DPI snapshots, whereas some are much lower (72 or 96 DPI). I also have a very large monitor, so when I zoom in, I have a very large picture on my screen. Depending on your computer, you might get more or fewer pixels.

If your picture is larger in inches than you need, when you increase the DPI, if you also decrease the dimensions in inches, you might already have enough pixels that you don’t get a blurry or pixilated image. If you plan to make a book, you need to test this out, especially print out a page on a deskjet printer as a sample.

Since I just did this for my blog, not a book, I didn’t bother so much with this one.

Next I inserted the picture of the table into a Word file and added my word list to it, like the picture below. There is no particular reason that I put words on both sides of the table. I would recommend reading a few word search puzzle books and getting ideas for what formatting appeals to you.

Now there is the issue of making an answer key.

There are a few ways to go about this. You could just highlight the letters in the table and change the colors of those cells (for example, to a shading of 25% gray using the Design ribbon).

If you try to use Word’s drawing tools to create rounded rectangles, beware that some letters may actually move around and row heights or column widths may change slightly.

Well, there is a way around that. Insert the picture of the table into a new file in JPEG format (wrapped In Line With Text, on its own “paragraph”). Then you can make rounded rectangles and lay them over the picture without having to worry about the format of the table changing.

I created rounded rectangles (using Insert > Shapes) with a width of 0.18″. If you use a different font style or size, you may need a different width. For the diagonals, I clicked the little arrow-like icon beside Size on the Format ribbon (when the rounded rectangle was selected) and changed the rotation angle to 45 or 315 degrees.

I used a lot of copy/paste to make other rounded rectangles, trying to be consistent with alignment and positioning.

Here is the solution to my word search puzzle:

It would be very easy to make mistakes trying to make a word search puzzle book.

Beta readers would be great for creating a puzzle book, to help you catch important little details. They could also help you create buzz for your book.

There may or may not be demand for such a puzzle book, but if you really love puzzles, you would surely enjoy making the puzzles and sharing them with others.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

How Do You Search for Books?

 

INTRODUCTION

It isn’t easy to find the “perfect” book to read, and once you read that book, you need to find another.

This question is important from two different perspectives:

  • Customers want to learn about the best ways to find the books they are likely to enjoy the most.
  • Authors and publishers want to know the different ways that customers might search for their books to aid in their marketing strategies.

I will start out by listing common methods that customers use to search for books.

Then I will share a couple of creative strategies for finding a good book to read.

I hope some of my readers will add helpful comments. Don’t be shy.

HOW CUSTOMERS SEARCH FOR BOOKS

Following are a variety of book-buying habits.

  1. Browse bestseller lists. This is highly popular. The idea is that there should be some good books on these lists. Fortunately, for authors who aren’t yet this popular, this is just one of many methods that customers use. If you write an amazing book and succeed in marketing, then you might benefit from this method. Until then, focus on the other methods.
  2. Browse subcategories. This is also common. I’ve scrolled several pages through subcategories, so you don’t always need to land at the top to get noticed. But if your book is way back even in a very narrow category, there is still hope. How? Because some customers will combine methods, like first choosing a subcategory and then searching for specific keywords.
  3. Enter keywords. This is handy when you’re looking for a certain type of book that isn’t easy to find just by browsing a subcategory. If you want to find a calculus workbook with answers, you could type that phrase into the search instead of browsing through all calculus books (which will start out mainly with textbooks). If you want to find a mystery set in a certain era or location, you could use a search instead of browsing all mystery books. Authors and publishers need to choose their keywords wisely; spend much time brainstorming before finalizing these.
  4. Look for new releases. This doesn’t just help bestselling new releases. Many new releases get noticed when customers search for books some other way (like using keywords) and then click Last 30 Days or Last 90 Days on Amazon to help filter the results. It’s surprisingly common how many books sell fairly well for three months and then see a significant decline in sales, often because the Last 90 Days filter suddenly stops helping. You want to find effective marketing strategies before the three months are up to help the book succeed long-term.
  5. Book reviews. Not just those on Amazon product pages. If you find someone who regularly reviews books in your favorite genre who proves to be fairly reliable in their criticism, you suddenly hit the jackpot. It’s not uncommon for publishers to seek out bloggers with large followings who regularly review books, offering advance review copies. I know that some of my followers either review books on their blogs or have had their books reviewed on various blogs. If you’re reading this, you’re invited to leave a comment.
  6. Word of mouth. If you read a great book, do your friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, and coworkers a favor: Tell them about the book. Great stories are meant to be shared. I love it when book titles come up in conversations.
  7. Book marketing. This isn’t so much about the customer looking for the book, as the authors striving to help customers discover their books. Customers discover books through marketing, so it can work. Often, it’s in the form of branding. A customer might see a book cover a few times over the course of months, then one day the customer is browsing for a book to read, remembers seeing that cover, and finally checks it out.
  8. Stores. While Amazon is amazingly popular and convenient, there are still bookstores and customers do browse through the shelves. If you have a paperback book, put together a press release kit and see if local bookstores (and other stores that sometimes carry books) may be interested in purchasing author copies directly from you at a discounted price. A customer who discovers your book in a store might wind up buying more of your books online in the future.
  9. Advertisements. Amazon does this very well. Over the past few years, many ads have been sprinkled onto product pages and search results, but these are fairly inobtrusive. For example, in search results the ads practically blend in with the other books on the list. Many customers do click on ads that interest them. The trick for authors and publishers is not to overspend for their ads, and to use ads just as one of several forms of effective marketing. It also takes a great cover, product page, and Look Inside to get the most out of the ad space.
  10. Indie books. I’ve self-published several books, as have over a million other authors. Like most authors, I’m also an avid reader. When I read, I often search for books by other indie authors. I like to support the idea of self-publishing and the companies (like Amazon and Smashwords) that have been instrumental in making this possible. Many other indie authors (and their friends and family) also search for indie books.
  11. Subscriptions and promotions. For example, many readers subscribe to BookBub, which provides a few recommendations for discounted books every day.
  12. Series, sets, anthologies, similar books. It can take a long time to find a really good book to read. If you can find a set of books to read, or a really long book to read, you are rewarded as a reader for your effort to find that book; you get more material to enjoy reading.
  13. What other methods can you think of?

A COUPLE OF CREATIVE WAYS TO FIND A GOOD BOOK

I have a couple of creative suggestions. These may not be popular yet, but perhaps one will be worth considering. Especially if you’ve spent hours using common methods, but weren’t satisfied with the results.

  1. Suppose that you find a thorough customer review on Amazon, the review really resonates with you, and after reading the book you feel that the comments were spot-on. Well, duh! You need to go back to that review, click on that customer’s name, and see what other reviews that customer has written.
  2. Interact with a variety of authors, see their personalities and their character, and see how well they write informal posts on social media. It’s surprisingly easy to interact with authors in this digital age. Sometimes, once you’ve “met” an author before reading a book, you read the book differently than you otherwise would have. A positive outlook can actually help you enjoy a book more. I’ve read some books this way, and it has often worked well for me.
  3. If you can think of any creative strategies to search for books, I’d like to hear them.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

How to Edit/Adjust Shapes in Photoshop 2019 (Tutorial)

 

HOW TO EDIT SHAPES IN PHOTOSHOP 2019

Changing the shape of a polygon in Adobe Photoshop isn’t as intuitive as it could be.

But it can be done, and the process is fairly simple.

I’ll show you how to do this for a triangle.

First, find the Polygon tool. For me, this shows up on a toolbar on the left. (Toolbars can be moved around though, so this isn’t necessarily the case for you.)

The icon might look different on your toolbar. It could be a rectangle, ellipse, line, or a star, depending on which form of the tool was used previously.

If it doesn’t look like a hexagon (that is, if it looks like a rectangle, ellipse, line, or a star), hold the cursor (left-click) on the shape tool until the other options show up. Choose the hexagon (which is the Polygon tool).

If you wish to make a triangle, enter 3 for the Number of Sides.

Set the width and height as desired.

Place your cursor somewhere on the canvas, left-click once, and you should see a triangle.

When the shape is selected, you should see another toolbar on the screen. This will let you adjust, for example, the fill color, the outline color, and the outline thickness.

My fill was initially transparent, but then I changed it to red. I also changed the stroke (outline) color to black and decreased its thickness from 10 px down to 3 px. (You will see this later.)

Use whatever colors and thickness suit your needs. Try experimenting with them to see how this works. (If it doesn’t seem to be working, try inserting a new triangle after you adjust the settings.)

When you select the polygon, you see little markers on the corners (called the vertices). You can see these markers in the triangle shown above.

BUT… if you try to move these markers and the entire shape moves, you can easily get frustrated.

You want to click on the marker to move the marker, thereby changing the shape or orientation of the triangle. But the whole triangle simply moves without changing shape.

If that happens, don’t worry, there is a simple fix.

This happens when the object is selected using the Path Selection Tool, which is a black arrowhead like the one shown below.

What you need to do is change this to the Direct Selection Tool, which is a white arrowhead like the one shown below.

It’s tricky because they look very similar.

And because you don’t see both arrows on the main toolbar at the same time.

You need to left-click on the Path Selection Tool (the black arrowhead) by holding the left button down until both arrowheads appear, and then choose the white arrowhead instead.

The white arrowhead is the Direct Selection Tool.

Once you are using the Direct Selection Tool (the white arrowhead), grab the triangle, and it will let you move the markers.

(If it still doesn’t, try clicking outside of the shape, and then choosing the shape again, and it should finally let you.)

This is how I moved the markers on the corners to change the shape of my triangle like the one below.

And then I changed the fill color, stroke color, and stroke thickness (as I mentioned earlier in the article).

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

More Changes to AMS Advertising—Up and Down Bidding

 

AMS ADVERTISING BIDDING DYNAMICS

The amount of your bid may now change.

This includes ad campaigns that were running prior to April 22, 2019.

There are now three campaign bidding strategies:

  1. Dynamic bids—down only. Your bid is automatically lowered when Amazon predicts that your ad would be less likely to convert to a sale.
  2. Dynamic bids—up and down. Your bid is automatically raised as much as 100% when Amazon predicts that your ad would be more likely to convert to a sale, and lowers your bid when it would be less likely to convert to a sale.
  3. Fixed bids. Your bid is fixed, unless you check one of two boxes that allow Amazon to adjust your bid.

In addition to the bidding strategies, there are now two bid adjust options (which replace the old Bid+):

  1. You may choose to increase your bid by up to 900% to land your ad at the top of search results (first page).
  2. You may choose to increase your bid by up to 900% to land your ad on a product page.

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR OLD AD CAMPAIGN?

If you launched an ad campaign with AMS prior to April 22, 2019, the bidding strategy was automatically changed to Dynamic bids—down only.

If your ad previously had Bid+ set to on, it now includes a 50% bid adjust for top of search (first page).

MAKING SENSE OF THESE CHANGES

The main idea behind AMS advertising is relevance. When the most relevant ads show to customers, this benefits customers, it benefits Amazon, and it benefits the product being advertised.

AMS has always benefited authors and companies whose advertisements rate high in terms of relevance.

In fact, by rating high in terms of relevance, an ad campaign can actually generate more impressions at a more modest bid.

If an ad creates 2000 impressions and has no sales, from Amazon’s perspective the ad doesn’t seem very relevant to the customers seeing the ad.

If an results in a sale once on average for every 500 impressions, this ad is far more relevant than an ad that creates one sale for every 2000 impressions.

What I’ve said so far has been true for years.

The recent change of introducing bidding dynamics helps to reflect relevance in the amount of the bid itself.

In circumstances where an ad has a history of seeming less relevant, a dynamic bid would lower the bid for less relevant ads.

In circumstances where an ad has a history of seeming more relevant, a dynamic up-and-down bid would raise the bid for more relevant ads.

DON’T GO OVERBOARD

Amazon makes it easy for authors to bid too high.

It’s very common for authors to bid more than they can afford to bid.

If you bid too high, your ad is more likely to result in a short-term loss, and you’re more likely to think that AMS isn’t for you.

First of all, it helps to realize that AMS isn’t just for books. There are many businesses using AMS to advertise many other products.

When you’re selling a product that retails for $100 or more, and where your profit is $10 or more, you can afford to bid $1 or more and you can afford to include a large bid adjust option.

When you’re an author selling a book for $5 with a royalty of $3, you can’t afford to bid $1 or close to it (there may be exceptional circumstances, but very rarely).

If you mostly sell Kindle eBooks, and if your average royalty is close to 70% (if your books include many pictures, your effective royalty is probably much less due to the delivery fee), then you want your ACOS (average cost of sale) to be 70% or less so that you’re not losing money on your ad.

If you mostly sell paperback books, and if your average royalty is close to 30%, then you want your ACOS to be less than 30%. The list price should be higher for a paperback, which helps to offset this lower percentage.

Figure out what your average royalty is, then keep a close eye on your ACOS and strive to keep it below your royalty percentage.

For comparison, my ads (some for books under pen names) generate millions of impressions (combined) in a single month with an ACOS usually around 25%. So it is possible to generate many impressions at a modest ACOS.

My ad campaigns use dynamic bidding—down only. I don’t currently raise my bids. The main reason is that this happened automatically on April 22. But after about a month of data, I don’t yet see a convincing reason to change to up-and-down bidding. I might try it with a future ad and see how it does, but the big downside is that ads will cost more.

I didn’t use Bid+, so I don’t bid extra for placement in search results or on product pages. For a nonfiction book, I would prefer to show high in search results than on a product page. But I also prefer not to pay extra for this.

It’s tempting to bid higher and bid extra. But it costs more. If you can get successful ads at a lower cost, you can run your ads for a much longer period.

The main key to success is relevance. You can actually generate good impressions at a modest bid if your targeting results in high relevance.

Part of relevance is a compelling cover, effective description, helpful Look Inside, amazing content that leads to good reviews, etc. This helps you sell more books for each 1000 impressions, which helps to rate high in terms of relevance.

Part of relevance is effective targeting. I have a knack for researching keywords and keyphrases. I spend time on Amazon typing in keywords and seeing what it suggests (yes, I know this isn’t perfect, but as it turns out, it really helps with brainstorming). I jot down keyword ideas whenever they occur to me. Use your brainstorming techniques. Now I don’t use every keyword (or better, group of related keywords) that comes to mind, but I do have a very long and varied list to begin with.

I suggest trying to bid below a half-dollar, maybe in the 30 to 40 cents range. This may not be enough with a popular broad keyword like “mystery” or with a product page for a popular book. But if you are clever enough to find combinations of keywords that do get searched several times per day, but which aren’t insanely popular, or similar popularity for product page targeting, you can get lower bids to be effective.

But you really want the targeting to be relevant for your book. That’s the most important thing. If the wrong audience is looking at your ad, you will rate poorly in terms of relevance.

If your ad isn’t performing well and it’s been a couple of weeks, you can pause or terminate your ad and start a new one. Try different targeting.

Raising the bid isn’t likely the solution to an ad that isn’t performing well because it doesn’t rate well in terms of relevance. But new targeting may help you land more impressions at a modest bid. If you can rate better in terms of relevance, you can land many more impressions.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

KDP Help Pages Continually Improving

 

THE KDP HELP PAGES

Every few months for the past 11 years I’ve spent time browsing through the KDP help pages.

They have evolved considerably over the years.

When CreateSpace first merged with KDP, there was very little information on the KDP help pages regarding paperback formatting and submission requirements.

Now the paperback submission guidelines for Kindle Direct Publishing are far more complete.

Visit KDP. Log in. Look for the Help link at the top of the page.

kdp.amazon.com

There is ample information organized in the Help topics that appear in the left column.

For example, for paperback formatting:

  • Look under Prepare, Publish, Promote
  • Click Prepare Your Book
  • Select Format Your Manuscript
  • Below the first list, look for Paperback Submission Overview.
  • Now you will find several topics, from templates (which I don’t recommend, but can be handy) to fonts.

Even Amazon Kindle’s Build Your Book has evolved over the years. This formatting guide used to be solely for Kindle, but now there is also a version for paperback formatting. The paperback version is available for Microsoft Word, Word for Mac, and even Pages for Mac.

If you spend some time browsing through the help pages, you can find some cool info. For example, check out both the Promote Your Book and Tools and Resources sections under Prepare, Publish, Promote.

One of the most valuable KDP help pages is found under Prepare, Publish, Promote > Publish Your Book > Enter Book Details > Choose Browse Categories. This page has the secret keywords needed to unlock special categories.

Another thing that has evolved considerably is Amazon’s list of recommended services. This list used to be just for Kindle conversion services, but has since been expanded to include editing, cover design, formatting, and translation. Find this list under Prepare, Publish, Promote > Getting Started > Before You Start Publishing > Publishing Service Providers & Resources.

Want to know more about advertising with AMS? Click Prepare, Publish, Promote > Promote Your Book > Kindle Merchandising Programs > Advertising for KDP Books.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides