A Few Things I Like about Kindle Unlimited (& the May, 2018 per-page Rate)

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POSITIVE INDICATORS

There are reasons to be positive about Kindle Unlimited:

  • The per-page rate is $0.00454 for May, 2018 for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime, which is almost identical to what it was ($0.00456) in April, 2018.
  • The per-page rate has been quite stable this year, very close to $0.0045 each month since January, 2018.
  • The KDP Select Global Fund made a significant jump, climbing to $22.5 million for May, 2018 (compared to $21.2 million for April, 2018).
  • The KDP Select Global Fund has steadily risen for years: $22.5 million is a new high. (Many people argued with me when the per-page concept was introduced, saying it would quickly drop down way below $10 million.)
  • The Kindle Unlimited market is significant. Amazon is on pace to pay $250,000,000 in royalties for KDP Select eBooks borrowed through Kindle Unlimited (and also Amazon Prime, though Prime is far less significant). That’s in addition to All-Star bonuses and whatever Amazon pays the traditionally published books that participate in the program. That’s a significant share of the eBook market, and since many of the books are KDP Select eBooks, this is a fairly indie-friendly market.

TRY TO STAY POSITIVE

As a general rule, people who are upset about something are more likely to express their opinions (especially strong opinions).

(Beware also that some people who complain loudly have ulterior motives.)

This can make it a challenge to remain positive.

But if you want to remain motivated and improve your chances of reaching your long-term goals, you need to stay hopeful.

(And avoid getting sucked into black holes of complaining and despair.)

If you do get upset about something, channel your feelings and passion into something productive. Find a way to help it motivate yourself, as some successful authors have done by posting rejection letters on their walls.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT KINDLE UNLIMITED

It’s too easy to get negative.

For example, you could look at the total number of books in Kindle Unlimited, or just the massive number added in the last 30 days.

But every negative has a positive. Instead of thinking of the large number of books as competition, think of how beneficial this is to help attract readers and keep them in the program (which if Amazon can continue to pay $20M per month in royalties and steadily growing, this is obviously working well).

Just like the big mistake that the “foolish” author who bashes the competition makes, similar books really don’t compete against one another. They are really complementary books that can thrive together. Customers read one good book, then want to find similar books. If an author persuades customers not to read similar books, many customers won’t discover that author’s books through those other books.

So here are a few things that I like about Kindle Unlimited (as both an author and a reader):

  • It’s affordable. Many of the books that I read in Kindle Unlimited sell for $5 and up. If I read a mere two books per month, I actually save money. When I’m not super busy with editing my own books, I easily read more than two books per month.
  • Recently, my daughter dragged me into a physical bookstore. I spent more money buying one ordinary novel than it would have cost for my entire monthly subscription to Kindle Unlimited.
  • For the nonfiction and educational books that participate, Kindle Unlimited is a convenient digital library. I wish there was more nonfiction content in the program. My nonfiction books participate, and the amount of nonfiction and educational books in the program is growing. Just imagine if someday, it were more convenient to look something up in a book in Kindle Unlimited than to use a search engine. (With search engines, very often one of the top search results has a nag screen to subscribe to their site. I haven’t even used the site yet to see if it’s worth subscribing to. If it were convenient to look to Kindle Unlimited for the answer, I could bypass some of those nag screens and advertisements, and I would be far less worried about getting a virus or spyware while searching for the answer.) It’s great when Kindle Unlimited has the nonfiction information I’m looking for, and sometimes it does.
  • As an author, I appreciate that each Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) borrow helps with sales rank (just as much as an ordinary paid sale). Occasionally, a book where sales are starting to taper off sees much extended life through regular borrows. A book with several daily borrows can compete with a book that has several daily sales.
  • I love seeing the number of pages read in my KDP royalty reports. I love knowing that not only did people borrow the book, but they are actually reading much of it, too. With math workbooks, I sometimes worry that people will start solving problems, but then give up. With Kindle Unlimited, sometimes the page count is a pleasant surprise, and shows me that people really are using my workbooks.
  • Conversely, if you’re not getting many pages read, this provides valuable marketing insight. Either your content isn’t as engaging as it could be, or your cover, description, and marketing are attracting the wrong audience for your book. Try changing things up until you finally get more pages read.
  • As I mentioned earlier, Kindle Unlimited is a very large, fairly indie-friendly market. Of course, with a couple million books to choose from, your book might not be among the popular reads, but the potential is certainly there (and not being among the popular reads is problematic with ordinary sales, too: if you can learn to write engaging content and a few effective marketing strategies, Kindle Unlimited can be helpful).
  • Although I don’t believe that KDP Select books are shown any direct favoritism, there appear to be indirect benefits: sales rank (as I mentioned earlier), the Kindle Unlimited filter (so that Kindle Unlimited customers can quickly find participating books: to these customers, many other books don’t even exist), etc.
  • For authors who write longer books, the KENPC is sometimes generous compared to the actual paperback page count, such that if a single customer reads the entire book, the Kindle Unlimited royalty may be higher than the royalty for a paid sale. This is the case with my longer books. (For authors of shorter books, this might seem unfair. But again, I’m trying to find ways to look at the positive, not the negative. I’d rather not open that can of worms—again—right now.)

I try to be pragmatic:

  • Is my experience as a reader better with Kindle Unlimited or without it? In my case, it’s much better. It’s affordable, I have fewer books to search through (I use the Kindle Unlimited filter), and I use it avidly.
  • Do I think that the millions of customers who use Kindle Unlimited are better off because of it? For most of them, I do. It’s affordable, it encourages them to read regularly, and if they are wise in searching for books, there is plenty of engaging content to be found.
  • As an author, do I feel that my books are doing better because of Kindle Unlimited than they would be doing if Kindle Unlimited didn’t exist? Absolutely. My Kindle Unlimited royalties themselves aren’t all that significant: I sell more paperbacks, and actually earn more through Kindle sales than through Kindle Unlimited. Yet I’m convinced of several benefits to Kindle Unlimited, like remaining relevant in sales rank through borrows, the fairly indie-friendly readership, and the help that the Kindle Unlimited filter offers in search results.
  • If you can’t answer yes to the previous question, being pragmatic, the next thing to ask is: As an author, do you feel that your books are doing better in Kindle Unlimited than they would do outside of Kindle Unlimited? Looking at the large number of books already in the program (in most categories), and the large number added to the program each day, it appears that many authors answer yes to this question. (If not, they should pull their books out of the program and publish on other platforms in addition to Kindle. Some do, of course, but the number who don’t is overwhelming.)

A few years ago, many people said that the KDP Select Global Fund would only temporarily be in the $10 million range, and that it would quickly drop down to the $3 million mark. But instead it has steadily risen, and is now up to $22.5 million.

Every time the per-page rate has taken a dip, numerous people have predicted the end of the world, saying that the per-page rate would drop below $0.04 and never return. However, the per-page rate has never dropped below $0.04 in the United States. The couple of times that it has gotten close, it has rebounded. It has fluctuated both up and down several times, it has spent a little time over $0.05, and this year it has been quite stable near $0.045. (Just recently, I read an article about how we’re “lucky” if Kindle pays $0.03 per page read, but that’s a mistake: In the United States, it has never dipped below $0.04 per page.) I’m not saying that it won’t ever drop below $0.04, but several people have been “positive” in the past that it was going to, and that it would never return to its current level, but each time it rose back up instead of falling below this threshold, and we have a couple of years of data now.

Kindle Unlimited appears to be doing much better than some “experts” have claimed it would.

Sure, it would be great if the Global Fund were $30 million and if the page rate were $0.06. But could Amazon afford to pay that? Let’s remember, Amazon collects a small monthly fee, offers free trials, and lets customers read as much as they want. It’s easy to propose the subscription service of your dreams, but much harder for that service to continue long-term and not go out of business. Amazon has a fairly stable per-page rate, a growing Global Fund, a growing number of participating books, and a subscription service that has lasted for a few years. It appears to be a viable program. Viability is important to me.

Copyright 2018

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

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

KDP Select Global Fund and Per-page Rate for April, 2018

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WHAT DID KINDLE UNLIMITED PAY FOR PAGES READ IN APRIL, 2018?

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate increased slightly to $0.00456 for April, 2018 (compared to $0.00449 for March, 2018).

KENP read has been fairly stable in 2018, varying between $0.00448 (January) and $0.00466 (February) per normalized page read.

The KDP Select Global Fund continues to rise, reaching $21.2 million for April, 2018.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Copyright © 2018

Chris McMullen

Kindle Unlimited Per Page Rate for March, 2018

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KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ FOR MARCH, 2018

In March, 2018 the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate was $0.00449.

That’s nearly identical to what it was for January, 2018 ($0.00448), but down a little compared to February, 2018 ($0.00466).

The per-page rate is showing relative stability at the beginning of 2018.

The KDP Select Global Fund reached a record high of $21 million for March, 2018, a nice rise from February, 2018 ($20 million), and slightly higher than January, 2018 ($20.9 million).

 

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Copyright © 2018

Chris McMullen

Kindle Unlimited Bounce Back, February, 2018

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KINDLE UNLIMITED KENP READ FOR FEBRUARY, 2018

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate rebounded to $0.00466 for February, 2018 after having dropped down to $0.00448 for January, 2018.

The KDP Select Global Fund for February, 2018 is $20 million. Although this is a drop from January’s $20.9 million, it’s still the second best payout ever.

I look at the $20,000,000 per month and see a significant market for Kindle eBooks borrowed and read through Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Copyright © 2018

Chris McMullen

Kindle Unlimited Per-Page Rate Continues to Rise (November, 2017)

KINDLE UNLIMITED PER-PAGE RATE, NOVEMBER, 2017

Through July, 2017, the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate had been spiraling downward.

But Amazon introduced KENPC v3.0 before it could drop below $0.004 per page.

The per-page rate has steadily climbed since.

  • November: $0.00463 per page
  • October: $0.00456 per page
  • September: $0.00443 per page
  • August: $0.00419 per page
  • July: $0.00403 per page

The KDP Select Global Fund also hit a new record high.

  • November: $19.8 million
  • October: $19.7 million
  • September: $19.5 million
  • August: $19.4 million
  • July: $19.0 million
  • June: $18.0 million

It’s nice to see the per-page rate rising alongside the KDP Select Global Fund.

However, at some point the per-page rate will reach a plateau, whereas the KDP Select Global Fund has risen steadily for years.

I remember the days when the KDP Select Global Fund was below $10M. I remember the people who claimed that $10M would just be the gravy to entice authors into KDP Select, and that it would surely drop once it got settled. But it’s since doubled, continuing to rise.

I also remember every time the Kindle Unlimited rate dropped to near $0.004 per page several people crying the end of the world, that it would drop below $o.004 and never return. But yet again it has bounced back.

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate is a bit of a roller coaster ride with peaks and valleys. After it peaks and drops a bit, try not to panic. 🙂

Overall, the KDP Select per-page rate has experienced relative stability between $0.004 and $0.005 (occasionally rising slightly over $0.005).

Copyright © 2017

Chris McMullen

Kindle Unlimited Back Above Half a Penny Per Page

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KINDLE UNLIMITED

I remember, many months ago, when the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate first dropped below half a penny per page. This was early after the switch to paying for pages read.

There were many prophecies that it would continue to plunge deeper and deeper and would soon be worthless.

Yet many months later, it has again exceeded half a penny per page (though barely). Not only that, the KENP read rate has held fairly steady for eight months.

All the while, the KDP Select Global Fund has climbed up to $16.2 million, though it had been several million lower when the transition to pages read was made.

Both are signs that Kindle Unlimited is thriving.

Update:  If you’re looking for the exact figure, it is $0.005189724 per KENP read.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

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Images from ShutterStock

KINDLE UNLIMITED: CURRENT STATUS

Back in January, Kindle Unlimited had taken a little dip (which happens every holiday season), and the naysayer propaganda was in full force.

It’s now October. For the year 2016, Kindle Unlimited has beaten the propaganda.

  • Paying $0.00497 per KENP page read for September, Kindle Unlimited has been amazingly stable since February.  That’s 8 months strong.
  • Presently at a relative high of nearly half a penny per Kindle page read, the payout hasn’t suffered the continual drop that had been predicted. There have been some pleasant jumps, and not just with the September payout.
  • Here’s another cool fact: There are now 1.4 million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. There were 860,000 books enrolled in February, 2015.  That’s an increase of over half a million books in 1.5 years (a 60% increase). Remember all the stories about indie authors running for the hills? The data shows otherwise.
  • My favorite number is $15.9 million. That’s the KDP Select Global Fund for September, 2016, another of many record highs. Amazon continues to pay more and more money in Kindle Unlimited royalties. Amazon will pay close to $200,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows for the year 2016 (that’s aside from the royalties for the sales of those books; we’re just talking borrows), and that’s in addition to what they pay for All-Star bonuses (that’s right, the All-Star bonus isn’t taken out of the Global Fund, it’s paid in addition to it; I asked KDP about this specific point).

$200 million in royalties for Kindle Unlimited pages read in one year: That’s a significant share of the e-book market, and a rather indie-friendly share, too.

The continued rise in the KDP Select Global Fund and a fairly stable payout of just under a half-penny per page (though it will probably take its usual dip in December and January, and then likely return next February) suggest that the Kindle Unlimited customer base continues to grow. A great sign.

With 1.4 million books to choose from, with nearly 50,000 added just in the last 30 days, there is also growing competition for this customer base. The way to deal with the increased competition is to keep writing, try to write better, and try to improve your marketing skills. Competition is a good sign. It helps to bring in more customers, and it shows that this market is worth competing for. Good writing and marketable ideas help to provide good long-term prospects.

Celebrate Great Indie Writing with the #PoweredByIndie Hashtag in October, 2016

You can find some great indie writing in Kindle Unlimited, for example.

Many of those 1.4 million books were self-published. There are 100,000 or so traditionally published books in the mix, too; it’s not exclusive to self-publishing. But indie authors have really helped to make Kindle Unlimited strong enough to attract and grow a significant customer base.

Kindle Unlimited, in a strong way, really is #PoweredByIndie. But we must also give credit to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Amazon’s imprints, and other great titles, too, to help attract customers. It’s great writing that attracts customers, regardless of how it is published.

Strive for great writing and good things are bound to happen.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Kindle Unlimited Pages Read: March, 2016

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KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ: MARCH, 2016

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate held steady at $0.00477885 for March, 2016. It’s nearly identical to the $0.00479 for February, 2016.

Both February and March are up considerably (about 17%) over January’s rate of $0.00411.

So it’s nice to see the per-page rate hold steady at about $0.0048 per page.

There is more good news: The KDP Select Global Fund increased to $14.9M for March, 2016, up 6% from February’s $14M.

This combination is a good sign. Ordinarily, the Global Fund increases when the per-page rate decreases, and the Global Fund decreases when the per-page rate increases. The per-page rate and Global Fund usually exhibit inverse behavior, as shown here.

This time, the per-page rate held steady while the Global Fund increased 6%. Amazon paid $900,000 more in March compared to February, and they paid it at the same per-page rate.

What does this mean? It means that more pages were read in March, and Amazon didn’t reduce the per-page rate to compensate. It’s probably a sign of more Kindle Unlimited subscriptions.

With KDP Select books earning $14.9M in royalties per month just from Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows, it’s clear that Kindle Unlimited has become a huge market. Any book not enrolled in KDP Select is missing out on this $15M per month market share, and needs to make up the difference through other venues. Not an easy task, though sales and even borrows usually don’t come easily.

The Kindle Unlimited market itself is highly competitive, with 1.3M books vying for a share of the approximately $15M monthly Global Fund. (But vying against 1.3M books for a slice of $15M is better than vying against 4.4M e-books for sales. The market for sales is much tougher than the market for borrows. The borrows actually help with potential sales, as each borrow helps sales rank.)

This means the average KDP Select book earns about $11 per month from borrows ($15M divided by 1.3M books), though hardly any books actually draw in this exact average. The top books, the KDP Select All-Stars, see a million or more pages read in many cases.

If your book gets over 2300 pages read per month, it’s doing better than the average KDP Select book. (That’s how many pages read it takes to earn the average $11 per month.)

A few other countries:

  • United Kingdom: £0.00303 per page (British pounds). Almost identical to February.
  • Canada: $0.0047 per page (Canadian dollars).
  • India: ₹0.1 per page (Indian rupees).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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What I Love about Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) via KDP

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AMAZON MARKETING SERVICES FOR KDP

My post will include both the benefits and challenges of using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to advertise Kindle e-books.

I don’t intend for my title to imply that it will give instant success to all books. It won’t.

I will begin with what I like about AMS—for which there is much—and then I will address some of the challenges and offer tips for attempting to use it effectively.

A few years before AMS was introduced to KDP, I had discovered the Amazon Media Group. Many big vendors for a wide variety of products have used and continue to use the Amazon Media Group’s advertising services.

I had a conversation with the Amazon Media Group about their advertising services several years ago about possibly running an advertising campaign for one or more of my books.

This was before indie authors had the opportunity to advertise directly on Amazon using AMS via KDP Select.

The problem was that the minimum campaign budget was $10,000. If I recall correctly, an ad would generate 10,000,000 impressions over the course of a month.

If you achieved a typical click-through rate (ctr) of 0.1%, you would net 10,000 visitors to your product page. If you achieved a better than average closing rate of 10%, you would net 1000 sales.

But then you would need to earn $10 per sale just to break even.

And if your ctr was below average, or if your closing rate was 1% to 5%, which isn’t uncommon for e-books, and if your royalty was around $2 to $3 per book, you could easily lose thousands of dollars on the deal.

I didn’t place an ad back then because it was very high risk. I’ve since heard stories of a few authors who shelled out the big bucks for a campaign back in those days who lost big.

That’s one reason I love the AMS option for Kindle e-books.

A minimum campaign budget of $100 is tiny compared to $10,000. AMS made advertising accessible to KDP authors. (It used to be just for KDP Select, but now it’s for all Kindle e-books.)

It’s much lower risk now. It basically wasn’t an option before, as most authors didn’t know about it and those who did generally couldn’t afford it (even if they had the funds, the risk was high).

And you don’t even have to spend the $100 budget. You can pause or terminate your campaign at any time, keeping any losses to a minimum. (Though there are reporting delays, so even after you end a campaign, for several days it can continue to accrue costs. By not bidding too high, you minimize this risk.)

Every author naturally wonders if advertising will help. Now by publishing an e-book with KDP, you can find out, and it doesn’t cost too much to see the results (provided that you don’t get impatient and bid too high). Then you won’t have to wonder if advertising is the answer you’ve been searching for: You’ll know firsthand.

Here’s another thing I love about AMS.

You can advertise your Kindle e-book right on Amazon itself.

That’s prime real estate.

People who see your ad are already at Amazon, shopping for products, with their wallets out, ready to make a purchase.

When you advertise your book anywhere else, your ad is basically asking people to stop whatever they are presently doing, leave the website they’re currently at, and visit Amazon to shop for a book.

For several years, indie authors have pleaded for a reasonably priced advertising option at Amazon.

Well, here it is.

What AMS is and what it isn’t.

Advertising with AMS via KDP is an opportunity. It’s a tool.

Like the opportunity to self-publish on Amazon itself, and like all other marketing tools, some authors and some books will utilize it more effectively than others.

It will work well for some books, okay for some books, and poorly for others.

What AMS isn’t:

  • It’s not a magic genie.
  • It won’t yield instant success for each and every book. (But for some books it will help.)
  • It probably isn’t the solution for a book that hasn’t been selling on its own. (But you sure can find out.)
  • It’s not guaranteed to provide a positive return on investment (ROI).

If AMS were guaranteed to yield 100% ROI, every author would use it, and then we might as well wrap up every customer in the world with wallpaper packed with Amazon ads.

Using AMS effectively comes with some challenges.

AMS won’t bring instant, automatic success to most books.

But for many books, there exists some beneficial way to use it effectively.

Here are the challenges:

  • Landing a decent impression rate when many other authors are also running ads for similar books.
  • Not bidding more than you can afford to bid.
  • Getting a strong conversion rate.
  • Earning a positive return on investment (ROI).

Too many authors don’t use AMS as effectively as they could:

  • Blindly using KDP’s recommended bid, which is fairly high.
  • Impatiently raising the bid.
  • Not running enough controlled experiments to learn how to optimize the variables.
  • Not using enough creativity with targeting methods.
  • Bidding more than they can afford to bid.
  • Not being content with a low impression rate, if that’s all you can afford and manage to get out of it.

I see many authors make one or more of these mistakes, and then terminate their campaigns.

But you don’t need to terminate your campaign. Your last resort is to greatly reduce your bid and accept whatever impression rate you can afford, even if it’s meager. It may not be what you want, but if it doesn’t yield a negative ROI, even rare impressions are better than nothing, and you only pay for clicks.

On top of this, your ad is competing against authors who have a distinct advantage:

  • Series authors have the potential to generate multiple sales from a single click. They can afford to bid higher, banking on those future sales.
  • Authors with several similar books also have the potential for multiple sales. They can also afford to bid higher.
  • Successful authors know they will have ample royalties from regular sales even if the ad performs poorly. They are playing with the house’s money, so to speak.
  • Some authors use advertising for other purposes besides immediate profits. They might bid higher, not minding a short-term loss, with their sights set on branding or building an initial fan base.

And then your ad also competes against newbie authors who don’t have an advertising advantage, but who bid much higher than they should.

Here are suggestions for how to optimize AMS advertisements.

My first tips are:

  • Be very, very patient.
  • Bid very low to begin with.
  • Always wait a few days before raising your bid to allow for possible reporting delays. Even better, wait a week.
  • Only raise your bid very slightly. I’m talking pennies.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. Waiting diminishes your risk, and makes it easier to assess what may or may not be working.
  • Run multiple campaigns for the same book.* With one campaign, use narrow targeting where customers are very likely to be interested in your book. In an experimental campaign, try to be a little more creative with your targeting, thinking of other kinds of books or non-book products which are likely to appeal to your target audience.**
  • Your bid isn’t the only factor, or necessarily the most important factor, in landing impressions. Amazon measures ad performance. Good targeting and product page appeal can improve your ad performance. If you get a strong initial click rate, your ad can generate more impressions at a lower bid. This is one reason that raising the bid often isn’t the solution. Instead, you should strive to improve your targeting and improve your product page to help improve on ad performance metrics.

* Don’t worry: Your campaigns won’t bid against one another. Any campaigns on your KDP account won’t bid against any other campaigns on your same KDP account.

** Beware though that if the targeting isn’t relevant enough, if you get fewer than about 1 click per 2000 impressions, your campaign is likely to be stopped by Amazon. This doesn’t mean you can’t explore though.

Following are some more tips:

  • Don’t use ellipsis (…) or hyphens (-), for example, in your advertising phrase as these might be considered grammatical errors (!), preventing your ad from displaying on Kindle devices.
  • Read your ad approval email carefully, just in case there are any notes about your ad not being displayed on certain devices.
  • Experiment by running additional ad campaigns. Explore your targeting options. Analyze your data. Try to find the magic combination that will help you learn how to advertise more effectively.
  • If you’re getting fewer than 1 click per 2000 impressions, it probably means that either your targeting isn’t a good fit for your book or you cover isn’t attracting your target audience. Challenge yourself to improve your click-through rate. Although you don’t pay for impressions, this is a sign that your ad could perform better.
  • If you’re getting fewer than 1 sale per 20 clicks, it probably means that either your product page doesn’t match customers’ expectations based on your cover or advertising phrase, or that your product page isn’t closing the deal as effectively as it could. Maybe it’s the blurb or the Look Inside, for example. Challenge yourself to make your product page more effective.
  • If your impression rate is very slow for a couple of weeks, it could be a sign of poor scoring on ad performance metrics. If your initial click rate is low, try pausing the ad and running a new one in its place. But it could also mean that you should try to improve your targeting relevance or improve your cover or product page appeal or keywords or categories. You have so many variables to play with, it can take a while to learn how to optimize them.
  • You could have a higher ROI than you realize. The ad report currently doesn’t show Kindle Unlimited borrows or paperback sales. Customers may also buy other of your books in the future. If you can just break even, approximately, it will probably be worth it in the long run.
  • You don’t have to spend the whole $100 minimum budget. You can pause or terminate your ad at any time. If you’re losing money with your ad, don’t be afraid to stop it. But realize that due to reporting delays, you may continue to accrue clicks for several days after stopping your ad. The lower your bid, the less your risk. (If you bid very high, you can blow your whole budget long before it shows in your ad report. Another reason to bid low and exercise patience.)
  • Note that you can now copy an ad to preserve your original targeting when placing a new ad.
  • Avoid pausing or terminating an ad that’s performing well. An ad that’s generating good results has a high score on ad performance, and it’s hard to rebuild that ad performance. If things are going well, don’t touch your ad with a ten-foot pole. Well, you should edit the end date as needed so that the ad doesn’t expire.
  • Note that product targeting doesn’t actually target the products that you select. Rather, it targets customers who have browsed for similar products in the past. So if you target sci-fi books, your ad could show up on a romance page. If so, it means that the customer has viewed both romance and sci-fi books (at least once) in the past. Still, by targeting sci-fi books, your ad is being shown to customers who have viewed other sci-fi books in the past.

What do I know about advertising through AMS?

How do I know? Fair question:

  • I have placed over 100 ads through AMS via KDP over the past 14 months.
  • It took me a few dozen tries to get it to really work, but overall my last 70 ads have done well on average.
  • One ad has generated over 6,000,000 impressions and 3,000 clicks at an average cost of $0.28 per click.
  • I have several ads (more than 25) which each have accumulated over 1,000,000 impressions.
  • Overall, AMS has worked very well for me.

This doesn’t mean that you will have instant success with advertising. I’ve tried to share tips that I’ve learned from my experience, but you will likely need some experience of your own.

There is something to gain no matter what.

Even if your ad loses money:

  • You get information about what percentage of visitors to your product page actually make a purchase. This is valuable information. 10% is well above average. Strive for that. At around 5% or below, you know firsthand that your product page has room for improvement. Knowing that the best covers, blurbs, and Look Insides can close 10% of the time gives you a lofty target.
  • You discover that advertising wasn’t the magic answer you had been hoping for. At least you learned it’s something else. Is it your cover? blurb? Look Inside? Maybe the idea just isn’t marketable.
  • If you change your cover, blurb, or Look Inside, by running a new ad, you could invest a little money to get valuable data: You can find out whether or not the changes you made improve your closing rate (sales divided by clicks).
  • Although you should terminate an ad that’s losing money, you did get your cover and name out there, and you did get visitors to your product page. This is branding. You at least have hope for a few future sales. And if your ad drew in short-term sales, maybe a few of those customers will buy more of your books in the future, or even recommend your book to others. You gained some hope, if nothing else.

Advertising with AMS is relatively low risk, especially if you bid low and keep a close eye on your reports, prepared to exit early if need be.

Good luck!

Write happy, be happy. :-)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Countdown Deals and KDP Select Free Promos: What’s the Current Status?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

COUNTDOWN DEALS & KDP SELECT FREE PROMOS

WHAT’S THE VALUE IN 2016?

The effectiveness of Kindle Countdown Deals and free promos for e-books enrolled in KDP Select has changed over time.

In the beginning, when KDP Select free promos were first introduced, they were highly effective, often being grabbed by the thousands without any effort on the part of the author. But the success of unadvertised free promos dwindled quickly, as more and more authors began giving away their e-books away for free and as the perceived value diminished from the customer’s perspective. For a couple of years, free promos seemed to have a bad rap.

When the Kindle Countdown Deal came along, many authors who had previously used the KDP Select free promos switched to Countdown Deals. This actually helped in a couple of ways:

  • There were fewer free e-books on the market, since you can’t run a free promo during the same 90-day enrollment period in which you run a Countdown Deal.
  • Many authors raised their prices, so there were also fewer e-books priced at 99 cents and $1.99. You need a higher price point in order to take advantage of a Countdown Deal.

One consequence is that the KDP Select free promo became somewhat more effective. Fewer authors were complaining about free e-books, with fewer freebies on the market, and fewer customers were stockpiling more freebies than they could possibly read.

The free promo has never returned to its original effectiveness. In most cases, it’s not even close. But it has rebounded somewhat, and can be used effectively.

Neither the KDP Select free promo nor the Kindle Countdown Deal are likely to provide desirable results if unadvertised:

  • It can help greatly to get external promotion from BookBub, E-reader News Today, or one of the top e-book promotion sites. (BookBub is the one site where paying a hefty fee has reasonable potential. For other sites, I recommend free or very low cost, and doing research off-site before any investing.)
  • It can also help to gain free exposure from bloggers, fellow authors, or websites that share an audience similar to yours. (Here, I recommend free and organic.)

But you can find more value than just immediate sales.

For example, here are a couple of things that you can learn from running a Countdown Deal:

  • Are you considering a lower price point? Run an unadvertised Countdown Deal to test the waters. If you don’t earn more royalties during the period of the promotional price than you normally would, then you know that lowering the price isn’t the solution to your sales woes.
  • Does an Amazon Giveaway (now available to e-books from US product pages) or does AMS advertising help with short-term sales during a Countdown Deal? If you have data for a Countdown Deal where you didn’t run a giveaway or advertisement, this gives you the basis for comparison.

Sometimes, a KDP Select free promo or Countdown Deal might be geared toward branding your image as author or helping to build an initial fan base to the extent that you may be okay with a short-term loss, with your sights set toward long-term gains. (But you want to minimize any short-term losses, and you want to have effective long-term marketing in place, such a content-rich website that can generate hundreds of visitors per day after about 12 months. Otherwise, you may never recover your loss.)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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