SPS-177: What’s Working Right Now: Amazon Ads – with Mark Dawson
In the third of this week’s three-part series on advertising for authors, Mark Dawson shares his latest strategies, including forays into foreign markets and using ads to boost sales there.
This week’s highlights include:
- How the ads environment has changed for authors
- What defensive or protective advertising is
- Latest info about the Advantage dashboard
- The distinction between the two types of Amazon ads
- Running the numbers on publishing in German
- Why Facebook ads still work for authors
Resources mentioned in this episode:
PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page
COURSE: The Ads for Authors course is open this for a brief enrollment period. Learn more here.
Transcript of Interview with Mark Dawson
Narrator: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show:
Mark Dawson: There’s a lot of German readers out there. The market is not I think comparable to the UK. This could be you know no competition on both the platform and for the ads. The ads are much cheaper as well. This is a big opportunity to really make some serious money I think.
Narrator: Publishing. Is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers no one standing between you and your readers.
So you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie best seller Mark Dawson and first time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self publishing success.
This is the Self-Publishing Show. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch: Hello and welcome to the regular Friday edition of the Self-Publishing Show. I’m James Blatch.
Mark Dawson: And I’m Mark Dawson.
James Blatch: We’ve been on a special busy week this week where we’ve been reviewing the paid ads platforms to coincide with the opening of our Ads for Authors course. We have looked so far this week Facebook ads with Shayne Silvers, BookBub ads with Dave Gaughran. And today the master himself.
Mark Dawson: He couldn’t be here.
James Blatch: He’s going to talk about Amazon Ads with a particular example of your move into Germany.
Now before we do that I have some and subscribers to welcome to the Self-Publishing Show so if you go to Patreon.com/selfpubilshingshow you can sponsor the podcast for as little as a dollar an episode and you get a bunch of benefits as part of that.
But the main one is you get enrollment in the SPF university. This is a not a real university but we try to do a webinar about once every month. A live webinar and then it’s available in the folder on Teachable forever.
We have our next one coming up is going to look at Book Brush. As Mark mentioned in one of the podcasts earlier this week, which is a fantastic little program that enables you to create good looking images for your ads. That’s going to be on July the 2nd.
But also back in the archives we have Brent Hernandez on Scrivener.
We have Tammi Labrecque on newsletters. We had Adam Croft on mindset. We have Alex Newton from K-Lytics. A really fantastic lineup of webinars right and Patreon subscribers also got a shout out on the Self-Publishing Show.
This week we welcome Dixon Roul. Chad Richardson from Georgia, United States of America. Malcolm Coon, Zoe Burton. Mike McCrary and Laura Lynn Thompson.
Great. Thank you very much indeed.
Now I’ve been looking at a few of those lists that get circulated occasionally on the podcasts you must listen to if you’re an author and we feature on every single one. I’ve been looking at the top 36 podcasts for writers and we’re very prominent in that.
We do appreciate your support and the reviews that we get on iTunes and the comments we got on YouTube. We get regular comments on each video we put out and some of them sometimes are positive.
Mark Dawson: The other day we got a message from someone who told me off for being nasty to you.
James Blatch: Yes, well that was a private message to you but it contained a really barbed insult to me. I mean it was something that was far more hurtful than when he was defending me.
Mark Dawson: She
James Blatch: She, I should say.
Mark Dawson: We should have said she’s lovely. Socially awkward I think was the worst comment, that you were social awkward, which of course is correct. You are very socially awkward in a patrician.
But it was I think it was one of those lost in translation of things because we’ve known each other for a long time. So we have what we would describe in the UK as banter, which is not cruel or it’s just you’ll take the mickey out of me. I’ll take the mickey out you. We both take the mickey out John.
James Blatch: Yes.
Mark Dawson: And we don’t mean anything by it. But I think this lovely listener suggested I was piling on because I called you a goldfish. I’ve called you much worse than that. And I had to email back and say no Blatches were harmed during the filming of this podcast.
James Blatch: I think it was, “…like podcasting with a goldfish” was your exact quote when I forgot something.
Mark Dawson: Exactly. That’s actually very mild.
James Blatch: I love the banter and it’s always going to to be funny occasion. It can go too far but not between us. I think it’s always been about the right level. And I spent a bit time in RAF squadrens when I was a BBC reporter and I loved the banter in that environment. It was brilliant. Very funny.
Mark Dawson: It’s usually used as a means of deflecting danger and power and the analogy doesn’t stretch to making a podcast. Yes. Anyway if anyone is worried we like each other.
James Blatch: And it is your role in life to regularly remind me of my incompetence.
Mark Dawson: I’m trying to drag you up. That’s the that’s the aim here.
James Blatch: Good luck with that. We do enjoy it so thank you very much indeed for all your support. It means a lot to us it’s been a busy week for us putting together these particular episodes on paid ads.
I definitely want to say thank you by the way to Dave Gaughran and Shayne Silvers for their contributions as we really appreciate it.
So Mark we should say straightaway that one of the reasons we’re doing this is because the Ads for Authors course is open. I’m not going to bang on about it a lot but just to say that it’s open and it gives us an opportunity in the podcast to dovetail with why paid ads are important and why do we just spend a moment on that.
So let me ask you: is it possible to be a successful indie author without running paid ads on these platforms?
Mark Dawson: I think it’s possible but I think it’s less possible than it was when I started.
When I started out in 2012, 2013, you could get a little bit momentum by taking advantage of free days and then maybe even in those days you needed to put the word out, tell people that you had a deal on.
And what you did in those days was to use sites like eReader News Today, Pixabay, Kindle news daily. I’m going to struggle with some other names now. Free Booksy was around then. All of those places didn’t send those e-mails out because they were altruistic. You had to pay them to do that so you’ve always, I think, had to pay something to spread the word. And those sites are still effective even if some of them are dropped by the wayside. Others are still going strong but still going strong.
Free Booksy and Bargain Booksy are still effective but they’re less effective now because times of moved on and different means of reaching readers have been made available. And the chief one to start with was Facebook ads, round about 2013, 2014. And then subsequent to that Amazon ads came along.
Just look at an Amazon product page now. That’s where people are going to be buying your books. First of all, there’s millions of books that you’ve got to compete with most of which won’t be being advertised so you can immediately jump to the top 5 percent say just by spending a little bit on ads. Because most people won’t either know that they can or know how to do it properly so you can do that.
And then once you get onto the pages themselves when they are littered with ads now. So you need to know what I would call defensive advertising or protective advertising. You need to start thinking about that as well. The whole thing is it’s constantly evolving.
But in order to give yourself a fighting chance of selling books, beyond the professional product that you need to put out, you have to advertise. I think that’s the case now and I don’t see that changing. In fact I see it becoming more prevalent as we continue onwards.
James Blatch: Good. Okay. You’ve mentioned Amazon ads and this is a platform that’s grown up since our time together actually on SPF.
I remember those early beta days when you were invited into tried out and kept telling us there’s something coming, you’re going to announce. And it’s been a platform which you say the beginning it’s evolved, changed quite a bit, which has been fantastic.
We have a detailed blow-by-blow course on that which means every time it evolves and enhances somebody has to sit down and rerecord all the sessions.
Mark Dawson: That’s me. And then you have to edit them.
This week I spent two days re-recording everything. So my word count this week is negligible but I’ve spent a bit of time changing things. Because things like product display ads have gone away. So we’ve changed those. Lock screen ads have taken their place and we’ve also had to change our advice with regards to getting into the advantage platform.
The advantage log in is different. And so there is a lot to be done. One thing that we try very hard to do is to make sure that when we release the course it is current.
So what we don’t want people to do is to log into the course and find out I spent a whole module talking about product display ads that don’t actually exist anymore. So that’s saying that we do take that seriously.
James Blatch: We have to time that because as soon as the change comes out you do have to let it settle down a bit and also it can be rolled out of various territories.
Mark Dawson: I don’t want to worry you but I have been talking to some fairly senior people in Amazon advertising and the changes that have been made recently without saying too much more than this. I think that they are likely to be minimal compared to what’s coming.
James Blatch: Yeah, I understand there’s something big coming down the line as well.
Okay let’s just mention advantage before we get to the nitty gritty of a sort of overview of the platform. The advantage dashboard versus the dashboard that you can get access to through KDP is different.
Can you just explain that and also what is the position we get access all the time about who can access it?
Mark Dawson: Yes, if you imagine Amazon advertising as this big system that enables you to place ads on Amazon for everybody. So you might be selling widgets. You can advertise your widgets. You might be selling books, maybe a video or music whatever it is and you want to advertise it on the platform. That stands to reason.
Now most people who are using facilities like FBA, so Fulfilled by Amazon, selling their widgets, they’ll put their widgets in an Amazon warehouse. Amazon will sell them on the site and then deliver them. Those people will be using ads to drive traffic to their sales pages and hopefully make sales.
And the platform that they’ve always had access to his called Advantage. It’s been going for longer. I’m not sure exactly when it came into being, but it’s been around longer than we’ve been able to advertise our books. And because of that it’s more evolved. The dashboard is more sophisticated. There are more bells and whistles attached. Very importantly you can advertise outside of the US.
You can advertise anywhere where there is an advantage program, which I know covers the UK all the European countries, Australasia, places like Canada.
And it has different varieties of ads as well. You can still do product display ads. You can’t do those as authors, technically, at the moment. It has headline search ads now called sponsored brand ads that appear in a great position on top of search results.
So it’s just a better platform. Much more effective and more powerful.
The other way to get in as an author is to go through the KDP dashboard. So you go to your bookshelf. You select the book you want. You hit promote and advertise. That takes you through to an interstitial page.
You then click one an ad campaign and that will take you through to a adopted version or a limited way into the Amazon advertising ecosystem where you can do lock screen ads, sponsored keyword ads. You can only advertise into the US, so it’s frustratingly limited.
Authors being clever and diligent and determined have found ways to get into the main smorgasbord through advantage log ins.
I’ve been doing it for a while and I’ve got I think five different Amazon advertising accounts which becomes very complicated when you need five different passwords and all that kind of Gubbins.
I have a German account, two U.K. accounts, two U.S. accounts and will be doing France Spain and others shortly. It is a pain but it is necessary.
And the position from Amazon is I don’t want to put words in their mouth but I hope this is accurate; they don’t mind authors using Advantage. But you won’t be supported if you do.
You will get support if you’re going through KDP. You won’t be supported if you’re going through Advantage.
I get the impression that it’s becoming a bit of a bit of a hot potato in Amazon. I don’t think that’s exactly what they would like to be happening. I’m sure they’d rather us all go through the KDP platform.
And I suspect without knowing anything – this isn’t a spoiler or a scoop – I suspect things will change so the KDP people will become more powerful as time goes by.
Now with a practical example, we’ve got a post in the mastery group from Caroline Cherry last week or this week even saying that she’d been trying to get in through Advantage a lot people have been following advice, which was working, that we were giving people to get into the UK version and it’s changed actually.
She wasn’t able to and she took out a ticket with Amazon support and got a worker from I suspect from Shanghai or some somewhere like that basically saying you’re not allowed, authors are not allowed to do that. If you find any other authors doing that please report them. Basically snitch on your fellow authors.
This was daft. I took it up with someone I know in Seattle and said that basically that person’s day was going to get quite difficult after that point because it wasn’t Amazon’s policy. They do not want that to be happening.
So in the sense that they want authors to be snitching and they don’t mind authors I think being on that platform, although as I say, I’m sure they would rather we were all in KDP.
The long and short of it is, KDP is easy. It is very to get on the platform and it’s much improved after he was even six months ago. It is still possible to get into Advantage, although I don’t feel confident enough now because it changes so much to be able to give a step by step. This is what you need to do or all of the methods we have used in the past don’t work anymore.
So one of things we had to do when I re-recorded the course was to take that out. The way we’ll deal with it in the future is, if as we find ways to get into Advantage or Amazon make information available that makes it easier for us to do that, we will post it in the Facebook group with videos if necessary.
James Blatch: That’s the Facebook group that supports the course – Mastery – not the group that’s open to everyone.
Mark Dawson: Yes. I think that’s the right way to do it. I think probably to be fair to Amazon as well who would prefer people to use the KDP dashboard although they know there is another way of doing it probably not for us to have an official session like we used to. But a discussion amongst authors in the Facebook group of what’s working right now type thing may yield some of those avenues.
It’s just one of those things where we know that there’s a tempting shiny bauble. It’s much much shinier and more tempting than the official bauble. It’s just human nature that we would want to get that.
And as we’ll see when we get into what I’m doing in Germany at the moment to be able to use Amazon ads in those other markets is very valuable. And also it’s not as if Amazon is doing me a favor by allowing me to have access. They’re very happy to take the money I’ve spent.
Just looking in the last three months in Germany I’ve spent just short of 2000 euros on Amazon not the ads. I’ve made more than that but that’s 2000 euros Amazon wouldn’t have if I hadn’t badgered my way into that platform.
They are aware that it’s frustrating and I’m sure that will change but we will update people as and when we’re able to.
James Blatch: That’s tricky subjects out of the way.
Now we’re going to talk about the Amazon Ads platform I know you’re going to talk specifically about your foray into Germany.
But first of all, do you want to give just a quick overview for those people who may have got a little bit lost in that discussion about the Advantage dashboard, about what Amazon ads are and why they’re useful for authors.
Mark Dawson: We’ll ignore Advantage for now other than that’s what I’m using to advertise it’s Germany.
But we’ll constrain the KDP dashboard for the next few minutes.
So there are basically two ways that you can advertise or two kinds of ads you can run through KDP. They all go to the US. You can’t advertise outside the US at the moment through that channel.
You have sponsored keyword ads and you have lock screen ads. Lock screen ads are the ones that will appear as you pick up your Kindle and wake it. I don’t know whether you can switch is off if you if you pay extra to do that.
James Blatch: I think you can. I set up a new kindle recently I think it was an option at the beginning.
Mark Dawson: Yeah but there’s still a big install base in the US of millions of Kindles and your ad is slightly bigger than it would be the case on site.
Those ads show up and then get the chance to go through to Amazon and find out more about the book that’s been advertised. So there’s those ones to start with.
And then there are responsive keyword ads. That’s you’re basically bidding on keywords so or a keyword isn’t a word it could be a phrase. So it could be Mark Dawson thriller would be a keyword. Those three words would be a keyword.
What we’re doing is, I tell Amazon that when people go to Amazon or hit the search bar and type in the words ‘Mark Dawson thriller’ assuming that there’s more than one person out there who wants to bid on those words. Which, to be fair to me, there probably are these days. I would be entering into an auction with those people and I’m telling Amazon I’m prepared to bid up to a certain amount per click.
So maybe I’m prepared to pay 50 cents per click when someone types that search and if I win that auction my ad will be shown to someone who was looking for Mark Dawson thriller.
So if you, James Blatch, if you’re trying to get my readers and you bid 60 cents. So when someone types in Mark Dawson thriller they see this mythical book which will appear at some point.
James Blatch: I am going to target you relentlessly.
Mark Dawson: Oh good luck. I’ve got deep pockets and I will crush you. That’s banter, by the way.
That’s the aim now. You might say, why am I bidding on my own name? We could go down a big rabbit hole about why I would do that.
Another example is Lee Child thriller. I know my books are like his so whenever someone types in they’re looking for Lee Child out of there maybe would type in Jack Reacher book or Lee Child’s new adventure or whatever I want my book to appear in those search results. And if I can peel off a percentage of people who might have been looking for his books by persuading them that mine is cheaper they haven’t read me before. They see lots of great reviews wherever I can start to sell books to people who I know are looking for those kinds of thrillers.
So that that’s the distinction between the two ads.
James Blatch: Can I ask you a couple of questions about that? So in terms of the assets and the presentation. We know more or less how Facebook ads work and we talked to Shayne about that and BookBub ads basically very small image based.
What are you creating for the asset on Amazon ads?
Mark Dawson: One of the benefits of the ads is that it’s not time sensitive in terms of what you put together. So they will pull your cover. It will pull your number of reviews and get the average star rating. So you’ll see that kind of five star shaded up to five or wherever it is and the number of reviews and the cover.
What you get to do on most ad varieties is you’ll get the chance to write a little bit of copy that will be intended to shift the books.
So they’re quicker to run than Facebook because you don’t need to go to a designer and ask for imagery. That’s already taken care of.
James Blatch: Okay first lesson. You’re using the actual product as it exists on Amazon.
Do you write a little bit of copy?
Mark Dawson: You do. You don’t always. Some ads won’t let you but for most you would. You would write a little bit.
James Blatch: Okay. So that’s the platform as it exists. And the why and how.
Now you’re going to give us an example of something you’ve been using the platform for successfully recently.
Mark Dawson: Yeah I mean not just Amazon but Facebook as well. What I think is useful, I touched on this on Wednesday’s podcast.
When the course launches it’s very difficult sometimes for me to give examples that would demonstrate to authors who are a little early on in their careers that they need to be advertising because I spend a fair bit on ads every day. I have done for a long time I’ve got a big email list now. Amazon is organically marketing my books.
And when I post income reports into the Facebook group it is difficult and I’m always aware that people might look at that think we couldn’t do this. It means nothing to me because I’m been further ahead because I’ve been doing it for longer.
I stumbled upon the realization that what I’m doing in Germany actually is perfect for this kind of purpose because I have no readers, no followers, I don’t speak German. Not even a word of it. I don’t speak the language. I don’t have any readers.
I wasn’t selling any books. I think three Milton books were picked up by a German traditional publisher translated and sold and they sell a bit but little. So I can’t really say I’ve got a readership over there, which is what a new author would be like if they were advertising.
When you launch your book that will be what you will like. You’ll be slightly ahead of that because you’ve got a little bit of a mailing list, but most people won’t have. They won’t have any platform at all, which is that’s exactly the position I was in.
Now what I do have is a little bit of knowledge about how to advertise and a little bit of money to be able to afford to start running some ads but even at a fairly low level so I looked back into it.
Well, scrolling back at bit to where I am. A while ago I did an Amazon Academy event in Berlin, must be two years ago now. So I basically was dragged along as a UK author to tell the German authors what I was doing in the UK so they could maybe learn some things and starting in Germany. I got talking to a few authors there and realized that it’s the the fifth most advanced in terms of kind of developed Amazon markets; the US, UK, Canada, Australia, probably Germany. It’s in that kind of a second tier.
So I’d say it’s coming up fast but secondly so there’s much less competition in terms of authors. I don’t know what the size of the store is for books in German but it will be much much less than it is for you for the UK or for the US.
Fewer authors but a big readership that has embraced Amazon. So it’s not one of those Latin countries where Amazon is attacked by the government, as is the case in France. I could see that change there. So I came away. Found a translator. He actually has translated Stieg Larsson before. I knew he was good. That was my filter was what has he done in terms of high profile books.
Because I can’t I can’t check his translations because I don’t speak German, so I needed some external validation. The three Beatrix Rose books were the ones I wanted to go with first because they’re fairly discreet. They’re 60,000 words each so not very long and could be boosted by TV show next year. So I thought is perfect for this to test.
So I sent them off to him and he translated them and it took a long while. We’ll have another podcast about translating later because it’s very interesting and I’ve run into obstacles. I just didn’t see coming. Lots of times.
But he was very patient with me. We got out in the end and the books launched earlier this year. Three at once.
In March I sold maybe five or ten books. Nothing really. Very small. And that was the case. Well, I had a bit of a boost initially because I had some readers on my mailing list. Odds are there must be 100 people who he’d like to read in German on that list. They all went bought it immediately and then that was it. So nothing really happened. Not selling enough for Amazon to market particularly aggressively for me. Just kind of drifted.
So I then started to look at, okay let’s start pulling some levers, the kind I pull all the time for US and UK sales. So I started to run some Amazon ads and then I started to run some Facebook ads.
Bear in mind just what I said before. Unknown author, no one knows who I am. But they started to work really well.
So yesterday, for example, I sold 300 euros worth of those books in German. 300 euros a day. If I did that for 365 days… we did some maths earlier, that’s just over 100000 euros for three books.
I’ve got a fairly large catalogue which I am now obviously looking to translate. So it has been an effective experiment.
My brother is now working for me and he is now running that part of the business. So we’re finding a Spanish translator We’re finding a French translator and I’ve got some quite funky ways of actually getting those costs paid for by selling other subsidiary right in the translation, which should be quite interesting.
James Blatch: Did you tell us how much it cost you to get a book translated yet?
Mark Dawson: No, I don’t think I did. I’m in the red by about 16000 euros, so round about 5000 per book in terms of translation costs.
And then, of course, translations are our new literary works. They need to be edited. I didn’t realize that. So you can add another thousand on top of that.
And then covers, of course. You need different versions of the cover. I got Mr. Bache to run some German covers up and of course they need to be in German and then it’s like Okay well, how am I going to describe myself as a million selling author? I need to do that in German.
Luckily I’ve got some help. My Uncle Tom in Germany who is a translator helped me with things like ad copy again in German and the copy for the cover and things like that so he helped me with all of that. So you can see there you run into things all the time where you realize, “oh shit I don’t speak German, that’s gonna be a problem.”
But anyway it’s all done. The exercise cost me I think around about 17,000 Euros all in and at the moment I have chipped away about 3000 euros of that. So profit making. I did the numbers in preparation for this podcast. So I’ll just run through the numbers, they are pretty interesting.
In February this year I made 199 euros. So this is sales, this is revenue, not profit. So revenue hundred 199 in February.
March 1,475. April 2,445 and then May with one day to go as we record this 4,553.
And then the costs that associate with that February there was no cost. I didn’t spend anything so no ads at all. In March I spent 992 euros on Facebook ads and 47 on AMS. Then 1,500 on Facebook in April and 850 AMS.
And then in May, 92 on Facebook and 917 on AMS, bringing the cost down a bit but profit has now has really gone up.
So return on investment this month is looking at about 140 percent. So that’s obviously fantastic. That is why I am prepared to dump another 15,000 years into translating some Milton books because once I get the backlist available in the German there’s a lot of German readers. The market is not, I think, comparable to the UK. But this could be a no competition on both the platform and for the ads. The ads are much cheaper as well. This is a big opportunity to really make some serious money I think.
James Blatch: What’s worth mentioning also at this stage is we’ve got a podcast interview coming up not sure when it’s scheduled for a fact it’s very soon 21st of June with a man called Mark Reclau who is in southern Spain near Barcelona. He talks in the same way about Amazon ads platform in Spain as you were talking about it in Germany is it’s getting going.
He’s making hay. He’s a bit like you in that he gets invited in by Amazon to try a few new products out and so on, so it be worth talking to him at some point if Spain’s on your radar in the future.
But it’s a big market. The platform is there because they’ve developed in the UK and the US and they’re porting it over to these countries and if you’re in early.
It’s a little bit like being back in 2011, 2012 where if you get it right…
Mark Dawson: That’s exactly how I look at it. I didn’t have that early mover advantage in the UK and the US. I was reasonably early but certainly there were many people way ahead of me.
But that may not be the case for these other markets and things are coming out. So for example Audible has just opened Audible Latino. So it’s not just selling Spanish books to the Spaniards, you’re selling into a big market in the US. And the Portuguese have Brazil. It’s a big opportunity.
James Blatch: Let me ask you why German because German is spoken in Germany and in a few places in the world but compared to Spanish…
Mark Dawson: Yeah, Amazon.de is more established in my opinion than Amazon.es. And you know you see you can sell the dotcom will enable you to reach Latino readers.
In my opinion the Amazon German market is quite advanced and there are a lot of readers there.
James Blatch: I also think culturally there’s quite a lot of similarity in taste between Germany and the U.K., particularly spy books, Cold War books.
In fact this is something I should be interested in if my book starts to make enough money I should look at Germany. So I think they do like their Cold War thrillers like we do in the UK.
Mark Dawson: Absolutely.
James Blatch: So by the way the Euros, those figures in the spreadsheet…
Mark Dawson: We’re not going to show this spreadsheet to anybody else, but they’re actually in dollars because I have the income coming in.
I know I said Euros but the income coming in is reported via Book Report in dollars. So I just I just convert my spend my and my Facebook ads spend in dollars I just converted the Amazon U.S. dollars.
James Blatch: I think the euro and the dollar are fairly close at the moment certainly compared to the pound. So not a million miles away.
You talk about this this slow start and then May is the month that you’re looking at and thinking this is it this is going to work. I can now start investing again. Are you confident.
Mark Dawson: I saw it before that. I could see in March, maybe a 50 percent return on investment I could see those potential lows.
There was a point where on about the 24th of May I switched on a new Facebook ad it was nothing sophisticated, it was just targeting people in Germany who like authors like Lee Child and James Patterson and all those kinds of guys. And the difference between the 23rd …I’ll be precise I’ll say exactly what it was on the 22nd of May I sold 47 of those three books, then 44 on the 23rd. I switched the ads on the 24th and sold 154. It’s nearly quadrupled.
I think I emailed about this earlier this week with regards to the ads launch. You can see on my Facebook dashboard when those clicks started to register on Facebook and it ties up completely. It couldn’t be anything else. There’s nothing else, nothing else had hit.
And without doing anything else with the ads they sold 176. And right now like 1 o’clock two o’clock, I’ve sold 94 already today. So it’s going to be hitting about 180 by the time the day is done. But not cheap at 2.99. Full price books so that’s 300, 350 euros something like that and the ad spend is around about I’d say about a third of that.
James Blatch: Fantastic. Okay so that’s your German foray and that’s something to talk about I think in a future episode. More about that process we have touched on this.
I think once before we had a discussion about our foreign rights, which largely dealt with finding an agent to do that for you. But we are moving towards being something you can set up yourself by picking the right experts.
Mark Dawson: I have had the chance to sell foreign rights before and I’ve been annoyed that my agent wasn’t able to because I don’t like leaving money on the table. It really felt like there’s a lot of money being left on the table.
I’m more and more thinking I’m very pleased that didn’t happen because those three Milton books that are translated they did not sell that many copies yesterday. I doubt they sold that many copies this month. I’ve sold three Milton books. I’m not going to sell anymore. I’m going to translate them myself. I may even try and buy those books back, so that everything is consistent. It’s all branded and I make 70 per cent on that rather than 10 percent.
My agent takes another 10 15 percent on top of that so I’ll e getting pennies whereas I could be getting euros too.
James Blatch: How long’s that contract for?
Mark Dawson: I can’t remember. One of them one in how the German deal went down. They didn’t buy the first in the series, they started in the middle, so they bought three books, four, five and six. I don’t know why they did that. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Many of my books they will stand alone but they make a lot more sense if you read them from the start. So they’ve done that. I think one of them has sold okay ish. I don’t think it’s done well enough that they want to buy any more.
Which is good because I’m not selling it anymore.
The downside to this is, as I sell more books that these people will start to think okay, he’s also got these other books out. I’m probably making the price of buying these books back more expensive.
James Blatch: You need to get your offer in now.
Mark Dawson: I’m kind of hoping they don’t notice.
I’m also ranking quite highly now. I’m in the top 250 to 300 in the German store and up near the top of the category so they may notice.
James Blatch: Okay. So that’s your German foray. Most people are going to be using the Amazon ads platform in the US and in the UK. And then a few other territories.
Is it worth just mentioning Australia, Canada, South Africa? What the situation in those other English speaking countries?
Mark Dawson: With Facebook you can advertise anywhere. This is way people should absolutely not dismiss Facebook. It is very important. It still is, it always has been.
People migrate to other platforms and they neglect Facebook at their peril. There’s a reason why it’s on the sales page for the ads course. We still major with Facebook. It’s a big system that enables you to do tons of things all around the world.
When I told you about that jump to 176 copies, that was a Facebook ad that did that. It wasn’t an Amazon ad I switched on, it was Facebook. So Facebook will get you into Australia. I’ve use Facebook as well in Australia for a long time, and Canada.
I know Alex Nichols who’s an alumni of the course, ranks regularly in the top ten in France and it’s Facebook. That’s why she uses Facebook ads. Shayne Silvers uses a lot of Facebook ads.
They work. They just work. And in those developing markets they work really well because no one else doing it. So the clicks will be cheaper.
James Blatch: That’s trolling trying to call France a developing country.
Mark Dawson: I could see that that triggered your banter.
But I mean in the sense that they are developing that platform. We’re not saying France is not a third world country or anything along those lines. Facebook is still key for that. You can’t advertise Amazon in all these markets but you need to get an Advantage account and that kind of goes back to what we said earlier about how hard that is these days.
James Blatch: Okay. Well let’s round up back with the UK, US and the more accessible market for people to get started on Amazon ads.
First of all, we always say start slowly, wait until it starts working before you scale up. And at that point scale up slowly and don’t spend more than you can afford to lose, so we always start with that caveat.
I remember in the early days you and others complaining that they wouldn’t take your money you wanted to scale up and you find it quite difficult. Is that still the case?
Mark Dawson: There are ways around it and we cover some of those in the course I rerecorded this week. So yeah there are.
I’m spending, I don’t know, 10,000 a month on Amazon ads at the moment across different platforms along those lines.
So you can do it. You just have to know how to get them to scale. And there is a way to do that. If you’re quite aggressive with your bidding. You need to make sure that your foundations are secure and you know exactly what you read through is, what your profit is, and then you’ve got redundancies in place so that you’re not just relying on one calculation that might be a little bit of a guesstimate. You’ve got cost in and money out and you can see quite clearly how spending more should lead to making more and if it doesn’t you need to investigate to see what’s going wrong.
But again we cover that in the course. That said, I’m very cautious and very careful to make sure people are always aware that this is not free. Now Amazon and Facebook will definitely take your money. Facebook is very good at that. Amazon will also take your money. If you follow certain rules and you want to make sure that you’re not spending too fast.
By all means, you’ll need a testing budget to make sure that you learn. But on the other hand, you’ve got to be ready to make some mistakes, learn from them and then start scale up.
James Blatch: Okay. Well you mentioned the course and I’m going to mention it again. It’s open currently for about three weeks. It opened on Wednesday this week and we’ll close it at the very latest in three weeks.
And you can find out all about it at selfpublishingformula.com/adsforauthors
All one word. Good. Mark. Anything else to add on the Amazon ads platform?
Mark Dawson: No that’s pretty much it. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a good option to be doing it right now.
James Blatch: And watch this space because having just completed the re-record of the sessions to bring it back up to date it may well change. And I have hunches like you do about this but it seems to me that there’s enough evidence, that there’s a clamor for a more sophisticated platform and ads. And it makes complete commercial sense for Amazon to make that available to authors so that will be something coming down the line I’m sure.
James Blatch: Well it’s been really fun this week doing these three catch up really on the core business that you do, which is the paid ads platform. That’s what you’re known for in the indie world.
Mark Dawson: And I think as well it’s for writing gritty, great books but I’ll take that as well.
James Blatch: You’re known for that in the reader world.
Thank you very much indeed. We’re gonna be back as normal to be weekly in the next few weeks. We have say that Mark Reklau interview. Coming up we have Ryan Scale coming up.
Should I feel bad because this interview was recorded a long time ago in autumn last year? It’s really great. Ryan’s a super guy. A nice guy who’s so full of enthusiasm for what he’s done. He’s recorded fantastic success and he’s gone from zero trying to be a writer to living comfortably as a writer and it’s a great success story. That’s next week.
They Mark Reklau who is actually German, by the way, but living in Spain. He’s a nonfiction author who’s using paid ads very successfully. Good.
I think we’ve got seconds left on the camera so I’m going to say thank you very much indeed for watching this week. It’s a good buy from me.
And a good buy from him. Bye Good Bye.
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