SPS-189: Get Help Managing Amazon Ads – with Michael Beverly
Not every author wants to dive deep into number crunching to create successful ads for their books. That’s where Michael Beverly’s service AdWerks comes into play. Michael talks to James about the ins and outs of advertising on Amazon and the opportunities coming available to authors.
- An introduction to AMS AdWerks, what they do and who their ideal client is
- What the Amazon algorithms know and how that affects how ads work
- Learning to take an unemotional look at what the ad data is telling you
- The importance, from an ads perspective, of a professional, genre-specific cover
- The value of knowing your read-through rate
- The surprising back-seat ad copy takes to cover design
- The importance of starting a book with a strong hook
- On expanding markets in other countries
Resources mentioned in this episode:
PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page
ADWERKS: Introduce yourself to Michael at AdWerks and start the conversation about your ads
BOOKBRUSH: Graphic software for creating ad images
Transcript of Interview with Michael Beverly
Announcer: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show.
Michael Beverly: Before, when you bought a book, you were really stuck. Like you just paid 20 dollars for this hardback or nine dollars for a paperback, and you’re going to read this book because you just bought it. This is not the case anymore. If I download your book on KU and you don’t hook me and I don’t like it within a few minutes, guess what? I can go click on another book in no time at all.
Announcer: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers. No one standing between you and your readers.
Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie bestseller 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: Yes, hello. It’s Friday. It’s James Blatch. And …
Mark Dawson: Mark Dawson.
James Blatch: Mark Dawson and James Blatch. We are the Self-Publishing Show.
How did you feel, by the way, about being replaced in New York? Did you get kind of, “This is it now. The young kids are in. James has found a new partner”?
Mark Dawson: I felt fine, actually. I was lying by the beach in Tenerife. It was quite nice. You can do whatever you like.
James Blatch: You were missed.
Mark Dawson: That’s not what I’ve heard.
James Blatch: No, you would have enjoyed it. I think we talked about meeting some of the big wigs they have at that festival. But we are traveling soon, as I said last week.
We have events in Vancouver, and St. Pete Beach, and eventually in Vegas, when we get to November. So we’re looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible. And had a good response, actually, to Vancouver.
Two people so far have now positively booked in for interviews for us in the Canadian city, as well as two podcasts. So it’s going to be a busy time for us, but it’ll be good to go up there.
We are going to be talking about AMS, or as it’s now called, Amazon Advertising, this week, as was promised last week. But before that, I do have a few people to welcome to Patreon.
Mark Dawson: Oh dear.
James Blatch: Yeah. You should say it.
Mark Dawson: Brace yourselves.
James Blatch: Have you read them?
Mark Dawson: I have, yes. They look very easy to pronounce.
James Blatch: Okay. So here we go. So we’re delighted to welcome to patreon.com/selfpublishingshow as supporters of this show Vito Zappardo from Los Angeles, Phillipe van Doren, and Todd Herdsman. That wasn’t too bad, was it?
Mark Dawson: That was easy.
James Blatch: Welcome Vito, Phillipe, and Todd. Excellent to have you along. Thank you very much indeed.
You’re just in time, in fact, as we’re recording this, it’ll be too late, I think, by the time this is going out, but it will be on the shelf in the archive, but we are a week away from our next Self-Publishing Formula University live training event. That’s going to be with the guys from Book Brush. And you’ve had more experience of Book Brush than I have. So basically, it’s a product that takes the artwork you’ve got for your book, and turns it into handy little images for advertising and post.
Mark Dawson: Yes. It’s really good. So yeah, you can use it for Facebook Ad images, Facebook banners, posts, BookBub ads, any kind of creative that you need, you can use it to take elements that you’ve got and put them together, put text over the top, banners, stickers, whatever you want, to turn them into ads.
And it’s really easy to use. I’ve got an ad running in Germany at the moment, and one in France. So the image is the same, but I’ve just kind of gone in, saved it as a template, and then changed the text for French or German, depending on where it’s going. It’s really easy to use.
I was very impressed with it. It’s quite like Canva. It feels like Canva. But it is designed by authors. At least, I think they’re authors. But it’s designed for authors. And you can see that. That is not one of my skills, and it looks really good. It looks really professional. So yeah, definitely one to check out.
James Blatch: Yeah, definitely go and check out Book Brush. It is bookbrush.com, I believe, the URL. And if you’re in the SPF University, you would have already received an invite to that live training event, where you can talk to the guys, get some lessons on instruction, and ask some questions.
And if you join patreon.com and support the show after that event, that event will be on the shelf for you to view in your own time.
We have another living training event coming up. I think it’s going to be the 11th of September, but we will reclaim it. September the 11th is going to be the date of training on going wide. So what you should be considering when you go wide, how to make sure you’ve got all bases covered.
There’s a big wide world out there. I know a few narrow, exclusive people who don’t always think that. There’s a huge wide world out there. You’ve got to fill in all the cracks.
Mark Dawson: Not quite sure what to say to that. Yes, I’m a big fan of all the other retailers. Obviously at the moment most of my books, in fact, all of them, are exclusive to Amazon, but that hasn’t always been the case, and I’m a big fan of the guys at Apple and Kobo especially, but also Google and Barnes & Noble.
Plenty of places that you can get your books out there, and PublishDrive is an easy way to get that done if you don’t want to be fiddling around with … Perhaps a couple of those, I won’t mention them, are not the most intuitive ways of getting your books up there. So it certainly does make it easier to get that done.
James Blatch: And whilst we’ve got PublishDrive in the house, as the guest lecturers at SPFU, we’re going to talk to them about the new product they’ve got, which allows you to split royalties, which is now going to be compartmentalized as a standalone product to buy. So particularly for authors who are starting to publish their friends’ books, or these small indie houses, could be a very useful tool for you.
Well, we are gong to be talking about Amazon, having discussed going wide just then for that training. It is about Amazon in this episode of the podcast. They are the big beast when it comes to publishing. Not just self-publishing, but publishing in the world today. But particularly self-publishing.
You and I, as we are speaking, Mark, are 24 hours away from sitting down with Amazon, aren’t we? We’re going to be sitting down with the team at Amazon’s swanky new HQ in London, going to be filming a podcast episode. How many questions did we get, when you posted into the group and said, “Do you have a question”?
Mark Dawson: 500.
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: A huge amount. That was not at all surprising. And also, I knew this would happen. I kind of did say, “Please, no gripes.” Because it’s easy to gripe about Amazon, because it’s not perfect, obviously.
There are things that they do that aren’t ideal. And I knew that an invitation for people to put questions that we could ask would result in some people putting the boot in a little bit about experiences that they’ve had, even though I said, “Look, let’s try and keep it positive.”
So that wasn’t too surprising. I kind of posted this. Someone else got there before me, and I think it is actually worth putting out there, it’s very easy to forget what Amazon has done for us, for writers. It’s really easy to forget that.
I love Amazon. Also, I love all of the other retailers that have allowed us these amazing opportunities. But the fact is, Amazon was really the first to democratize publishing, with the Kindle, with … I think it was DTP in those days, became KDP subsequently.
And it is very easy to forget that, that they have created this industry pretty much, and they’ve opened up publishing so that we can sell our stories, we can reach readers, without needing to worry about agents or publishers or any other middlemen. We can go straight to our readers. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.
I did want to just reiterate that. I think it’s okay to feel frustrated sometimes with some of the things that go wrong with the publishing on Amazon, but we should also remember that, without Amazon, I’d still be a lawyer, probably. You’d still be a gigolo.
James Blatch: You’d be my lawyer.
Mark Dawson: We wouldn’t have the same opportunities that we have these days. Important to remember that.
So anyway, we’re going to go and see Darren Hardy, who’s the manager of KDP in the UK, tomorrow. So you’ve been in the reception of their building before. You haven’t been allowed through the gates. I’m not entirely sure that you will be allowed through the gates tomorrow.
James Blatch: Well, John Dyer’s going to be allowed.
Mark Dawson: John Dyer, no, he definitely won’t be allowed.
James Blatch: He’s coming.
Mark Dawson: I know he’s coming, yeah. So I’m looking forward to you guys seeing the robot cleaners that they have in the canteen. It’s quite entertaining. Yes, James is pretending to be … That’s James’ robot mime.
James Blatch: I can do the robot.
Mark Dawson: It’s quite something. If you haven’t subscribed to the YouTube channel, that’s definitely a reason to do that right now. That’ll be fine. We’re going to go and do that.
We are not going to talk to them about advertising, because that was the question that came up most of all when I posted for questions. Everyone wanted to know about when we can advertise outside of the US store. They’re not going to talk about that.
James Blatch: I know less than you do, so I can say this. I think they’re not going to talk about it for a good reason, which is, there’s something coming.
Mark Dawson: Something’s coming, yeah.
James Blatch: And they can’t talk about it unless it’s ready.
Mark Dawson: No.
James Blatch: If it was miles away, it wasn’t ready, they would happily answer questions and explain why they do it. But the fact they’re clamming up at the moment means something’s coming.
Mark Dawson: I’m not going to say anything else about that. But yeah, I’m optimistic that things will get easier for advertising on Amazon as we progress through the rest of the year and into next year. So yes. We’re not going to talk about that. We’ll talk about other things.
But what we’re going to talk about now, and actually, we’re going to hear on the podcast today, is specifically to do with Amazon advertising. And it’s to do with a guy called Michael Beverly, who works with Russell Blake.
Russell Blake invested in his company called AMS AdWerks. So he needs to change that name, because it’s now out-of-date, because it’s not called AMS anymore. But we’ll let that go.
What Michael does is he takes on some of the grunt work that you need to do in order to run successful Amazon advertising campaigns. So we teach this in the Ads for Authors course. But some of the things that you’ll need to do involve data analysis, scraping keywords from various places from Amazon, from the bestseller lists, monitoring the bids, changing the bids.
There is a lot of hands-on stuff that you need to do in order to optimize your ads. They can work just on an automatic basis, if you’re setting an automatic campaign. Those often will work, and some of my best campaigns are the ones where Amazon does most of the bidding and choosing bits and bobs for me.
But to run a really successful campaign at scale, you do need to get your hands dirty and to, number one, understand the platform. Number two, know how to find keywords that will work for you. And then number three, put it all together.
And that’s kind of what Michael does. So let’s have a listen to that, and we’ll come back and I’ll talk … Because he does do some ads for me in a couple of markets. I might be able to talk about my experiences a little bit, and what you might be able to expect if you work with someone like Michael.
James Blatch: Okay. So we’re going to talk to Michael. Not only is he going to talk about the services Mark outlined, he can also talk about his experience of Amazon Ads, which is extensive now. So it’s definitely an interview worth listening to, whether you’re going to think about outsourcing your work, or do it yourself. Here we go.
Michael Beverly: Thank you so much for inviting me on the show. I’m Michael Beverly, and I’m the founder of AMS AdWerks that is started off as just a small little one man operation, and now has grown into a bigger thing. We’ve taken on some partners and grown. So that’s our deal.
James Blatch: And what does AdWerks offer authors?
Michael Beverly: So what AMS AdWerks offers to authors is management of the stuff that they hate to do. The managing of the keywords, the adjusting of the budgets, the following of the ads, the research on the keywords.
And also, checking on what’s working, not working. Covers, blurbs, product pages, and conversion. There’s so many working gears in it that a lot of people, especially creatives, just hate to deal with that stuff. So we just take that part of that burden off of their hands and do it for them.
James Blatch: Superb. You do the stuff authors don’t want to do.
You can’t finish my book for me, can you?
Michael Beverly: No. Well, I could, but it probably wouldn’t be very good.
James Blatch: Okay. Right. So let’s drill down a little bit into that.
It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Because a couple of years ago, the message to all authors from Mark and other people is, “Get your hands dirty, get onto this stuff. This is where the gold is.”
But there’s always going to be some people who just can’t, don’t want to, and for them, outsourcing some of this work is going to be a godsend to them. Others, I think, are getting to the point through growth where it’s actually not worth their time anymore, doing some of this stuff. So you’ve got two types of client.
Michael Beverly: Yes.
James Blatch: We’ll talk about your price structure in a moment, and we should say at the outset, this is a reasonable size investment.
This is not for the start-up.
Michael Beverly: No. It’s not for somebody with a small library. The economics of it just don’t work.
James Blatch: So we’ll talk about the higher range authors who come to you. Now, they’re probably higher range and getting good income because they’re all over this stuff, and they know the platform inside out, and they go onto it several times a day, and they tweak things and they find the little margins.
Are you able to replicate that type of work it kind of feels you’re only going to do for yourself? Are you able to do that for other people?
Michael Beverly: Yes. Usually, we can do that to the degree they don’t want to do it. So what I’ve found is the programs that work very well, that work very smoothly, it’s less of trying to find some magic bullet, and more of just doing what works, following the rules.
The paradigm that we use, the metrics that we use, the methodology that we use, is similar for every program. When they work well, they work very well. When things are not working well is when you have to dig down.
And that’s where a lot of authors get hung up, because they have an emotional attachment to their cover, their blurb, and they don’t want to admit when there’s a problem quite often, because that sometimes reflects on them personally.
A lot of authors can’t take the publishing side of the business emotionally away from the writing side of the business. When you’re writing and you’re a creative, that part is different from being a marketer and promotioner. And some people just don’t have the ability to switch those hats.
James Blatch: We referred to the fact that this is for people with a bit of a back catalog and they’re turning over a little bit of money.
Do you want to just explain the price structure?
Michael Beverly: Yeah, sure. We just have a set price structure. It’s $1300 a month, and this equates into roughly 60 hours of work. So it’s not based necessarily on the number of books or series. It’s based on time.
We have worked and do work with small publishers that need more time than that. But that’s on an individual basis. But for most indies, we can handle their catalog in that timeframe. That’s daily.
Now, we monitor the stuff seven days a week. We create ads as needed. We adjust keywords and we do all that management. We work on following the budget requirement.
So everybody has a different metric. And this is one of the things people don’t often realize is, if you have a 60 book series that’s vampire YA romance and it’s selling millions of copies, you can have a higher A-cost, for instance, because you have so much downstream income. So that’s different for everybody.
So figuring out where you can be placed makes a huge difference in how your program works. Now, if you go on any of the product pages or do a search, you’ll see who’s showing up on the top. Well, obviously those people are bidding higher.
But there’s another thing people don’t realize is that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bidding the highest. Why? Because Amazon cares about revenue at the end of the day, not just the click price. So you may be bidding five dollars a click and still not showing on the top page. Why? Because Amazon’s selling that for 60 cents to somebody that has 50 books down the stream.
The algos know, so they’re selling the space in its total revenue generation, not just the click.
James Blatch: The algos know. That’s a really interesting point. I’d not heard that articulated before, but it makes complete sense that they’re going to, not necessarily take the top bidder, but they’re going to push the books where the profits are better for them.
Michael Beverly: The algos dig even deeper than that. The algos will notice your read-through. So if your read-through is bad, they will take you off the top. Because Amazon … of course they’re profit motivated, but the profit motivation is based on customer service.
So if the algos notice that people are buying your book one but not finishing it, or not buying book two, your ad costs will astronomically increase. Or they just won’t show you. Your impressions will just die.
A lot of times, people don’t realize that, “Hey, they think my ads aren’t working because of the ad.” No, sometimes the ads are not working because of the product, and that’s where you have to set the emotion aside and go back and say, “What thing about my product? Is it the cover, is it the blurb, is it the look inside, is it the way that I’ve set the formatting of the book? Or is it the story?”
Maybe you’ve missed some major trope, and readers are getting to the 75% point and they’re not getting that turn they expect, they’re not getting the final run into home base. They’re not getting the payoff, and they won’t buy book two.
Well, the ads will show you that, but sometimes it’s a difficult process, and it can be very discouraging. But the reality is that data is data, and if you can step back and look at just the data without emotion, and just ask, “What is it saying? What is the data telling me?” And then it’ll give some great answers.
James Blatch: Very interesting indeed. And I guess the algorithm changes all the time, and these changes, when they introduce, they start to make the algorithm even more sophisticated. It might explain some of these occurrences where we have authors saying, “My ads just stopped working.”
In September last year, a lot of people complained their ads stopped working. And it might be because, in the past, the algorithm hadn’t really taken account of their read-through level, but as it becomes more sophisticated, they are.
So as you say, Michael, you’ve got to drill down in this to work out what it is you need to fix.
Michael Beverly: Yes, exactly. We’ve also noticed when the ad products change. So, for instance, in January, when the lock screens became available on the KDP AMS site, the market went a little bit crazy. So there’s two factors.
One is the algos and Amazon, and two is the competition in your genre. So if you’re in a genre that has an oversupply, in other words, there’s more authors than the core readership can read at any given point, then it becomes very competitive to get to the top spot, to grab those readers.
And what happened when the lock screens first came out, people just were overbidding. They were just losing money. Eventually that calmed down.
Now, this changes, so none of this is gospel. But right now, the sponsored product automatic category ads, are way, way overpriced. I mean, it’s literally people are just throwing money away because, why the algos are taking those and they’re feeding them out there … I see mismatched stuff all the time because, if Amazon has a place to put your dollar bid, they will do so.
Now, what happens is, eventually you’ll lose money and you’ll go, “Okay, this didn’t work. What happened?” And a lot of times, I hear people say, “Well, the ads didn’t work.” And, of course, you guys have heard this a million times, “Ads don’t work.”
In fact, I had this big argument … As many people know, Russell Blake invested in my company as a happy client, and he and I started off doing business together from that very position. His position was, “The people that are doing ads are losing money, and nobody really knows. They’re putting money into the market because they know it’s the right thing to do, but they’re not making money.”
And I said, “Well, that can’t be every case. Let’s try.” So we did. We tried, and we ended up having a success, which is how he ended up investing in the company and he became part of helping us expand.
What we found is that when people say, “Ads don’t work,” what they’re often not realizing is that they’re overpaying for clicks. So, of course the ads aren’t working, because they’re paying too much. Or they’re also finding that their CTR, which is the click through rate, is not high enough to sustain Amazon feeding the impressions, and that will be, usually, a cover issue.
The cover’s now outdated, or it’s not right for the genre. If you’re advertising in, say, like a fantasy dragon romance … This is what I like to use for an example. Like a paranormal dragon romance, and you don’t have the right cover, those readers will not click.
Now, for thrillers, there’s a certain type of cover, and for noir mystery or cozy mystery with a cat, every reader has a certain expectation. And if you don’t meet that, the click rate drops.
The Amazon algos will look at a low click rate and say, “Customers are not satisfied. Sorry. We will not sell you impressions.” Now, you can sometimes force them to by bidding a $1.50 or $2, but this is when ads don’t work. If you’re overpaying like that, of course they’re not going to work.
Now, conversely, if you find the right cover in the right market, and readers are very happy, they’re liking the cover, they’re clicking, they’re liking the product page, and they’re buying your book and reading it, Amazon will sell you those clicks cheaper.
And that’s another thing a lot of people don’t realize is that when they force their bids up to get on the top page, right next to them is a top-selling author paying sometimes 60% or 70% of the click price. Because why? Amazon would rather have the sell-through and the revenue from the other click.
James Blatch: So readthrough and understanding readthrough has never been more important.
Michael Beverly: It’s absolutely critical. And the other reason it’s critical is, in order to scale, you’re competing against people with long series. Now, this isn’t true if you’re starting off and you’re doing low-budget ads and you’re just trying to get traction and readers.
So somebody taking Mark’s program, for instance, is starting their career. They don’t have 20 books. This is a different paradigm because they’re just trying to build readership, and they can do that at the low level. And they’re the ones that need to be the expert. They’re the ones that need to take the course, read the book, understand the market, pay attention every day.
It doesn’t make sense economically for them to hire me or any other consultant because it doesn’t make sense with that low budget.
But at the bigger budgets, then all of a sudden it makes sense, and what you have to realize is, in order to get on the top page, those clicks aren’t making you money necessarily on that first book. They’re making you money as people read through your series. And when you understand that, you can set your bid prices appropriately. So whether you’re at a small-scale or a big-scale, you need to know what the value of a customer is.
Now, a lot of times, I’ll talk to people that had great success with 99 cents or permafree. That tends to do poorly now with the high bid prices of the ads, because you end up paying a lot of money to basically give your book away. And if you don’t have massive readthrough, you just pay too much and it doesn’t work.
Now, this is different if you have 40 or 50 books that somebody’s going through with the series. That’s only a very small percentage of authors that have that depth of a series that has great readthrough.
So it always comes down to this economic question, “What can I afford to pay? How many people are clicking?” It gets a little difficult with the KU sales combination because you have to know what your genre ratios are, if for every dollar you bring in sales, are you bringing in $1 dollar or a $1.50 in KU, or $2? What’s that ratio? It changes from genre to genre.
Of course, it’s also based on your readthrough again, because if a customer buys your book, they’ve bought it. And generally, people don’t return books. They just bought it.
In KU, though, however, there’s no bar to entry. They’ve paid their subscription fee, so going to book two is very easy. So your readthrough on the KU should be very high. If it’s not high, then you know there’s a problem with the product, and that’s a hard thing for people sometimes to step back and say, “Okay, why? Why aren’t people reading book two, three, four and on?”
Now, if they are, you can take that formula, that money, whether it’s seven books or 70 books, it doesn’t matter. It’s how much money is that customer worth? That translates to what I can bid now for my clicks.
And the conversion rate gets a little confusing because KU doesn’t tell us. They report to you page reads. Now, some people will say, “Just divide your pages into your money,” but that doesn’t really tell you how many people downloaded it. Imagine if everybody read every single page, then the formula would be right, but that’s not true.
So you have to make an estimation based on how many people go to book two, and then extrapolate that and come up with a figure that makes sense. Generally speaking, we like to just use the conversion rate on the sales reported, and we don’t worry about the KU because we’re just comparing.
For instance, if your conversion is 20 to one, not counting KU, just 20 to one on sales, and then we know, “Okay, if we tweak the blurb and we can get that down to 18 to one or 15 to one,” every little incremental bit helps a lot because we’re talking massive numbers. Millions of impressions end up meaning a lot of downstream clicks, and then sales.
So every little percentage along the way makes a huge difference in your overall long-tail program.
James Blatch: It’d be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that we have a webinar on how to calculate readthrough, because I know it’s not straightforward for people. But Mal Cooper is an expert in this area, and he has done a webinar which, if you’re a member of SPFU, if you’re a Patreon supporter of this podcast, of this show, you can get access to that. It sits in the archive. So just go to patreon.com/selfpublishingshow.
James Blatch: Okay. I had to mention that.
Michael Beverly: Yeah. And it’s a good thing, not just to know for your what to bid. It’s also very instructive on where people are struggling in your series.
James Blatch: Yeah. Which book doesn’t work.
Michael Beverly: A lot of people forget to look at like, are they converting from book four to book five very well but book five to book six, there’s a drop off? If there is, there’s a reason, because people love series.
If you don’t have a high percentage going on all the way to the end, then you know that there’s a weak point, and that this can be fixed. This is the great thing about ebooks. You can fix this. It doesn’t have to stay this way.
James Blatch: You mentioned there that it’s quite difficult to calculate exactly how many pages are being read, because of the way that the figures, that the data’s, presented to us. And that is a perennial problem with AMS, with the Amazon Ads platform, isn’t it? We don’t see lends as well.
There’s a lot of things you’ve got to take into account to judge the effectiveness of your advertising spend. And I do see posts from people in our group sometimes. They say, “My ads are simply not profitable.”
As you’ve already alluded to, they’re not taking quite a lot of stuff into account that means they may be turning off profitable ads.
Michael Beverly: Yes. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that Amazon’s really good at, and probably their top thing is profit. If they’re turning off your ads, it’s because they’ve determined they can sell that space to somebody else for more profit. So it definitely helps.
And this is one of the advantages we have working in so many genres with so many authors is we know the different rates, because every genre has different rate. What would be a good conversion in, say, the mystery noir, like a book that’s set in the 1970s and it’s a dark mystery noir book, or a cozy, cuddly tea mystery with a cat on the cover, like all of these little niches have their own ratios where we know if it’s doing well or not in relation to other people.
So if you have a thriller, for instance, in Kindle Unlimited, and it’s converting at 40 to one, like on the sales, then we know, “Okay, there’s a problem here.” Now if it’s down to 30 or 20 to one, then we know, “Okay, if your KU numbers are really high, if the genre has a strong KU readership, this might be fine.”
I’ve heard it tossed around a lot that you want to try to get a good blurb and get your conversion rate overall to, say, 10 to one or less.
Now, this is true as just like a thumbnail. Like, okay, a very, very loose metric. But it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know, are you in the zombie apocalypse genre? Because that has a different KU readership.
Space opera fantasy, litRPG, a lot of those genres are read by people predominantly in KU, and should have a very high KU to dollar ratio. When you’re in those genres, you can be running profitable ads where the sales conversion is very low. Like, it’s seemingly terrible, and the A-cost is very high.
Now, of course, you have to have readthrough and your KU numbers need to be strong. But those things are sometimes confusing to people because they hear these things in forums, and they talk about what a good conversion rate should be, and whether the blurb’s working. You need to know all of the factors, or else the data itself is kind of meaningless. You’re just guessing.
James Blatch: This is great stuff, in terms of level of detail and micromanaging your AMS accounts. I’m still thinking, “How does this work for your company?”
This attention to detail for individuals’ accounts must be incredibly labor-intensive?
Michael Beverly: Yes. It’s very labor-intensive. Now that we’ve expanded, we have people dedicated to research, so they’re researching the bestseller lists daily. We subscribe to as many author newsletters as possible, so we can have news of new releases. Or we continually check also-boughts, which are very important. And also, the algos take big notice of who’s buying your book.
Amazon also tracks individual sales. So if you go on and you’re on every day looking at a certain type of, say, military sci-fi, then Amazon now knows this. So in the ad carousel, you might see a military sci-fi, where you wouldn’t necessarily expect it.
Now, if you go into incognito mode on your browser, that same dynamic will shift. It’ll change. So one of the things that we do besides the research is account manage each day. So we track the spend, we’re tracking the conversions, the CTR.
What’s very shocking to me is talking to other experts, or some clients that have worked with other experts and or studied this themselves, how shocked people were about how important CTR is.
Everybody knows to have a good cover, but not everybody was realizing that the click-through rate, because the ad on Amazon is the cover. That’s the ad. Now, of course, people look at the number of stars, the price. There’s obviously a different dynamic if you’re a box set at 9.99 and a 99 cent new release romance. It’s much different. But people do look at price.
They also look at the ad copy, but the ad copy, we’ve tested this a lot. The ad copy’s important, but it’s insignificant compared to the cover. The cover makes or breaks you. So the click-through rate, which is … A lot of people don’t realize that if their cover’s dated or not exactly right for the genre, the click-through rate drops, and Amazon’s algos take that as, “Your audience that you’re targeting is not happy with you. They’re not clicking. They should be clicking at X.”
Now, if you talk in the boards, people will generally have this one in a thousand. Like everybody kind of knows, one in a thousand’s like where you’re supposed to be. This is generally true, in a very general sense, but it’s completely not true in a specific sense.
In the specific sense, some genres and some ad types, you should be at .16. If you’re doing lock screens and your CTR is .1, you’re not getting impressions. Amazon’s just going to shut you down because, in lock screens, that’s a terrible CTR.
So you need to know what is a good CTR in your genre and in the ad type. Category ads will be different from highly specific, targeted … Like, say you’re targeting a specific author. All of those have different ranges. So if you’re coming into ads with just the general sense that this percentage and this ratio is correct, you’re okay in general, but that doesn’t help you in the specific, and that’s where a lot of people get hung up.
James Blatch: You’ve mentioned lock screen ads a couple of times, Michael. Relatively new development open to authors now. I’ve heard mixed things about lock screen ads.
In fact, I think I’m yet to speak to somebody who’s really raving about them. What’s your experience?
Michael Beverly: With the right product, the lock screens are amazing for driving Kindle Unlimited reads. So, for instance, I have a specific romance client in a specific romance genre who wishes I could spend more money every day. She’s begging me to spend more.
The lock screens are terrible if they don’t convert into KU reads. I think the general thing is, people see this on their Kindle and, by and large, the genres that have high KU readers it’s very easy for them to click. So the click-through rate, and this is why lock screens, when they first came out and people went crazy with bids and they lost a lot of money, because the click-through rate is enormous. It’s way higher than it is on the SP, the carousel ads. For one reason, it’s the only ad you’re seeing. You’re seeing one ad.
It’s very easy to click. If you’re in Kindle Unlimited as a reader, to click on that’s free. To read the first pages are free. There’s no barrier other than a minute or two of your time. So if you see a nice cover, trying the book is very easy.
So what happened to a lot of people is they were bidding too high. They weren’t getting the read-throughs, and that was costing them a lot of money.
Now, conversely, if you have the right product and you’re targeting the right audience in lock screen ads, you can afford to pay a decent click price because you’re targeting people that click on that. They read the first little bit and they get hooked. It’s very important to start your book off, in this day and age, with a strong hook.
It’s just like when you go to the movies. The first scene is designed to grab you. I don’t care who the director is, the first three or four minutes, it might even have almost nothing to do with the movie sometimes, it’s just to hook you. Now you’re riveted in your seat.
It’s the same thing with a book. If you don’t get that reader right away, hooked into your product, they tend to go click somewhere else.
And this is one of the problems with … It’s a blessing and a curse. In this click world, it’s so easy to go … Like I could turn around and grab a Kindle and be reading a book in like 30 seconds, any book that’s in the world, just about. This has never happened before. I would have to go to a bookstore.
So before, when you bought a book, you were really stuck. Like you just paid 20 dollars for this hardback, or nine dollars for a paperback, and you’re going to read this book because you just bought it.
This is not the case anymore. If I download your book on KU and you don’t hook me and I don’t like it within a few minutes, guess what? I can go click on another book in no time at all.
When people are having problems with those ad products type, that’s the indication right there that there’s a problem with people and they’re just not getting hooked into it. And you may be targeting the wrong audience, which is another killer. If your cover is amazing, but you target the wrong people, you will get tons of clicks but people aren’t buying, because you targeted the wrong people.
And sometimes people think, “Well, I want to go wide. I want to sell my book to a million people.” You need to know your genre. If you have a book like, say, Mark’s The Cleaner, right? It’s very Jack Reacher-ish. It has a huge readership for that genre. You can be more aggressive because there’s more readers in that. There’s more readers that read the Jack Reacher or the Jason Bourne books than there are that read, say, a noir mystery or a cozy tea mystery or a mystery with recipes. There are big audiences for those, but the scale is much different. For YA vampire romance, obviously, you have many, many more readers.
So you have to keep that in mind of how big you can go with your ad program. Because as soon as you start targeting the wrong people, two things happen. One, you waste money. And two, Amazon thinks your product isn’t good. Your product may be fantastic, but not for that audience.
James Blatch: I wonder how many people have rewritten the first 25 pages of their book, because they’re not getting the readthrough that they wanted? They’re not getting stick-ability when people choose their book. But this is exactly the sort of thing you should be thinking about as an author.
Don’t enclose yourself in a little box thinking, “I can only change so much.” You can change almost everything.
Michael Beverly: Yes, absolutely. Here’s another thing that happens with some of the veteran authors. They’re on book 12, 13 or 14, and you go back and look at the reviews from five or six years ago, and the stars are bad on book one. Now, maybe they’ve rewritten it. Maybe they’ve done some work on it. But you can’t take away … Maybe you have a thousand reviews, but 60% of them are like under five stars.
So when people see that, it’s an indication that, “Hey, wait a minute.” There’s lot of books out there that are four and a half, five, maybe look like five star something. So what I’ve recommended to some veterans is to take a very strong look at making book one a free prequel and get it out of your series. Now, if it’s absolutely a must-read, like if you have to know book one to understand book two, this doesn’t work. But if you’ve developed, which hopefully you have as a writer over writing 10 or 12 books, you need to take a very unemotional, strong look at book one. Because quite often, book one is very, very weak.
I had a client one time tell me, “Hey, don’t advertise these books because they’re terrible.” And I go, “Okay. The problem is you should just take those off. Take them off of your author central. Don’t let people see those old books with three stars because it reflects on your entire product. Stick with the good stuff, and if you can get your first book into the funnel of your series to be the one that’s like four and a half stars, maybe it’s your book two or three where everybody raves …”
In fact, I’ve had somebody tell me, “I have so many people tell me that they really struggled to read book one, and they almost quit reading me, but they’re really happy they went to book two.”
If this is the case, that’s an indication maybe book two should be book one. Now, I’m not saying that’s for everybody, but it’s something to consider. And as you just noted, you can go back and rewrite book one. Like, there’s no reason that you have to leave those problems.
And they’re quite often, you can go through, there’s many people out there with great books on how to structure a story, where the turns should be. So if you’ve researched those and you understand the dynamic, you can go back and read your book that you wrote three or four years ago and you’ll spot the mistakes yourself. And then why not fix them? There’s no reason not to.
James Blatch: Superb. Let’s talk a little bit more about AdWerks and the service, then. So 1300 dollars a month, and that’s like the fee. And then, do you have a recommended budget?
I’m guessing if you’re spending 1300 dollars as the service charge, your budget’s got to be significant, otherwise you’re not going to make money?
Michael Beverly: Yes. We generally recommend starting off with a mindset of having 100 dollars a day in ad spend, which is roughly 3000 a month. Now, I’ve had some people start smaller, maybe 60 dollars a day, roughly 1600 to 2000 a month can work for testing. But the idea is, we want to scale.
Once you’ve done your base testing and you know, “Okay, these things work and these things don’t work,” now you’re going to try to scale up. Also what happens on the algos is there’s a magic point for each author, each genre, where the spend starts becoming less and less effective, because there’s only so many searches or so many readers per day for every genre.
Now, obviously, in contemporary romance and the mainline thrillers, it’s massive. But not everybody writes in those genres, so you have to be cognizant of what the readership is like in your genre, and that’ll set the spend.
We have clients anywhere from the one to two hundred a day range up to a thousand a day. So if you’re spending a thousand a day, obviously you’re a veteran and you know very well what’s happening, and then it just becomes simple math.
You just say to yourself, “If I spend a thousand a day and I get back 1200 a day or 1300 a day, that’s an amazing return and I’m happy.” That’s personal, based on your own finances, “How much do I need to be happy?”
Our job on the management side is to take what you see on your sales side. So like we’re blind to your readthrough and your KU numbers unless you tell us, because it doesn’t report on the dash. We just see the conversion, the CTR, and we know the health of an ad based on that.
But we need the author to then come back and say, “Okay, I’m getting X amount of money or X amount of readthrough, and I can afford to bid higher or lower.”
Now, of course, everybody wants the lowest CPC they can. You know, “Get me 25 cent …” I remember, it wasn’t too long ago when Amazon had that recommendation, like 25 cents, and you’d listen to podcasts or hear people say, “You don’t have to bid 25 cents. You can bid 10.” Well, yeah, okay, that’s fine, but to do any scale, 25 cents is cheap. If we could get 25 cent clicks, we’d be in heaven.
The click rates are way much higher than this to be competitive. So, for the big authors who are very aggressive on their ad campaigns, the bids are going to be high, and our job as managing it is to go through and find out how wide of a market. So the very same author might be able to pay a dollar a click in this particular target group, and then another target group which is similar …
Like, a good example would be, let’s say you’re writing a psychological thriller with kidnapping in it. It might appeal to serial killer readers, but you have to pay less per click in that group. If you’re writing a romance that’s a straightforward contemporary romance, you might sell to the motorcycle romance fans or the paranormal fans, but at a much smaller rate.
So you have to be very careful where those bid rates are set so that each target is profitable. If you do that, the overall program will be profitable.
But a lot of times, people get in the problem is they’d be profitable in one section but not another, and they fail to look at the broken part. If you just get the broken part out, then everything else will line up.
James Blatch: And when somebody comes to you, are you able to offer that kind of consultation service to them?
Because it’s in both your interests, isn’t it, that they do fix some of these problems that might be around?
Michael Beverly: Yes, absolutely. So one of the values that we provide, that is very difficult for somebody working on their own, is we know how your competition in the genre is doing. If your CRT is one in a thousand, we can tell you, “Hey, that’s good. That’s poor. It’s average.”
And if your conversion rate in this genre, and you’re in Kindle Unlimited and your price point is here, we can let you know that this conversion is problematic, because we see it across our other lines and we can say, “Look, we know it’s problematic, and the first fix is the blurb.”
And a lot of times, we can see it. If we see somebody has a big wall of text, paragraph, narrative, blurb, we’ve done extensive testing and, if you look at any of the big advertisers, the model is there. It’s obvious. If you’re going to advertise, study the market. It’s just like if you were going to invest in stocks. If you don’t understand the difference between Ford and GM and Procter & Gamble, you’re going to be lost.
So it’s the same thing in this. You’re bidding for something in a very competitive market, so you need to understand it. And so that’s part of what we do for authors. We know if the cover is not working right. Now sometimes you can see it. Like sometimes I’ll have somebody that’ll contact me and I can see right away.
Other times, I don’t know. You may contact me and I’ll look at your cover and say, “To me, the cover looks amazing.” But then once we start, if the CTR is below average, I can then tell you, “Hey, look, this is below average. You don’t want to be below average, not when you’re trying to spend this much money. You need to be at average, minimum, preferably above average.”
And I know what those metrics are because I have the data.
James Blatch: Yes. Again, it’s treating your books as products, divorcing yourself from that emotional tie to things. We all love our covers, but if it’s not making you money, you’ve got to kill your babies.
Michael Beverly: Yes.
James Blatch: So when someone comes to you, it’s a reasonable investment, is there a minimum contract period? Some people will have a very clear and nuanced idea of what they want and what success looks like to them.
Can they, if things don’t work for them, get themselves out of it quite quickly, or vice versa, reinvest?
Michael Beverly: Yes. We’re a month to month service. We can stop the ads in the middle of a month, but payment is per month. We don’t have any long-term contracts because we know the market changes.
And we also don’t know how your product’s going to perform. So if the product doesn’t perform to your expectations, or our expectations, then we can part ways, hopefully as friends, and then that’s just the end of it.
If it goes well, and then we’re just a month to month service, and our hope is, and the reason that it’s in both of our advantages to say, “Hey, look, the cover’s problematic,” or, “This is problematic.” Or, “Let’s change this, this or this,” is because we want to keep people profitable, because that’s the only way they stay long-term clients.
James Blatch: And do you have any plans … I know you’re expanding at the moment, and so your basket’s full, I’m sure, of work. But do you have plans for expanding the service offering? I’m just wondering whether at the lower end … A lot of people listening to the podcast will just think, “I’m not near 1300 dollars a month to pay for service fees before I’ve start advertising yet.” Would there, for instance, be like a 500 dollar bespoke consultation for them?
Because people listening to your expertise, if you applied yourself to one author’s set-up, they would get gold dust from you.
Michael Beverly: Yes. I have had many people ask that. The problem is, as you know, there’s only so many hours in a day. So currently right now, because we’re expanding and our core client is one that meets the model we have now, at this time, we don’t have plans in place to do what you’re saying.
Now, we have been asked for it many times. There might very well be in the future a market for that. But currently, the answer’s no. But not no like forever necessarily, but for today. We have more than we can chew at the moment.
James Blatch: Well, look, we’ve got 500 dollars’ worth of consultation out of you in this interview.
Michael Beverly: Thank you. I appreciate that. And it’s always a learning process, for sure. And I also recommend to people to study and understand, whether it’s taking a course, reading a book or talking to other authors. What works, what doesn’t work.
And stay current, because, as you know, things change constantly and the market fluctuates. So you have two things working in tandem that change, Amazon and the other authors out there who have a huge influence on you. Because if you have somebody in the same genre bidding very high, now you have to deal with that. You have to decide.
And this goes back to defensive advertising, something we haven’t talked about, which a lot of people are not doing right now. And we probably don’t have time to talk about the problem with AA, but those people that don’t have AA and aren’t running banner ads are having a hard time protecting their space when somebody … If you type in “Mark Dawson”, you’re going to see Mark Dawson. But if you type in, “Joe Smith”, this new author, you’re not going to see that. So as you build your audience, you want that audience to find you, not somebody else.
So this becomes very important to understand both what you can afford to pay to protect your space, and how important it is to protect your branding that you’ve spent all this time working on it.
James Blatch: Well, you did mention AA, so we’ll just very quickly … we’ve got a few minutes left. So obviously this is Amazon Advantage you’re talking about. And this is a frustrating area, I think, for a lot of authors, that there’s this nice shiny dashboard which gives you access to a load more stuff, and it’s unavailable, officially, to authors, and some have got through and some haven’t.
It seems to be, the feeling for me, you’ll probably have … I’m sure you’ve got an inside track on this somewhere, that it’s something that will eventually be rolled out to everyone.
But at the moment, if you haven’t got AA, as you say, you’re at a slight disadvantage.
Michael Beverly: Yes. If you don’t have AA, you are definitely at a slight disadvantage. And Mark blogged about it recently, in the last few months, and talked about on the podcast about getting into the foreign markets. He brings up his Germany experience.
Canada opened recently, and it’s very cheap to get clicks on Canada. So if you’re not trying to get into Canada, my question would be, “Why?”
Now, to some degree, the people that are getting in first wish I wouldn’t say these things. But this is the world that we’re in. I suspect at some point that the AA type platform will be universal across all the … Now, how Amazon does that, I don’t know. But Amazon wants you to invest your advertising dollar in France, in Spain, eventually China, Japan. Why wouldn’t they want this?
And the other thing that people don’t often realize is … And I found this, this was very surprising. I’m in Guadalajara, Mexico, and most people that work with me know that, but not everybody does. So part of the reason that our company structure is able to give a very good value is specifically because of the scale that’s here. It’s a very high-tech place.
What I found when I came here, though, is eReaders aren’t super popular yet. From where I’m sitting right now, I can walk in 10 minutes to four or five physical bookstores.
Now, my previous home was California. In a major city, I had to drive 30 minutes to get to the one bookstore that existed in a 30-mile radius. So as these emerging markets grow, there will be more and more people starting to read electronically. It’s probably on their phones first.
And one thing that I’ve noticed, I’ve had a lot of friends tell me this is that, they don’t like the translations from … If you’re reading Harry Potter in Spanish, well, Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish are not the same, and the Mexican Spanish readers hate Spanish Spanish, and they read in English. And most people that read a lot have some education, and most emerging markets are bilingual.
I’ve lived here two years and I don’t even speak Spanish yet. It’s totally fine. So what people need to realize, and Mark’s emphasized this with Germany is like, get in these markets.
Now, I’m not saying don’t translate your books into German, because German readers read in German, but there is a big market for foreign readers in English. So don’t discount in the next decade or so, this is going to be huge.
James Blatch: And without having to translate, that’s a much lower barrier. Because Mark’s gone through great expense, I think, to do the German translations.
Michael Beverly: Yes, absolutely.
James Blatch: That’s another point, Michael, you make it very well, that going back, it is easy to take, and it is hard. Nobody’s said this is easy to make money, and we see these posts, “Advertising doesn’t work,” and, “There’s too many authors.”
Often that doesn’t take account of the fact that every day of the week, there’s another million book readers on the planet.
You’ve mentioned Mexico, but think about India. I mean, India has a huge, fast-emerging middle-class who are reading books. Africa has a fast-emerging middle-class at the moment.
Michael Beverly: Yes, absolutely.
James Blatch: I’m a natural optimist but, to me, the future’s bright and the market’s getting bigger, however many more indies join us.
Michael Beverly: Absolutely. The market is absolutely getting bigger. And you can also see this in the way we watch TV series like on Netflix and movies. Most of these things start in concept as a written product, generally a book. And as those markets grow, it just expands for everybody. So there is definitely a huge, huge market.
Now, that being said, there’s tons of people out there that want to be writers, and there’s lots of competition. So, as Russell Blake’s fond of saying, “Your product has to be perfect.” You need to work very hard.
If you think that advertising is going to be the magic bullet for a product that’s not the best it can be, then you’re fooling yourself, because the readers are savvy. I’m not saying they want Charles Dickens literature. I’m saying they want what they want. They want the tropes, they want the style, they want the book that makes them feel good. And there’s a market in every little niche for this.
And as you said, it is growing. I think China and India will be the two emerging markets that are so astronomically big. It’s unbelievable how big they are. Now, that said, America, the dot com, that’s still the big market, and you have to do well there generally speaking to really expand your product lines. But there’s no reason not to go out and expand.
James Blatch: Superb. Well, that’s an optimistic note on which to wrap things up. We haven’t mentioned the link. We have an affiliate link. I should say it is an affiliate link, which is selfpublishingformula.com/adwerks, A-D-W-E-R-K-S. It’s an inquiry for you to say hello to Michael and start the process, potentially, of onboarding there.
So just to reiterate, so 1300 a month. People can pull out, pull in, again, depending on their whims. So there’s no long-term contract. And I’m sure a really important part of the process, Michael, is at the beginning, is you understanding what they deem as successful, and whether they’re measuring that correctly.
Because, as Mark has pointed out many times in the last couple of years, he now realizes he turned off ads two or three years ago without fully understanding the whole concept of readthrough, and he’s turned off profitable ads.
So it might be that people need to understand that before they are able to actually measure whether the service you’re providing for them is profitable for them.
Michael Beverly: Yes, absolutely. The long-term readthrough and the relevance of the ads over time. And, I hate to say this as a marketer, but it’s very true that people need to see your branding, sometimes more than once, before they buy.
James Blatch: Well, seven times traditionally, isn’t it? The seven touches.
Michael Beverly: And readers read, so that means, if you’re showing your ad to a reader, he’s got, or she’s got, books they’re in the middle of reading. They don’t necessarily buy you when they see you on Tuesday. But they remember in their mind, and you need to show them that.
And people are now being conditioned to the fact that if they see an ad a lot, that means the product is good. Generally speaking, this is true, because Amazon won’t continue to show a product if it’s not good, so they go hand-in-hand. And whether they’re conscious of this or not, people know. If they’ve seen your ad a lot, that signals to them that the market likes your product, and they probably will too if it’s in the right genre.
James Blatch: Superb. Michael, it’s been a really illuminating interview. So I appreciate your time. I know you’re a busy man at the moment, but we thank you so much for coming on.
Michael Beverly: Thank you for having me, and have a great day.
James Blatch: There we are, Michael Beverly. And, as mentioned, there is a URL if you want to inquire to AdWerks about being one of their clients. You can go to selfpublishingformula.com/adwerks, A-D-W-E-R-K-S. AdWerks. AdWerks, that’s what they say in Liverpool.
So, a couple of things to talk about there, Mark, and I think the first thing to say is that this is not going to suit everybody.
First of all, you need fairly deep pockets. You need to be a fairly big roller to offload that amount of work, and with the … What do you call it? The standard monthly fee before you’ve even started investing in ads, is hefty.
But, for higher rollers, this could work well. But it might not. You have to go into these ventures with your eyes open.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, that’s right. And I think, it isn’t cheap, that’s for sure. But I think it’s still good value. Something can be expensive and yet still good value. And you will need to find the money for the ads on top of that. And Michael is good at spending money, so he will, or he should be able to, get ads to serve and to get clicks, and then hopefully to get sales. But there is no guarantee of success.
And we have been contacted by a couple of people in the community to say that they tried a month or two with the company, it didn’t work for them. Now, that’s fine. I think Michael would say, “It’s not going to work for everyone.”
I can only speak for my own experience, and it has worked quite well for me. It’s not a complete home run. Not that I expected it to be. So some things that I have noticed in my results … Also, I keep an eye on this on a daily basis at the moment in August. I’m looking at exactly how much I’m spending, because it’s a lot, and what the percentage, with regards to the revenue coming in, is.
And so, I’m looking at AMS in the UK, the US and Germany. That’s where I’m advertising at the moment. And one of the things that I’m seeing is that the A-cost score is often over 100%, sometimes over 200%.
Now, a lot of authors who don’t really think about this deeply enough will immediately think, “I’m making a loss on there.” And it’s possible that they might be. But what they need to do is to work out what their readthrough is and work out what the breakeven is in terms of the A-cost score.
Now the A-cost score is a useful metric. It’s got a useful easy health check to see where an ad is. But if you’ve done your maths … And, again, this is me speaking, so I’m not any kind of mathematical prodigy. But if you’ve done a few simple calculations, you can work out what your readthrough is, and therefore how much the sale of one book might be.
We’re not going to go into too much detail here. But if book one makes you two dollars, an A-cost of 100% means that you have spent two dollars to sell two dollars. That’s what it means.
If your readthrough is six dollars, so the sale of one book is actually six dollars, then you can afford to spend two dollars three times in order to break even, to not make a loss. So that’s 300% A-cost score. Provided you know that, you can proceed with confidence that you’re going to be in the black.
And also, of course, what we’re doing here, we advertise book one in the two series that we’re advertising. That should mean that these are new readers to me. So they’ve bought book one. Hopefully, some of them will go on to buy books two, book three, and if it’s a Milton book, maybe all the way to book 15.
Some of them will join my mailing list. Some of them will then buy everything that I release in the future. So there’s a lifetime value to these readers as well. So you need to think about all of that.
From my perspective, if you go to Michael and tell him what your circumstances are, he will, I think, give you a fairly honest assessment of whether he thinks that he could help you. I don’t think he’ll be able to help everybody.
I don’t think this is something that I would recommend for anyone with less than three books. Probably you’d need more than that. And I also wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who can’t afford a decent ad spend and a decent management fee on top.
If you meet those criteria, I think it is worth having a chat with him. And if you do that, I mean, again, to be completely honest, the link that James has given you is an affiliate link. So we will make an amount from there. So we need to set that out.
Saying all that, I’m being as objective as I can be. From my perspective, I’ve been working with Michael for six or seven months now, and I’m quite pleased with how it’s gone.
But, on the other hand, the people that we’ve been contacted by are authors that I know and respect. Some of them are quite big authors. They didn’t have that experience. And that’s fine. So go into it with those things in the back of your mind and see how you get on.
James Blatch: You’ve got to work out what your purpose is, as well, of outsourcing to Michael. So, for somebody like you, Mark, who’s very busy, and for authors who just want to write as much as possible and do as little of the marketing as possible, even if outsourcing it to a third-party doesn’t give you as much of a yield as you would perhaps do yourself if you spent several hours on a day, it can be worth it to you in terms of getting more books written, more products on the shelf.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, that’s a good point. I think I could do it better than Michael could for my books. Because they’re my books, so I know them much better. I know what my readers are like. I have an idea of my ideal avatar reader, and I can aim ads to that person.
But, without being too much of an idiot about things, I don’t want this to come across as bragging, I’m cash-rich but time-poor. And I know how much an hour of my time is worth. It’s probably worth more writing a new book than it is using Publisher Rocket to find out another thousand keywords, or going to Import.io and scraping a thousand keywords off a Goodreads list. It’s not necessarily the best use of my time.
So I’ve taken the decision that, even though it might not be quite as efficient, Michael may not be able to squeeze quite as much out of those ads as I could, it’s still worth me handing that off to him, because I’ve got other things I need to do. Like things like this.
James Blatch: Exactly. Perhaps even spend some time with your family. Yes. Good. Okay. Well, that is Michael Beverly, and the link again, as Marks says, we are in partnership with them on this. It’s selfpublishingformula.com/adwerks, A-D-W-E-R-K-S. And that’s basically an inquiry form. Michael will take over from there, and you’ll find out whether it’s going to be a good fit for you.
Well, look, we will come back from our meeting with Amazon tomorrow, and we’ll schedule that interview in. It won’t be next week, because we are about to record that. And that’s a really, I tell you now, a really interesting interview next week. If we talk a lot about romance and thrillers and mainstream genre fiction, next week is out of the field of that, but is doing the same thing in self-publishing and is making a killing. Really interesting interview coming up next week.
That’s probably it from us for now.
Mark Dawson: I think so, too. Yeah. We’re off to London tomorrow, and then I’m off to Lowestoft for a week on holiday with my folks and my kids and my family. So I hope everyone’s having a nice summer, and we’ll be back next week. So it’s goodbye from me.
James Blatch: And it’s goodbye from him.
Mark Dawson: Goodbye.
James Blatch: Goodbye.
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