10 Critical Things To Get Right When Doing Amazon Ads For Books

Authors are increasingly looking to Amazon ads to help them sell their books. The Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ads platform is available now for Kindle Select and for non Kindle select enrolled books.

Here are 10 critical things to get right before you spend big on Amazon ads:

1.  There is a significant learning curve before you can expect to make money from your Amazon ads. To be a successful book marketer, expect to invest time and money in understanding how the AMS platform works, what keywords to use, what bids to make and how to monitor results so you can make adjustments. This free 5-day course provides a great way to learn Amazon ads for authors.

2.  Each ad is called a campaign. You can only choose books you have published on your Amazon account for your campaigns, unless you registered with an Amazon Advantage account. Amazon occasionally opens these accounts to published authors.

3.  Start with a low budget ($5 a day – often not spent) test campaign. Create a naming system for your campaigns, such as “Book 1 XX keyword list ZZ bid YY.” This will help you identify each campaign’s attributes quickly when you come back to look at its performance.

4.  Only spend what you can afford.  It can take up to 90 days to get paid by Amazon for the sales and borrows accumulated as a result of your ads. It can also take between a few days and a week to see sales generated for the previous period in your ads dashboard, so be patient. This is not a quick-fix system.

5.  Know your royalty rates (70% or 35% if self-published – less if you share royalties with a publisher) or the latest KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) rate, which is the KDP Select per-page read royalty. The rate has been holding steady at around $0.0046/per (almost 1/2 a cent) per KENP Page. That means that currently for 500 pages read Amazon pays the author $2.30 if the book is in Amazon Select. Keep in mind that a KENP page is about 2/3rds of a normal page, so the rate is only a little below what you would get for a 350 page book selling at $4.99 as an ebook.

6. You will need to maintain an ACOS (Advertising cost of sales) below 70% to be in profit if you are on 70% royalty and have one book. If you have a series of books which sell because a reader liked the first book they bought because of advertising, an ACOS of 150% or more can be justified if half your readers read the remainder of a series of 5 books and you are in Select. Your Select Royalties would then be your profit on the ad spend of about 33%. This means, in that case, for a monthly ad spend of $1,000 you get back $1,500. And you can make more if you get your ACOS down further.

7.  As sales and borrows are slow to report, a good second metric to focus on is your CPC – Cost per Click. A low cost per click, 25c for instance, means it cost you 25c each time someone clicked your ad and got taken to the Amazon book page for your book. Because on average one in ten people who click will buy your book after being taken to its Amazon page, it could cost you $2.50 to get each sale at that 25c CPC. If you do not have a series of books you could easily be making a loss on your ads at that CPC. Do not bid too high is the message if you have only one book.

8. Ensure your book description on Amazon is the best it can be before starting your Amazon ads. There is no point in paying to get people to look at your products on Amazon if the Amazon descriptions will not help you sell it. Invest time in this. BooksGoSocial provides an editing service for book descriptions as part of an Amazon ads support programs if you need further help. Examine both the layout and wording of top books in your genre to see how big publishers get this right.

9. Ensure your cover/s look amazing. Homemade covers are no longer appropriate, except in rare circumstances. Covers designed by a family member are also rarely good enough. Look at the covers of the books at the top of your genre and rate yours against them. If your cover is not as amazing get a cover designer, not a graphic designer to make you a new one. This is not as expensive as previously. Many new online cover design services have been started in the last few years to provide low-cost covers for authors. Simply search on Google to find them.

10. Ensure you have at least three honest (not one line) reader reviews on Amazon.com before you start. Rarely will a book sell without at least a few reviews and preferably ten or twenty. You don’t want to ask family too, as their reviews might get removed by Amazon because they are likely to be considered biased. You can wait until reviews arrive organically. They usually arrive at a rate of one for every thousand people who read your book. BooksGoSocial offers a service to help get reader reviews. See below.

If you can’t address the above issues we recommend you stay well away from advertising on Amazon.



1.  There is a significant learning curve to learning Amazon ads.

2.  Each ad is called a campaign.

3.  Start with a low budget.

4.  Only spend what you can afford.

5.  Know your royalty rates.

6. Know your target ACOS.

7.  Know your CPC – Cost per Click.

8. Check your book description on Amazon.

9. Ensure your cover/s look amazing.10. Ensure you have at least three honest (not one line) reader reviews on Amazon.com before you start.


If you want BooksGoSocial to do the Amazon ads for you see our options here.

If you want a service to help get you reader reviews, click here for the NetGalley+ service from BooksGoSocial and use the coupon code: pd2 to get a 50% discount on any of those packages.

Laurence O’Bryan founded BooksGoSocial in 2013. He previously worked as a sales director for a software as a service firm and in technology marketing for over twenty-five years. He also founded the International Dublin Writers Festival.

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