Guide to Amazon Ads: Power Your Book Sales

You’re selling books on Amazon, but how to increase book sales on Amazon? Using Amazon ads can be a game changer as it directly targets consumers who are browsing on Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world! To help you get started, this guide goes over the basics and best practices to know when advertising books on Amazon (with insights from over 1,400 ad campaigns.) ⬇️

This guide goes over:

  • What Is Amazon Advertising for Books
  • Why Amazon AMS Ads for Books
  • How to Get Started With Amazon Book Ads
  • Best Practices on How to Advertise on Amazon
  • Using PublishDrive’s Amazon Ads Tool

What Is Amazon Advertising for Books?

What is Amazon AMS? Amazon AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) is the umbrella term for several Amazon marketing services for authors. In 2018, the term was rebranded to Amazon Console. Since many still refer to the services as AMS advertising or Amazon Advertising, I’ll be using those terms throughout this guide.

Essentially, Amazon Advertising is Amazon’s platform where you can advertise and sell products in front of visitors based on related products, keywords, and consumer interests. For authors and publishers, the platform is available for Kindle Select and non-Kindle Select books distributed with 3rd party services such as PublishDrive.

There are two main types of Amazon book ads to know of:

1. Sponsored Product ads show up at the bottom of Amazon product search results and below the “also-boughts”.

2. Product Display ads show up near the “Buy” button and on Kindle screensavers.

Why Amazon AMS Ads for Books?

Imagine Amazon as a gigantic, physical bookstore. In a sea of books, using AMS Amazon is like placing your book in places where it can be discovered. For example, using AMS Sponsored Product ads is like displaying your book closer to the most popular books in the same genre. Using Product Display ads is like displaying your book next to the bookstore’s cashier. This is all about maximizing your reach.

But, are Amazon ads really worth starting? In self-publishing, you’re juggling a lot. You have to write your manuscript, package your book, distribute it to stores, and follow through on your book marketing plan. Compared to larger publishing houses, it's important to be more mindful of how you spend your budget and energy. It’s important to ask, does Amazon book advertising work?

For indie author Karen Myers, it was:

See the drastic sales spike almost an entire year after Karen’s book release? Generally, authors achieve their highest sales when releasing new books. Then there’s a drop that stays down until the next release. With her ebook ads, Karen was able to boost and maintain her earnings.

Before seeing any results like Karen’s, it’ll most likely take you a bit of experimentation to get used to and ultimately own the Amazon book advertising process. But when done right, using Amazon ads can be a powerful and lucrative tactic.

How to Get Started With Amazon Book Ads

Before expecting a surge in your Amazon book sales, prepare to learn about how to do Amazon ads for books (like you’re doing now!) Like most things, there is a significant learning curve. Here are nine pointers to know when starting out.

1. Each ad is a “campaign”

An ad is called a “campaign.” Under a campaign, you set the maximum price you’re willing to bid for the ad. You also use either product or keyword targeting. I suggest using “automatic” targeting in the very beginning.

2. Use product targeting

Use product targeting to have your ad appear in related products suggested by Amazon or chosen by you. You’d need to insert your book’s category and related categories.

3. Work with keyword targeting

A keyword is any search term the customer types in the Amazon search field. For example, “vampire romance book” could be a keyword for your fantasy book about vampires. You can supply up to 1,000 keywords or keyword phrases. I recommend adding at least 20 AMS keywords. 

Amazon suggests “automatic” keywords, but I suggest adding your own “manual” keywords. Note that this targeting option is better suited for advanced users. I go over keyword strategies under the best practices section further down.

4. Start with a low budget

You can start with a budget as low as $5 a day. Because you’re charged the bid amount each time someone clicks on your ad, your daily budget should cap the maximum spend. Raising the budget for a campaign does not necessarily make Amazon display the ad more frequently... We wish it was that easy. That’s why it’s crucial to start with a test campaign.

Remember to be patient with your results. Amazon counts sales in a 14-day window after an ad closes. It can take up to 90 days to get paid by Amazon for the sales made. It may take between a few days and a week to see sales generated for the previous period on your Amazon ads dashboard.

5. Write a winning ad copy

Along with your budget and targeting, your ad requires copy under 150 characters. There are restrictions on what you can claim in the ad (e.g. “Bestseller”). Check these guidelines on Amazon ad copy. Your ad includes an image as well, which Amazon supplies from your book product listings. You want to prepare your best designs.

6. Have an on-target cover and description

An ad gets your book in front of people, but it can only do so much. It’s crucial to have a shining book cover design that makes people want to click and learn more. Look at bestselling designs in your genre. What do they have in common? Invest in a professional graphic designer if you can.

It’s the same with your book description. Is it compelling? Are the most emotional hooks in the first few sentences? You want to convince your audience to make a purchase at every corner. Check these book description hacks.

7. Ensure at least three solid reviews

Like your cover and description, reviews tell people if your book is worth buying. Before you waste any money on your ad efforts, make sure to land a handful of solid reviews. Here’s a list of book reviewers to reach out to. To help with your online credibility, don’t forget to create an author page on Amazon.

8. Understand the metrics

When your campaign goes live, you’ll want to understand these metrics:

  • Clicks: the number of times someone clicked on your ad.
  • Impressions: the number of times your ad is displayed, whether someone clicks (effective in boosting brand awareness.)
  • CTR (click-through rate): the number of clicks divided by impressions, used to gauge how well you’re converting. The higher your CTR, the better.
  • ACOS (advertising cost of sales): how much you spend for every dollar of revenue you make, calculated by the total ad spend divided by the total sales. The lower your ACOS, the better.

9. Interpret your results

If your ad has low impressions, focus on improving your targeting method. You can use automatic targeting, which helps with getting more impressions. You can optimize your conversions from there.

If your CTR is low, look at your book cover or description and see how it stacks up against the Top 100 in your primary categories. If overall sales are low, your ACOS may be too high. I go over more on how to improve performance below.

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Best Practices on How to Advertise on Amazon

Ok, those are the basics. Now it’s time for the nitty-gritty on how to boost sales on Amazon. After analyzing more than 1,400 recent campaigns, PublishDrive identified nine key findings from the most successful ads.

P.S. PublishDrive helps tens of thousands of indies distribute and promote their books on Amazon.

1. Look at metadata: promote higher-priced books for a better ACOS

Your ad may have a low conversion rate despite having a high impression and click rate. This means that your book has the right targeting, along with the cover and blurb being good enough to raise interest. But do take another look at your book’s metadata, such as pricing.

Do you have the right price for your book? From PublishDrive’s data, running ads for higher-priced books resulted in better sales. That’s because you can break even or achieve a higher profit with a lower ACOS.

On average, the best performing ads were:

above $12


above $19.99


Ebook/Kindle editions above $7

2. Improve CTR

Your ad can appear for many people but fail to convert into clicks, aka a struggle with CTR. This can be resolved by fixing your cover, the first sentences of your blurb, and adding your author page on Amazon. 

When prioritizing CTR, there is an exception for book prices. Out of the 1,400 campaigns, lower-priced books performed better by CTR. This meant that people liked to click on cheaper books. Additionally, using keyword and product targeting resulted in a way higher CTR than automatic targeting. This meant that using a more specific targeting method resulted in higher clicks.

3. Improve impressions

Without impressions, no one clicks on your ad. That means you miss the chance for people to buy. It’s important to appear in front of your target audience. Looking at your targeting and budget can help.

The best performing ads by impressions were priced above $12 and mostly fiction books. Here’s what else:

Automatic and product targeting generated more impressions


Automatic targeting was 3x more profitable


Advertisers spent a lot more for higher impressions


Books with more reviews and ratings above four stars significantly increased impressions

4. Improve ACOS

If you have a standalone book on the 70% royalty plan, maintain an ACOS below 70% to be in profit. If you have a book series, an ACOS of 150% for the first book works if half of your readers buy the rest of the books in your series.

With KDP Select royalties, your profit on the ad spend would be about 33%. This means for a monthly spend of $1,000, you get back $1,500. You can make more if you get your ACOS further down.

Here’s what the best-performing ads by ACOS shared:

Paperback and hardcover


Non-fiction books


Priced above $12


Used keyword targeting on buying behavior


Descriptions usually started with another author’s review


Cover designs matched its genre trends

5. Improve conversions

Here’s what the best performing ads by conversions shared:

Automatic targeting had higher conversions


Ads with higher CTR had higher conversions


Books with more reviews and ratings had higher conversions from clicks, resulting in higher sales

6. Pay attention to cost per click (CPC)

Another good metric to look at is your CPC. A low CPC of 25¢ means it costs 25¢ every time someone clicks on your ad. On average, one in ten people who click will buy your book. That accounts for costing you $2.50 for an actual sale. If you have only one book, don’t bid too high.

7. Choose your keywords

Although Amazon suggests keywords, we recommend doing your own AMS keyword search. Try these methods:

  • Look at similar authors and titles: Create your list of keywords with similar authors and titles. Since you’re familiar with your own genre and audience, think about which books your ideal readers are most likely searching for.
  • Look at the “also-bought” section of your book page: This shows you a list of items your readers also bought. What does it say about your people’s buying practices?
  • Look at your current metadata keywords: Plug in your current keywords, such as subgenres, and look at related products. Are there any overlaps with the “also-boughts”?
  • Look at searches made by others: Check what people are searching for. You can use Merchant Words or free keyword research tools like Google Trends. With your list of potential keywords, check how popular the authors and titles are.

Here’s what author Karen Myers shared on keyword targeting: “It doesn’t matter if I have a perfect list of classic authors whose readers would like my books, if no one is buying those authors currently and seeing my ads. It’s much better to find authors who are currently being bought whose readers buy my books now, or might buy my books based on similarities of metadata keywords.”

8. Use 3D images for book bundles

If you decide to run ads for book bundles, get your professional to create 3D designs. 3D portrays a more realistic and gratifying visual for potential customers:

9. Monitor, fine-tune, and optimize!

Last but not least, review your performance and make tweaks regularly. You want to not only generate more sales but prevent unnecessary costs. Monitoring your campaigns helps with that.

Ads may lose you money for a variety of reasons:

  • Your ad copy is misleading.
  • Your ad is running on pages too far removed from your target audience.
  • Once arriving at your book page, the description, reviews, or other elements may not be up to par.

Set a schedule for yourself – commit to weekly or bi-weekly check-ins for reviewing performance. Record data on an Excel spreadsheet. Note the keywords resulting in the most sales. Don’t forget to monitor your impressions. If you have more than a few thousand impressions for a keyword and no clicks, suspend it because it’s obviously not working.

Advertising and selling on Amazon is the real deal, but it’ll take a willingness to learn and experiment. Since no one knows exactly how Amazon algorithms work, commit to monitoring and fine-tuning your Amazon Kindle advertising strategy on a continuous basis.

Putting it all together. In a nutshell, Amazon ads for authors are cost-per-click ads for print, audio, and ebook listings. You’ve probably seen them in Amazon’s search results or on product pages when browsing for a new book. Since these ads are cost-per-click, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. The ultimate goal is for those clicks to turn into sales. This is why it’s so important to nail your cover design and have a book description that hooks readers, among other things.

Using PublishDrive’s Amazon Ads Tool

On PublishDrive, anyone can set up Amazon ads with its Amazon ads tool (one of the best Amazon advertising tools out there for authors!) You don’t need to distribute your book through PublishDrive to use the tool. Just create an account and start a draft of your book. It takes only three simple steps to get your ads set up with PublishDrive. ⬇️

Step 1: Fund your marketing budget and select your book

You’ll need to fund your marketing budget: you can either make a deposit with PayPal or a card, or you can transfer money from your book earnings. Next, select the book you want to promote. 

Step 2: Enter your campaign details

Enter the campaign details, such as the start and end dates, daily budget, and bid.

Step 3: Launch!

Hit “Launch” and PublishDrive handles the rest. You can edit your campaign details anytime, and you’ll have access to robust, downloadable sales data. The live analytics includes different types of performance indicators.

What else:

  • Advanced targeting options: Refine your advertising strategy with manual keyword targeting, negative keywords, and product targeting.
  • Artificial intelligence integration: PublishDrive’s proprietary AI technology identifies the most relevant products to target. It also helps with finding the best categories for your book. It works automatically throughout your self-publishing process, beyond Amazon ads. This is fantastic for optimizing your metadata during book upload and distribution, from the get-go. Learn more about PublishDrive’s AI.

Now you know how to use Amazon Marketing Services as well as how to sell more books on Amazon. What else? PublishDrive is the only self-publishing platform you need to sell and promote books in thousands of stores around the globe. Here's an overview:

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