Marketing Versus Sales: A Writer’s Take on AMS ads

RWA Book Launch Panel May 2017

Book Launch Panel on May 20, 2017 at SVRWA chapter meeting. Panel members: Rich Amooi, Victoria De La O, Hannah Jayne, Eva Moore


I recently attended a book launching panel with my local RWA group, Silicon Valley RWA, yesterday. I had some interesting a-ha moments that I realize I need to share. I felt this way due to the fact that all authors now, whether traditional published, self-published or a hybrid need to be aware how to do marketing of their brand. It’s something that the 21st century author needs to be aware of and take part in, no matter where you are published these days. And many of my writing groups and conferences that I attend are talking about it.

So, here’s what happened. There was part of the discussion that marketing and sales are TWO different things. Why? Here was the definition discussed from my notes:

  • Sales: is selling the book, actual sales.
  • Marketing: is building a market so you can sell that book.

This hit me between the eyes. I think many writers/authors now faced with doing their own marketing are getting these two mixed up, thinking they are the same. I know I have since I get all those panicky feelings when I don’t make enough sales to match my ad budget. How come I can’t pay for all of this with sales from my books?

It’s time to let that thought go. Let it go! All those free promos, $0.99 or giveaways you are doing are building a market for yourself, your brand. It’s getting people to know who you are from the masses of books and authors flooding publishing right now. And the storm is going to get bigger. Making yourself stand out is important.

It was also discussed that people need to see something seven times before they buy something. SEVEN! That’s a lot of advertising you need to do to get your name out there, especially if you’re not a big seller yet. You’ve got to build your platform. THIS COULD TAKE YEARS, and that’s okay. IF you’re in this for the long haul, just be patient. Each new book you write, each giveaway, each discount on your books builds your market.

I’ve heard from several workshops and from talking to people that ten books seems to be a sweet spot. Having a back list or back catalog seems to work for you. So, the more you write, the more you can sell once you create a market. It’s a steady build over time that can take months, even years, to build.

For example: The new marketing buzzword is Amazon Marketing Service or AMS for many indie and self-published authors. How cool is this that now you can advertise your book directly on pages with books and authors similar to yours. It’s all done by keywords, and many authors are finding that like authors in your genre are the best keywords to list with any campaign.

Where does the marketing versus sales come into play? My frustration at not having enough sales to pay for the cost of advertising was causing me worry. I was seeing sales to ad cost ratios like 3-5 times of cost. Of course, once I’ve figured how to lower my cost per click for keywords, this did go down. I do know that is the learning curve, and I’ve lowered my cost to $20-25 for an ad to $10-15 per campaign ad from learning how to keep the click per view lower for each keyword. Expect it to happen to you as you learn the system. It’s okay. I didn’t learn how to do this in college either.

What hit me was that all of the AMS and the Facebook ads(that cost me much more so I stopped) was building a market, a place that people can buy my books. The actual part of sales purchase was a byproduct that comes later from building my market. So, to curb my anxiety, I looked at my clicks per campaign and costs of ads versus sales. From the five AMS campaigns I’ve run over the last month, the cost has been $55. I’ve had sales of $12. That’s only 20% of the cost of the ad gained back. But then I can look at the click to ad cost ratio:

286 clicks where people viewed and looked over my book.

$55 cost total to get them on the Amazon page for my book.

That’s $0.19 per view for that person to look and notice my book from the millions out there.

Now I had 12 clicks from those views that ended in sales. For those other 274 people, if they saw a book by me again, might buy. But I need maybe six more times of getting my book in front of them. Six. That’s a lot of marketing.

So don’t despair. Just getting out there and writing a book, going through the beta readers, editing, copy editing and formatting and hiring a cover designer are all new aspects of being an Indie author. But now you can add marketing wizard. Just keep at it and let go of that anxiety of making a lot of sales. It will come over time. Meanwhile, just keep writing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s