Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
March 10, 2023

5 Reasons Your Amazon Ads Aren’t Drawing in Readers

by Penny C. Sansevieri

On a light blue background are the words Market Your Books above a megaphone in the lower left corner shooting 5-point yellow stars toward the upper right corner. In the lower right corner is the word Better.

With new books of every genre being added to Amazon daily, it’s crucial that you understand what makes for good book promotion on the platform and what you can be doing better. A lot of authors begin an Amazon ad campaign without learning trends, updates, and all that goes into a well-performing campaign.

Through the thousands of ad campaigns I’ve managed, I’ve learned quite a bit about this specific marketing art form. And I’ve pulled the top reasons that authors’ ads fail to draw in more readers or end up costing more than they’re worth.

You Don’t Have Enough Keywords

In order to gain traction, you need to start with a high number of keywords. Just five keywords aren’t going to cut it. My recommendation is 300 - 400 keywords, and if that number made you gasp, then consider this:

I don’t need you to find 400 unique keywords. I need you to find 100 - 150 and save them as different match types. So, you’ll be saving them as broad, exact, and phrase matches, which will allow you to watch and see how the same keyword does under these different match types.

You’re Using the Wrong Keywords or Keyword Blends

Whenever I pull together keywords for an author’s ad campaign, I do so with keywords I find right on the Amazon site. I don’t use software or shortcuts. Finding keywords that are already trending on Amazon is a great way to dip into consumer trends, too, which is something that software often doesn’t capture.

The other issue is the blend of keywords versus book titles and author names. If I’m working with a fiction book, I’m doing 80% book titles and author names and 20% keywords. If I’m working on an ad set for non-fiction books, the numbers are reversed. So, I do 80% keywords and 20% book titles and authors.

My reasoning is that a consumer searching for a non-fiction book is searching for a specific topic or benefits of a topic. A reader looking for their next great fiction read is looking at genre (and this is where your product placement ads can really do well), but they’re also looking for authors similar to ones they’ve already read work from.

You’re Running Too Many Ads At Once

There’s a somewhat popular theory out there about running lots and lots of ads – but I can tell you I’m not a fan of this.  If you’re running several ads at once, they’re likely all targeting many of the same keywords. This means that your ads are cannibalizing each other. You’re literally bidding against yourself for placement, and your book promotion on Amazon is actually working against you.

I had a call once with a Google Adwords representative, and he talked about how people use this methodology for Google Adwords too (which is where the idea comes from). He said there’s no faster way to lose your money than to run a bunch of ads.

In fact, if you’re just starting out with Amazon ads, start with just one ad. You’ll want to pick either a keywords-based ad or a product-based ad – don’t start one ad with the automatic ads. Automatic ads can wind up costing you a lot of money, despite them seeming to be comparatively easy. Sometimes they do very well, but automatic ads actually require much more handholding than product or keyword-based ads. That’s been my experience anyway.

Your Bids and Budget Are Too Low

Some believe that underbidding on your keywords is the key to Amazon success, but I can tell you it’s absolutely not. Lower bids can sometimes get tons of clicks. The highest recommendation isn’t always the way to go either. However, underbidding Amazon’s suggestions every time isn’t necessarily going to cause outstanding results.

By the same token, don’t start off your daily budget too low. I recommend you start it off with at least $20 a day and know that you won’t spend all of this (though you might, depending on the popularity of your genre) – and if you’re managing your ads correctly, your daily spend should drop the longer your ads are running.

Your Amazon Retail Page

I’ve saved the biggest one for last because not enough people are talking about it.

The goal of your Amazon book page is to convert a potential reader into a buyer. These pages often aren’t optimized properly to do so. One reason for this is the book cover. Does it match your market? Does it match current trends and draw inspiration from your genre’s bestsellers?

Now, turn to your book description. Does it lead with an outstanding review or a great teaser? Is your book description long enough to be compelling and complete with spacing, bolded words or sentences (where appropriate), and italics to call certain aspects of your book out to the reader? Are you using bullet points if you write non-fiction?

What about your author bio and picture?

You do have one, right? A lot of authors forget to even add an author photo to Amazon. Even if you despise taking pictures, your readers want to see the person behind the pen who taught them something new or who created their favorite characters. Your bio is just as important, and depending on what you write, readers might be wanting to know what gives you credibility to write on that topic. Or they might wonder what inspires you to write romance or hard-boiled detective novels. Have fun with this!

If an author comes to me and tells me that their Amazon ads (or Facebook ads, or Instagram ads) are getting lots of clicks but aren’t selling books, that tells me there’s likely a problem with their book page. As authors, we often upload our books to Amazon – sort of set it and forget it – and then move on to our next project. That’s a mistake! Your Amazon real estate, and your Amazon book promotion across the board, are imperative to the effectiveness of your ads.

Of all of the things I’ve mentioned here, staying up to date with your Amazon page is the most important thing, so don’t overlook it!

Amazon ads can do wonders for your book promotion strategy and spread the word about your book to readers hungry for authors like you. They can target your perfect reader and make your book a sensation.

There’s a low risk with these ads as you only pay for clicks, and they can help you appear in more places across Amazon too, and hopefully, drive readers to purchase. However, you need to make sure your ads are optimized with hundreds of great keywords, a beautiful cover, a strong bid, and a lush retail page to match.

Do you use Amazon ads? Which ads/campaigns have been successful for you? What are your questions? Please share them down in the comments!

* * * * * *

About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.

She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top-ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com

11 comments on “5 Reasons Your Amazon Ads Aren’t Drawing in Readers”

  1. I do manage some Amazon ads for the authors I publish and I'm certain I've made almost all of these mistakes. The biggest problem I run into is that need to have a larger budget up front. If we only have a tiny marketing budget I think we do better with ppc Bookbub ads. But I want to get better at the Amazon ads. What do you think of the changes to Author pages?

    1. oh my gosh Lisa I HATE THE NEW AUTHOR PAGES - sorry for yelling 😂 - I don't know why Amazon did that. I have a contact at Amazon that I wrote about the Author pages and told her: the feedback isn't good. I find them impersonal now. And I miss the blog updates!

      1. Yes! I often helped authors add their blogs, etc. The first time after that change, I kept looking because I couldn't believe they'd done it. To me, it felt like a reminder that Amazon does not have the best interest of authors central to their model.

        Like other vendors they have, we are a plentiful commodity.

        You're right. That bio is now critical. I need to update that!

  2. Super helpful information. Like Lisa, I've made almost all these mistakes. I'd love to read more about what you think a successful author page on Amazon needs. Thanks!

    1. Lynette hi - well a good bio for sure. Sadly the author pages have now changed on Amazon so you can't include a blog anymore, which is a shame. I posted another comment on this, because it's been quite the discussion - and understandably!

  3. Hi Penny,

    The amount of keywords needed is a real eye-opener.
    Regarding the author pic and bio, I need to update both and have been procrastinating.

    Can you recommend a author page to use as a model? I have one, but I'm sure it could be better.

    1. I don't have a model page, per se - and frankly you can't do a lot with these author pages anymore, not as much as you used to, sadly! But I would say that now, more than ever, your author bio is super important, because it's the first thing you see when you click on that page. Also, are you recommending books? Why not recommend your own! Be your biggest fan! 🙂

Subscribe to WITS

Recent Posts





Copyright © 2024 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved