What I’ve learned about digital advertising from publishing a book on KDP

Ok, so I’ve had a book on KDP for over two years now, and I’ve learned a couple things in that time. If you’re a published writer, or you’re in the process of putting something out there on KDP I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Keep in mind, these are challenges I face, and I’m not making anything really (200 free downloads, about 20 purchases) – so let me know what you’ve faced in the comments below or any feedback you have. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Getting the word directly, go talk to people, call or email them, and get them on your email list

You need to figure out a way to build out a list manually. This is hard. You need to go up to friends, family, and strangers pretty much everyday and ask them to sign up, and you need to do it in a way that people want to sign up and see value in joining your list. Do this however you can. Talk to people on the street and strike up genuine conversation that at some point leads to you suggesting to the person that you’re going to email them with something they can’t get anywhere else. I use “the email list on my site is the only place you can find out when my books are free,” and I try to figure out a way I can write a story specifically for them.

Every advertising platform is different, and valuable if you know what to use it for

For selling books you’ll want to use the KDP advertising platform. You can advertise directly to readers on Amazon who are looking at similar titles and advertise aggressively on these pages. You can also advertise based on search terms and to users on Kindle specifically. Here’s a sample of what that would look like.


Not too bad, right?

So with Facebook you can certainly advertise to sell books, but I wouldn’t unless you have a big budget for it. I did find some interesting data about engagement though.


I had some activity on there, and I ran this campaign for less than $50.00, but what I learned is that the people engaged were ~75% male, and ~25% female. This was true for both offer claims, and raw impressions. Drilling down a little further, I saw that most of these impressions and offer claims were distributed amongst the age ranges of 18-34, and over 55. There were hardly any readers between 35 and 54, which is definitely something that made me curious. And it might actually be pretty consistent with the initial round of people who read, gave me feedback and ultimately bought the book when it was released. Maybe it says something about the genre, or maybe people between the ages of 35 and 54 are too busy at work to spend time on facebook. Or maybe I need a bigger budget to learn more.

Google ads are ok, because you can actually target users by language, country, and device/operating system. Knowing that almost nobody would read my book on their phone I opted to target tablets running android, or iOS, and I went specifically for Amazon/Apple. I figured this would be a lot more likely to convert, but on a $10/day budget with a ppc campaign, all I got were a handful of impressions and no clicks.

Live and learn. At least I only spent about $50 bucks and learned a little bit about what you can use each advertising network for.

Having “Sh*tty” in your title is going to make it hard to advertise

This is the biggest problem. Whether it’s on facebook, Google, or Amazon, it’s been a challenge to advertise the book with its original title, Shitty Beijing Bike, and even after changing the title to Sh*tty Beijing Bike, and updating the book cover I was rejected by Amazon. The most likely to convert by far.

So here’s the point: artistic integrity is great, so get it out of you for one book, don’t compromise, and at the end of the day – KEEP WRITING. Even if your book ends up getting a couple sales, or a lot, you want to keep growing as a writer so you can release new books in the future and continue to grow your career. Maybe you want to get published with a traditional publisher, or you want to work with a PR/advertising/marketing company. Guess what? They’re curious about what you’re doing now. What you’re writing, how you’re growing your own platform. Because there’s someone out there right now who’s already doing that and that means the work of an agency will be more affective.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Would love to hear yours if you’re a KDP author, or otherwise.


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