Amazon Ads: Worth It?

Amazon Ads: Worth It?

As an indie author, I’ve relied mostly on word of mouth and social media to sell my books. Why? Limited $$$. Let’s face it: Advertising can be pricey. And time-consuming, unless you’re hiring someone to help you, and then it’s just pricey. However, I think it’s important to try new things, and I’ve experimented with various kinds of low-budget advertising, such as Facebook ads (with limited success).

This week, I’m coming off my first Amazon ad campaign for Baby Bailino, and I’m actually surprised at how dismally the ad performed. Like most indie authors, I think I went into the advertising campaign with thoughts of super high conversion rates dancing through my head. I set a budget of $100, 25 cents per click, just to dip my foot into the ad waters. I mean, in an ideal world, if every click translated into a sale, that could have meant more than a thousand bucks in sales! However, the realist in me believed I’d probably sell a handful of books. Maybe 10, maybe 20, if I were lucky.

I wasn’t.

The ad ran for 10 days, and…crickets. Not a click. Granted, I didn’t set much of a budget, so I’m not sure how much that hurt me, but by the end of the promotional period, this is what I saw:


That’s not to say I didn’t sell any books during that period. I did. I just didn’t sell any through this ad. Of course, sometimes people buy books even though they don’t click on the ads. Sometimes they look at the ad and then search for the book themselves or perhaps jot down the title on a piece of paper and buy it another day. I get that. But zero clicks?

BabyBailino_digital_final_FINALI’m sure what hurt the campaign, too, was that Amazon didn’t approve my ad to run on Kindle E-readers because the “book cover displays a gun or ammo.” Seriously? I advertised specifically to readers of thrillers — psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, organized crime thrillers, ANY thrillers — and I’m pretty sure these readers wouldn’t mind seeing a gun on a book cover.

But anywho!

I guess the good news is I didn’t spend any money for this little experiment, and I may use the 100 bucks to buy myself something nice to make me feel better.

Why didn’t the ad get a click? Who knows? My ad copy? My graphic? A muddled, oversaturated market?

As my nineteen-year-old son, an avid reader, said to me when I told him about the abysmal ad run: “Oh, you ran an ad? I never click on those things.”

And there you have it.


  1. RobynBradley (@RobynBradley) March 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    I haven’t tried Amazon ads, but I have had excellent ROI with FB ads, which I’ve been doing for a few years now. I use them to boost my newsletter subscription list (by offering a free story) and I use the ads to sell my books as well. My best months, I can sell over 600+ books. I highly recommend Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing formula course:

    • Dina Santorelli March 14, 2017 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      Hey, lady! That’s awesome! It’s been a while since I ran a FB ad, but 600+ books per month is pretty fab! Congrats!! I’ll check out Mark Dawson’s course. Thanks for the tip! And for stopping by! 🙂

  2. onereasonableperson March 15, 2017 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I find it hard to get a positive ROI on any novel that doesn’t have a follow-on books in a the series to give me sell-through. That being said, your results were a lot worse than I’ve experienced or that I’ve read reports on.

    I do think the gun on the cover thing hurt you, but a more fundamental problem was the choice of a product display ad instead of a sponsored product ad. Literally every report I’ve read indicates that Sponsored Products perform better than the Product Displays.

    My advice is to try again with the different ad type. Choose at least a hundred keywords (many authors choose up to 1000). After four or five days (AMS ad reporting is notoriously slow), disable the keywords that are giving you clicks that are costing you $$$ without giving you results.

    • Dina Santorelli March 15, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Ah, I WILL try a Sponsored Product ad. Thanks for the suggestion! As you probably know, successful indie authoring is a long-term trial and error experiment, finding what works and what doesn’t. That’s half the fun — although it’s certainly more fun finding what works! I should mention as an aside: I did get some decent sales on the first novel in the series BABY GRAND during the ad campaign (I was promoting the second book). Maybe there was some crossover? I’d like to think so. Makes me feel better. 🙂 Have a great day!

      • onereasonableperson March 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm - Reply

        Definitely should be some cross over. When I find a sequel that looks interesting, I always go check out the first in the series and, if I like it, buy that one. Rarely buy the sequel until I’ve read the first unless there’s a good sale or something.

        Why did you promote the second book? Most people seem to advise only to promote the first (funnel) book.

  3. Dina Santorelli March 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Good question, and I wish I had an equally good answer. 🙂 Apparently, I should hit myself over the head with a funnel! No, seriously, I guess I was in promo mode for BB and also thinking that most ads I see are for the latest books in a series, forgetting, of course, that those ads are for long-established authors and not those looking to find traction and grow an audience. Live and learn, I say! 🙂 But, yes, my next Amazon ad — a Sponsored Product ad — will feature BABY GRAND. I’ll definitely will report back. Thanks for the advice!

  4. Ted May 27, 2017 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    No. Don’t waste your time.
    Amazon is a pure scam. if you ever make something meaningful, they will find a way to do this “Under the terms of the Operating Agreement, we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause.” and pay you nothing.
    They did that to me on the day before they are supposed to pay me – for an account they have audited twice. Why the day before? Any reason given? None. You’d be better off with adsense or something else. Also, don’t ever try their CPM … complete junk.

Leave A Comment

Subscribe to Dina's newsletter for:
  • A FREE short story! (Yes, free!)
  • Exclusive updates!
  • Her weekly "3 Things I Love"!
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.