Tips on Tweaking AMS Ad Campaigns to Sell More E-Books

If you are self-publishing e-Books on Amazon and not using its AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) ad campaign setup, then you are missing out on a great and cost-effective opportunity.

DID YOU KNOW that there are more product searches performed on Amazon than on Google! Everything you need to start promoting your awesome book is right there at your fingertips; Amazon makes it easy. It’s not a perfect system yet, but it can help you make sales today. And if you select its ‘Sponsored Products’ ad campaign, it is also cost-effective. For as little as 14 cents you can win over a potential customer who is browsing for books like yours, and sell her your $2.99 e-Book.

The best part is that once you’ve sold a few copies, your customers (assuming you’ve written a book they love) might start promoting your book to their friends at no cost to you. How’s that for free advertising?


The great thing about promoting your books on Amazon is that the people who shop there are ready-made customers. They are browsing Amazon’s voluminous shelves because they are ready to buy. You are not annoying people on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else with pop-ups or with uninvited promotional material and desperate-sounding memes and ads. The people on Amazon are there because they want your book—they just don’t know it yet, not until you show it to them.

That’s where AMS Ad Campaigns come in.

We’ve already covered how to set up your campaign previously, and also in this article.

Here we are looking to master some tweaks to improve the success rate and ACoS of your ad campaigns. So, here are 3 quick and easy tips:

  • Ad Copy: this is the short description of your e-Book that appears beneath the cover
  • Daily Budget: Start at a minimum of $1.00 per day and increase if you feel you are not getting enough click-throughs. You can increase it to any amount and still be confident that you will not be spending that much a day
  • More and Better Keywords: Here is where your homework comes in to play

Given the absurdly few characters you are permitted for your ad copy—about 130 characters, including spaces—you will need to come up with some clever phrases to entice potential buyers. There’s really no room for detail, so just employ the hook you used in your longer book description when publishing it, and shrink this down to the heart of the plot. Make it shine!

AD COPY WARNING: Don’t use terms like ‘bestseller’ and ‘award-winning’ or any other type of self-aggrandizing hype, as the folks at Amazon who review your ad will likely reject it for these reasons. Also, try not to include any punctuation outside of periods and commas—one of my ads was rejected for ‘use of unofficial punctuation’ for the exclamation mark I used, and I kid you not!

Along with your e-Book cover and starred reviews, the ad copy is really what will sell your book.

Don’t worry about starred reviews, right now, though. I always manage to sell numerous downloads when I first publish a book and it hasn’t garnered any reviews yet. There are a few kind buyers who are willing to take a chance on non-reviewed books, so long as they don’t have to pay a lot and they are intrigued by your cover art and description.

The daily budget deal is a whack-a-mole. It’s hit or miss and tends to vary from book to book and genre to genre. You will have to play around with it. Make copies of your ad campaign (just hit COPY all the way to the right on your AMS ad campaign dashboard and POOF, you have another campaign you can tweak) and simply alter the daily budget amount and nothing else. This should give you an idea—after a week or so—of which budget does the trick.

Your keywords are the DNA of your ads

Instead of Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine, you’ll have fantasy, magical beings, trolls, books about magic schools, or whatever. You should shoot for at least 200 keywords. Use synonyms of popular keywords (since the most popular keywords will be oversearched and therefore of little value to you and unlikely to display your book to potential buyers, as these words will be used to advertise best-sellers). Use comparisons, as in book titles of similar books, and author names of writers who have similar books for sale. You can do this manually, by searching Amazon, by using Hoth (a free keyword tool), or by employing kindlepreneur’s KDP Rocket, software designed to do all the hard work of keyword searching and collecting and collating swiftly and automatically. But it’ll cost you.

Once you have submitted your ad campaign and it has been approved, and once your numbers start trickling in (this could take a week or so), you can go to your dashboard and see which keywords are earning clicks, and which of these is making you sales. Go ahead and delete the useless keywords that aren’t even getting impressions. You can add more keywords if you find them, too. Here you can change your ad copy if you aren’t earning any sales.

UNSOLICITED SUGGESTION: Run two or three simultaneous ad campaigns, with the only difference being your ad copy. This will tell you which description is winning over shoppers. Once you discover your golden goose, you should tweak your other (black swans) ad copies to sound more like their big sister. Now you can tweak your daily budget.

I hope and trust you have found something useful to take away from this post, something you can use to improve your ad campaigns. Good luck and keep tweaking!

How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Step 4: The Soundtrack to Your Writing

Welcome back to our journey from Book Idea to Money in the Bank! So far we have covered (1) the vital and exciting Step of fantasizing your idea into life inside your mind (2) the importance of outlining your idea and everything you need in that outline (3) and finally we examined the actual act of writing in all its glorious and dirty detail. Today let’s discover the Soundtrack to your Writing.

As I’m sure you know, music can be motivating. The right song can make you feel invincible or full of ambition. Where it concerns writing, music is especially important; tracking down the right tunes and sounds help to place you in the proper motivated mindset. Certain tracks and genres can even enhance a scene if you listen to them while writing.


Some literary artists swear by their Enya or Meditation music; a number claim that only ocean sounds work for them; a few writers praise the focusing power of techno or alternative; still others swear by absolute silence—or by the natural sounds of the world.

J.K. Rowling created the world of Harry Potter inside a busy café (The Elephant House), as British baristas slung java and patrons groaned over their busy schedules. It seems incredible to me that anyone could write anything worthwhile in a crowded place. Probably it will remain a mystery to me. But it sure worked for her. Whatever works for you, go for it.

Here we are interested in extolling the virtues of discovering the right soundtrack for your novel writing experience.

So, onward and upward, my fellow travelers.

Music can drown out distractions from the world around the writer, so that she can focus on the world inside. The right music can enhance a scene as it is being written. According to PSYBLOG, listening to music boosts your verbal IQ—a clear benefit for any writer trying to get her point across. (Astute writers read their work aloud, as they know that verbalizing reveals awkward dialogue and poorly structured phrasing.)


Continue reading “How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Step 4: The Soundtrack to Your Writing”

Scrooge and Marley: How to Write Character Arcs

‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’

With these marvelous words Charles Dickens opens his great classic A Christmas Carol. A few passages later he drives home the importance of his opening line by stating:

There was no doubt Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am about to relate.’

(I double-dog-dare any modern author to employ such a conversational tone in his novel.)

If the tale is about Scrooge, why does Dickens open with a mention of his dead partner? There are two reasons:

  1. Marley’s own story arc acts as a warning to Scrooge, a black mirror to his miserly life
  2. The mention of a dead character prior to the introduction of living players in the story delivers a glaring metaphor, showing us that, in some ways, Scrooge is already dead

Why is this important, you ask? What does it have to do with character arcs? (If you check out Darcy Pattinson’s post on ‘3 Types of Character Arcs’ here you might be see the answer from another perspective, and that’s always good.)

Well, the entirety of A Christmas Carol is a beautiful blatant example of an extreme character arc. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the lesson I am about to relate.

The Art of Arcs

Without a good arc, you risk delivering a flat character. His entire tale will feel pointless. If in the end he has learned nothing, overcome nothing, or has not even changed his perspective, then there is no arc, and your readers will come away with a negative impression of the entire story, no matter how well crafted it may be.

Once Dickens has established beyond any doubt the doornail deadness of Marley, he moves into a delightful description of Scrooge. ‘Oh, but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, clutching, covetous old sinner!’

The next several pages are devoted to reinforcing this description, with wonderful encounters between the old sinner and his nephew, donation seekers, and poor Bob Cratchit. Each encounter serves to establish the base starting point of our main character. Dickens takes great pains making sure we are fully educated on Scrooge’s miserliness. (Indeed, he is so successful in this endeavor that Scrooge’s expressions ‘Bah’ and ‘Humbug’ have become part of our vernacular.)

Is Your Book Arcing Enough?

In your books, make sure to follow the example Dickens sets of establishing your Main Characters’ deepest nature. This nature should be firm. Your character should be fully devoted to his personality and/or worldview; this ensures that there doesn’t appear to be any hope of a change in his nature, which will in turn make the change (or arc) that much more impressive when it happens.

Veronica Sicoe has written a nice outline of the different kinds of arcs, pointing out that ‘the hero’s journey’ is not the only arc out there.

It is vital to his potential arc that we know who your MC is from the beginning. You can do this in any of several popular and successful ways that successful and popular novelists have used:

  • Write riveting early encounters between your MC and supporting characters
  • Open by showing your MC in a strange or unique position: solitary in prison, climbing a mountain by herself, jumping out of a plane, or perhaps simply lounging around while others work their tails off
  • Your MC is deeply frustrated with life, and strives valiantly (or psychotically) to change it, and yet, every time he tries, he chooses instead to help those around him. The arc for such a tale will be his finally seeing the good in his life and accepting it, that he is already the richest man in Bedford Falls and that his is truly a Wonderful Life

The above are just a few basic examples. You’re a writer—if the examples above don’t get your creative juices flowing, go ahead and make up your own way to establish your characters’ personality.

The Change

Now, once you’ve shared the firm foundation of your MC, you’re going to need to bring it home and deliver the meat of your tale. This of course involves putting your characters through the ringer. There are thousands of ways to do this, and they are all fun and satisfying to write. (We writers just love beating the crap out of our creations.)

Even if you’re just beginning to write, I’m sure you’ve read hundreds of books and possess at least a handful of ideas on how to go about roughing up your darlings. The arc, or change in their circumstances or understanding of their circumstances (as in George Bailey’s case in It’s a Wonderful Life) happens because of their suffering. So don’t overlook or rush through this vital section of your book.

Bring in supporting characters who force your MC to face his fears or prejudices or weaknesses.

Scrooge changed because the 3 Spirits forced him to face memories he had long neglected, and a future he had refused to think about.

Without his terrifying ordeals, without his suffering and being forced to face truths about himself, Scrooge wouldn’t not have changed. His arc would not have existed. His entire worldview changed precisely because he was made to look at the chains he had forged, the mistakes he had made, the neglect humanity had suffered because of him.

‘I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!’

Scrooge’s arc happened only after he suffered through darkness and faced his own mortality. Death casts a long shadow, but it is this very shadow that lends meaning to life.

When George Bailey tried to commit suicide, fate (or heaven, or an angel named Clarence) intervened, and showed him what he had been blind to before. These two tales with their supernatural elements may be extreme examples of character arcs, but they also provide us with beautiful templates for our own books.

So when you next sit down to watch the movies, whether it’s the George C Scott or the Muppets version, pay close attention to when exactly Scrooge’s perspective begins to shift and he begins to value life.

Good luck with your writing—may it be big and sexy all the year round!

For another dynamite character arc with supernatural elements, you might want to check out The Light of Lexi Montaigne. This psychological thriller also features the best full-circle story I’ve yet managed to write. It’s one of those rare books where you don’t quite see all the pieces to the puzzle until the final page, and then you go ‘Ohhhh, now it all makes sense’ and you go to read it again.