Friday, February 22, 2019

Moving the Also Bought needle

I'm not giving away any secrets if I tell you I've become obsessed with my Also Boughts on Amazon, and in particular how my ads can influence them. My last post, earlier this month, was an in-depth breakdown of all 97 books linked from my third novel, Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed, in its Also Boughts. At that point, the books linked to were still almost exclusively--well, there's no polite way to put it--shit.

They were showing the scantest glimpses of life. But for the most part the books that were being linked to had no logical ties to my novel. There were cookbooks, romances, psychological thrillers, and World War II sagas, particularly of the "escape from the Nazis" variety. And I don't mean to cast aspersions on any of these (other than the cookbooks, which appeared to be a little on the sleazy/scammy side), but none of those fall within the sweet spot for my book.

Fast forward two weeks and change and ... things are moving in the right direction. My sales have been consistent in February. Not spectacular, but nothing like the anemic totals I saw the last two years or so. The Amazon keyword ads I'm running definitely work. I've learned and tinkered and learned and tinkered, and I've finally hit upon a formula that is cost effective. My ads no longer run at a loss. And that's huge.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Has Kindle Unlimited cooked my Also Boughts?

I've become obsessed with Amazon's Also Boughts, mostly because the ones appearing for Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed have been so random/nonsensical recently. I posted about this last month, when the first three books appearing were cookbooks. At that time, none of the Also Boughts that I clicked on linked back to my book. Not good, right? I mean, the point of the Also Boughts is, "Hey, you there, shopping for books, if you like this book, you might want to check out this other, somewhat similar, book." But if these relationships are a) broken, and b) only flow in one direction, there goes one of the most valuable discovery tools in book-selling.

I strongly suspect I'm paying the price for not being more active about marketing my books last year. I was seeing less and less return on the pay-per-click ads I had up on Amazon, so I gave up on them early in 2018 and figured I'd wait until I was ready to release The First World Problems of Jason Van Otterloo in the fall before investing any more. More books = more bang for the buck, at least in theory. If a reader clicks an ad and buys a book and enjoys it, maybe they'll seek out another of an author's titles.

So I waited it out as my sales shriveled, with as much as 50 percent of my Amazon revenue coming through KDP Select, the program where Kindle Unlimited subscribers can download your book for free, and you get paid for the number of pages they read. And even that wasn't anywhere near what it was a couple of years ago. It was so lame, in fact, I decided to drop out of KDP Select in the fall. I removed my first three books by November, and never enlisted First World Problems.

And now that I'm digging into these Also Boughts, I'm even more convinced leaving KDP Select was the right move. Because I suspect most of these shitty Also Boughts that have nothing whatsoever to do with my novel came about because of indiscriminate Kindle Unlimited subscribers.