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.
But cost aside, these ads are a good investment because I am finally building associations with books that are perfectly zeroed in on my target audience. This is the entire point of Also Boughts. You want readers of certain books to see links to your book because thematically, stylistically, alphabetically, or otherwise, you see them as similar to your book in some regard and want readers to as well. And with keyword ads, you can target readers of specific books and/or authors, which obviously reinforces those associations.
And tonight, when I checked my Also Boughts, I saw reason for optimism. Okay, most of them are still shit. But some of them are falling in that sweet spot. Of the 97 books being targeted by the Also Boughts on Sorry I Wasn't What You Needed, I see seven that target books that I would hand pick if I could. Three weeks ago, this was zero. As in 0. As in none. As in what's the point?
And now my Also Boughts are reaching out to seven books that I want to be linked with. Three of them link back to my book from their Also Boughts. Okay, I'm not there yet, but it's a definite step in the right direction.
And it's enough to convince me that this is worth the time and money I'm investing. I would bet $5 that two weeks from now my Also Boughts will look even better, with more of them reaching back to me. And that's the ultimate goal, right?
My lesson(s): Amazon ads do work. If you get them right. If you keep tinkering with keywords until you weed out the underperforming ones, you can more than break even on them. And plant seeds for Amazon's Also Boughts to take on the heavy lifting for you. Don't give up. I gave up last year and my sales tanked. I wish I could travel back 12 months ago and apply the lessons I've learned over the past few weeks. But I don't have a DeLorean or a hot tub and I'm stuck in 2019. So I'll tinker and tinker and sit back and see what happens. And maybe pop a cork when I get it all right.