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Is Amazon KDP Advertising Worth It? Evaluating ROI for Authors and Publishers

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Trying to get the scoop on Amazon ads? You're in the right place.

Is Amazon KDP Advertising Worth It? Evaluating ROI for Authors and Publishers
Table of contents

Is Amazon KDP advertising worth it? Yes, there are a ton of benefit for self-publishers IF you know the difference between the types of ads that Amazon offers and how to make the most out of your budget. Advertising isn't really one of those "winging it" situations unless you have an unlimited budget, which is pretty rare. 

By the end of this blog post, you'll understand each ad format, the biggest reasons for losing money, and the best bidding strategies to make Amazon KDP ads worth the investment. You’ll also get to hear from three students who started making enough passive income to quit their jobs and keep publishing. 

See how KDP publishers are making six figures with zero publishing or tech experience. Get the free self-publishing blueprint for making money online with AI at our exclusive webinar!

KDP Advertising 101

Before you can craft the perfect Amazon Kindle advertising strategy, you need to know the basics. Let’s dive in!

Key Components of an Amazon Ad Campaign

These are the main ingredients of Amazon ads:

  • Daily Budget: The amount you're willing to spend each day.
  • Targeting: You’ll get to choose between automatic targeting, where Amazon determines your ad placements, and manual targeting, where you select keywords or products to target.
  • Bidding: The maximum amount that you set for what you're willing to pay when a shopper clicks on your ad.
  • Ad Creative: For some ad types, you can customize the image and text, which makes up the “creative.”

Pro Tip: You can access ad features through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing portal or your Author Central profile. Read more about setting up your Ads account here.

Difference Between Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Lockscreen Ads

There are three main types of KDP ads you have to choose from:

  • Sponsored Products: These ads promote individual book listings and appear in shopping results and on product detail pages, making it easier to connect with readers searching for books like yours.
  • Sponsored Brands: Aimed at publishers or authors with multiple titles, these ads showcase a custom headline, logo, and a selection of your books. Sponsored Brands ads are great for building a long-term brand.
  • Lockscreen Ads: These are displayed on the lock screens of Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets. Lockscreen Ads allow you to reach readers directly on their devices, engaging them when they're about to dive into their next book.

Pro Tip: Our students focus on the sponsored ad type because they work.

Is KDP Advertising Still Profitable in 2024?

KDP advertising is definitely a game-changer for book sales in 2024. With their pay-per-click (PPC) model, you only pay when a reader clicks on your ad. The magic of Amazon ads is in the fact that people browsing Amazon are already ready to buy, unlike Facebook, where people are scrolling to catch up with friends and family. This is a HUGE advantage!

The catch is you're responsible for choosing the right keywords and setting an optimal bid, which hinges on understanding your target audience.

Here's a snapshot of how advertising on KDP can work in your favor:

  • Your book appears in prominent spots where readers are already browsing for their next read. (Hint: the top and bottom of a page are usually more effective than the middle of a page)
  • You decide how much to spend per day and can adjust your budget according to the performance. (Hint: Paid advertising is dynamic. It SHOULD change as you get more comfortable)
  • You have 24/7 access to your dashboard so you can tweak your campaign on the go, optimizing for better outcomes. (Hint: If you run free book promotions or enroll in Kindle Unlimited, book sales from these promos might not populate in your dashboard right away. That's normal!)

Later in this blog post, you'll meet some of our AIA students who had zero experience running ads and see how they started making more money right from the start. In some cases, it just takes ONE book's success to quit the 9-5 grind for good.

Other Benefits of Amazon KDP Advertising

Here are some of the many, many benefits of running ads with your KDP account:

Enhanced Visibility:

We've been hammering home the importance of a book's visibility a lot here, but it's because, in a lot of ways, it's the ONLY thing that matters. A solid book cover won't do you any good if your self-published book ends up on the 20th page of the Amazon search results when most people don't scroll past page 5. Good ads guarantee you end up on the first page. 

Sales Boost Potential:

Visibility is great, but you want people to go from "Add to Cart" to "Check Out." A great ad that leads to a great book description can do that! 

Bottom line: An ad campaign should always be making you money, even if it's a marginal boost in income. (Instantly calculate your breakeven ACOS with our free calculator, or learn what the heck ACOS is in the first place!)

Data-Driven Insights:

There is no guesswork in marketing or advertising. Each time you change a keyword or adjust your advertising campaign in any way, the data will speak to whether it was a good business decision or if you need to adjust your keywords, bidding strategy, etc, again. The KDP data dashboard isn’t perfect, but it has a wealth of information that you’ll need to keep scaling your publishing business. 

Challenges and Considerations in KDP Advertising

Here are the parts of running Amazon ads that tend to trip people up the most:

High Costs and Budget Management

If you accidentally add a zero to the amount you're willing to spend on your ad campaign, you're going to rack up an ugly bill (duh). But you'll also run into problems if you set up an ad campaign that targets keywords with the wrong search intent. And who wants to blow their budget because they didn't do the right research?

Intent Example: Fencing might refer to the sport or someone who's trying to put up a fence in their backyard. 

Ad Blindness:

  • Definition: Ad blindness occurs when consumers become so accustomed to seeing ads that they subconsciously ignore them.
  • Impact on Self-Publishers: As more authors and publishers use Amazon ads, potential readers may start overlooking these ads, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Overcoming Ad Blindness: Testing different ad designs and copy can help in identifying what resonates best with your target audience. Even the book cover and title might scare potential readers away if they look too amateurish or they’re confusing. The good news is that this can be a quick and easy fix. 

Market Competition:

  • Rising Competition: The ease of self-publishing has led to a saturated market, especially in popular genres. This results in intense competition for visibility on Amazon.
  • Competitive Keyword Bidding: High demand for popular keywords drives up the cost-per-click, making it expensive for authors and publishers to bid on these terms.
  • Strategies to Stand Out: You can focus on niche keywords that are relevant but less competitive and really focus on your unique value proposition to make your book more valuable to readers.

Here’s a quick example of a hypothetical book title that has a clear unique value proposition: 

Yoga for Moms: Finding Your Center In the Chaos

Seasonality

Some books just sell better during certain parts of the year. Don't let that get you down! A book you publish today could have a super slow season and then make hundreds of sales three months from now. The longer you build your publishing business, the easier it will be to spot these trends ahead of time.

  • Horror tends to do better around September/October
  • Fitness, health, and financial planning tend to do well around New Year's Day
  • Back-to-school and curriculum-related books sell more around late July-September

Working with these trends is how you begin to establish your “fan base” of readers. 

Learn from Brian's Costly Ads Mistake

We partnered with an Amazon ads EXPERT who has run over $500,000 worth of ads over his publishing career to teach an entire module dedicated to advertising strategy for our AIA course...but even the experts have their off days. Not too long ago, Brian made a horrific mistake.

Earlier, we talked about double-checking that you don't add a zero to your bid, and while it might sound ridiculous, these things do happen. Instead of adding a zero, Brian accidentally misplaced his decimal point. So, instead of bidding $0.71, he bid a whopping $71. This means Brian paid 10x as much PER EVERY CLICK that his books got until he noticed his mistake.

Here's what his Amazon ads dashboard looked like for the day.

Big oof!

Luckily, Brian's a great guy, and he was a good sport about it. He even used this as a lesson of what NOT to do in our live coaching workshops. 

If you’re worried something like this is going to happen to you now, don’t be! This mistake is 100% preventable by taking it slow and double-checking everything.

Case Studies: KDP Marketing Success Stories and Tips for Ad Campaigns

Cody started publishing even before joining AIA and eventually climbed the ranks as our Head of Coaching. He's a BEAST at everything he does and shares all his best secrets for how he started earning over $5k a month from his books, including how to simplify the ads process:

Renee was able to earn nearly $10k in a single month from a single book. How? She NAILED her customer research, and she shares how you can, too!

Before publishing, Ed was making $20k per year. After getting started, it wasn't long until he was able to sell two of his publishing businesses for over 6 figures in profit. Here's how!

How Much Should You Spend on Amazon Ads Daily?

Don't have a lot of extra cash flow to spend just yet? That's fine! You can get started with a daily budget of around $5 to $10 to start tracking ad performance and data without a significant financial commitment.

As your book sales and KDP page reads go up, you can gradually increase your budget by a few dollars at a time, observing how each new increment affects your results.

If you're not seeing a positive return, it's time to reassess your keywords and targeting options. 

Pro Tip: It's better to pause campaigns that are underperforming and reallocate that budget to successful ones than to hold out hope that the campaign is going to turn around eventually.

Alternatives to Amazon Ads and Additional Resources for KDP Publishers

Running ads should be a pillar of your publishing plan, but it's a good idea not to become too reliant on an Amazon advertising account and diversify your marketing efforts. 

Here are some marketing strategies and other resources you can run in conjunction with your Amazon KDP ads.

Finding External Courses and Communities for KDP Advertising Lessons

We've already included a shameless plug for our comprehensive beginner-friendly AIA course here, which gives you instant access to live video walkthroughs for everything from finding profitable ideas to launching and promoting your book. The course has generated over $50 million in royalties collectively for thousands of students all over the world.

In case you're not in the market for the best publishing course out there (wink wink), here are some alternatives:

  • Online Learning Platforms: Websites like Udemy or Skillshare host comprehensive courses on digital marketing, including courses specific to book advertising.
  • Online Communities: Online groups through KDP forums or Goodreads can let you exchange advertising tips and learn from the experiences of fellow publishers.

Gathering Reviews

Social Media Platforms:

  • Use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with readers and request reviews.
  • Join book-related groups and communities to increase visibility.

Email Newsletters:

  • If you have an email list, encourage your subscribers to review your book.
  • Offer incentives like exclusive content or discounts on future books for leaving a review.

Pubby:

  • Use Pubby to connect with a network of readers willing to exchange honest reviews that are compliant with Amazon’s terms and conditions. 

Niche and Keyword Research

  • Publisher Rocket: This tool offers comprehensive insights into niche competition, popular keywords, estimated earnings, and more. It helps in identifying profitable niches and keywords with real-time data.
  • Amazon’s Search Bar: Use this for basic keyword research. Type in a keyword related to your book and note the auto-complete suggestions for ideas.
  • Competitor Analysis: Look at top-selling books in your intended niche. Analyze their titles, subtitles, and descriptions to understand the keywords they target.
  • Google Keyword Planner: Useful for broader keyword research. It gives an idea of search volumes and competition outside Amazon.
  • Reading Customer Reviews: Reviews on similar books can offer insights into what readers are seeking in that niche.

Did you know? Our proprietary AI manuscript wizard does customer research at the click of a button and can generate an entire document with your competitor's strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to fill in gaps in the market.

Take "Self-Publisher" Off Your Bucket List and Make It Happen!

Amazon advertising and self-publishing can be intimidating; we get it. Sometimes, it might even feel like you have to learn a completely new language to make your dreams come true. But we're here to show you that's simply not true!

In fact, we teach our students how to outsource all the complicated parts so even the busiest an non-tech-savvy people can make this work for them. The result?

  • Spending more time with family
  • Taking more than one vacation per year
  • Becoming your own boss
  • Having more free time than you ever thought possible

Kiss imposter syndrome goodbye, and come see the results for yourself at our webinar!

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