Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How to use Amazon Ads to increase your book sales

I love Amazon ads.

I’ve been running them for a little over three months now. The one thing I can tell you is they work. More importantly, Amazon Ads work the way all book promo sites should—you pay for results.

To date, I’ve spent $394 on Amazon Ads. Amazon says those ads resulted in $1714 in sales.

Not bad!

If you figure I made a 70 percent profit on each sale. That’s a gross profit of $1200. Deduct the cost of the Amazon ads, and I made $806. Try to make that profit from a KDP free run or a Kindle Countdown Deal. 

You can’t.

One of the terms you’re going to hear when you talk about Amazon Ads is your ACOS—short for Amazon Cost of Sales. To find the ACOS, you divide your sales ($1714) by the ad cost ($394). That number is your ACOS.

So, in this case, my Amazon Cost of Sales was 23 percent. Or, to put it in simpler terms, for every quarter I spend, I make a dollar.

It’s like playing the slots. Only you’re a guaranteed winner. I like those odds.

In theory, if I want to be a 5-figure author, I would need to run $2,500 in ads every month. That would give me $10,500 in sales with a $7,619 gross profit.

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

The thing is, it’s hard to get Amazon to spend your money. I can tell it to spend $25 a day, and it spends $1.25.


Mark Dawson is an expert on Amazon ads, and he says the same thing. To get the spend thru he wants and needs, Mark, runs over 200 ads at a time. 200 ads are not going to happen.

I run ten ads, and to me, it’s a lot of work.

If you haven’t tried Amazon Ads yet, here’s how to get started.

Monday, June 26, 2017

I Have a Love Hate Relationship With Hemingway. Here's Why.

It's slow. It's clunky. The interface is horrible. I could go on. But, it works. It forces me to slash my run-on sentences until the yellow or purple go away. It challenges me to get rid of all the big words and adjectives. It took this book from a ninth-grade to a fourth-grade level. I know, that sounds bad, but the book is so much easier to read.

The dumbing down. Is it good?

I’ve wrestled with that one, over-and-over. Hemingway fought me on simple words like “require.” It highlighted it in purple. It said I should use “need” or “must.” It threw a fit when I typed “eliminate." It suggested simpler words like "cut," "drop," and "end." But, it didn’t flag “antecedent.” What the hell?

Two words I overuse are “just” and “really.” Hemingway highlights them in blue to let me know they are on the don't use list. Adverbs are bad. They recommend that you use fewer than one for every eighty words.


In case you're wondering. The original text for this chapter started out at the ninth-grade-level. After several runs through Hemingway, it's at the third-grade level.

Is that too low?

I'm not sure. It's a quick, easy read. Anyone can understand it and put the advice in it into action. That's what writing is all about, right?

Okay. Enough bitching and moaning.

You want to know how Hemingway works and if it’s the right tool for you.

Hemingway is a text editor.

You can import documents into it from Word, or you can copy and paste text into it. If you want, it has a “write” mode so that you can use it as your word processor. I wouldn’t recommend that. Except for the shortest documents, it would be a pain in the ass.

The right-hand column is the heart of Hemingway. The first box tells you how easy your text is to read. It does that by assigning a grade level. From what I’ve seen, lower is better. Hemingway likes it when you write at the third to sixth-grade level. More people can understand it.

Below this, it shows your word count. I can start out with one thousand words, By the time I make all my cuts, my document can be 800 words or less. It’s hard to make those highlights go away.

What highlights you ask?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

How I went from a hack to a semi-professional writer using Grammarly

I don't know about you. I don't have the time or money to hire an editor.

In the past, that's created some nasty situations. It's gotten me some bad reviews. 

"The information was interesting, but the author really needs a proofreader. His punctuation is really bad in places.” 


“Very interesting book, but the grammar was driving me crazy. So many commas and semicolons where they don't belong.”

Those reviews were a wake-up call.

In 20K A Day, Jonathan Green called them the "kiss of death." His thought is a one-star review that mentions typos and bad grammar is going to kill your book.

Those reviews almost made me give up writing. I mean, I had to think about what I wanted to do.

My books have always sold. I’m no Stephen King. I never will be. But, a lot of people like my books.       
Finally, I sucked it up. I admitted I had a problem. I bought Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and Hemingway. They changed the way I write.

They’ve got my back. These programs keep me from looking like a total hack.