Indie Author Frequently Asked Questions
These are a few of the common questions that come up when we talk to potential new author clients. If you don’t see your question answered here, please get in touch and we’d be happy to answer any additional questions you might have.
Q. How much do you charge?
A. We charge a flat rate of $550 per ad platform (FB and/or Amazon) or $900 for both for up to four series/ad campaigns. This is a monthly fee paid up front each month and does not include the ad costs charged by the ad platform(s) which we suggest to be a minimum of $5 per day per ad campaign/series, and really $10 or more per day for best results.
***As of March 1, 2021 we do not currently have any openings for Amazon ads management. We can add you to our wait list and let you know if a spot opens up.***
Q. I’m a new author, should I hire you?
A. We typically don’t suggest that a new author employ an ad manager. When you’re just starting out the chances of you immediately seeing a return that would cover our fees, the ad costs, and give you a return is highly unlikely, even with great ads.
There is so much that goes into building a successful author platform before your ads come into play, starting with great books with great covers and great blurbs/book descriptions, but also things like a great list of newsletter subscribers, and ARC readers/book reviews.
If you haven’t already, I’d suggest checking out the indie author group 20Booksto50K (read the rules and keep your head down in 20Books! They pride themselves on being trigger happy with the remove/block function. You’ve been warned.), as well as Mark Dawson’s SPF Community. The first has an absolute wealth of information on any topic you could think of about how to sell books as an indie author, and the second will lead you to the hands down best set of courses on getting your platform going and advertising it effectively once you get there. Craig Martelle has a great series of books called the “Become a Successful Indie Author” series which he often sells for 99 cents each, Tammi Labrecque has a great book on newsletters called “Newsletter Ninja”. Some other great authors/resources worth looking up are David Gaughran, Robert Ryan, Deb Potter, Elana Johnson, and Mal Cooper.
Once you learn how to run ads and build your author platform up to the point where your writing time is worth more than our fees and your ad costs combined, not only are we a great choice for an ad manager you can trust with your ads, but you’ll also know enough to know whether we, or any other ad manger is worth what they are trying to charge you.
Q. What kind of ROI are the authors you work with getting?
A. We get this question a lot and the answer isn’t quite so simple. An author’s ROI on marketing costs are based on so many factors other than simply their ad management. Factors like their cover, blurb, number of reviews, newsletter subscribers, backlist, release frequency, and current reader base, as well as many other factors. We offer experienced, competent ad account management, the ability to troubleshoot problems and gradually improve your rankings and sales in conjunction with your own overall author platform development efforts. We don’t promise magic, or a 10, 50, or 500 percent return. We do promise to work together with you to develop a winning strategy for your Facebook and/or Amazon ads.
After we take a look at your accounts we’ll tell you if there is anything we think we can improve, we’ve told a number of authors that their ads were perfect and that we are unlikely to do any better than they are. After that it just depends on whether their time is worth more to them than our fees.
A note on calculating ROI:
With FB ads, we focus on pushing the first book in the series, and in most cases, the return comes from the series sell-through, with book 1 barely breaking even or even seeing a slight loss from month to month. It’s all about building a good, solid base of new readers and then turning them into super fans that’ll continue reading not just the series being marketed, but your backlist as well. In the long run, this “author read-through” turns into organic sales.
**IF YOU AREN’T TAKING READTHROUGH INTO ACCOUNT WHEN CALCULATING THE ROI ON YOUR FIRST-IN-SERIES ADS YOU ARE NOT ACCURATELY CALCULATING YOUR ACTUAL ROI ON THOSE ADS.**
Q. What do you require or recommend for monthly ad spend?
A. We recommend a bare minimum of $6-$11 per day per series advertised for testing, and then we look at your series readthrough and determine where to go from there. Factors such as backlist and readthrough have a big influence on how this is determined, as does your ad budget.
Q. Are there any authors I can talk to who have had success with your services?
A. Our client list is confidential. We have a number of reviews on Facebook and our Google listing, and you are free to ask any of them you know about us.
Q. Will you just be running ads from my account? Meaning, I can always look at the metrics?
A. We only run ads on an account you have control of, and we take nothing with us if our working relationship ends. Your data is always yours and you will always retain access and control over it.
Q. Can you send me a copy of your service agreement?
A. Our service agreement is simple. We work month to month, paid in advance. We’d appreciate as much notice as possible if you decide not to continue with our services, but you are free to terminate our relationship at any time. We don’t offer prorated refunds if you terminate mid-month, but we will perform services until the end of the month if you wish. As previously stated, your data is 100% yours, we don’t take any with us when we go, and our client list is 100% confidential so your privacy is always guaranteed.
Q. How do you optimize the ads you run?
A. With each author, we create several ad sets (target audiences) and creatives (images with excerpts / blurbs / taglines) and test them through click campaigns. Every day, we log the click-through-rate and click price, as well as the marketed book’s Kindle rank into an excel sheet. Then we look for best performing audiences, ads, and their combos and shut down those that are not performing. Once we know which ads are winners, we can scale them up. Because the Facebook ads algorithm is auction-based, these numbers live day by day, depending on not just readers clicking the ads, but also competition.
Because Amazon’s reporting is always delayed, we need to be on top of these numbers, and make changes in a timely matter, so we get the best return to the ad spend.
Q. Do you use the FB pixel & retargeting
A. Yes – we can do this. Where retargeting through pixel data from your website (or third-party link service, such as Readerlinks) is great for new releases, it rarely is an effective long-term strategy. However, each author is different, so this is always worth trying. Especially if you have already collected a significant amount of pixel data.
Q. Do you use Readerlinks, Geniuslinks, or other third-party link services?
A. We’ve recently stopped using Readerlinks and other third-party link service links in our ads. This is because of Facebook’s new policy. Several people and marketers have reported poor or non-existent performance for ads that use links that don’t tell the clicker precisely where they lead to (Amazon, or author’s website, or somewhere else). At the end of last year, Amazon also renewed their policy, and it had a lot to do with people misusing affiliate links through third-party link services.
Again, things change, and not every author (or ad account in this case) is the same. But to be sure we’re not creating ads that are in conflict with Amazon’s or Facebook’s policies, we now prefer clean Amazon links and sending people straight to the book’s sales page.
What Readerlinks is excellent for, is reporting daily income per book and series, especially if the books marketed are in Kindle Unlimited. The daily or hourly Kindle rank only tells us books sold + borrows, but no page reads. Readerlinks has a reporting tool that shows the author’s latest income numbers from KDP. This information is pure gold because it helps us make more timely changes when optimizing the ads.
Q. Do you always focus on/optimize for the lowest CPC?
A1. On Facebook marketing and click prices:
Things that effect your CPC/CPR:
– Facebook’s learning phase
– marketed book’s release day
– target audience size
– scalability of target audience
– trash clicks
– Ad account history
– amount of ad creatives
– campaign object & dynamic creative option
– period of overall time that ads have run for marketed book/series (days/weeks/months/years)
– The last time ad creatives were refreshed
– social proof
– other ad sets running in your Business Manager
– ad frequency
– time of the day/week/year
– seasons (end of the year/holidays/Q1/summertime
Two authors writing in the same genre, releasing at the same time, and using the same campaign strategies can get completely different click prices and click-through-rates.
A “good” click price comes down to your conversion rate and I couldn’t possibly say it better than Robert Ryan:
“If you convert at 1:20, and pay 50 cents a click, it costs $10 to get a sale. But if you convert at 1:10, and pay $1 a click, guess what? It costs $10 to get a sale – the exact same amount. So everything revolves around conversion rate and not the CPC. CPC is a red herring.”
A2. On Amazon Strategy and Click Prices
There’s no rule of thumb for this, but what most AMS experts notice is that creating new AMS ads tends to give a short rank boost the next few days (Amazon sort of helps you get going), and then things settle down again. After the initial boost, it’s all about optimizing for relevance and shutting down things that don’t work. But the big picture is that Amazon Ads is a marathon, not a sprint. Where Facebook spends your daily spend, well, daily, Amazon Ads is all about investing in the right targeting and relevance for your specific books. To Amazon, relevance is more important than the bid, so once there’s strong relevance between your book and a keyword, the click price will go down for you, but stay the same or higher to those competing in the same auction.
There’s two ways of doing this; optimize with low bids, which will slow down the impressions from coming in, but also keep the click prices low. Or we can test with high bids and ditch the irrelevant targeting faster, and then start lowering the winning target bids as Amazon gives them stronger relevance.
Q. It’s Black Friday season, should I shut down all of my ads?
A. Ok, the holiday season can be pretty brutal for Indies. The competition in the ad auction is off the charts when the trad publishing houses pile on the holiday ad spend every year. Click prices are sky high and ranks plummet. That being said, those who are able to invest in their long-term marketing plan during this time of year will be way ahead of the game once things settle down after the Christmas rush is over.
You are the ultimate judge if you can afford to weather the storm. I absolutely do not suggest you spend money you don’t have, but Amazon popularity and relevance operates on momentum so if you’ve got the budget to “invest in loss” you aren’t going to have to recover all of that lost momentum after the first of the year. In most cases shutting down all of your ads amounts to a full stop on your momentum, which surely has a lot to do with why some authors consider the first 2-3 months of the year to be the “Dead Zone”.