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What Authors Need to Know About Amazon Marketing Tools (Part 2)

Howard VanEs, Amazon Expert
Howard VanEs, Amazon Expert

Last week, in  3 Things Authors Need to Know About Amazon, Howard VanEs generously shared the importance of Amazon and Amazon Marketing Tools, what authors need to know about selecting keywords on Amazon (and why this is essential),  BISAC categories (what are they, why you should care and what you need to know) and more.

In today’s interview, Howard de-mystifies Amazon marketing tools, including Amazon’s KDP Select Program, Pay per click, Author Central and Kindle Countdown.

LT: Why are you excited about Amazon’s marketing tools?

HV: Amazon’s marketing tools are very effective at helping authors sell books. No other platform online or offline offers anything like these.  Additionally there is a lot of sales information right on the Amazon sales pages which can help you to market your book once you know what to look for.

LT: Please tell our readers about KDP Select and how to use it.

HV: The KDP Select giveaway program lets an author give away their Kindle book for 5 free days over the course of 90 days. Remember, the book is digital and doesn’t cost you anything to give it away.  The promotion will get your book into the hands of people who might not normally find your book and perhaps more importantly it will drive your book’s rankings on Amazon. You want to have your book on the first page of your category or keyword: That is where most of the sales happen. Done properly,  you will generate hundreds, if not thousands, of downloads that will drive your ranking on the sales page and your book will be on the first page if not in the number one position for at least a day or two, sometimes much longer. This activity primes the sales pump, so to speak. Consequently you will start to see regular sales over time.

LT: I’ve seen this in action in what you did for Cathy Turney’s book, Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success, which was in the number one position on Amazon a few months ago.

#1 on_AmazonHV: Yes, keep in mind that in order for this to be successful you will need to use outside resources (off Amazon) to send people to your sales page to download your book during the free promotion period. These resources include announcing on your social media, notifying your fan base or data base, press releases and using services that announce your giveaway to their audiences.

LT: Which I know Cathy did a great job of. How about Pay per click? That’s a relatively new development…What do we need to know?

HV: Amazon pay per-click is Amazon’s newest marketing tool. Pay per click is as simple as it sounds – when someone clicks on your ad they are taken to your book page and you are charged a small of money, thus “pay per click.”  This model has been around for a long time on other search engines such as Google with their “AdWords” and the ads you see on Facebook pages.

The nice thing is that you can target your ads either by product category or by keywords. You can experiment with both, but I think keywords deliver a more precise audience.

To get started you select a beginning and end date of your campaign. You will need to make a minimum commitment of $100 and each ad will have a minimum charge of $.02 cents per click. What you’re actually charged per ad depends on how many others are competing for the same keyword: You’ll be entered into an auction where your per click rate will be $.01 cents higher than the second highest in the auction.

So you need to give some thought to your pay per click price. Go too high and it may not be worth it; go to low and you might not get any ad exposure. The good news is that you can adjust, change or end your campaign at any time.

Now be sure to do your math! If you book sells for $5.00 and your ad cost is $.50 per click , you’ll lose money.  Here is how it breaks out based on a 70% royalty payment for your book which is $3.50. If you commit $100 and select a price per click of $.50 then you’ll generate 200 clicks. A reasonable purchase rate would be 2.5% which means you would have sold 5 books. 5 X $3.50 (your profit for each book) is $17.50 but you spent $100. So in this case it would not be a good investment.

Let’s use the same example but with a pay per click price of $.05. This would generate 2,000 clicks X 2.5% (purchase rate) which equals 50 books sold X $3.50 = $175. Minus the $100 you would have made a profit of $75. Not bad. If you know you can invest $100 and make $75 profit along with your $100 back, you would want to do this all day long!

LT: And how about Author Central? That’s been around a while but I’m sure Amazon has been tweaking it.

HV: Amazon wants to give you your own web page and it’s called Author Central!

When you have at least one book up on Amazon you are able to have a web page there dedicated to you and your writing. Nice!

To set up your Author Central page go to

Your Author Central page helps Amazon customers get to know you and your writing.  Once you’ve accessed your page you can do a quite a lot including:

  • Post your biography: don’t be shy! Tell readers if you’ve won any awards and share any interesting details about yourself
  • Add photos
  • List all of your books on Amazon
  • Add a blog
  • Upload videos/book trailers
  • Connect to Twitter to show your latest tweets
  • Have a URL for your Amazon Author Central page which you can link to and from your web site or anywhere else on the web you want to promote your Author Central page.
  • Post events such as speaking or book launch events
  • Update editorial reviews
  • Contact Amazon support

LT: And Kindle Countdown – I had not heard of this tool until you mentioned it.

HV: Kindle Countdown deals are similar to the KDP giveaway promotion, but instead of giving the book away for free you offer it at a discounted price, incrementally over the course of time – up to seven days. For example, if your book is normally $5.95 you can start your promotion for a day or two at .99, then go to $1.99, then $2.99 and keep making price changes until your reach your original price.

Amazon shows customers the regular price and the promotional price on the book’s detail page, as well as a countdown clock showing how much time is left at the promotional price. Amazon also helps promote the book with a dedicated website where they feature Kindle Countdown Deals. In order for your promotion to be successful you need to promote the book off of Amazon similar to the way you would promote a KDP Giveaway as described above,

If you are going to use this promotion, make sure that your original list price is high enough to show value when discounted. For example, discounting a $2.99 book to $1.99 is not a strong financial incentive to purchase, but discounting a book priced at $9.95 to .99 looks like a great deal! If you plan to change the price of your book prior to the Countdown promotion you must do so at least 30 days prior to your promotion or Amazon won’t let you run the promotion.

LT: What are some of your clients’ experiences?

HV: Most recently we did a KDP Giveaway for one of our authors and were able to achieve a number one position on Amazon. The author of great bragging rights, a best sellers badge from Amazon, and lots of sales afterwards. In an another recent giveaway promotion for a self-help book we gave away over 9.500 copies of the author’s book and drove it into the top 10 on Amazon. What is particularly interesting about this giveaway is that author had an offer inside the book and 100 people opted in to her offer over the next week and she had 7 sales of other products directly linked to this activity.  After doing hundreds of these promotions we pretty much have the KDP giveaway down to a science.

LT: What are some typical mistakes authors might make in using these tools?

HV:  The devil is always in the details. It is important that you have a professional looking cover and a killer book description. If you don’t, even the best promotions won’t help you sell books. So check the basics first. Some of the Amazon promotional programs are straight forward, while others are a little more involved like the KDP Giveaway.  Research each carefully, read what Amazon has to say, talk to others who have used these tools successfully and consider reaching out to consultants like me to get the most from these promotional tools.

Howard VanEs  is a book marketing expert and President of Let’s Write Books Inc. a company specializing in book design and marketing services for independent authors. Howard is also the author of 20 of his own books, many of which have been or are number one in their respective categories on Amazon.  Full disclosure: I am a proud affiliate of “Let’s Write Books” and, as such, if you let Howard know I sent you, I may receive an affiliate commission when you work with him (this does not change the fees or come out of your pocket). As you probably know, I am very selective about affiliate programs and only choose a select few that I strongly believe in.

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Hershey says

    Thanks for this informative post – Howard knows his stuff. His re-designed book cover gave my book, My Family Record Book, new life (available on Amazon), he suggested creating a Kindle version, and lastly he beamed traffic to the book’s side-kick, an interactive app,
    Our KDP giveaway resulted in bestseller status–over 56,000 Kindle books downloaded – a record even for Howard. After that 48 hour give away period, I SOLD about 300 paperbacks and Kindle books, and over 40 people signed up to use my app.
    Howard knows his way around. When I asked him the reasons for the huge giveaway, he said, “We did everything right, and people are interested in the your subject – creating a written record of everything the financial and household manager has in his/her head so information won’t be lost.”

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