Amazon Ads for Traditionally Published Authors: Good or Bad?

Did you know that in October of 2021 Amazon paid nearly 40 million dollars in royalties? One single month, and mostly to self-published authors! Amazon’s share of eBook sales is a whopping 84%, followed by Kobo at 13%, and Barnes & Noble plummeting to 2.1%. (Source:  Hosting Tribunal

This reminds us how important Amazon’s platform remains, whether you’re wide or not, and the importance of advertising to reach those readers.

With indie authors upping their advertising game and benefiting from it, it’ll be interesting to see how traditionally published authors regain control of their advertising and step up on Amazon in a big way.

There’s been a lot of debate since Amazon announced that traditionally published titles can now be claimed and advertised from the author’s dashboard. If you haven’t heard the news, you can learn more about it here.

Back to the debate, though: Is this is a good or a bad thing? Let’s break it down.

Starting with the cons, we must agree that an already competitive market is about to be even more so. This could mean it’s going to cost more to be visible with your advertising, and that you could be competing against ads your publisher is running—yikes!

So more competition, increased costs, and less profit earned back on trad titles. Then what are the benefits, if any?

Amazon ads are an amplifier. They amplify sales on books that are already selling well. They reward relevancy with visibility and can open up all sorts of options for sales. Traditionally published authors don’t have the freedom and control over their publishing and marketing plans that indie authors have. It’s exceptionally beneficial for authors to be able to control as many assets as possible, advertising being one of them.

Here are the reasons why trad authors would want to advertise their books using Amazon ads:

  1. If their books are selling well already, then turning on their own advertising campaigns is going to have a positive impact on sales and increase profits. There’s a good chance the ads alone would never have a positive return on investment on their own, but overall sales and profits could increase as a result and therefore be worth it. After all, ads get readers to buy a single title. The author gets readers to read the next book and the next.
  • If they have a new release coming up, then advertising is going to help the author be visible and relevant during the new release period.
  • Advertising has many goals and benefits outside of simply selling books. They help an author collect data to learn who their target audiences are, what keywords are relevant for them, and more. Knowing that data will help improve and strengthen their marketing efforts going forward.

Despite being traditionally published and able to run Amazon ads, there are a few reasons why we would suggest you hold off:

  1. If your publisher refuses to run ads on your behalf, and the books aren’t selling well, then you might want to create a small auto ad… but don’t waste resources on a full-blown advertising campaign that Amazon won’t get off the ground because it doesn’t think the books will sell well.
  • If your publisher spends thousands of dollars a month on Amazon ads for you–first, that’s awesome! Second, you don’t really need to spend your money if they are doing such a stellar job. You might consider running a few auto ads to collect data for your other marketing pursuits, but don’t worry about doing too much there. Let them handle it.
  • If you have one book out, or even two, it might not make sense to advertise—yet. Build your backlist up. Remember, you won’t have profitable ads from the ads alone. The profit comes from readers reading through your series, and if you don’t have other books for readers to read through, you’re losing money and opportunity. Save your ad dollars for when you have the books to help you turn a profit from advertising. Set yourself up for success!

Amazon ads are best suited for long-term usage. They are slow to gain momentum but can carry an author far over time. Use them for series, or for all your books when you have a backlist built. Facebook ads are better for short-term, quick burst usage. Use these to gain sales quickly, during temporary sales, or even new releases.

Good luck in your advertising ventures! If you need a helping hand, feel free to reach out to our team for a free advertising consult.

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