Today I started listening to a podcast about promoting sci-fi and fantasy books, and the very first episode I listened to had me making big changes to the way I distribute and promote my books. The podcast features Lindsay Buroker, who has been writing seriously since 2009 and stumbled across self-publishing in 2010, Joseph Lallo, who publishes via Smashwords.com, and Jeffrey M. Poole, who is a fantasy author.

The podcast is specifically related to helping sci-fi and fantasy authors promote their stuff, it is an hour long, and it goes into great detail about what does and doesn’t work for specific authors in specific genres and sub-genres.

The specific episode I listened to today was SFFMP 175 which is titled The Rapid Release Strategy, Getting Reviews as a New Author, and Where to Spend your Advertising Money. In this episode, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay answer listener questions on topics including how to spend $1,000 on advertising to get the most out of your launch, how to get reviews as a new author, and how often to release books if you’re banking them to do a rapid release. They also talk a little about audiobooks, which is an idea I’m flirting with. They talked about t is possible to do this as a royalty share. I was quite interested but it turns out that the leading audiobook site for self-publishing is only available in the USA and the UK.

The next thing they mentioned that I was interested in was what they said about Amazon AMS ads, which included the tidbit that Lindsay had heard of authors who invested a couple of thousand dollars in such ads each month, for a return of six or seven thousand dollars. That sounded like a very good deal to me. At the moment, I only have ten dollars of disposable income (everything else is earmarked for important stuff like eating, heating, and such fripperies). Doing some quick mental maths based on what Lindsay said, each dollar invested brings three dollars of return, which means a profit of two dollars.

I figured I could invest my ten dollars with Amazon AMS for a profit of twenty dollars, which is doubling my money. I enthusiastically clicked the button marked Start Advertising. I was then presented with a very confusing page. I was asked to select one of the options below to get started.

I am an Amazon vendor or distributor and have a Vendor Central login. I have an Advantage Central login. I have a Vendor Express login. I want to request an invitation to represent a vendor. I have a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account.

I use a book aggregate, primarily Draft2Digital, to distribute my books so although I do have a Kindle Direct Publishing account because I experimented with it, I don’t have any books on sale that way. I don’t think I’m an Amazon vendor, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have a Vendor Express login, so I will have to depublish through Draft2Digital and republish through KDP in order to run ads. I checked my Amazon sales this and my best book has a rank of #1,615,574, which is absolutely terrible. It seems to me that I have nothing to lose from depublishing from Amazon through Draft2Digital and trying KDP again, but this time with ads.

My big book is Galaxy Dog, and it has not sold a single copy on Amazon since being published through Draft2Digital. Now, Galaxy Dog has four stars on Kobo from 31 reviews, so I know people like it. There is something wrong here, so it is a perfect candidate for being moved to KDP and pushed with ads.

This turns out to be an easy process, because Draft2Digital allows you to use the converted epub they produce anywhere else. Most other ebook conversion and distribution services will limit the ways an author can use the books they create. At Draft2Digital you can download your proof copy and use it however you want.

Next I looked up some tips for creating Amazon ads. These boil down to the fact that you get better results with Sponsored Ads. Ignore Amazon’s suggestions for keywords. You need between 300 and 400 keywords,

Use Amazon’s intuitive search to pull up keyword suggestions as you start to type in your keyword. Another way to search, is to pop in your keyword and the term “and” or start digging through the alphabet. So for example, you can type in science fiction a, b, c and so on through the alphabet.

Once you have a list of 25-50 search terms, plug these into Amazon and take note of the books that come up on the first page. Take note of the author, book title and series title, if any. Go as deep as two pages on the Amazon search and keep jotting down names and book titles. Once you have this list, click on the individual books and check the “Also boughts” (which is the banner that runs across the bottom of the book on the book detail page) and start doing the same with these, too. Getting into your readers’ funnel – meaning targeting books and author that are most popular is your powerful tool, so don’t shortcut this. Add books from the top 60 bestsellers.

Select Sponsored Products and start with a $10 a day daily budget and .25 cost per click (CPC), you can raise and lower this, as you see certain keywords working and others falling off.

The article also recommends having a print version of the book you are running the ad on. Even if you aren’t selling any print books, to speak of, having a print version of the book will help with overall visibility and your ads will do better. This is also easy, thanks to the pdf Draft2Digital creates for you, and KDP even prompts you to create a print book once you have set up your ebook.

I’m in the process of getting this all set up and I will report back when I know what the results of this little experiment were.

Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.