By Amy Collins (@NewShelvesBooks)
Editor’s Note: Updated as of 4/30/16—Yesterday, Deborah Bass from the main office at Amazon contacted us and clarified a few items from the original article. We appreciate her getting in touch, and this article has been updated with the most recent information about the AMS program.
A few years back, authors and small presses could participate in a number of marketing programs at Amazon.com.
BUY X GET Y was one of my favorites. You could contact Amazon and request a link from your book to another book of similar appeal. It was not inexpensive, but it was a terrific program that exposed your book to readers interested in books similar to yours. Listmania was a free program that also linked similar books. There were FEATURED PAGES. A small press could purchase a page on Amazon that highlighted a series or group of books in a kind of “landing page”. There were a number of Amazon marketing programs like these and others that were slowly raised out of reach for small presses over the last 5 – 10 years.
Thus began the long dry stretch of desert for single title authors and small presses. Simply put, we were not given any opportunities to participate in Amazon’s marketing programs. Sure, there were tricks and manipulations we could learn, but they were not as effective as participating in Amazon sponsored marketing. Once BUY X GET Y and other programs were placed out of reach, the small press was significantly hampered and not able to compete with the bigger houses that still had marketing programs available.
Flash forward to May 1, 2016
Amazon announced last week that they are making many marketing services available to all Amazon Advantage members. The program works like this:
As an Advantage Advantage publisher you sign up for Advantage and pay an annual fee of $99. This is charged to your account as a deduction of your sales so does not require up-front payment.
Those of you who are now Advantage “members” will have access to marketing programs previously reserved for Amazon’s bigger vendors.
Here are the programs being made available in order of my favorites:
Keyword/Tag Pay Per Click Advertising
This offering is my current favorite as AMS allows you to increase discoverability of your titles on Amazon.com by letting you set your own budget for a particular keyword or phrase. Depending upon your budget and the desirability of the keyword, your book can rise very high in the search page and you ONLY PAY if someone clicks on your book. Your click budget can be as low as $100.
“A+” Detail Pages
Want video, sample page shots, extra photos and other “juicy” offerings on your book’s page? Now you can have it! $600 gets you a LOT more on your detail page. The “A+” detail page is a deluxe detail page featuring advanced formatting and rich media content (detailed descriptions for example) to enrich the shopping experience for customers.
I LOVE this idea! Now, customers can use vendor-funded coupon links (available on the product detail page) to offer customers immediate discounts off of the Amazon selling price. YOU pay for the discount but this program allows you to offer sales and promotions during key peak periods. You can drive sales during heavy review and blogger appearances or during a big media hit!
Don’t Forget the Importance of a Review Dashboard
Whenever trying new and tried-and-true marketing efforts, it is vital that you evaluate your successes and that you measure the return on investment and optimizing campaign performance through sales reporting. With AMS, you have access to sales data and marketing ROI on each and every marketing tool you try.
Amazon reviews are becoming more and more important every month. AND Amazon is being a LOT more vigilant about deleting reviews that do not appear legitimate. Amazon Vine reviewers are a select but LARGE group of reviewers that have been “pre-approved” by Amazon and their reviews are given more weight. You can look up each Amazon Vine reviewer individually and ask if they would like a copy of your book to review or you can save all that time and hassle, pay $1500 to be offered to the Amazon Vine reviewers. It is a pretty hefty price tag, but if you want access to the entire VINE reviewer list in one easy, seamless program, you can invest in this program and let THEM handle all of the details.
Signing Up for AMS
So, on May 1st, I will be signing up for AMS and trying out the Keyword and A+ Page listings right away. I have been waiting for years to be allowed to swim with the bigger fish and I cannot wait to see how it works. If YOU are going to be participating, PLEASE come back and comment here and tell me how it goes. It would be great for those of us who decide to swim in these waters to report back how it, the water, is. I will be back to tell you my experiences and offer solid data on the return on my investment.
Amazon AMS Marketing_Programs [2-page PDF]
Funny, sharp, and smart, Amy Collins is full of up-to-date industry tips and executable advice. She has been a Book Buyer for a chain of bookstores as well as a Sales Director for a large books and magazine publisher. Over the years, she has sold to Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco, Airport Stores, Books-A-Million, Wal-Mart, and other major chains. She helped launch several hugely successful private label publishing programs for Borders, PetSmart, and CVS. In 2006, Amy started New Shelves Books, one of the fastest-growing book distribution, sales and marketing companies in North America. She is the author of the new book, The Write Way and works with self-published authors and small publishing companies to increase their sales in the marketplace.