Amazing prices

My struggle with advertising

I’ve worked for myself for 17 of the last 20 years. My business focus has changed a couple times, from graphic design to Hollywood visual effects to writing and self-publishing. Throughout that time, I had to do minimal advertising. Until now.

I spent money to make money. I controlled my expenses in order to maximize my net profit and I maintained a living wage during that time. I didn’t think twice about investing in new hardware or software to get a job done. It was all part of the process of running my business. And word of my work spread mostly by word of mouth, with a small dash of direct mail.

Now that I am writing books, the only way to create a revenue stream is to advertise. It was an unknown and nebulous concept to me and one that I didn’t believe in. The fact that it was intangible and unpredictable caused me to cast doubt on it.

I released my first book, Tied, back in March 2016. I had no plan, and that included no plan to advertise. I had convinced myself that I could get enough exposure through free channels and using publicly available social media. This was a huge mistake.

With my second book, Vermin 2.0, my situation was vastly different. I had to make this new business of writing full-time work. For the month of May, I had been running advertising on Amazon for both Tied and Vermin 2.0. As a result, I’ve sold more books in one month than I did all year previous with Tied. The sales numbers haven’t been huge, and I’m barely covering my costs (maybe even losing some money), but it was an important lesson. Advertising, when done correctly, does work.

Duh. Of course it does. That’s how the capitalist world has revolved for centuries. It was my world that didn’t revolve that way. Now, I guess you could say I’ve seen the light. I’ve learned some new things and still have much more to learn, but I’ll be selling books and making money along the way.

To advertise your book on Amazon, you will likely use Sponsored Product ads, which require keywords. Lots of them. If you’ve ever cultivated keywords by hand, you know how time consuming it can be. I use KDP Rocket to help with that task and I’ve written a review of it here. Good luck!

Photo by Ondrej Supitar / Unsplash

Since 1992, Lee has worked within the visual and dramatic arts landscape as a graphic designer, illustrator, visual effects artist, screenwriter and author.

Leave a comment