In March 2022, Amazon made a change that gave all traditionally-published authors access to Amazon Ads.
This is a potential opportunity, but also includes a few obstacles that authors should be aware of.
In this article, we'll go into detail about how traditionally-published authors can take advantage of this opportunity, as well as some big red flags to watch out for.
- How to access Amazon Ads as a traditionally-published author
- Some things to watch out for
- When a traditionally-published authors should use Amazon Ads
- How this change affects self-published authors
Table of contents
- Traditionally-Published Authors Can Now Use Amazon Ads
- How to Access Amazon Ads as a Traditionally-Published Author
- Two Warnings:
- When Should a Traditionally-published Author Use Amazon Ads?
- How Does This Affect Self-published Authors?
Traditionally-Published Authors Can Now Use Amazon Ads
It used to be that Amazon Advertising was only available to those who had a Vendor, Seller, or KDP account.
So if you were a publisher or a self-published author, you could use Amazon Ads to your heart's content. But if you were a traditionally-published author, and wanted to drive some traffic to your book via ads, you couldn't do so. Instead, you were at the whim of your publisher, and could do anything if they didn't want to promote you. This is also true for any authors who were distributing books via another service other than KDP.
That has changed.
As of March 2022, all authors with a verified Author Central account now have access to Amazon Ads. Note that this is only for the US marketplace for now, but will likely be expanded later.
How to Access Amazon Ads as a Traditionally-Published Author
So let's say your traditionally-published author, and want to know how you can run ads on your book. Here is the step-by-step process:
Step 1: Get an Author Central Account
If you haven't already, the first step is to get an Author Central account. This is done by following these steps:
- Go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com/ and click “Join for free.”
- Sign in with your regular Amazon username and password. If you don’t have an account, select “I am a new customer.” You’ll need to give a little more information.
- Read the Terms and Conditions, then click “Accept.”
If you'd like to know more about how to set up your Author Central account, and how to make it amazing, see our comprehensive post on the subject.
Step 2: Add Your Books to Your Account
Once you have your Amazon Author Central account, you need to add your books to your profile. Thankfully, doing this is easy.
Start by going to the “books” tab and clicking on “add a book”.
You will then be prompted to search for your book so you can add it to your bookshelf. If you can't find that using your title, you can also insert the ASIN number to find an exact match.
Once you have found your book, simply click “add this book”, and the book should be added for you. If there are any complications, you can easily contact Amazon support, and they can get that sorted out for you. But if your author name in your Author Central account is the same as the name on your book, this should be a relatively straightforward process.
Step 3: Access Amazon Ads
Once your book is successfully added to your Author Central account, all you have to do is go to the Reports + Marketing tab, find the yellow box that says “Amazon Ads”, and take it away from there.
Pro tip: Amazon Ads can be complicated in their own right, which is why I developed a free course for authors who want to maximize their potential earnings. Check it out and you'll be expanding those margins in no time.
While on the surface this seems like a good thing for traditionally-published authors, there are two very big problems that I want to address:
1. Profit Margins Will Be Low
Many indie authors already have trouble making a profit with Amazon Ads.
If you're self-published, you'll usually earn between $2 – $4 per book when you make a sale. That means that you can spend $2 – $4 to make that sale. Spend more than that, and you have failed to make a profit. Spend less, and you're in the green.
But this will be much harder for traditionally-published authors.
The reason for this is a lower percentage of the retail price.
Typically, a traditionally-published author is looking at something closer to $1 for every book sold on Amazon. That means that in order for you, personally, to make any profit, you cannot spend more than one dollar per sale of a book.
That's very hard.
While it is certainly possible, especially if you are a recognized name, it is unlikely that you will have ads that perform that well. Which means that you will lose money, and your publisher will reap most of the benefits instead.
2. Publishers May Require Ads
Another thing to watch out for is any language in your contract that requires or encourages the author to use Amazon Ads as part of their marketing.
It's no secret that traditional publishers often let the author shoulder much of the marketing, especially recently. They expect their authors to be active on social media, have an email list, pursue their own marketing opportunities, etc. Only rarely do traditional publishers have a substantial marketing budget for an author.
We don't want to let that happen with advertising as well.
So before you sign any contracts, simply make sure that you are not required to have an advertising budget for your books, or that you are required to reinvest part of your advance.
When Should a Traditionally-published Author Use Amazon Ads?
So with all of these potential issues, when should a traditionally-published author use Amazon Ads?
Well, there are a number of possibilities:
If you have a long series, running ads to the first book in your series could generate more income due to readthrough, meaning that your ROI for your first book doesn't have to be so tight.
If you want to create momentum by ensuring that the right type of reader's binder books, thereby triggering the Amazon algorithm to show to other similar readers, it might be worth a small loss in Amazon Ads.
If your publisher is choosing not to market your book, and you want to get the exposure that they are not giving you, that could also be a good time to advertise your book.
All in all, though, this is a path that traditionally-published authors will want to tread carefully.
How Does This Affect Self-published Authors?
This change will likely have little impact on self-publishers. It is doubtful (due to the ROI issue) that many traditionally-published authors will take advantage of this opportunity.
While this could result in more competition for Amazon Ads, the risk of this is low.
Overall, self-published authors have nothing to worry about.