Selling Books on the German Amazon Market (Guide + Case Study)
If you’ve been reading Kindlepreneur for a while now, odds are you’re probably doing pretty well in your local market. But have you thought about branching out to other countries yet?
Amazon has given all Kindle Direct Publishing authors (KDP) access to advertising platforms for Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. This is a big indicator of the future of book marketing. It also means as an independent author, you have a chance to reach another chunk of Amazon’s massive worldwide audience–and you don’t even have to get your book translated.
We’re going to focus on Amazon’s German market in this article. Germany has a very high English-speaking population, making it the perfect starting point if you want to branch out into another market.
The best news is this–I’ve found that my average cost per lead is nearly half what it is in the American market. Where I’m spending somewhere around $4.27 to get a book sold in the US, my Germany spend is more like $2.16. This means more sales for fewer advertising dollars.
If that sounds interesting to you, let’s get started.
In this article, you will learn:
- How to get your book on the German market
- A method for adding your book to smart German categories
- How to run ads in the German market
- Results from a German ads case study
- If it's worth it to expand into the German market with your books
How to Get Your Book on the German Market
Those of you who are Amazon savvy already know this header is misleading.
Why? Because whenever you self-publish with KDP, they distribute your book across all of their platforms in every country.
To find your book in a different market, all you have to do is change the URL a little bit. Instead of going to “Amazon.com,” I’m going to head over to “Amazon.de.” Once there, I’ll search for my book. Just like magic, there it is.
So far, so good.
Getting Your Book in German Categories
Now, by default, the German market will place your book in the categories you’ve already selected in the English market. There’s no problem with staying in those same categories, of course, but there’s also potential upside if you look a little deeper…
The American Amazon market has become somewhat flooded with self-published books. Even if you find a pretty niche category, it can still be difficult to find a category with low enough competition where you can grab and hold that top spot. However, the German market still has opportunities all over the place.
Why? Because in addition to all the general categories, Amazon.de also has categories specific to foreign language books. Not only that, but those categories are broken down by language.
More categories mean more opportunities. As a matter of fact, in some cases, you can niche so far down that the bestseller list doesn’t even exist yet!
What does that mean? That means if your book fits in one of those empty or near-empty categories, you might be an instant bestseller!
Head to Amazon.de and start browsing. Don’t forget, you can place your book in up to 10 categories! Be sure to search the category lists for both books and eBooks.
By the way, unless you speak German, I’d suggest using Google Chrome (which can translate the page for you). Otherwise, make sure to have a translator pulled up so you can figure out which category is best for your book.
You can change your categories in the German version of your KDP dashboard (kdp.amazon.de), or you can call Amazon customer service. If you make the call, be prepared with the full string of your categories. Be patient on the phone! The person at Amazon HQ will likely have to translate on their end to make sure you get in the right category.
For a full overview of category mastery, check out this article.
(PS – Publisher Rocket is a tool that can help you identify categories quickly and easily. It can also signal which categories you can choose to move into the top 10 immediately)
How to Run Ads in the German Market
This was easily the most difficult part of writing this tutorial. You’ll be hard-pressed to find information on Google for how to get into your German advertising dashboard. Luckily for you, I like to poke around and figure things out.
First, simply head to “advertising.amazon.com.” Once you’re there, look up in the top right corner. If you click on the American flag, you’ll see a drop-down where you can pick any of Amazon’s marketplaces.
As you can see, you’ll be able to choose not only the marketplace you wish to target but also the language you’d like to use. I chose “Germany” and “English” for this experiment.
Once you do that, you’ll be asked how you want to log in. Your best option is to login through your existing KDP account.
Login like you normally would, and you’ll be re-routed to your KDP Dashboard. (Notice the “.de” on the logo, which confirms you’re in the right place.)
Once you’re in your German KDP account, click “switch advertising” next to your book. This will bring up a screen with various promotion options. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a section labeled “place an ad campaign.” Choose “amazon.de,” and then click “Create an Ad Campaign.”
Phew! We’re finally in!
The good news is, you won’t have to go through that winding path every time. Once done the steps above, you can simply return to “advertising.amazon.de” and access all your campaigns.
The First Step – Running a Sponsored Keyword Advertisement
Let’s start our first ad. If you’re used to running ads for your book in Amazon’s US market, you should be able to navigate this part even in German.
I’ll go ahead and set the campaign name, start date, daily budget, and targeting type.
You can see I’ve chosen 4 euros as my daily budget. For reasons a little outside the scope of this article, I do not for a second believe Amazon is going to spend the entire 4 euros on ONE ad in ONE day. Nevertheless, this amount should get me some data to start with, especially when I combine it with the other ads I’m going to run here.
I’ll also keep my bidding strategy on “fixed bids”.
German ads have an extra step called “ad groups.” If you’re like me and run hundreds of these things every single month, it will be useful to go back later and find these groups. I’ll probably run advertisements based around the keyword “creativity,” so I’ll give it that generic name.
Then, I’ll add my book.
Unlike the US market, German market advertisements are allowing me to add both versions of my book at the same time to a sponsored ad.
Next, I’ll choose “keyword targeting.” I have a few existing ones in English. Since the German market might give me different keywords, I’ll go ahead and do some research around the site to figure out some new keywords. My book is in English (for now), but I’m still using a mix of German and English words to advertise.
(PS – I generated a TON of extra keywords automatically by using the German version of Publisher Rocket.)
After I’ve got my keyword list, it’s time to select a bid. Again, this is outside our scope for this article, but DON’T blindly choose Amazon’s suggested bid. This is a great way to lose your shirt, your pants, and probably at least one shoelace.
I changed “suggested bid” to “default bid.” This allows me to put the same amount for hundreds of keywords. (Unless you are on a desert island and have nothing better to do than guess at the prices of thousands of keywords, I’d suggest this method).
What price should you pick? Good question. Bid pricing varies in effectiveness depending on your book genre. You may be able to get by with a few cents in “Unicorn Adventure Party” books, but you’ll have to shell out more if you’d like to target a more generic keyword like “self-help” or “money management.” My advice is to start small and test your book description and cover.
Experience with the US market tells me a good bid for “creativity” words might be somewhere around .15. I’ll set that as the default for the entire list.
And now we’re done!
Wait, we shouldn’t be done… What about writing the blurb for the advertisement?? Turns out, this is not yet an option with the German market.
The Next Option – Advertise by Category
Before we get to the data, I also want to show you how to set up the other type of advertisement: the product advertisement.
Everything at the top is the same. Note that I’m using the same naming convention (minus the “hook” this time since I don’t have one). You don’t have to use my naming convention, but it does help to keep things standard for when you’re analyzing later.
The difference comes toward the bottom of the page in the “Targeting” section. I’ll click “Product Targeting.”
Once you scroll down, you’ll see suggested categories from Amazon. Now, there is a slight problem here because… well, I don’t speak German at all. Other than “Kreativität.” I could throw caution to the wind and select these all. However, it’s been my experience that my ads work best when they are positioned next to books (as opposed to other products on Amazon). I’ll at least do some google translate work to make sure I’m either running ads next to books or ebooks.
Looks like the word “Bücher” means “book.” I’ll feel pretty confident running ads in categories where I see that word.
If you’re feeling particularly German, you could also go to the “search” function for categories and dig for a potential diamond in the rough. For now, I’ll just stick with the Amazon suggested categories.
Don’t forget to change the default bid!
Okay, all I have to do now is start a few more of these ads, hop in my time machine, and then see how it went!
(DeLorean sounds roar… two weeks pass… I sit and stare at data)
How Do Ads Perform on the German Market?
Whenever you start a new project like this, there are always some nerves. But three days in, I made my first sale in the German market! Woohoo!
I was VERY conservative with my advertising in the German market. Since I don’t really like wasting money, I wanted to take some time and test for ideal bids. However, I was still able to generate some pretty decent sales.
Here’s the biggest piece of advice I can give you after running my little experiment: even if you think you know something about running Amazon Ads, you don’t. These are brand new markets.
Test. Everything. A poorly targeted keyword is always wasted money. An extravagant bid is always wasted money.
The further I went into this experiment, the more I thought – “Okay, how can I optimize?” If you publish an English-language book in the German marketplace, Amazon will suggest categories that fall under “Foreign Language.” However, would my ads be even better if I targeted ONLY “English speaking?”
Questions like this (combined with the fact I don’t speak any German whatsoever) led to a lot of days with my staring at screens like this.
Most of my bids, especially in the categories section, were WAYYYY too high. Bids that wouldn’t have moved the needle at all in the US market were ideal for the German market.
Is It Worth It to Move Into the German Market?
Based on the time I’ve spent so far, I would say there’s definitely an opportunity here. Remember, most independent authors don’t even know you can reach these markets yet. Better to move now while the competition is low.
It’s worth mentioning once more that I used Publisher Rocket throughout this process. This saved me hours of both searching for categories as well as generating German and English keywords.
Good luck with your book, and have fun going worldwide!
About the Author
Todd Brison a bestselling author of two books: The Creative's Curse and The Unstoppable Creative. He's been featured in TIME, Inc. Magazine, and CNBC. When not writing, he can usually be found doing whatever his wife asks or chasing his stubborn French Bulldog – Francis.
Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.