August 1, 2019

8 tips for Amazon Ad success from an award-winning author

by Kiana Marsan

Are you an Amazon author looking for a way to track your sales, connect with readers, and ultimately sell more books? You may think that once your book is posted, your work is finished. But think again! There is more you can do to manage and market your book. In our ongoing series, Amazon 101, we offer tips about how to use Amazon most effectively.

Here, award-winning memoirist Polly Letofsky breaks down how she found success marketing her book on Amazon. 

Letofsky is best known for being the first woman to walk around the world. It took five years to complete her walk and six years to write the book about it. After a series of bad choices in her publishing journey, she launched into a deep dive to study the industry. The results were six national awards for her book, 3mph: The Adventures of One Woman’s Walk Around the World, and the eventual beginning of My Word Publishing, a self-publishing project management and consulting business.

If you aren’t yet familiar with how Amazon Ads, we suggest reading this blog first on how they work.

1. Use online resources like kindlepreneur to your advantage – Learn by taking note of what other people have done to find success. Polly swears by a blogger known as ‘The Kindlepreneur’ and the online course he teaches on Amazon Ads.

Polly: It’s free, and he’s done a very good job with it! These are the people that specialize in this. 

2. Keep many, many charts – Thankfully, Amazon provides users with detailed analytics to assess how their ad campaign is doing. Don’t let that tool go to waste, as it’s the key to your profitability.

Polly: Like any other business, if you want to be successful, you gotta track it. All businesses track what’s working, what’s not, and what metadata they need. [For Amazon, that’s] the keywords, how long [the campaign] was, [and] what days of the week your campaign was over. 

Afterwards, have a debrief with yourself. What turned into clicks and sales? Keep analyzing, and see where the trends are going. 

3. Pay attention to what’s relevant, and apply that knowledge – The titles people search for are influenced by what’s current. Polly discovered this after using author Bill Bryson as a keyword was a hit one week, and miss the next.

Polly: One of the things I’ve realized is that what’s going on in the news cycle affects [what keywords work]. Was Bill Bryson in the news somewhere? I didn’t hear about it, but maybe he had a speaking event so he was being marketed all over the place, and that’s the week I happened to do an ad.

4. Let your book speak for itself – Every book out there on the market is claiming to be the best one. While yours very well may be it, the average reader is not going to be able to distinguish one good review from another. Keep the ad simple, like to an excerpt of your book blurb.

Polly: You can’t put anything in your ad that’s subjective. Subjective is [an ad that reads] “great book for book clubs” or “it’s the best blank.” You can’t do anything like that, or [your audience] will kick it back to you. 

5. Take advantage of your competitors – A tip Polly picked up from kindlepreneur: check out your book comps. They’ll have readers similar to yours who may decide to take a chance on your book, too.

Polly: Go through the top 100 [books] in your category…Go to the last 30 days in that category, especially [looking at books that] come from a big publishing company and have some marketing behind them. Go to the ‘coming soon,’ too, because they’re starting their campaigns and getting out there. The way I see it is that you’re piggybacking onto their marketing campaign without their knowledge. 

6. Don’t be afraid to experiment – The world is constantly changing, so what people want and look for in a book is constantly changing with it. Don’t get discouraged when campaigns stop working – instead, be flexible with them.

Polly: My most successful campaign, I spent $20 and made $150. And, I was like – why don’t I repeat that campaign? But, [the next time], it didn’t get anything. Nothing! It was down the tubes. A bust. So, maybe you never nail it down. You can’t just start a campaign, and let it run…You have to keep fussing with it. 

7. Follow what works for you first, not what works for others – Trust your gut! There’s no surefire way to crack the system. What works for one person might not work for another.

Polly: I’ve taken a lot of classes that say you should go with the more specific [keywords] instead of the broader [ones], but one of my most consistent keywords was ‘hiking.’ Now, how broad can you get? That’s stinking broad. I would put: hiking in New Zealand, hiking in Great Britain, but no – hiking. Overall, that’s my most successful [keyword].  

8. Be patient with the process – Don’t expect immediate results. Success is more than possible with Amazon Ads, it’s just hard-earned.

Polly: Like anything, the learning curve is high and then it calms down. You make your mistakes, [and] you do your trial and errors…If done right, [Amazon Ads] can be very profitable. If done even half-right, it’s going to be profitable. 


Kiana Marsan is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in English & Literary Arts at the University of Denver. She is an intern at BlueInk Review.

BlueInk Review is a fee-based book review service devoted to self-published titles exclusively. For more news and writing and marketing tips, sign up for our mailing list. And be sure and visit us at

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