How a KDP author helps other writers increase their book sales
After writing thousands of blog posts for other companies as a freelance copywriter, Bryan Cohen pivoted into self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in 2010. While he's sold over 140,000 copies of his own books, he's made his biggest mark helping other authors sell significantly more copies of theirs.
Sharing learnings with the author community
Applying the maxim that you retain 90% of the information you teach*, Cohen tested dozens of marketing methods on his own books before sharing what worked with the author community.
"There were plenty of failures along the way," says Cohen. "But every so often I'd see a glimmer of something and wonder if it could work for all authors in any genre. When Amazon Ads launched for KDP authors in 2016, it seemed to have that exact potential."
Creating a testing ground for book sales
With thousands of books published on Amazon every single day, Cohen knew that authors couldn't rely on their books to sell themselves.
"If only we could see how many potential readers made it to our book on Amazon, then we could figure out if the book had a chance for profit," he says.
Cohen started running campaigns through Amazon Ads in late 2016 and used the data from his ads to show that some of his books would earn more than enough royalties to cover the ad spend. For example, Cohen found that his fairy tale anthology Once Upon a Happy Ending would earn $3 in royalties for each $1 in ad spend, eventually yielding over $21,000 in royalties and over 10 million pages read.
Looking at the whole picture
Once Cohen started advertising on Amazon, he began seeing greater brand recognition for both his catalog of books and his copywriting agency, Best Page Forward, whose revenue grew to six figures, annually. However, Cohen had a harder time telling whether he was selling more books due to the ads or his higher profile.
“So I started trying to make it simpler: If a certain book or series made more royalties than the amount I spent, I kept running those ads," Cohen says. “And when this strategy started working in a big way, I wanted to test it to see if other authors had the same (or better) results."
Starting with a group of 1,600 authors in September 2019, Cohen shared his methods through his free online trainings. The quarterly community classes have now grown to over 8,000 participants with a team of experienced advertisers helping to support authors every step of the way.
Choosing a goal and making the right choices
Cozy mystery author Trixie Silvertale had tried writing in multiple genres under different pen names, but the most she'd ever been able to earn in a single month was $200. Since her goal was to earn significantly higher royalties, she pursued two strategies at once: writing to an audience with more demand and running campaigns through Amazon Ads with Cohen's ad methods. Silvertale wrote at a feverish pace while her partner set up dozens of campaigns to bring new readers into her series.
"Within 18 months, we went from $200 a month to over $11,000 a month in royalties," Silvertale said. "And the #1 thing growing our readership was Amazon Ads."
Playing the game of success
Romantic suspense author Ayden K. Morgan had recently hit a new monthly milestone of $500 in royalties per month, but when she calculated her ad spend her actual earnings were close to zero. After hearing about Cohen's methods through his 5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge, Morgan dove into the material headfirst and saw her royalties jump to a profitable $1,000+ per month. With the method firmly in place, Morgan realized that she needed to change out the covers of some of her backlist titles to make them more effective for advertising.
"By year's end, we'd gone from $500 a month to $15,000 a month in royalties," Morgan says. "I never dreamed that I would learn so much or that I could do so well with what I learned."
Doubling down on what works
Nonfiction finance author Anna Coulling had already reached a high benchmark of success with tens of thousands of books sold and a steady $8,000 per month in royalties. Coulling and her husband had tried other marketing approaches but found the ad spend too high to sustain. When they attempted Cohen's strategy, they quickly saw their royalties rise and doubled down on their efforts using ads on international Amazon Ads sites with campaigns in the United Kingdom.
"We just hit $23,000 a month in royalties," Coulling says. "Bryan's ad methods really opened us up to incredible new possibilities for our books."
A worthwhile challenge
Cohen's been overjoyed to see success stories like these, and learn about how authors have developed hundreds of smaller improvements based on his strategies.
"Advertising can be scary," Cohen says. "But when you focus on only the essential numbers like royalties and ad spend, it becomes a whole lot simpler."
Each quarter, Cohen and his team of other successful authors run the free 5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge. The free event offers live support, hours of engaging video walkthroughs, and encouraging instruction to help authors find success.
*The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey