Blog to Book Project — Amazon Sponsored Brands

In 2020, Amazon opened up the world of sponsored brands to authors. Using this feature, authors can feature up to five similar books in a cost-per-click (CPC) ad. If a viewer clicks on the ad, they will be taken to a custom landing page. Currently, this is only open to U.S. authors, but eventually, I’m sure it will be available to authors in other countries that Amazon services.

From your KDP bookshelf, choose Promote and Advertise. Then choose the Amazon.com marketplace under Run an Ad Campaign. To begin, choose Sponsored Brands from the campaign types.

You’ll need to add a credit card to launch the campaign, otherwise you can save it as a draft. Create a campaign name, something memorable such as Survival Guide Ad or Writers Books Ad. Next choose a start and end date. Set your budget. A lifetime budget is only available for ads with an end date. If you have used more than one pen name, you’ll be able to choose here which one you would like to highlight in the ad as well. 

Next you’ll choose the books you’d like to highlight with this ad campaign. You can choose books in the same series or books that are written in the same genre.

You’ll have a chance to review how the custom landing page will look. Your books will be listed across the top, and one listing will be expanded below them. 

If you aren’t happy with the book order, you can change that in the next section Creative. Add an author photo or your brand logo if you have one. The image should be at least 300 x 300 pixels and smaller than 1 MB. Use PNG, JPEG or GIF. The toggle Product Optimization lets Amazon automatically replace the books you’ve selected with different ones if they are more relevant to a user’s search. Create a headline that summarizes what you are presenting like Guides to make your move to Mexico easier or Aids designed to help you format your book today. Amazon suggests using sentence case rather than all capital letters and avoiding extra punctuation like !!!!.

You can choose from Keyword or Product targeting, whichever you believe will best get your books in front of your target audience. You can also add negative keywords or products to exclude irrelevant terms. 

Finally, if you’ve already entered the billing information, then you can submit everything for review. 

Assignment: Create a Sponsored Brand ad campaign. 

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Blog to Book Project — Cover Creator for Print Books

Creating a print book cover is a bit more complicated than an eBook cover. The bar code, spine text, and resolution needs to be just so. Kindle Direct Publishing has a handy little app to help you out here. 

Launch the Cover Creator when prompted after you have uploaded your manuscript on the Content Page. The components are slightly different for print and ebooks, so in this section, I’ll just be talking about the steps for creating a cover for a print book. 

If you have a pdf cover already to upload, you’ll need to make sure you have a space for the bar code. If you want the spine of your book to have the title and author name, your book must be more than 100 pages. 

Next you’ll be prompted to choose an image from the gallery, upload a JPG, PNG or GIF image from your computer, or skip this step if you don’t have an image you want to use.  Make sure the image you choose is public domain or you have permission to use it so as not to violate copyright laws. 

After you’ve uploaded or choosen an image, Cover Creator generates a variety of potential cover designs. Since the program uses the book details including author, title, subtitle and ISBN, the image that you upload should not have any of these items on it. If you don’t have an image you want to use, you can choose from several other options with solid colors or background designs.

If you accidently chose the wrong image or if you get a poor resolution notification, you’ll have a chance to change the image. Your image should be 300 pixels per inch (DPI) at the size you want it to appear on your cover. Sometimes it’s just a matter of resizing the picture until it reaches the acceptable DPI. 

Choose the color scheme you would like to use. You can choose from already paired colors or pick your own. Then, select a layout for the print part of the cover. Finally choose a font and select the orange “Preview” button. 

Make sure to preview your cover to ensure the text is readable and the image looks good. The information on the back cover could be About the Author or a blurb about the content of the book or both. It’s up to you. You can even leave it blank. Just don’t add anyinformation and in final version the prompt section will disappear.

If you like how everything looks, you can hit “Save & Submit.” If you don’t, then you can “Start Over.” If you want to change your image, click on it and you’ll get the option to choose another image or change its size, position or rotation. 

There you have it! Now you’ll see a checkmark with “Cover uploaded successfully” next to the thumbnail of your finished cover. 

Assignment: Use Cover Creator or upload your print book cover. 

Blog to Book Project–Examining the Drawbacks to Self-Publishing on Amazon

There are a number of excellent self-publishing platforms out there, but Amazon is by far the largest. Although no one knows for sure, many experts estimate that there are currently 6 million eBooks and a total of 48.5 million books available for sale on Amazon. Amazon has cornered the market on approximately 40% of the self-published eBook market. This overreading vastness can be both a blessing and a bane.

Amazon has made it easy to self-publish. However, Amazon also sets the price you can sell at. If you notice, most eBooks listed on Amazon that are not written by authors like Toni Morrison or Stephen King are under $5. As an author, you get only pennies for books read through KOLL and Kindle Unlimited.

On the other hand, forcing you to keep your eBook price low can work to your advantage. As an unknown author, readers may be more apt to take a chance on your book at bargain prices than they would if they had to shell out more than $10 to get their hands on it.

Print book prices are also set by Amazon. You can not offer your book for a price lower than what Amazon decrees, which sometimes prices your book far outside of the average person’s book budget. Which in turn, encourages readers to enroll in Kindle Unlimited where they can read an unlimited number of books for a set price while you get shafted on royalties.

With the sheer number of books that are available on Amazon, your contribution to the literary world may get overlooked. Amazon offers to help you out through paid advertisements, but it may not be worth the money you invest in them, especially if you are just starting out. You’d do better to devote more time on marketing strategies outside of Amazon even if you are redirecting potential readers to your book listing on Amazon. We’ll talk about ways you can do that in the course too.

As you can see, publishing on Amazon can be a writer’s dream-come-true or nightmare.

Blog to Book Project — Kindle Previewer

Before you publish your print book on Amazon, you must check it via Kindle Previewer. This section is under the Paperback (or eBook) Content tab after the Book Cover section.

Kindle will let you know if you have formatting errors and you’ll need to fix them before it can be published. Common problems are bleed issues (text or image goes beyond the margin) or low resolution images. If you have a hyperlink, it won’t appear in the print book.

Check every single page including the cover before approving. You can also download a PDF version if that works better for you. If there is something that you need to fix, do so, then upload the corrected manuscript and check it again. You need to approve the print preview before moving on to the next step. 

The Kindle Previewer for ebooks can be downloaded if you have Microsoft Windows 7 or OSX v10.9 or later and a 1.2 GHz processor, minimum 4 GB RAM, and a screen resolution of 1024 X 768. Otherwise, you can use the online version. 

Ebook checking is optional, but definitely something you should do. Since ebooks have a more fluid layout, you may not see exactly what a reader sees in the Previewer but it will give you a good idea.

You can preview by device type, orientation and font size just like you did with Cover Creator. You can look at specific elements like the tables, images, etc with the downloaded version. You can, and should, take the time to look over your book from end to end.

Remember the adage, you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well, having your book formatted correctly is what will make the first impression to your reader. So take advantage of this option to look things over just one more time before publication. 

Assignment: Use Kindle Previewer to check your ebook and print book. Make any changes, unload the corrected manuscript, and check it again.