So my debut novel His Hostage has been out for a year and keeping it selling is an ongoing challenge. I’m constantly on the lookout for new book promotion opportunities. A few months ago, I attended a webinar by Nick Stephenson and Mark Dawson about the Amazon Marketing Services, and I’ve been eager to try it out ever since.


Amazon Marketing Services
Click on the image to visit the website!


You can use AMS if your book is published through KDP or KDP Select, and as it happens, His Hostage fits the bill. I ran a two-week campaign just now and I was really happy with the results.




AMS can be a bit tough to figure out from scratch. I found this FREE guidebook by Mark Dawson and Joseph Alexander immensely helpful:


Mark Dawson's Self-Publishing Formula - Learn Amazon Ads
Click on the cover to check it out on Amazon!


This book is super short and to the point. It takes maybe ten minutes to read and it gives step-by-step instructions on how to set up an effective ad campaign. Highly recommended!

Here’s how I created my ad:

1. Select Campaign Type

Amazon offers two kinds of campaign alternatives: Sponsored Products and Product Display ads. I went with Sponsored Products.

2. Select Duration

You can set up a predefined time period for your ad, or you can simply have it running until further notice. I let my ad run without an end date. It gave better leeway for experimenting, and this way you can pause or kill the ad anytime you want.

3. Name Your Budget

Amazon wants to know how much you’re prepared to spend per day (I chose the minimum amount: 1 USD per day), and how much you’re willing to pay per click. The ad runs on cost-per-click basis, which is great. If no one clicks on your ad, Amazon essentially showcases your book for free.

I chose 0.25 USD as my initial CPC (Cost Per Click), but two days later I lowered it to 0.15 because this seemed to work well enough. You can go as low as 0.02 for your CPC, but this reduces the chance of your ad getting displayed.

If you get too many clicks—my maximum daily budget was 1 USD—Amazon pauses the ad once the daily budget has been reached, and restarts it the next day. My ad actually ran out of budget every day and Amazon kept sending me suggestions to increase it, but I happily ignored it.


Budget limit warning
Thanks, but I don’t care. XD


4. Enter Keywords and Your Ad Text

In order to show the ad to the right audience, you can enter up to 1,000 keywords. You can either let Amazon choose keywords for you (Automatic Targeting) or you can enter your own keywords manually (Manual Targeting). I chose to enter my own keywords.

I have to say, coming up with 1,000 keywords is a pretty tall order. Even with help from a friend I only managed to scrape together about 400. But you can keep adding keywords to your campaign anytime, so you don’t have to get it right on the first try. You can change your keywords, their CPC, and your daily budget whenever you want. I love how flexible this system is. The only thing you can’t change after the ad goes live is the 150-character advertisement text you need to enter. So think of a good slogan because this is the one thing that sticks after you publish the ad.

As for what to use as keywords…I had a couple of genre-related keywords such as “erotic thriller” and “romance”, but what worked the best for me were the names of popular authors who write the same genre. So I ended up digging through Amazon, trying to find every author who writes steamy contemporary bad boy romance, and I used their names as keywords. Some of their book titles also made great keywords.




My sales figures improved significantly during the campaign, as evidenced by His Hostage‘s bestseller ranking:


Bestseller ranking report


This two-week experiment cost me only about 15 USD and the ad definitely made profit. My ad received over 46,000 impressions, meaning it was shown this many times to Amazon customers. That’s pretty impressive, I think. Only a tiny fraction of these people actually clicked on the ad and even fewer bought the book, but that doesn’t matter because I also value visibility. Even if people don’t buy my book, at least they now know it exists.

If my ad had kept working like a charm, I would have kept it running, but the sales died down after two weeks. So I terminated my ad, but I will definitely try this again. I found AMS affordable, effective, and easy to use once you get the hang of it.




I have this dreadful habit of checking my sales dashboard a million times a day. I know this is what senior authors say you shouldn’t do because it’s just a waste of time. Well, I haven’t grown out of it yet…

AMS ads require monitoring and optimizing in order to make them profitable. It’s not a good idea to just set up something and leave it running for months without supervision. But I found tweaking my AMS ad and following how well my keywords are doing even more addictive than the sales dashboard checking. I could play with this damn thing all day, looking for new keywords and adding them and seeing how many hits, clicks and sales they generate.

So AMS is bad for my attention span and time management. They have made book promotion fun and addictive to a micromanaging nutcase like me, but I have other things to do!

Such as writing books.


Author's job: Write stuff.


Have you tried AMS or are you planning to? What book promotion services have you used? Is there something you would recommend to your fellow indies? Let me know in the comments!



  1. Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve heard quite a few good stories about Amazon ads. What price did you have your book up for while you were advertising?

    1. Yay, thanks for dropping by! 🙂 Good point! I forgot to mention that. My book was regular price: 2.99 USD. I imagine the results could be even better when putting the book on discount during the campaign, but it’s not a requirement.

  2. This is great information, Anna! I’ve seen a few posts about this process and not a single one of them mentioned the amount of keywords available – that’s amazing and like you said, a very tall order! I think I’ll have to do a little research, before starting LOL

    This is also similar to the way a Goodreads ad campaign is set up, so it should be a familiar process. In my experience, Goodreads is for exposure only – it doesn’t generate any sales, and the same amount of books readers added to their TBR list 2 years ago, is the same that are still on those TBR lists, not getting read. However, they have like a $50 budget minimum, so in the end, I spent more for the Goodreads campaign with no profit, than you did for AMS with a profit! 😀 AMS: 1, GR: 0

    I’m sure it has a lot to do with the book &/or price, too. Many authors recommend running Facebook ads only if your book is currently on sale or free – I would assume the same could be said for AMS and GR ads, as well. The results are undoubtedly better than a regularly priced novel, but you might run out of your budget a lot faster, thus shortening your campaign and losing out on exposure opportunities. I guess we just have to try either way and discover which we like best.

    Thanks for the link to Mark Dawson’s book, I downloaded it real quick-like! 🙂

    1. Thanks, A.C.! 🙂 I’m super happy the post was helpful. Yeah, 1,000 keywords are bloody hard to come up with; I’ve managed to find about 660 now. But you can start a campaign with 50 keywords and keep adding new ones as you find more. Let me know if you want help in finding keywords! I’m getting pretty good at it.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Goodreads ads! That’s pretty expensive indeed. I would have thought it pays off to advertise on GR because it’s a reading-oriented community, but apparently not.

      I agree, a lot of depends on the book in question as well as its price. We all just have to run experiments and see what works best. 🙂 Mark Dawson’s guidebook is a gem! It saved me from so much confusion and guesswork.

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