If you’ve been following the world of self-publishing, chances are you’ve heard of Chuck Buda. A western/thriller author and a diligent student of the craft, Chuck’s commitment to his work and his audience is nothing short of exemplary. But beyond his natural talent as a storyteller, one of the elements that played a crucial role in his recent success is his approach to learning and adapting. As a result, he sells more books than every before with Amazon Advertising.
Today, I’m thrilled to introduce a guest post from Chuck himself, detailing his transformative journey after graduating from the Amazon Ads Liftoff course.
Chuck’s results are incredible. He’s selling more books than he ever dreamed possible, and he’s building his readership. All thanks to the power of Amazon Advertising and a little know-how. Check out these results:
Sales Increase: 53%
KENP Increase: 26%
Sales Increase: 1,107% (that’s NOT a typo)
KENP Increase: 1,273% (again, NOT a typo)
Sales Increase: 39%
KENP Increase: 63%
From skepticism to exponential growth, from sticking his head in the sand to mastering the intricacies of Amazon ads, Chuck’s story serves as a beacon of inspiration for all self-published authors. So, without further ado, let’s dive into Chuck’s compelling account of how he skyrocketed his success through strategic investment and relentless dedication.
Selling Books with Amazon Advertising – Chuck Buda
Let me start off by saying that I am a fan of spending money to learn. If there is a course about self-publishing success, then you better believe I have invested in it and tried to make it work. So when Dan Padavona released his course, Amazon Ads Liftoff: 7-Day Challenge to Dominate Amazon, I jumped in with both feet. However, I knew this course would be different because Dan really succeeded using his material. He didn’t try to sell theories and snake oil.
As soon as I had access to the material, I watched the videos in order and took LOTS of notes so I could reference them wherever I was. I didn’t start running ads right away, although I could have. Dan’s modules are detailed enough to plug and play. I wanted to let the concepts sink in for a few days first. Then I re-watched the videos a second time. I broke out my classroom time into watching one module per day so I could maximize my thoughts with each aspect of the learning. I reviewed my notes as I went, adding new nuggets I had missed on the first pass.
The excitement became unbearable. I started to create my ads in KDP using Dan’s guidance. To eliminate the fear, I began small. One ad with a ten-dollar daily budget. Then I repeated the process a day later, testing different types of ads – sponsored product manual targeting, sponsored product automated targeting, creative ads, and brand ads. As I grew more comfortable, I increased the daily budget where I achieved positive results, and I killed the ads that did nothing.
I scored in the first ten days! You read that right. The last ten days of April 2023 netted me more sales and page reads than I had in the entire month of March (or ever). The instant success floored me.
I tempered my enthusiasm and reminded myself it was easy to go from zero to sixty when the starting bar was so low. Then I measured the results for May 2023 over April 2023 and it blew my mind. Again, I understood it wasn’t difficult to grow from nothing to something. But the growth was exponential. Once more, I reminded myself that one month or two months could be an anomaly. Three consecutive months of growth? That would be something to celebrate. After measuring my June 2023 results compared to May 2023, my stats continued to increase. I now had proof that Dan’s mastery was the most important information I had ever digested.
I should include two public service announcements here. Your mileage may vary. And this is NOT a get rich quick scheme. You will have to spend time figuring out the specific keywords and ads that work for YOU. Every book is different. Genres vary. And if you have self-published long enough, then you have already figured out that what works for one person doesn’t automatically convert the same way for the next person.
Using Dan’s course is like adding a trusted advisor to your publishing business. At the end of the day, nobody else is responsible for your results. Isn’t it worth it to spend a handful of minutes each day to find new readers in a gigantic ocean of books? Of course it is.
Once I got comfortable with the process, I developed my own best practices to move forward. Thirty years as an Operations Manager taught me that you have to measure what you wish to improve. Guessing won’t support lasting growth. In order to maximize my results, I implemented a three-step process of measuring and analyzing the ad data. I dig into the reporting daily, weekly and monthly. It might sound redundant, but there is a method to my madness.
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Every morning, I check the key performance indicators of my ads – impressions, CTR, spend, orders, and KENP page reads. Typically, this is a quick glance inspection. Any keywords that have fallen below a 10% ratio get turned off. I also like to check my bids versus the Amazon suggested range (low, avg, high). Sometimes, I might find the market has shifted and my keyword is now drastically underbidding/overbidding. If bids need tweaking, then I do it on the spot. The daily process takes anywhere from five minutes to half an hour at the most.
Each Friday morning, I like to export all the most recent reports onto my computer. After downloading the reports, I analyze the ad progress on a larger scale. Keywords that fall below a 10% ratio are turned off. If a keyword is not generating enough impressions to my liking, then I decide to increase my bid to try to grab more impressions or I choose to turn the keyword off because it is not popular enough to drive attention.
I also spend more time analyzing my bids. I usually change bids depending on my focus for that week. The focus shifts between impressions and orders. This weekly process runs about fifteen minutes to two hours (the timeframe varies according to the number of ads I’m currently running).
At the beginning of the month, I like to measure my progress and compare month-over-month results. Using Book Report, I track the orders, page reads and revenue in an Excel spreadsheet. I built formulas to calculate the percentage increase/decrease for these metrics. I also calculate a profit/loss result simply based on ad spend versus sales revenue (I don’t include cost of book covers, editing, etc. – only ad spend versus sales).
This is important because I want to know when I am spending too much without results. Focusing on one number is easier than trying to figure it out by looking at the dashboard in KDP. Amazon does provide the info in the dashboard, but sometimes I forget to switch the date range and it skews my findings. The monthly process takes five minutes.
Amazon ads have become an integral part of the self-publishing business. I stuck my head in the sand for years, hoping it would fizzle and go away. Several times, I threw good money away trying to run ads without taking the time to understand them.
Dan Padavona figured it out. He bundled insights from years of testing and spending his own money so authors like me could comfortably delve into Amazon ads. I am eternally grateful. On a final note, my July 2023 numbers are on pace to exceed the June 2023 results.
Such a journey, as detailed by Chuck, not only highlights the potential of Amazon Ads for authors, but also emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and application. We’re truly honored to host this invaluable piece of insight from Chuck Buda. To all the self-publishers reading this, may this story inspire you to invest, learn, apply, and soar to new heights in your own unique journey.
Take the Amazon Ads Liftoff challenge and grow your readership now!