Are you curious about a half-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.
September 2017 started wonderfully, from the best day in my life. The 1st of September was the last day of my wife’s day job. She sent me a message at that day:
You made up for all my f*ing childhood.
You can only guess how much that meant to me. I was high with joy for the rest of the day, calling like crazy to my friends and family and telling them how happy I was.
At the beginning of the month, I was busy with collecting the latest version of my books’ manuscripts. I updated them all, removing expired links, etc. And I added at the end of each a mention about my coaching services. Then I uploaded the manuscripts on Amazon.
A Live EventIn the middle of the month, I attended The Progress Fairs in Warsaw, a live event focused around personal development. I decided to go there and just feel the pulse of the industry in Poland. I got there at Friday, right after work. The first evening was quite nice. I chatted for an hour with a small publisher, talking about the publishing business in Poland and worldwide. He was fascinated by my self-publishing story; I was curious about the state of things in the Polish market.
We both were entrepreneurial spirits, so he had already thought about possibilities for future cooperation. This gave me the idea that I have something to offer to Polish authors. I know only one person more qualified than me to give the advice on publishing in the USA, and he isn’t interested in the Polish market as far as I know. I spent the rest of the Fairs talking with authors and inquiring if they would be interested in being published in the USA. I collected several business cards.
But mostly I was extremely busy with getting my AMS business off the ground. After the landing page was ready, I started to get a few inquiries a week about my service.
If you have little to no idea about SEO, join your forces with someone who has. Those few prospects each week came from Dave Chesson’s free course about AMS ads. I’m sure he get dozens, if not hundreds, of leads to his course every week from Google, because he knows how to do that.
So the process of onboarding new clients and running their ads had been solidifying.
At the beginning of the month, I made calculations (or rather guesstimations) of my few existing clients’ ads and my share in their profit. By the way, all of them had some profit.
When a new client signed up via a landing page, I reviewed his/her book(s) and sent them an email back with my recommendations on how to improve their books’ pages. There is little to no sense in bringing paid traffic to a page if it doesn’t convert. I didn’t start cooperation with them till I was happy with their book pages.
Then, usually, a frantic email exchange happened. Authors wanted more guidelines, better guidelines, how-to advice and asked about my prices. I patiently replied to everything they sent my way. I lost quite a few prospective clients at this stage, mostly due to my remuneration model, which is admittedly tricky. I’m paid from my ads’ profits, and it seems like Amazon has done everything in their might so authors could not exactly calculate their profits.
Then goes the starting ads phase. An author has to deliver me ad blurbs for their book and create an editor’s account for me. At the beginning, I worked exclusively with authors who already ran at least a few campaigns before. Later on, I discovered that if they had no previous ads, I could not start the first ad from my editor’s account.
Creating ads was easy. I already had some keyword templates from advertising my books. It came to lots of clicking, copying and pasting.
Once the ads were running, I needed to track them. Again, Amazon makes it insanely hard. Again, thanks to experience with my ads, I knew what to do. Every day, I was visiting my clients’ accounts and downloading their data to the file. Then I uploaded the data into a Google sheet.
The whole business process finished at the beginning of a new month when I was doing profitability calculations.
Luckily for me, I have two teenage sons. I hired them to help me run the AMS shop. One is specialized in creating ads, the other is in charge of data tracking.
It took some tweaking, but in the end I create only one campaign for each book and then send the order for more to my younger son. I tell him which keyword templates to use for which book and how high the bids should be. In fact, I don’t tell him, but send all those details over Messenger.
I cooperate similarly with my elder son. He receives CSV files with data into his email inbox, processes them in Excel and copy-pastes into Google sheets. I need only to visit my clients’ accounts once a day, download the data and send them to my son.
The only things I need to do are corresponding with authors, downloading the ads data and making monthly summaries.
Employees or not, the September was busy. I exchanged dozens of emails with authors, had a few introductory calls and recruited 6 authors from all of this hustle. I was constantly assessing book pages, creating ads, replying to emails, scheduling calls, fixing book pages, sharing best practices about book descriptions and editorial reviews, teaching my sons, starting more ads, downloading data, analyzing data and so on.
I didn’t like all of this. I was more than happy to outsource some mundane tasks to my sons. I liked to talk with various authors. But I loved the most that I was resurrecting books.
The business started rolling in. I was referred to a man with a good business book, but a dead one. We had mutual friends, so he put enough trust in me to give me his password. I revamped his book page. I rewrote the description, formatted it using HTML tags, added and formatted editorial reviews, created an AMS account and sent an editor’s invitation to my account. Only then did I start the first ad campaign and resurrect his book.
The book sold well in the first week, then not so well. The usual story. Amazon didn’t love it very much, so didn’t give it a lot of impressions. But when I started my work on the book, it had a rank about #800,000. Now, it’s below #400,000 and since September, it has been consistently selling 10 to 20 copies a month.
Books & Ads Stories
I would say this is the standard story, if there is any “standard” with AMS. I got other stories in September.
I took a romance author with 5 books. I advertised his books for a few days and burned $40. We didn’t sell even a single copy. The author swore he didn’t see any improvement in his KENPs. That was shocking. My ads have usually about 100% return on investment. Nothing similar had ever happened to my ads before… nor afterwards. But I haven’t had a romance author since then. We finished cooperation after this fiasco.
I advertised children’s books for a few weeks. In the end, they about broke even. I offered to return the author’s $20 that he lost on ads, according to my calculations. He said to give it to charity. I did.
I took a book of my friend. An ultra-thin workbook with pretty indistinct cover. I told him what to change the description, but he was very slow with that. The ads started working before he did any changes.
That was a huge mistake. For some reason, Amazon loved his book with 19 reviews. I had never seen such a torrent of impressions in any book I had ever advertised. We paid for 160 clicks, and there was not a single sale because a book page didn’t convert this whole traffic into a single sale.
When we finally fixed the book page, it was too late. But at the end of the month, the book broke even. In December, it earned almost $40 from my ads. Amazon still loves it.
Buck Books Promo
But all the hustle with AMS ads didn’t change the fact that I was still writing. The usual stuff: Quora answers, income reports, Medium articles, email broadcasts and a novel on Sundays. I wrote over 34,000 words in September 2017.
I spent the last weekend of September in Poznan on a get-together organized by my employer. Well, it was time off the day job, but not my business. I remember discussing for over half an hour with an Indian author interested in my services on Saturday evening.
I enjoyed the trip and the time just for myself, but my heart was no longer with this company. My heart was committed into my business.
The Income Report Breakdown
Amazon royalties: €1236.54 ($1446.75)
CreateSpace royalties: €856.61 ($1002.23)
Coach.me fees: $362.68
Draft2Digital royalties: $17.58
Audiobooks royalties: $98.34
PWIW personal coaching: $167.87
AMS service remuneration: $204.96
Affiliate commissions: $205.17
$29, Aweber fee
$20, InstaFreebie fee
$265, Business on Purpose mastermind
$138.37, royalties split with co-author
$43.22, my editor’s share in profits
$607.84, Amazon ads
$89, RAs’ (RAs = Real Assistants; my sons 😉 ) remuneration
$7, business cards for a live event
Net Result: $2195.05