VS NOTE: This post of mine first appeared on the Romance University site in Fall 2017. Romance U is a wonderful place with an endless stream of high quality posts on the craft and related aspects of writing by a wide variety of authors. Check them out if you haven't previously! They're @RomanceUniv on Twitter.
I’m a very visual person and I learn better the more pictures there are. Marketing is such an important part of being published, and especially for those of us who are indies, but I absolutely glaze over at about the second sentence of anyone’s attempt to explain cpc vs acpc vs acos…it’s me, not them! I can’t absorb long detailed discussions with math included.
A free tool that has been amazingly useful to me is YASIV, or the Amazon Products Visualization.
This tool is not for directly for doing promo. The data that I use there is presented in the form of book covers, and represents your books’ current “Also Boughts” in Amazon. The tool was developed by Andrei Kashcha, who states on the YASIV Facebook page that he works on this in his spare time. It’s been around for quite a few years but I’ve really come to rely on it this year, to help me build lists of good keywords for running my Amazon Marketing Services’ Sponsored Product Ads. These ads have been my best promo tool in 2017, with one exception I’ll mention later.
All the data YASIV uses is from Amazon but that works for me since roughly 80% of my sales are on Amazon. I do sell ‘wide’, or on various other platforms, but I think by now we all know who the big tuna in the room is.
A note – the AMS ads keywords are not the same keywords you’d use when setting up your book in the Kindle app itself and trying to get it into the right categories. There you’re not allowed to mention other authors as a keyword. For the AMS ads, the technique of related author names as keywords is recommended by people who teach the ins and outs of using the advertising tool and allowed by Amazon. Amazon Also Boughts can be your very best friend for getting discoverability of your book.
The visualization tool I’m discussing today to use as one way to identify new key words for the ads is located at http://www.yasiv.com/ If I type in “Sectors SF Romance” the tool searches Amazon and builds a beautiful networked ‘tree’ of how the search term relates to all the other similar products bought by people who also purchased my books. Today it found 62 relevant products. (The tree changes over time based on current sales.) You can close the list of relevant products given on the right side of the screen and get a more complete view of the network.
|A partial screenshot from 1/23/18, not the day I wrote the original post.|
With your cursor, you can navigate around the entire tree and see how various authors connect to each other. The arrows indicate whether your book directed sales to another book or received sales from that book or author. No big surprise, Anna Hackett’s books drive sales to mine and vice versa, since we both write exciting scifi romance adventure, although hers tend to be more on the steamy side than mine. Sales of my books also have arrows pointing TO Ruby Lionsdrake, Susan Grant, Carol Van Natta and more. It’s reassuring to see this because if my books weren’t hitting in their genre, I’d have a real problem.
Next I look to see where the arrows to and from the other authors’ books indicate sales. They share readers with Ruby Dixon, Luna Hunter and Calista Skye for example. I include those names in my AMS ad keywords because the same readers are enjoying books that lead to books or authors that also send readers off to my books. I may not touch Ruby Dixon’s readers directly for example but if they try Ruby Lionsdrake’s Zakota, they may arrive later at my Danger in the Stars.
And Danger in the Stars had links to some romantic suspense novels that were not science fiction, which was another good insight. My book has a lot of romantic suspense elements so I was pleased to see some crossover with that very well read genre. I don’t think you want too much out –of-genre in your Also Boughts, however. If my scifi romance was showing up in the midst of a group of cozy mysteries, I might have a problem because most readers of cozies aren’t going to be natural customers for what I write. (Hmmm, a cozy mystery on a space station though…..)
Yes, you could go to Amazon itself and look up each author and get the list of Also Boughts from their author page, and then go to each of those authors’ pages and get their Also Boughts and so forth (and I have done that on occasion)….but I like the visual approach best. All the information in one place, illustrated by pretty cover art.
The biggest surprise I found today was a link from my permafree Escape From Zulaire to Lisa Daniels’ Dragons of Telera Collection. I may have to add her as a key word.
When I looked at my ancient Egyptian paranormal romances, I found 150 related products and also that my six novels weren’t in a tight cluster with each other but were scattered more widely in the network. The biggest surprise I had the first time I looked up the Egyptian books on YASIV was that there were arrows going to and from some really big name authors of medieval and even Regency romance. I hadn’t expected that but duh…people who like stories set in other historical times don’t necessarily limit themselves to just one era if the stories are good. So that discovery gave me a much broader set of author names to plug in as key words for my ads. I stuck mostly to the medieval romance authors for keywords, however, as Egypt and the Regency are pretty far apart as genres.
And I was really gratified to see that my one and only paranormal fantasy novel (so far)The Captive Shifter, links to 168 items, including scifi romance, paranormal and fantasy. (Hmm, looks like I’d better get on with the sequel to that!).
|A mere fraction of my books' web from 1/23/18|
So there are some examples of the data or impressions you can mine from a session on YASIV. It’s not something you stare at for hours and hours.
And to be fair I recently read a comment on an author loop from someone who said YASIV was useless for her, so it may not be for everyone. I love it.
The other tool I’ll mention briefly is a new service which uses chatbots on Facebook Messenger (and other platforms I believe) to send its subscribers lists of free and $.99 books. I saw a large spike in downloads of my two permafree books when I had them mentioned on this service, and a nice spike for my last $.99 sale as well. The key here is that the service I used has willing subscribers – they don’t spam anyone. It’s relatively new and I think in book promo we’re all always searching for the next new thing. I believe it’s possible to set up your own chatbot and build a subscriber list, like an e mail newsletter subscriber list, but I haven’t looked into that possibility for myself.
I firmly believe romance readers are people who devour books and are always looking for more good reads so we authors just have to be proactive and innovative in how we spread the word about what we offer.
What new tools have you tried lately?