How important are Amazon ads to being successful as a writer on Kindle?

I recently read Brandon Sanderson’s book [(long!) post](https://www.brandonsanderson.com/some-faqs-you-might-enjoy/) on what it’s like to be a writer today and why he raised money on Kickstarter, including this that caught my eye: >The Revolution of e-books, spearheaded by Amazon paying a whopping 70% royalty to independent authors publishing on its platform, was huge. (For reference, traditional publishing currently pays 17.5% for those same eBooks.) This, combined with authors having much more power to choose what they want to do with said books, including leaving when they want, created an extremely author-friendly boom. who legitimately has done great things. Smaller voices have a much bigger chance, the New York Guardians have lost some of their grip, and there is a sense of democratization in publishing that has never existed before. > >At least there used to be. > >You see, since Amazon controls a large part of the market, this gives them a lot of control. For example, to get a good royalty, independent authors are forced to sell their e-books below a maximum price chosen by Amazon. (And that maximum price hasn’t changed in the last twelve years, despite inflation.) The biggest problem, however, is how Amazon changed its advertising game: targeting independent authors with a sort of “advertise to sell” model. > > You see, Amazon wasn’t making as much money as it needed/wanted from those books, in part because it insisted on keeping prices low to maintain market share. Partly because he had promised Kindle buyers that this was his perk: cheap e-books. But he didn’t want to change his famous 70% royalty. Otherwise it would look bad for freelance authors. > >So instead, it changed its recommendation algorithm and page layout. Organically moved recommended books down and added ad slots on most book pages (particularly popular ones). These slots were available for purchase by independent authors. > >If you go to the *Way of Kings* page on Amazon, you’ll find twelve ads between the top of the page and the reviews section. Nine of these are for independent authors trying to sell their books to fans of the Stormlight Archive. The other three are ads for Amazon products other than books. This is better than it was when Amazon first implemented this “feature” five or six years ago. Once I counted even more ads, and you had to go all the way to the bottom to find the traditional “books related to this” list. (This is the organically generated recommended book list, where you can find other titles rated highly by the book’s readers.) > >**These days, according to some of my independent author friends, you have to spend a lot to sell on Amazon.** Everyone’s experience is not the same, but I hear this over and over again. To succeed as a freelance author, you must pay for expensive advertising on the same website that sells your books. I have freelance author friends who are spending a good chunk of their income on these ads, and if they don’t, their sales dwindle. Amazon has effectively created a tax where independent authors pay a portion of that glorious 70% royalty back to Amazon. (And this is for the authors who are lucky enough to be able to buy those ad slots, and therefore have the opportunity to sell them.) (Emphasis added). My question to all of you is, how important is Amazon (or Facebook or Google)? ads for sale of your books in the Kindle store today? Can you realistically expect your work to be organically found in search in any meaningful way (whether on Amazon or elsewhere) if you don’t advertise? Thank you for any help you can provide us!

I recently read Brandon Sanderson’s book [(long!) post](https://www.brandonsanderson.com/some-faqs-you-might-enjoy/) on what it’s like to be a writer today and why he raised money on Kickstarter, including this that caught my eye: >The Revolution of e-books, spearheaded by Amazon paying a whopping 70% royalty to independent authors publishing on its platform, was huge. (For reference, traditional publishing currently pays 17.5% for those same eBooks.) This, combined with authors having much more power to choose what they want to do with said books, including leaving when they want, created an extremely author-friendly boom. who legitimately has done great things. Smaller voices have a much bigger chance, the New York Guardians have lost some of their grip, and there is a sense of democratization in publishing that has never existed before. > >At least there used to be. > >You see, since Amazon controls a large part of the market, this gives them a lot of control. For example, to get a good royalty, independent authors are forced to sell their e-books below a maximum price chosen by Amazon. (And that maximum price hasn’t changed in the last twelve years, despite inflation.) The biggest problem, however, is how Amazon changed its advertising game: targeting independent authors with a sort of “advertise to sell” model. > > You see, Amazon wasn’t making as much money as it needed/wanted from those books, in part because it insisted on keeping prices low to maintain market share. Partly because he had promised Kindle buyers that this was his perk: cheap e-books. But he didn’t want to change his famous 70% royalty. Otherwise it would look bad for freelance authors. > >So instead, it changed its recommendation algorithm and page layout. Organically moved recommended books down and added ad slots on most book pages (particularly popular ones). These slots were available for purchase by independent authors. > >If you go to the *Way of Kings* page on Amazon, you’ll find twelve ads between the top of the page and the reviews section. Nine of these are for independent authors trying to sell their books to fans of the Stormlight Archive. The other three are ads for Amazon products other than books. This is better than it was when Amazon first implemented this “feature” five or six years ago. Once I counted even more ads, and you had to go all the way to the bottom to find the traditional “books related to this” list. (This is the organically generated recommended book list, where you can find other titles rated highly by the book’s readers.) > >**These days, according to some of my independent author friends, you have to spend a lot to sell on Amazon.** Everyone’s experience is not the same, but I hear this over and over again. To succeed as a freelance author, you must pay for expensive advertising on the same website that sells your books. I have freelance author friends who are spending a good chunk of their income on these ads, and if they don’t, their sales dwindle. Amazon has effectively created a tax where independent authors pay a portion of that glorious 70% royalty back to Amazon. (And this is for the authors who are lucky enough to be able to buy those ad slots, and therefore have the opportunity to sell them.) (Emphasis added). My question to all of you is, how important is Amazon (or Facebook or Google)? ads for sale of your books in the Kindle store today? Can you realistically expect your work to be organically found in search in any meaningful way (whether on Amazon or elsewhere) if you don’t advertise? Thank you for any help you can provide us!

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