Tarzan and the quicksand of advertising

Recently, I received an email from my publisher, KDP, inviting me to a webinar on how to promote my most recent novel, “My Grave Is Deep,” and I were so inclined, the two previous books in the Noah Greene series, “Tears in the Rain” and “Tears of God.”

A nice woman led a throng of us writers not named John Grisham, Lee Child or George R.R. Martin, through what only can be described as the swamp of KDP advertising/marketing platform. I say swamp not in a derogatory way. I only mean that if you venture in, you’re likely to get sucked under in the quicksand of details on what it takes to set up a KDP ad campaign.

There are keywords to come up with, bids to make on those keywords to be competitive with other keyword bidders, metrics, dashboards and advertising cost to books bought ratio.

By the time she was finished, I’d gone under, like the nasty villains (is there any other kind?) in Tarzan and the Amazons, in which a bloated Johnny Weissmuller looks as if he swallowed an actual Amazon.

Of course, like Kirkus, which favorably reviewed “My Grave Is Deep” and the New York Review of Books, which saw that favorable review, KDP wants money for me to do, um, ALL THE FREAKIN’ WORK!

I can understand Kirkus and NYRB because they aren’t the publishers.

But KDP IS the publisher and, as such, takes a healthy cut of every book that gets bought. So healthy that if my last name was Grisham, KDP would look like Tarzan in the aforementioned film.

Sure, KDP built the advertising tools, dense though they are, but to ask an author to pay for the right to advertise a book they’re already making money on is taking a second, third and fourth bite of the Amazon … uh, apple.

I can set a budget for the ad campaign and decide how much my keyword bids are. (As a side note, KDP recommends at least 100 keywords for the campaign so that when readers do a search they can see your ad. 100? Beyond “mystery” and “please” and “buy” I’m having a hard time coming up with 10 keywords. “Starving?” “Broke?”) Based on sales, my budget for a one-month campaign would be about, $1.

Truth is, I’ve calculated how many books I’d need to sell to afford Kirkus, NYRB and KDP ads and it comes out to about 6 million.

The next sound you hear is me yelling “Tarzan! Throw me a vine!”

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