What is Relevant about Kindle Ads?

I've been using some Kindle advertising recently to see if I could generate some sales.

There are different ways you can use Kindle ads, though they all use targeting on Amazon.
One way is to target groups. For instance, I've been using "Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age" for my ads. Here's my blurb:
He always wanted to fit in but never had the skills. Now he has the moves, confidence, and the opportunity to choose. Will he be a superhero or a villain?

You're limited for the number of characters, so you have to spend a lot of time refining your blurb to say exactly what you want, very concisely. 
Then you choose your target. You can target interests or products. Interests are like, Reading: Fiction: Young Adult. There are not a ton of them to choose from, so it's really hard for me to create a target group that is successful.
The other way is to choose products like books by Bryan Cohen or Brandon Sanderson, or any other author or series that is similar in some way--that an audience for that product would be interested in your book, read the blurb and buy.
On the page of that target group or product, a little picture of my book shows up as a suggested purchase, with the little blurb next to it.
The final step to reach people is that you must name your price, the amount you are willing to pay to have your ad 'clicked'. Others may be out there bidding higher than you and will have their ad placed before you, but I've found for $.60 I get a lot of 'impressions' (the ad being placed on a page.)

Here are the results of three ads I placed for Flypaper Boy.

The first was based on groups, such as that mentioned above. I got:
110K impression
54 clicks at an average of $.49 per click and a total for $26.66 spent
0 sales when I stopped the advertisement.

I saw that was going nowhere, so I stopped it and changed my approach. I picked three different authors and targeted about fifty books.

I only got 35K impression and 11 clicks over four days for a cost of $5.95, but I had 3 sales for $6.20 in profit. Kindle shut down my ad because they said, "It lacked relevance." I realize I wasn't getting hundreds of thousands of view and clicks, but I actually turned a profit.

I beefed up the same ad but added a about 700 more specific books to target. That got me really relevant. I got 233K impressions, 101 clicks and spent $52 to get $16 in sales. (That's about $10 in revenue for a loss of $42.)

What is my take away from these three trials?
The ad that is relevant to Kindle Direct Publishing is one that makes them money fast.

Does KDP Select Still Work?

Kindle Direct Publishing Select - Didn't work for me.

In a nutshell, this is how KDP Select works. You promise to publish your eBook exclusively through Amazon and they promise to make it worth your while. Specifically, you can have five promotional days each ninety day contract period. This may be in the form of Advertised Free days or a Countdown promotion. You can only do one of these during your contract period, so I can't speak to the Countdown promotion, since I chose the other.

The idea with the Free Promotion days is that so many people will download your book for free that you will top the Kindle Free charts and be able to brag about having a "Best Seller". By reaching that level, Kindle takes notice of you and starts promoting you book at other times, and you suddenly become famous. Well, that's how it has worked for others, and in the past. There are sites that say they will promote your book for free on the days you are running your promotion, though most won't guarantee they will run it unless you pay them $5 to $25 to push it.

The first time I ran this free promotion was just over a month after I released, "Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age". I used the two days after Thanksgiving. I had 180 people download it the first day and about 65 the second day. The highest I got on any list was Kindle/.../Adventure/Romance and I got to #5. On Kindle/..../Superhero I only got to #10. After that initial promotion I got three people downloading the book from the Kindle Online Lending Library. Initially you get nothing, but if they read more than 10% of the book, you get your regular royalty payment. I had one person buy at the regular price as well. All this within the week following the promotion.

The second time I ran the promotion was for three days. I got 40, 41 and 5 downloads for those three days, respectively. I had no followup sales. I ran this promotion the three days before Christmas.

I don't know if the days or time of year was bad to run these promotions. Since I only had ninety days to choose from, I went with what I thought would work for me.

So, as far as I can tell, every member of my extended family and the few friends I have have purchased my book, either as an eBook or Print on Demand (POD) through Create Space, and not a lot of others.

I will run one more KDP Select period and try the Kindle Countdown promotion as I'm releasing my next novel, "Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy's Perspective". (Hopefully by the end of January.) We'll see how that works. Hopefully there will be carryover from the free promotion to generate awareness for the new book.