Repetition! Explanation! AMS Experimentation – 2020 Writing Week 3&4

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

Oh my word, do the lessons about my writing frailties ever end?

Saint Justice edits

I thought a had a bead on my tendency to run long, self-indulge and repeat myself endlessly – but actually all those lessons have come most powerfully since I edited the Last Mayor whole series. I blathered via deep-cut technobabble, repeating events from alternate perspectives and just foggy logic.

That’s all gone now from the Last Mayor. But the Last Mayor edits took place after I wrote Christopher Wren 1. Oh my. Now, with the narrator reading the book and presenting it to me in a whole new way, it becomes super clear when a section is getting boring.†

  • Wren explains things. He explains things again and again. The same things. He uses different metaphors to explain them, stacking atop each other. He explains a bit more. How this works. How that works. The weight of the mental cost of whatever action he takes.
  • I explain things. Forcing plot threads to marry up, when they don’t need to be forced – lots of unnecessary solder applied at the weld line.

I can so easily detect these sections in the audio – which I can’t easily see in the text. I start drumming on the desk and thinking ‘Come on! Move on, please’.

No. There is often another paragraph of reflection to come. Maybe more.

It’s mostly too late to fix these things in the audio. I can get a few re-read, maybe get some paragraphs chopped out whole by the narrator, though it’s going to cost me more. At the same time, I can make changes to the ebook as I see fit.

It’ll be so sleek after this!

I don’t get great readthrough with Wren. There are other potential issues (tiresome hammering of social issues) – but I think this bagginess makes people innately feel like the book was a lecturesome trudge, always getting stuff explained. It doesn’t help that, in the very theme of the book, there is a lecturey style.

People don’t want that. They don’t feel compelled to read the next book – it was too slow and frustrating at times. I don’t want that anymore. I’m stripping out the slowness as much as I can.


I’ve been developing a model for Amazon AMS ads in my head for a little while now. Essentially, my ad budget on AMS is like a puddle of water trying to run to the lowest level. Ad campaigns are channels cut into the sand, leading away. Big bids equals deep channels. They run fast but don’t go very far – the water runs out. Low bids run slower but go further. Lots of channels drains the puddle faster.

So – I appraised all my ads. I picked the keywords that were doing well, converting to sales, and dug those channels deeper. Up to $2 a bid in some cases. Crazy high. But I figured, if they convert well, it’s worth it. At the same time, I turned off ALL my low bid keywords that never converted. Thousands of them. So I basically forced the whole puddle to run through a few deep channels.

Guess what happened? I spent a lot of money, very fast, for very little reward. My ads tapped out by lunchtime at high prices. So, that was a mistake. The budget running out early means I never get a chance to bid for the cheaper clicks that come at the end of the day, when everyone else’s budgets have run out.

So I turn all the cheap keywords back on. I limit everything to 50c max. Now I have many thousands of shallow channels. And the result? Well, it’s too early to really say, but my sales yesterday were as good as any prior day, for a third the price. A third of the impressions, but if they are better targeted and cheaper, maybe it is fine.

We will see. The key I’m thinking now is to lower my bids until the budget rides the edge of not spending completely. At that point, rather than deepening my channels (raising my bids), I just add more ads. More channels. More keywords. Scoop up the cheap keywords on books that are not so popular, scoop a click here or there, all cheap, but together adding up to enough to drain the daily puddle.

Soon the puddle will be a lake.

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