Banned Book Covers on Amazon KDP Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Banned Book Cover

Does this look like a candidate for banned book covers to you?

Well, it is. Read on to understand why.

If you publish with Amazon KDP, one of the benefits is that you have access to Amazon pay-per-click advertising.

I have been experimenting with this program, and although it is a bit clunky and clearly still in development, I have been relatively happy.

There were a few bugs

One of the biggest problems was that author names were in reverse order. But I notice this glitch has now been rectified.

But I got an odd surprise from Amazon advertising. They told me that my book cover violated their ad guideline policies.

Okay, after exchanging messages with Amazon Ads, they made their point that under their guidelines, the three most commonly rejected cover image themes were firearms and weapons, blood and violence, and provocative images.

Well, had I read the guidelines, which, of course, are not that easy to find, I should have been aware of the problem with my book cover and its suitability for Amazon advertising.

Except that Amazon previously approved my book cover, and it ran quite happily for a few weeks.


But I made a silly mistake, which in part was due to an oddity on the KDP Ad dashboard.

Instead of clicking ‘pause‘ to stop my ad running for a couple of days prior to a free promotion I had planned, I accidentally clicked ‘terminate.

Once you click, there is no way to recover an ad. It is really not a smart option, as there is no recovery or duplicate option.

I had to set up the ad all over again and wait for a new approval.

This was the reply to the exact same ad that had been previously approved three weeks earlier.


What changed?


My book cover is okay one day but banned a few weeks later

Of course, I pointed out this fact in my messages to Amazon.

I asked why my approved ad was now unapproved, but there was no arguing with them.

My cover was not in conformity with Amazon guidelines, etc., etc. That Amazon previously approved it was of no consequence.

End of story, end of the ad. But I discovered the issue of banned book covers on Amazon.

If you are planning to use KDP pay-per-click ads, you might have some ups and downs, surprises, and inconsistencies.

But here’s a little footnote, though.

I had the same book cover running quite happily on Facebook ads. Facebook had no issue with the cover image at all.

On top of that, Facebook ads average out to be about half the cost per click when compared to Amazon.

So I guess, in a strange roundabout way, Amazon saved me some money.


Related reading: Banned Books Due To Social Media And Internet Censorship

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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14 thoughts on “Banned Book Covers on Amazon KDP Pay-Per-Click Advertising

  • Avatar for Jack Eason
    January 20, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Despite the fact that I hate giving away dozens of copies of any of my books, sadly these days it appears to be the only option to get my books noticed. For a brief two hour period yesterday, my latest scifi offering The Magisters: Book One appeared on one of Amazon’s lists at number ninety-nine before the algorithm removed it. Thank god I have your WhizzBuzz promotional ad. No way can Amazon stop that!!!

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      January 20, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      It was all a bit easier a few years ago, wasn’t it, Jack.

      • Avatar for Jack Eason
        January 20, 2020 at 6:20 pm

        It certainly was…

  • Avatar for John Loki
    September 23, 2018 at 8:41 am

    In this case, Amazon probably doesn’t like the gun. Guns are bad, period. Don’t you know that? Remember Steven Spielberg’s digital removal of all guns from his new official cut of “E.T.” a few years ago? It’s the New Puritanism: guns are Nazi–blood is Nazi–and Vikings are *especially* Nazi!

    How long before lack of People of Color on a cover is deemed unacceptable? “At least 71% of humans on your cover must be visibly non-white.”

    Who is making these decisions? The SPLC? The ADL?

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