One of the keys to promotion is building an email list of fans who like your books. This is a non-negotiable in terms of book marketing, but building that list often takes a long time!
One way to move the needle quickly in terms of sales and ranking is by using paid promotion sites that have lists of avid readers who might be interested in your book.
This is a short-term tactic, not a long-term strategy so should be used in conjunction with other marketing.
Note: This is NOT the same as ‘buying email lists' which is a scam – don't do that!
Who should consider paid promotion?
It's worth using paid promotion if:
- You have a book with a great cover and great reviews. The social proof of reviews is critical for people to trust the buy process.
- You can reduce the price easily and quickly for a short period – which means you need access to the ‘back end' of the publishing process, which generally means it's open to indie authors only
- You have more than one book, and it's definitely worth putting the first of the series on special
- You have a budget for promotion, as you may not make back what you spend – results vary.
What is BookBub and how does it work?
BookBub is a free service for readers to get a daily email with curated books on special – either free or reduced. As a reader, you can enter your email and then choose the categories you're interested in. It's quick and easy to sign up.
On the other end of the process, they also offer a paid promotion service to authors where you can advertise to this list.
I like the fact that the listing is curated, so not all books are accepted, only the ones with good reviews. You can't automatically pay, they have to check your book out first. This is a great idea because it means their list stays happy and keeps buying. An email list becomes unresponsive if you send out stuff they don't want.
Yes, their prices are high and change monthly BUT you have to weigh up the up-front price over potential book sales and the impact on your rankings and the algorithm. Exact outcome is hard to show over the long-term, but my results are below.
OK, first up – any results will vary depending on an incredible number of factors, so don't assume my results will be yours if you try this route. My husband is a statistician and he has also reminded me that this is anecdotal evidence only, and not statistically significant, so don't apply my results to your possible situation.
Also, we all know that the algorithms at Amazon and other sites change regularly and what worked this week might well not work next week!
Plus, these sites change a lot, prices change monthly and new players emerge. So take this as one example in a snapshot of time!
Pentecost is an action-adventure thriller, the first in my ARKANE series. You can read more here. It has 92 reviews with 4 star average on Amazon.com, 31 reviews with 4 star average on Amazon.co.uk and 215 reviews on Goodreads fed to Kobo with 4 star average. So it was in a good position before the promotion and there are 2 other books now available, Prophecy and Exodus. Pentecost is also available in print.
* BookBub 1 day promotion for Pentecost, An ARKANE Thriller (Book 1). Cost ~$200.
* I went for the Religious & Inspirational list instead of the Thriller list because this series often ranks well in that category anyway. Even though the books are not religious, they are based on Biblical and supernatural themes. It's a smaller list than the Thriller one and therefore is much cheaper, but doesn't go to as many people.
* Reduced price from $2.99 to 99c on Amazon and Kobo (as those are the sites it's easiest for me to change prices quickly on). I decided to use a price instead of going free because I wanted to actually make some money and the algorithms prefer paid books these days.
Amazon.com: #41,304 in Kindle Store
Amazon.co.uk: #6023 Paid in Kindle store, #26 in Religious Fiction
Kobo: #908 in Religious Fiction & Literature
Day of the Promotion
* Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk: 717 at 99c and 30% royalty = $215.10 (Pentecost only)
* Sales of Prophecy and Exodus were also up – ~50% more, so ~45 copies at $4.99 = $157.18 (70% royalty)
* Kobo: 10 @ 99c = $3 (hmm … )
Approximate income: $375.28
Highest ranking reached:
Amazon.com: #236 in Kindle Store, #3 in Kindle – Religious Fiction, #3 in Genre Fiction -> Religious & Inspirational, #2 in Christian/Literature & Fiction/ Mystery. #14 in Movers & Shakers.
Amazon.co.uk: #2658 in Kindle Store, #11 in Religious Fiction,
Kobo: #431 in Religious Fiction
Stats a week after the promotion:
Amazon.com: #7532 in Kindle Store, #26 in Christian/Literature & Fiction/Mystery
Amazon.co.uk: #12,637 Paid in Kindle store, #44 in Religious Fiction
Kobo: #260 in Religious Fiction & Literature
The books are slowly dropping, but the rankings have definitely been impacted over the last week.
Was it worth it?
Yes, it was definitely worth it, and I will certainly use the service again but I would probably go for the Thriller listing instead in order to reach more people and attempt a higher place on the charts. The Religious & Inspirational list was possibly not the best as many people would be looking for the more Christian end of the reading scale.
In terms of ranking and visibility, it was definitely great for moving Pentecost back up the charts. I made my money back, which was great, but the spike in the data was more important in the longer term.
I have had similar results from a paid promotion before when I used Pixel of Ink who are no longer doing this service. New sites also spring up all the time, so keep an eye out for opportunities.
Have you used paid promotion for your book? Would you consider it? I'd love to know your thoughts so please leave a comment below.
Top image: Bigstock price tags