Paid Promotional Sites
One way to get a quick sales boost is to discount your book for a few days and run a promotion on several bargian book sites. These sites, such as Bookbub and Just Kindle Books, have large mailing lists of avid readers looking for bagain-priced books. The sites reach readers through email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and through featued listings on the sites themselves.
To make the most of your discount promotion, you should discount the book for several days, and run promos through several of the sites listed below for the first few days. The idea is to drive sales and to drive up your book’s sales rank during the first few days of the promotion.
As your sales rank increases, your book becomes visible to Amazon readers who are simply browsing through popular titles in your genre. If your promotion is successful, you’ll get a number of organic sales toward the end of your discount period from readers who never saw your ads but did see your book rise into Amazon’s list of category bestsellers.
To be clear here, your book does not have to rise into the Amazon top 100 to be seen. Your book may top out at the number 5000 overall bestseller, but it may reach the top ten or twenty in its category. For example, if your book is a hardboiled crime thriller or a Regency romance, and it rises to the top twenty in its category, the readers who see it will be exactly the readers you want to attract. These are the ones who can become longterm fans.
When you run a free or $0.99 promotion, you are virtually guaranteed to lose money in the short term. This is especially true for new authors. Discount promotions help expose your books to new readers. If those readers like your work, they’ll give you good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, making future readers more likely to give your work a chance.
If the book you’re promoting has links in the back to other books you’ve written, readers may pay full price for some of those other works.
Remember, the purpose of discount promotions is to reach new readers. It’s not a short-term money maker, it’s a long-term investment.
KDP Select and Countdown Deals
If your book is in KDP Select, you should use a Kindle Countdown Deal rather than just lowering the cost of your book when you run a discount promo. For most promos, you’ll want to reduce your book to free or $0.99. Typically, when you set your price to $0.99, Amazon lowers your royalty from 70% to 35%. This means you’ll get only $0.35 for each sale.
If you’re in KDP Select and you temporarily set your price to $0.99 on a countdown deal, you’ll still receive a 70% royalty. This doubles your sales income and helps offset the cost of the promotion.
Keep in mind that KDP Select allows you to run one countdown deal every 90 days, and these deals can last up to seven days. The promo sites listed below typically have calendars showing which days are available for promotions. You’ll want to check a number of sites to see which days are open, then book those days, then set your Countdown deal to run during those days.
What to Look For in a Promo Site
The first thing you should look for is who the site is aimed at. If the site’s homepage is aimed at authors, it’s probably not going to work out. The homepage should be aimed at readers, with a list of free and discount titles.
Look at the types of books listed. Some promo sites lean heavily toward romance or thrillers. See if your book fits in with what’s listed.
The next thing to look at is the size of the site’s mailing list for your genre. If the site boasts a hundred thousand subscribers, but only a thousand of them subscribe to your genre, you won’t get much benefit.
After checking subscriber numbers, check the site’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to see if they really have as many followers as they say. While you’re there, make sure the posts look professional and are getting some engagement.
Click through on some of the site’s featured deals and check the books’ Amazon sales rank. Do this especially for books similar to yours. If the sales rank is worse than 100,000 on the day of or day after a promotion, it hasn’t been very effective. The lower the sales rank, the better the promotion is working. (Of course, you have to take into account the product itself. If it looks awful, no amount of promotion will sell it.)
If all looks good, check the prices and dates available.
As mentioned above, paid promotional sites work well if you keep you book free or discounted for a period of several days. They work even better when you’re promoting the first book in a series. Readers who get hooked on book one of a series will often pay for subsequent books.
If you don’t have a series but you do have other titles, be sure so link to your other titles in the back of the book you’re promoting.
Regardless of what book you’re promoting or whether you have other titles to sell, you should stack your book promotions to increase your Amazon sales rank, which increases your book’s visibility and leads to add-on sales or downloads.
- You promote your book through more than one of the sources listed below.
- You run your promotion through services with smaller audiences on the first day.
- Promote through services with bigger audiences on the second day.
- Promote through services with the largest audiences on the third day.
For example, you may decide to promote through two or three small players on day one, four or five bigger players on day two, and two or three of the biggest promo sites on day three.
Because Amazon’s sales rank is cumulative, moving a lot of copies over several days will boost your title’s rank more effectively than moving the same number of copies in a single day.
If you promote through Bookbub, you don’t need to stack. Their audience is so large, they’ll move more copies than their fifteen largest competitors combined. The trick is that Bookbub is picky, accepting only a handful of titles per day. They even turn down bestselling authors.
Written Word Media expands the idea promo stacking to include social media, email blasts, and more in this useful post.
David Gaughran has some good (and more up-to-date) insights on which promo sites work in 2022 and how best to use them.
My own case study (PDF) describes how a free giveaway for an older title (Impala) helped boost sales for a newer one (Gate 76). The case study is mainly about the launch of the newer book, but it contains practical, concrete details of which services I used for the giveaway promo, how much they cost, and how well they performed.