Do you remember that ad from the 80s where the guy holds up an egg and says, “This is your brain.” Then he cracks the egg into the hot frying pan and says, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
Well, I have a flip side positive one for us writers about the benefits of marketing.
This is your book:
This is your book on promotions:
Seriously though. When I did a series of e-book promotions this year, the impact amazed me. Several times over the course of several months my book skyrocketed to the Amazon bestseller list in several categories.
It got my attention.
I began to appreciate that unless I reach out and tell people my book exists, nobody knows it exists. There are simply too many books out there (over five million on Amazon Kindle). For me, this hit home particularly hard because I had written it under a pseudonym. I didn’t even have the benefit of bootstrapping awareness for my book through a personal network of family and friends.
I began to research what e-book promotions were available and how it worked. I found some basic criteria that needed to be met. Often, you need to have at least five good reviews, and you needed to reduce the Kindle price to between $0.99 and $2.99 to help promote it. I had the requisite reviews, and my publisher agreed to discount it for a period of time. The rest was up to me.
Below is a summary of the different promotions I tried with a note as to how much I spent and my experience. This stuff doesn’t come free, but it’s not as crazy as I expected. One thing to note is that you do have to coordinate your promotional pricing with the dates of the promotion. I requested my publisher reduce the price for a period and then signed up for several different promotions that fell within that period. Some companies require more notice than others, and sometimes my promotions were bunched up around the same time.
The best part though? This was fun! I was a patron of my art and supremely entertained by the process. It’s amazing how satisfying it is to do a one-day promotion and then obsessively watch on Amazon’s Author Central Ranking the fruits of your effort as your graph line goes up. Don’t forget to check the author guidelines to make sure your book qualifies!
Books Butterfly promotes ebooks through various email lists, social media, and the website. What makes Books Butterfly stand out from other such sites is that they guarantee a minimum number of downloads for your book or you receive part of your payment back.
- I did the new release option $70 for five days. I appreciated working with them. It seemed like I wasn’t making their sales guarantee although my ranking went up considerably (3000%). They listened and extended the sale for three days and tried different markets; they also told me about other venues to try, including the two below. They offered neat tracking software: www.trackmyrank.com (an interesting site where you can see hourly if you are making any sales).
Books promoted specifically by genre. Books must have a good cover and good reviews to be selected. No minimum reviews.
- They have a review process, and the book has to be approved. I did a one-day promotion on April 16 for $55 in the non-fiction category. On that one day, I had a 4000% increase in my rank and made it to the bestseller top ten in three different categories on Amazon Kindle. You have to wait 90 days before you can promote again.
Promotes bargain books to its subscriber list.
- Another one-day promotion for $45—this one wasn’t quite as spectacular but still resulted in a 400% increase in my rank
AuthorBuzz is a marketing service for authors and publishers. Authors write short notes for readers, librarians, booksellers and so forth, which AuthorBuzz then distributes via platforms such as Shelf-Awareness.com, DearReader.com, BookMovement.com, PublishersMarketplace.com, and KindleNationDaily.com. AuthorBuzz can also create and place adverts on social media and relevant websites, on an author’s behalf.
- I decided to try a heavy hitter approach during the summer and engaged Author Buzz. They cost more (a little over $100 per day), and the promotion tends to last for longer, so the initial outlay is more (I spent $1500) but the money spent includes the creation of ad copy that you can use elsewhere. They recommended I try a Bookbub ad. (Bookbub ads are affiliated with Bookbub but not Bookbub itself, which is notoriously hard to get into and even more expensive to use. Bookbub ads piggy-backs on Bookbub readers, as I understand it.) My ranking steadily went up and stayed up the entire time, and while I did not recoup my investment, I did sell 100 books over the two week period, plus I had the ad that I could use for other things.
- $25 one day (7/29); uptick in ranking
The total number of subscribers isn’t available, but the most popular email list has 120,000 people signed up for it. They have some minimum criteria for inclusion including at least five reviews with a high overall rating.
- $50, one day (7/29). I did notice an uptick in ranking after this promotion.
I also decided to do some Facebook ads to coincide with some of my promotions. I had read that Facebook ads do not necessarily result in sales, but I was interested in increasing exposure. My ads were relatively inexpensive:
- $35 4/1 (61 engaged)
- $35 4/7 (71 engaged)
- $18 7/16 (239 engaged)
- $100 to promote my website for an extended period
Book Gorilla has 350,000 subscribers, split across numerous genre-specific newsletters. Subscribers can select whether to receive details of 12, 25, or 50 books in each newsletter. This is a great deal more than BookBub, so it is easier to get included, although you’re also competing with many more books in one email. It costs between $40 and $100 to list a book in a newsletter. Unlike BookBub, BookGorilla doesn’t provide details of the average number of ebook downloads which result from being included in a newsletter.
- I thought my promotional pricing was going to end at the end of August and managed to squeak in one last six-day promotion for $175 (8/25 to 8/30). This resulted in a nice uptick in my graph.
The Fussy Librarian
The Fussy Librarian emails members with suggestions for fiction and non-fiction e-books that match their individual preferences. Subscribers can select their favorite genres, and the level of profanity, violence, and sexual content they’re comfortable with. There are 121,000 subscribers in total. 90,000 are signed up to the most popular category: romance-contemporary.
- I did two separate one-day promotions (7/22 and 8/19) for $25 each. This was a good group to work with.
The Books Machine
The Books Machine promotes Kindle Daily Deals via their website and a daily newsletter. There is a membership fee for authors wanting to list their book on the site. Readers can then click the link to buy the book, or request it as a ‘gift’ in exchange for an honest review on a site of the author’s choice, e.g., Amazon.
- I signed up for one month (7/19 to 8/19) for $10 but couldn’t tell if I noticed anything from it
I found out almost too late that my promotional pricing was lasting through September and managed to sign up for several one-day promotions before my pricing went up. I did see my ranking and sales increase with these.
- E Book Hounds, $25, (9/17) https://www.ebookhounds.com/books/submit/
- Awesomebook Promotion, 5 platforms, $65 (9/18) http://awesomebookpromotion.com/book-promotion-websites/
- Hot Zippy, $46 (9/19) http://hotzippy.net/feature-your-book.html
- JustKindleBooks, $48, (9/14) https://www.justkindlebooks.com/authors-corner/
- BuckBooks, $29, (9/16) http://buckbooks.net/promotions/
That’s my story. But here is one last resource: a link to a site that collates a whole bunch of promotion sites, including many of those above, but also some I haven’t tried. The first section has to do with books that are being offered for free. I did not do this as my publisher did not agree. The second section is sites that help promote books being offered for a bargain price, generally $2.99 or less:
Mariah McKenzie is the award-winning author of More . . . Journey to mystical union through the sacred and the profane—a spiritual memoir about the deep yearning within us all and within our relationships for more intimacy, more connection, more mystery and more awe despite the challenges keeping us from that. Mariah has dedicated a significant portion of life to exploring consciousness and ecstatic living. She leads writing and meditation groups and classes.
Photos provided by Mariah McKenzie