A Wild Ride – Book Promotion

On August 3rd, 2013, I did my first ever promotion. I was nudged to do this by the wise and benevolent bestselling author Martin Crosbie. He really is a super swell dude. I decided to try to keep the momentum going for my latest book, Mr. Pish Goes to the Farm, which was released back in June. The planning for this promo started in June, in fact. After the book was out for two weeks, I raised the price of the book from the introductory offer of 99 cents to $2.99. This way, when the promo sale price dropped back to 99 cents, people would feel like they were getting a deal, indeed!

Despite hitting the top of three different “Amazon.com Hot New Releases” lists in June, there were ZERO sales in July. ZERO! We’re talking an internationally-known traveling terrier spreading knowledge and joy! Oh, the humanity! In any case, I was glad I’d plotted with Martin back in June to set up my promo. Here’s what I did.

#1 – I filled out the form at ENT here: http://ereadernewstoday.com/bargain-kindle-books/ I chose a date in August and kept my fingers crossed I would hear from them a couple of days before to confirm my promo on their site. Their promo doesn’t cost anything up front – they take a 25% cut of the sales you make through their site. That’s certainly affordable! (I never heard back from them, by the way, and they never ran my promo – BUT that could be my fault since I ran it on a Saturday and they run bargain books Monday-Friday. Next time I’ll do it on a weekday.)

#2 – I paid $25 for a “Regular Book Posting” on Michael Gallagher’s Kindle Books and Tips.  Dealing with Michael was great. He is a real class act and is very responsive. I feel very fortunate that he listed Mr. Pish at the top of his post for that day. I don’t know if he felt bad for me because trying to sell a children’s book is tough, or if he just couldn’t resist the power of Mr. Pish’s extreme cuteness. Or, maybe he received my request for that date first. But probably the cuteness thing.

#3 – I scrambled to get one more review so I could hit the minimum 25 required to be eligible for Van Heerling’s new site, PeopleReads. It’s free, and Van is wonderful to work with. It was nice, too, that Mr. Pish was the only bargain book listed on their site on August 3rd.

I also had to pull KP duty for a month in the IU kitchens to get Mr. Pish in the sidebar on Indies Unlimited. Gruel may taste great, but it doesn’t smell so good while it’s cooking.

Now, how does all this translate? I’d like to start off by saying that Mr. Pish books are educational children’s books. While parents and adults enjoy them as well, clearly it’s not the type of thing a single person would be like “ooh, gotta grab that while it’s on sale!” So I lose a huge portion of the audience targeted by all these efforts. I knew that going in. (I think a novel would be a completely different story. No pun intended.)

Sales? Well, not a whole bunch. 36 total. At 99 cents per book, my royalty intake ended up at a total of $12.60, which covers half of what I paid for the ad. Does that make this a failure, since I didn’t make my money back? I don’t think so. A big part of that answer depends on how you define success, as the Evil Mastermind recently wrote about here. I figure, for $12.40, I had a really fun weekend. I garnered 36 new readers I never would have reached without Michael Gallagher. (Not saying PeopleReads didn’t generate any sales, but I noticed that downloads took off after the KBT post went live.) I can now boast that Mr. Pish Goes to the Farm was a bestseller in three different Amazon categories. (It’s possible, in fact, that the book hit #1 while I was sleeping. I guess I’ll never know!) Overall, the book was in the top 8500. Now THAT is cool! Oh, did I mention it’s a bestseller in three different categories? Rubbing elbows with books by Harper Collins and beating out OLD YELLER? Did I already say that?

And, if it hadn’t been for the promotion, I wouldn’t have made what could be an incredibly important observation. The moment I raised my book’s price back to $2.99, sales stopped dead. Dead, like no-longer-alive dead. One of the main ways authors derive profit from promotions is the “after sale” sales boost. But not this time. I could hear crickets. Okay, just one cricket. All right, it was a tree branch creaking in the wind. That made me take a closer look at all my books priced at $2.99. NONE of them have been selling. Is $2.99 the kiss of death price for a book, or just MY books? My 99 cent ebooks are selling. My $6.50 ebooks (through my publisher) are selling. I never would have noticed this if I hadn’t run the promotion. Obviously, I need to develop a different pricing strategy.

Another nice thing that came of this is lots of people shared my promo. Over 100 people shared the post on Facebook. Now, I know some of those were for the other authors who also had promo books that day, but it was neat to watch that number climb. I also learned not to be so shy about asking people to share. Whenever someone would comment “kudos!” on one of the bestseller list posts, I’d reply with “Thank you! Please tell your friends. Every bit helps.” While I’m pretty certain the commenters are long gone and won’t share, it never hurts to ask.

Hopefully some of those 36 new readers will post reviews. Hopefully they will fall in love with Mr. Pish and purchase the other five books in the series. Hopefully they’ll tell their friends. But if not, I had one heck of a wild ride, and all for less than it costs to go to the movies. I’d say that was more than worth it.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

35 thoughts on “A Wild Ride – Book Promotion”

  1. This was a very helpful post. I saw your promo post on Kindle Books and Tips, but had not heard of PeopleReads. It was nice to learn about another promotion opportunity. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    So few people talk numbers that it’s wonderful when someone is kind enough to post concrete details. Every book sells differently and advertisements work differently for different books, but it’s nice to see what’s happening with other books. So thanks again.

    1. My pleasure, RJ! I feel VERY strongly that if I’d been selling a novel that I would have really kicked butt with this promotion. But between the genre and that kiss-of-death $2.99 price – it just wasn’t going to happen. I’m just glad the advertising was affordable! 🙂 (Plus it’s really fun to say bestselling in three categories. I think someone might have mentioned that LOL)

  2. Nice article, thanks for sharing your experience. And remember, you can promo till the cows come home but if it isn’t a book that readers want to read it still won’t sell. You (and Mr. Pish) did very well.

    1. Thank you, Martin. Without you, I wouldn’t have realized there was affordable advertising out there. I would definitely do it again! 🙂

  3. Great post, KS! Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve found Michael G. fantastic to work with as well and always recommend his regular postings along with the featured posts everyone snaps up. Glad you and the Mr. Pish book had a good weekend 🙂

  4. All of the this article was new to me, so thank you. I was particular taken with your comments about the pricing. I wonder if the higher price point sold because Mr Pish was bought by people who normally steer clear of the obviously indie price category?

    1. I don’t know, AC. They had no problem buying it at 99 cents when it was on promo. So go figure. I’m going to experiment with my pricing – I’ll let you know how that goes.

  5. Great post and huzzah to you, KSB! Thanks also for sharing what you did. And hope you like the new cilantro-flavored gruel. Hey, we do what we can.

  6. Congrats on selling some books! 🙂

    Another affordable alternative is Kindle Nation Daily’s $29.99 “Free Book Highlighter Service.” I’ve been plunking down that amount for each free run for the Pipe Woman Chronicles books this summer, and have netted a profit each time. I never made it into BookBub earnings territory, but nevertheless, I considered the effort a success. 🙂

  7. Thank you for that post, KS, and for sharing. And you are so right about success meaning different things to different people. By the way, I believe you are on the money concerning the $2.99 pricing thingy. My experience was that I started at $4.99, across the board with my books, and sold a couple of dozen initially before sales began to dry up, so I dropped the price to $2.99: that’s when sales almost stopped altogether. I kept the price there for a while thinking, ‘got to give things a chance to settle’. They didn’t. I recently lifted the price to $3.99 and they are just starting to move again.

    1. My pleasure, TD. I don’t understand the $2.99 price of death, but at least we’re free to experiment with our pricing. The question is what’s wrong with $2.99? I guess it doesn’t matter, but it would be interesting to find out. I just started my foray into pricing today, so we’ll see what happens and I will report back. Glad to hear yours are moving again.

  8. I’ve been thinking about jacking up my price for a couple of months. I feel like there is a perceived lack of value at that price. After reading your experience, I’m convinced. My price goes up tomorrow. Great post.

  9. Very, very interesting … not that it’s a children’s book, because I do not give tuppence for children’s books (sorry! I could only do a couple of hefties when I had to, so they were raised on Lewis Carroll).
    Interesting because of the figures and the rationale. I’m trying this with a novel or two after I read the two last Crosbie blogs here earlier this week. It should be great – hope it is, because August sales are not exactly busting this block.

  10. Very informative and insightful post. After reading about price pulsing, I have decided that I will periodically drop my books down to 99 cents, then back up to 4.99 which is where they are now. It does sound like 2.99 is some no-man’s land for some reason. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Price pulsing? Interesting. I’ve never tweaked my pricing – just put it up and forgot about it. Clearly that is not a good strategy. Thanks, Melissa.

  11. Interesting post. My experience has been different, sales didn’t stop at $2.99 but I had much higher sales during the month long promo at $0.99.

    Granted, mine is a novel at 330 pages so at $0.99 was flying off the virtual shelves like hot buns but now at $2.99 sales are at 1/3 what they have been in July.

    We should also add that August is a slow month, with holidays and back-to-schools activities overlapping and taking time from all other interests and we should see a bump in September.

    Anyway, with the Awesome Indies, I’m scheduled for another promotion in a few days, if sales spike again as for July (4 digits sales number) I’m tempted to keep the Vol.1 of the trilogy to $0.99 for ever 🙂

  12. Thanks for sharing, Brooks. I would consider it a success as well, the 12.40 you lost would have flown out the door even faster trying to promote without the tools that you used by wasting time getting nowhere. Did I just make sense?

    1. I like that! It’s kind of like “if I hadn’t bought this sweater on sale at this great price, I would have lost money!” 😉 Thanks, Jim. 🙂

  13. That is a great article KS! We know what you mean on the ride too! it really is awesome and Michael Gallagher is a really nice guy. We too have done really well since the promo’s but wonder what will be tomorrow. our end of the .99 cent run. Thank you for this post and for sharing your experience!

  14. Wow! Really? All your books are awesome.
    The Mr Pish books deserve to be among the children’s classics. Truly. My family love every one. Such excitement when I told them the new
    “Mr Pish Goes to the Farm” book was out & I ordered it. Keep ’em comin’!

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