Ego or Profit: Why We Do Book Promotions

ebook promotion pixabay marketing-687246_640Throughout the pages of Indies Unlimited, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge on writing, marketing and promoting your books. After all, Publisher’s Weekly announced Indies Unlimited as one of six great blogs for indie authors. As we scour the e-pages of this blog, we envision success. Around every corner there are examples of promotions achieving fantastic results. We also let you know if something is a clunker.

As I’m sure you’re aware, promoting your book is not just about one thing, but a variety of activities including social media, press releases, reviews, giveaways, appearances and free or paid promotions. Everyone in the indie community laments at the paid book promotion. Should I or shouldn’t I? How do I know it will be successful? Is it worth the cost?

Only you can answer those questions for yourself. So I’ll ask the question, “Why do you do book promotions?”

Are you looking to break-even? Are you looking to turn a profit? Are you looking to brand your book? These are questions that should be answered in your overall marketing plan. The truth is, if we surveyed Indies Unlimited readers, I would be willing to bet that only about 15% of us actually have a written marketing plan built on a particular strategy.

How would you know if spending $20 on a book promotion is worth it … or even $5? Can I sell 15 books with an ad for a 99 cent book? If you treat your writing as a business, these are all great questions. However, most people don’t treat their writing as a business. That’s okay, as long as you’re going in with eyes wide open. It’s not always about the money.

Sometimes it’s … ego.

Yep. Pure and simple, ego. That’s okay, too. It’s fun to watch your book run up the charts, taking out the competition on the way. Knocking off your closest competitors, those famous names that you secretly wish your book would replace in the bestseller’s lists.

Ahh, but it’s fleeting, isn’t it? Amazon has a way of building you up and then sending you to obscurity shortly thereafter. However, sometimes that’s all you need.

Last week, I decided to experiment with a one-day book promotion on Robin’s Reads. I haven’t conducted a book promotion with The Card (published 3 years ago) in about a year. The book has a life of its own and every once in a while it gets some traction. I threw the book into a couple of other free promotion sites including,,, and It’s not what you would call a full frontal assault. (You can find all these sites and more on Martin Crosbie’s promo resource page.)

Here’s the result … 8 sales and a couple of thousand Kindle Edition Normalized Page reads. Chances are it’s not breaking even. We won’t know the real impact of the borrowed book page reads until the report comes out. Clearly, any business person would say, not a smart investment.

While not exactly a smart investment, don’t forget the Marketing Rule of 7, which Lynne Cantwell teaches us about in her article about Effective Frequency.

Ahh, but here’s where the ego comes in to play. Categories are everything. We’ve posted about that in the past on Indies Unlimited. Although some aspects are difficult to achieve, persistence pays. Check out our article on positioning yourself in the Amazon Categories. Selecting the appropriate categories and getting your book positioned in the right place can go a long way.

During the pathetic “sales” run of The Card, the book hit #1 in its category, surpassing notable bestselling authors like Mike Lupica, Cal Ripken Jr, Derek Jeter, and Tim Green in the “Paid” category. It’s not the first time it has hit #1, but it breathes new life into a title that has been out for a while. More importantly, it’s fun to be talking about hitting number one again.

All of you know what I’m referring to … and it’s pure ego. It has nothing to do with ROI or profits or even revenue. It has to do with seeing your book back in the lights again, no matter how fleeting that moment may be.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

6 thoughts on “Ego or Profit: Why We Do Book Promotions”

  1. Good article, Jim; lots of food for thought. When you mentioned having a marketing plan, however, my first reaction was: How can I have a plan when things change daily, even hourly? New promo sites come up, others drop away. Even a tried and true one can change suddenly for unknown reasons. It’s all such a crap shoot. I honestly can’t envision a marketing plan that would stay stable for six months, much less a year or more. As we’ve so often pointed out here at IU, being indie means we have the agility and responsiveness to take advantage of new avenues of promotion. So I might have a plan … today. Tomorrow, who knows?

    1. Excellent points, Jim. My only marketing plan lately is to promote a different title (almost) every month, changing up the outlets depending on which ones are working for my colleagues, which ones I’ve (sort of) burned out, which ones look good. And to plan for the next book launch. Ego? Maybe a little. Maybe it’s fun to watch a promoted book climb the ladder. But that’s not my whole reason for doing this.

      1. Oh, I totally agree, Laurie. Ego is not even close to the reason I do this. I love to write. I love the result of my writing and its effects on others. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Melissa, you’re absolutely right. Marketing is a moving target. I guess what I was alluding to was a plan on how you wanted to market and when, not necessarily the specific vehicles for marketing. With a written plan, you’re more apt to hit the key efforts without letting them slide. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

  2. Jim, so much of what you said about marketing is the unadulterated truth. My ego must be nonexistent because I’ve never tried to move anywhere on the Amazon charts. All my satisfaction and joy comes from writing. If I sell five or ten copies of my books a month and receive a few nice reviews, I’m thrilled. Would I like to reach a broader audience? Of course! However, when it comes to promoting my books I pretty much suck. I hope to treat my writing more as a business than a pleasure in the upcoming year.

    1. Great comment, Linda. You’re probably more of the norm that the outlier. Writing is what we make of it. Sometimes it’s just for the joy of writing. If you do want to treat it like a business, it takes a huge commitment. Best of luck whichever way you go.

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