As the IU minions sat around the gruel pot and discussed various promo sites, a trend seemed to present itself: almost everyone has seen a reduction in the effectiveness of these sites in the past year. Because of that, I’ve decided to be a little more open than I usually am regarding book sales and advertisements. This isn’t a humble brag, like people who drop into discussion boards and say, “Gee, my book has been out for two days already and I’ve only sold 325,957 copies. Am I doing okay?” Don’t you just want to throw something? On the flip side, it’s also not a whine or a whinge.
Instead, it’s a look at the effectiveness of various ad sites over time in my experience. The scant numbers I put forth here are scientifically negligible, but I do wonder if others see it, too.
A quick note: BookBub is by all accounts the best ad site, but since they’ve rejected me a bazillion times they aren’t included here. The sites I mention are all found on Martin Crosbie’s handy list of promo sites.
In March of 2014 I ran a BookSends ad for my first novel, Appalachian Justice. I sold 115 books. In June of 2015 I scheduled another and sold 81 books. More on BookSends, later.
In July of 2014, I scheduled an ad for Appalachian Justice on Free Kindle Books and Tips (FBKT). I sold 64. In June of 2015 I scheduled another ad and sold 48.
In October of 2014, I scheduled an ad for Appalachian Justice on Choosy Bookworm. I sold 120 books. I scheduled another ad for Choosy Bookworm in January of 2015, and this time sold 53. I scheduled an ad for July of 2015 and sold 12.
In November of 2014 I scheduled Appalachian Justice for EreaderNewsToday (ENT) and sold 444 books. Wow! In May of 2015 I scheduled another ad and sold 158 books. In October of 2015 I scheduled an ad and sold 140.
Throughout this two-year period I also did a lot of experimenting. For example, in October of 2014 I signed a different book up for an ad with ENT and sold 120 books. I signed it up again in March of 2015, but this time I also signed up for ads on ReadCheaply, EbookBooster, and EbookLister at the same time. I sold 78 books, but there’s no way to tell which sites resulted in sales. If ENT was responsible for all 78 of those March 2015 sales, that’s a significant drop. If some of the other sites were responsible for sales, that’s an even bigger drop for ENT.
Moving forward, I have two concerns. First, my experience is that once a promo site is used two to three times for the same book, it tends to lose effectiveness. This is more true for some sites than others, and I imagine that has to do with the rate at which new subscribers sign up to receive promo emails. If I’m scheduling ads faster than the site is adding new subscribers, I can expect the effectiveness to go down considerably with repeated ads.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the promo sites I’ve mentioned, but I’ve been advertising Appalachian Justice through them for three years now. It’s had a great run, but that’s old in book terms.
My other concern has less to do with saturation than it does attrition. In September I read about eReaderIQ on the KDP boards and went to take a look. It was then I learned that BookSends had partnered with eReaderIQ. I then saw that Pixel of Ink had also partnered with BookSends. Just like that, three promo sites became one.
Around the same time, I learned that The Midlist was bought by HarperCollins to promote only HarperCollins books. Another one bites the dust, at least as far as indie authors are concerned.
There are plenty of other sites out there, although reports of their effectiveness vary. I don’t necessarily have to make my money back in order to consider an ad a success, but I do need to gain some exposure. I’m still getting that with the sites mentioned above, but I once ran an ad on seven of the lesser-known sites on the same day and sold zero. No exposure at all.
So what does this mean for authors who’ve been around a while? I suppose first and foremost it means we need to keep putting out new books. After a couple of runs, subscribers to the bigger promo sites have probably either seen the book and bought it, or decided they don’t want it. New material is the way to go.
This is my experience, but what do you guys see? Have you noticed the same trends?
98 thoughts on “Book Promo Sites: How long do they work?”
Whether you use ad sites or not–and, I’ve avoided them so far–you’re right that you have to keep putting new stuff out there. My book sales are pretty steady–around $150 per month in e-Book sales and $20-40 in paperback sales–,but, it didn’t reach that level until I had more than 50 books listed.
True, Charles, it’s always important to keep putting new material out there.
I’ve been running similar experiments with a few of the bigger book promo sites. As I write fantasy, my primary result is that these services work best with thrillers and romances, not fantasy. Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, given their stated subscriber base, but it does show that for a great many indie authors, most of these sites won’t be effective anyway.
I still like the sites and wouldn’t dream of actually complaining about them, but their effectiveness is effectively niche and if they are also declining in general effectiveness, someone needs to come up with a better idea. I personally was wondering if all of this comes down to the plethora of free books available on Amazon and the other sites everyday.
I’ve noticed this, too. Some fellow author friends of mine write magical realism, a genre that’s rarely ever included on promo sites. You bring up a good point, too, about freebies. I’ve wondered the same thing.
Thanks for the post. My statistics are pretty much comparable to yours, and I guess it’s happening for everyone. Creating new books seems to be the only answer at this point. Thanks also for introducing me to a new word! Whinge–I like that.
LOL, Helen, it just captures the emotion/reaction perfectly, doesn’t it? 🙂
Yes, it does. I’m going to have to think of a way to surprise my friends with “whinge.”
‘Whinge’ gets used all the time in Australia. It’s delightfully apt word.
Thank you for putting up your numbers, Melinda. Mine have shown similar trends, at most of the same sites you list. (*schedules time to work on new novels*)
You’re very welcome, Laurie. I need to do that today, too – work on new novels. 🙂
“…like people who drop into discussion boards and say, “Gee, my book has been out for two days already and I’ve only sold 325,957 copies. Am I doing okay?” Don’t you just want to throw something?”
That was great! We must hang out in the same places. 😉
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I did have one question. When you advertised, was your book on sale or at full price? And if it was on sale, was it at the same sale price when you ran the ads again? Thanks.
Hi Bruce – don’t you just hate the humble brag? 🙂 To answer your questions, it was at $0.99 for all ads. I should have probably included genre, too. I usually try to put it into a historical or literary fiction category, but if I can’t, I go for contemporary.
325,957 copies in two days. Damn. It took me a week to sell the first 100,000. What did I do wrong? 🙂
Good post, Melinda. (Much better than the picture that came with it.)
Thanks, BigAl. 🙂 The picture is courtesy of Kat. 😉 And what the heck is that, anyway? Mold? Yuck.
Actually, I had help with that picture. It’s symbolism, you know. The promo sites have developed that “not so fresh” feeling. 😉
That is one definitely-not-fresh cup! 🙂
Looks more like a Petri dish. 🙂
I consider myself very much a newbie, but I’ve definitely seen a similar trend with ENT. Like you, I don’t know the magic trick to get accepted by BookBub, so I can’t speak to that promotion site. I listed my romance with ENT at 99 cents for the first time in Feb. 2015, and had amazing sales. I sold 200+ books on one day. I listed it twice again with them in 2015, and each time, I sold fewer books. Still, I sold a lot more than I would have without them. I love ENT. I think their prices are fair and they are always prompt with a response. Just my two cents.
I agree, Annette. In fact, I love all of the places I mentioned above. They’re great sites, and even though I sell fewer books with each ad, I still sell enough to make it worthwhile. I’ll keep using them as long as they’ll let me. 🙂
Excellent post, Melinda.
Thanks millions for the info.
My promo results are pretty similar to yours and I like all the sites you mentioned. I was actually accepted for BB last year and it helped the book reach #1 on a couple of genre lists. Alas, they’ve note accepted my submissions since.
You are dead right, new books are a must, but the quality has to be high–very high.
You’re very welcome, KJD. And you’re right – quality has to be top notch – there’s a ton of competition out there for ad spots. On a positive note, top-notch quality is good for all of us. Self-publishing has come a long way!
I couldn’t agree more, Melinda.
What started off in non-author’s eyes as little more than vanity publishing is growing in credibility. It behoves all indies to produce the best work they possibly can. And that includes paying for professional services like editors, proof writers, and cover designers. At least that’s the way I see it.
This was extremely useful, Melinda, thank you. I have yet to try advertising my books but you’ve inspired me to give it a try.
I’d definitely recommend giving it a try, Frank. When I terminated with my publisher and republished on my own I had no idea such sites even existed. The first time I stumbled across BookSends and ended up selling dozens of books, I was in heaven. 🙂 All I’d even been told was to blog, tweet, use Facebook, etc. It was amazing to discover another (and to me, more effective) avenue for getting the word out. 🙂
Frank, if you need any help with the process, others have found this article useful: https://indiesunlimited.com/2014/08/12/how-to-buy-book-advertising/ Good luck! Let us know how you do. 🙂
I ran a similar experiment in December, using seven promo sites across the month. The book was a 99c promo of a mid-list title that had more or less died, and I was hoping to get it to a new set of readers. The results were somewhat disappointing (I didn’t even make back the advertising cost on any of them!)
What I find odd about almost all of these sites is that they don’t publish metrics. Of the ones I used only BookGorilla gave any indication of what their open rate and click-through rate is. All are very proud to claim x thousand subscribers, but how many of them are actually active (some, I know from experience are advertisers who are automatically subscribed)? Is my result of about 0.01% conversion typical? I know it depends on genre and a lot of other factors, but these are the figures we need access to in order to advertise our books to the best market – and what the sites should be open about if they genuinely want books that are a good fit for their subscribers.
My feeling is that this system is at best overloaded and jaded, at worst maybe even broken. What will replace it, I have no idea (wish I did!!), but it’s unlikely that I would use this method of advertising again, especially if I can’t determine the likely/statistical effectiveness of any advert before I place it.
Alan, the only site I’ve seen post any sort of numbers like the ones you mention is BookBub. They seem quite open in that regard – they just aren’t open to accepting my books. 😉
Then they’re really missing out!
LOL, thank you, Candace! 🙂
I have a question: I’ve written/self-published 4 anthologies (not exactly the best-selling book type). If I run an ad on BookBub and reduce the price to .99, my return from Amazon is $0.35 per book sold. In your opinion, should I invest a relatively large sum and expect it to pay off? My latest (and, I think, best) anthology would be listed under Literary genre. Any suggestions would be deeply appreciated.
Blaine, I can only give my opinion, and hope others will weigh in, as well. Although I’ve never been with BookBub, my best (most effective) ads with other sites are the ones in which I run a promo for the first book in my series. If the book itself doesn’t earn back the cost of the ad, subsequent full-price purchases of the following books more than likely will.
With an anthology you’d be relying on that book alone to recoup your costs. I’ve participated in several multi-author anthologies over the years and while they’re a great way to add to a portfolio and allow readers to sample one’s work, none of mine were even close to being my highest selling books. I might be willing to take a chance on an ad that costs somewhere between $20-$40 for an ad, but I wouldn’t be willing to take the risk on an ad for more than that.
I’m also not sure many of the sites will include an anthology. If I remember right, most sites require the book to be a novel.
Anyone else have a different experience?
I think you’re right on with that, Melinda, the book should be one in a series to justify that cost. Also, what you said about anthologies. I think most don’t take them.
P.S., I did run a stand-alone book as a freebie with BookBub. It was #3 overall for free on Amazon. But since I didn’t have a series, I literally had zero collateral sales. It was still fun, and at a time when the site was more affordable, but if you’re looking to make money back, running a book from a series is the only way to go.
I don’t believe BB takes anthos. For me, anthos are the way to go!
Were these all one-day ads? And did the number of ads per newsletter change over time? If the first time you were one of five, and the second time one of twenty-five, that might explain your results.
Great questions. They were all one-day ads. I don’t remember specifically, but my best guess (and it’s only a guess) is that the number of ads per newsletter shouldn’t have changed drastically, given that I tend to use the same categories for subsequent ads simply because that’s where the book fits. But you’re right, that’s one more variable to take into consideration.
Thanks for the post and for the link for the promo sites too. Sharing on Twitter. So far, I haven’t had much success with paid promo ads, but will check out some of the sites you mention and cross my fingers. Thanks for the informative post, Melinda!
Thanks for stopping by, Bette, and good luck!
Somewhere on my blog spew is a post I wrote maybe 6 months ago. In it I track the performance of all books advertised on a single ENT email. They all spiked up a lot in their rank on Amazon and dropped at roughly the same rate as each other. Basically, they all sold varying piles on 1 day, a few the next day then dropped back to their.normal level. Interestingly, they almost all spiked to a few tens of thousands on Amazon’s ranking.
Now that’s an interesting idea! I really think book ads work best when there’s a series involved, so that even as the advertised book drops, the other books in the series rise (or so the hope is!).
Just went and found your post (and your other ad site posts). Very interesting!
I decided long ago to not be coy. I divulge a lot more information in my sparse blog than most other unsuccessful authorso would be comfortable with. That way, no-one else has to waste time on the (many) things that I’ve done and found unsuccessful. Now for the success… somehow… which is why I read your blog post with a high level of disappointment 🙁
Oh, no, don’t be disappointed! Appalachian Justice is five years old, and it’s had a good, long run on promo sites for the last three years. Even now, it’s my top seller. The numbers go down after a while, but not so down I won’t continue to use my favorite sites. 🙂
I saw an author friend list her stand alone book on BookBub as free and wondered why. It didn’t make any sense to me and still doesn’t. When I submitted a book with them, they wanted me to list it as free. It seemed crazy to pay them so much to give something away, even when there are two other books in the series. I fear I’d be spending hundreds wtih little return. I’ll stick with ENT, BookSends and I didn’t see Fussy Librarian on your list. Have you tried that one?
I have tons of notes on tons of sites, but IU didn’t have room for me to post about them all. 🙂 Fussy is one of the ones Martin lists at the link above, though. And I agree – it really doesn’t pay to set a stand-alone book as a freebie. I’m not sure I’d even do it for a series of two, or even three. Somehow, the money needs to be recouped….
I know a few people who would debate you about the money needing to be recouped – that it’s a matter of effective frequency – when companies advertise their products in magazines and on television, there’s no guarantee they will make that money back right then. They are doing it to promote their brand and work towards that magic number of effective frequency.
Very good point, and I agree with it. I should have explained more, but got in too big of a hurry. 🙂 Like I said in the article, I don’t necessarily have to make my money back to consider an ad a success. But when I typed that, I had in mind ads running for $20-$40 or so. If I’m spending hundreds (BookBub), as a small business, I definitely need to recoup some of that cost in order to stay afloat. Maybe this is why the universe has conspired against me having a BookBub ad!
I hate the whole idea of free giveaways but it can still be effective for a standalone title if you have a lot of books published. They don’t need to be a series for you to recoup your investment. If people like your free standalone, they might buy your other standalones.
In my experience with Book Bub (I’ve run books with them a half-dozen times) some at .99 and some free, I’ve always made my money back and then some. With free you should see a big spike in book sales/pages read(if that applies) after the sale comes off. They seem expensive but they’re the only ad site that is absolutely worth it.
I agree, Robert. Have run adverts with BookBub many times, though not lately as it’s hard to get accepted. With freebees, I’ve had enormous #s of downloads, tens of thousands, and huge sales afterwards due to increased visibility. My only low price advert with them, 99-cents for my collection of books 1-3 of my Renzi series, made me a large amount of money. Expensive, but worth it.
Thanks for a great article, Melinda! Care to comment on page reads? Or are your books not available to Kindle Unlimited/Amazon Prime readers?
I’ve had good luck with Book Sends and a few other sites that you mentioned, but my last promo, which ran the first week of December 2015, had 6K downloads, but very few sales afterwards. It did, however, have thousands page reads, 60K in December alone, and still going strong in January. Alas, sales in single digits.
Wow, 60K page reads! That’s amazing! I have two of my six novels in KU, and one usually gets around 6,000 pages read per month, and the other gets around 3,000-4,000. KU is another topic we could discuss forever. To KU, or not to KU? Does it hurt sales? Does it gain exposure? I don’t have any of the answers, but I wish I did!
Thanks for the quick response. Your page read numbers, between 5K-6K sound like mine. I have a six book crime thriller series, and sales of earlier books usually benefit from a freebee of a later one) The 60K number was for Book 6 of the series, after the promo, thru Book Sends and a few smaller sites.
And yes, yes, yes! I wish someone would do a post about KU-AmazonPrime page reads. Specifically, I’ve notice they not only affect sales/royalties (mine are down) but also visibility. I think Amazon uses page reads as one factor in their “Best Seller Rank” but it doesn’t make up for the lower sales figures. At least it doesn’t for me anyway.
I’ve read in several places that page reads in KU help rank, but I haven’t personally seen that to be the case. Anyone?
Absolutely, I can testify that page reads affect rank. I’ve seen my rank go up when I only had page reads, with no purchases. I’m still not totally sold on KDP select. I have some books in and some books out. I’d love to get a good discussion going on the pros and cons.
Here’s Russell Blake’s take on KU page reads. In my experience he’s probably right on…
Interesting read – thanks for posting!
So would I, Tamie. I’d love to hear what people are experiencing.
Oh – I should probably add that the book I referenced in the post isn’t in KU. The series isn’t, although I go back and forth all the time about whether it should be.
I’m an author and also a reader. I have so many books in my Kindle library that I a) will prolly never read them all and b) have forgotten what’s in there. One more thing. It’s getting harder to actually find a book in that morass that I can get into. I start one and, if I can’t get engaged within the first or second chapter, I ditch it.
I think other readers may be experiencing a similar situation: too many books and lots of them not that great. As a reader, it’s discouraging. As a writer, this trend (if that’s what it is) is affecting my sales. I’m still doing well, but I’m not doing any advertising except BB and my own newsletter because the ads don’t produce more sales.
I think you’re right in that people have hundreds of books in their Kindle libraries, many they’ve forgotten about (well, except for my mom, who has about a dozen and is terrified she’s going to run out of room, but that’s a different story!). It’s easy to ditch one that doesn’t capture attention quickly. Like KJD and I were discussing up above, competition for ad spots and readers is fierce. This should be incentive for authors to put out the very best product they can, and maybe eventually people won’t look at self-published books as inferior to trad-pubbed.
I have an infuriating habit of reading indie books, usually from ENT, and highlighting and emailing any errors I find back to the author. Last weekend I emailed 2 authors and right now I’m 20% into the next book. My current read was a freebie from a promotion 2 or 3 days ago and I’m highlighting an error on every single page. I realize this comment is being repeated to death but while indie authors don’t pay due diligence to quality art and professional editing, the stigma is at least partially deserved, at least on broad brush stroke terms.
Quite right, Raymond.
Whereas it’s very difficult to remove every typo from a 100k word m/s (and you’ll still find the little blighters in even traditionally pubbed books), it’s up to us as authors to do our very best to catch and eradicate the little monsters.
A couple of weeks ago, I found a typo in the first line of an indie book and pointed it out (politely) to the author in a FB message, He didn’t respond and the typo is still there. I find that unacceptable.
One of the best things about ebooks is the author’s ability to update at make changes easily.
Needless to say, I won’t be paying for or reading any more of said author’s works.
I agree that authors should correct errors that readers point out to them. I’ve received such messages from readers myself. You didn’t say what time interval elapsed viz your message and the author’s lack of correction. Also, how do you know she/he didn’t correct it? Did you buy another copy? Ask for an updated one?
My point: when I get messages from readers about errors, I always thank them and correct the errors as soon as I can. But it may take me a while. And I have no way of knowing whether Amazon sent them the revised copy.
For a while, I kept checking the Amazon ‘sample’ pages and gave up. Silly me, I actually expected a courteous ‘thank you’ from the author, but didn’t receive one.
My life’s too short to waste time on ingrates.
Re the missing “thankyou” can’t say that I blame you. I always respond to readers who point out errors. However, re checking Amazon ‘sample’ pages, I’m not sure, but I heard that Amazon only replaces error-filled copies with “corrected’ copies if there are many many errors. I have actually seen authors post notes in thebook description saying the book was “re-edited” and uploaded on such and such a date.
FYI, Susan, Amazon won’t send readers a revised copy unless the book has changed over a certain percentage, and the author has to petition Amazon to do so. Minor corrections wouldn’t qualify for that program. The reader would have to go back and re-download the revised book, and then I think they have to do something through “my Kindle” to make it supersede the old copy.
Kat is right, an author could fix errors that were found and it wouldn’t show up in the book on your Kindle. (There are good reasons for this that I won’t go into right now.) However, if they corrected an error it should show up in the look inside where KJD was looking.
As for issues in indie books with typos and other issues that indicate a lack of adequate copyediting and proofing, I think it is getting better. Or maybe I’m getting better at picking which books will be a problem. But I’ll knock a couple stars off a review well before it reaches the point of an error every page. (That bad is very rare in my experience.) But I’m unlikely to send a list of what I found to an author unless I’m both sure that they’ll be appreciative and if there are no more than a handful or two of errors.
I have three reasons for that approach. First, because I’ve reviewed the book, if I knocked stars off the review it was bad enough that it seems they didn’t care. If they didn’t, why should I. Second, I didn’t sign on as an unpaid proofreader. Third, my experience is those authors with the worst issues are the most likely to be convinced there isn’t a problem.
Oops, didn’t read your post until I replied to KJD. Yes, that’s what I heard. Sounds pretty complicated, and I doubt that many readers would bother.
Thanks, KS. That’s what I thought, though I didn’t have the specific details. All in all, it sounds like a complicated process. Probably too complicated for the average reader to take time to bother.
Exactly so, Big Al,
Amazon does nothing. It’s up to the author to update a revised version of the m/s.
As I understand it, Amazon does offer the option of changing the version of the novel, but again, it’s up to the author/publisher to click on that option.
In defence of the about unnamed author, he ma have been waiting to re-edit his m/s before uploading all the changes, but it doesn’t prevent him for thanking me for the heads-up.
I can sort of help to clear this up. I just checked a book I read maybe 6 months ago. At the time I emailed the author some corrections and she emailed me back to thank me and say she’s updated her book. She then released a new edition. I CAN see her changes in the online preview, so they do show up.
As a separate thing, I found a few typos in my novel so updated them and changed the Edition number in KDP, but KDP didn’t email my readers because you have to go to a special page and specifically ask Amazon to do it. Changing the Edition number basically does nothing, as far as I can tell.
So, you should be able to see changes on the samples but your readers will only get them if you ask Amazon to re-release the book. I’ve received a couple of emails saying other authors have done that.
None of this in any way mitigates author rudeness and not thanking you.
Exactly! And that was the gist of my point. I’ve had a lot more luck than that with sending corrections to indie authors, but I’be had to do it far too often. Maybe 10% of indie books that I read escape my withering glare unscathed. This is getting way beyond the point of this original blog post though. Sorry IU
No need to be sorry – it’s a great discussion! You’re more patient than I am, I think. After finding errors on every page, I’d probably stop and go on to the next book.
For me, it’s the same … but it’s different. I have several fiction titles out there. But only the novels [there are seven] sell with any regularity; story collection and novella sales are at best negligible, except for one, which just keeps selling. Not a day goes by that I do not sell something to someone somewhere, whether it’s online or a hand-sell, which I call eyeball-to-eyeball … and I even get private messages from book clubs ordering seven or eight paperbacks at once. Public appearances are marvelous. I’ve had a book club request every month since November.
But it’s what KD Brooks said above that’s struck the note of truth with me … the advertising I do must have the effective frequency (EF) factor. Return on investment (ROI) is only valid when I use one of the promo sites we’ve mentioned here. And that’s less than four times a year. When I use KDP’s ads, which appear on readers’ Kindles … and only to those interested in my categories … I know the ads appear over and over again, sometimes to the tune of 30,000 impressions. And that is useful. Yesssir, it is. Since my first KDP campaign, which brought no sales at all, I have persisted, and I have now, after my ninth or tenth campaign, sold quite a number of novels that way. Importantly, readers get used to seeing my name and titles … and my pretty unusual covers. And instead of mumbling “Oh no, not her again” many hundreds click to have a look, and a good proportion clicks to purchase. At first it was about a hundred clicks to get a purchase, but now it’s getting less. It’s not what you’d call cheap, but I now believe in EF more than I bank on ROI.
I call bargain promos “newspaper fires” because you have to keep doing it – or feeding the fire – to get sales. My satisfaction is best when I achieve sales WITHOUT relying on promos or discounts. But even that’s not possible with just a handful of books. I wrote, produced and published three novels in the last 16 months, and I’m beginning to see the wisdom of that. A slow burn … but no newspaper.
You bring up some really good points, Rosanne. I used to use Goodreads ads in that way. Somewhere on here there’s an article about that, as well as a fantastic article by Lynne Cantwell on effective frequency. People used to ask why I’d waste money on a Goodreads ad, but the reason was because every time someone adds a book on Goodreads, their friends can all see that book. That’s potentially a lot of eyes on a title. I couldn’t say how many I sold that way, but I compared it to having a book somewhere on a front table as opposed to having it shelved somewhere in the back.
I found it! You might enjoy Lynne’s article on the topic of effective frequency: https://indiesunlimited.com/2014/03/13/the-name-on-everyones-lips-effective-frequency/
Hi Rosanne, good to see you! Congrats on the sales. And thanks for the info on KDP adverts. I just started to do that, believe it will benefit me.
However, the KU-AP free-page reads are currently impacting my sales a lot. But not yours apparently?
Congrats also on the hand-sales. I have zero opportunity to do that here. No bookstores, only B&N, which won’t take Indie books, and used bookstores.
Thanks for this post and for, in a comment, adding the information about your pricing. I’ve run free promos on a couple of the novels I’ve published through Elephant’s Bookshelf Press (I’m the publisher, not the author, of those). We’ve had some great success on free downloads, but they don’t always translate to sales down the road. And the 99 cent releases have done ok but were a bit disappointing. If nothing else, I’ve learned that I need to promote more regularly than I have been.
I try to run a promo every month, Matt – not all for the same book, though. I rotate through them. For the most part my sales have remained fairly steady (knock on wood), but I do notice if I skip more than a couple of months, they start to drop.
It’s comforting and frustrating at the same time to see that we’re all in the same boat. There’s still no magic other than writing a great book. And all of our numbers are pretty similar. Thanks for doing this Melinda.
Thanks for dropping by, Martin. Maybe one of us will one day discover the magic marketing elixir. And share it, of course. 🙂
Tamie, thanks for your comment on the page reads issue. I would love to get a discussion, and analysis, of how page reads affect ranking. My sales numbers and rankings didn’t add up for a couple of days this week. I think Amazon changes the algorithm or something. Ah, sweet mystery of Amazon. 🙂
Melinda, great post and a great response from readers. Thanks for sharing your stats, it helps all of us understand that we’re not crazy
Thanks, Jim. 🙂
Robert, thanks for the link <>
He didn’t actually say much about page reads, however. He talked about “borrows” which is different from page reads. And I don’t think anyone knows exactly how Amazon figures page-reads into its sales ranking system.
Great stuff and thanks. It tracks what I’ve experienced AND ALSO with Bookbub. Somehow I hit the jackpot with that one (i.e. “they agreed to take a significant amount of my money in exchange for….”) and have had 2 of them. I used 2 different books, a perm free start to the Stewart Realty series (FLOOR TIME) which was as I said, “free” back in early 2014. Then in early 2015 I got a .99 deal for book 7 of that series (books 7 and 8 can be read stand along) MUTUAL RELEASE. The freebie really got some dials spinning for me. That sucker shot up the “free book” best “seller” list thing on Amazon and by the time it was said and done it was downloaded almost 80,000 times internationally. The sales of books 2 and 3 increased as well for about 7 days. This was why I thought the .99 deal might garner me some dollars in place of the warm fuzzies. It did, but at such a disappointing return I was left with a very (very) cynical mindset about that whole program. Not only did the .99 deal cost me twice as much, I only sold about 1600 copies (which is good but I split the royalties for now with a nano publisher so….) I gave up and used the list you reference for other sites and have used them with varying success but at the end of the day. I made another first book in a series (The Love Brothers, my only self published venture) free and submitted it 4 times last year and once this year and lo an behold they took it. It runs Tuesday 1/26 and I am trying to piggy back some of the others (books butterfly is a good one IMO) along with a couple of “blog tours” (another formerly fabulous promo device that has dropped off in terms of success faster than Donald Trump will clear a room of feminists but I”m using their “book blast” options to get as many tweets and Facebook posts about Love Garage on one day as I can because one thing does work: piling on. That is to say, get one great promo scheduled if you can and stack up a ton of others. My goal is to have LOVE GARAGE trending on so many searches you can’t help but bump into it.
Bottom line here for me (and I sell things for al living): I will only promote free books on Bookbub if and when I can get them and it feels like “early in the year” is the time they are willing to take me so I’ll be done trying with that site until January 2017! Also, only pay their prices if you have the money to spare. It is NOT a “make it back” thing for most of us. It’s an exposure thing and since I have 32 books in a backlist always in need of more exposure I’ll take it.
Wish me luck on the 26th. I’ll let you know if the freebie thing works as well this year as it did in 2014.
Good luck on the 26th, and yes, please – I’d love to know if the freebie thing still works. I go back and forth over whether or not to try a freebie with The Bub for the first in my series. I’ve never queried with a freebie, only at $0.99. A part of me believes they might accept a freebie from me, but another part of me really balks at doing that. Back in the day, when Amazon counted free downloads right along in sales rank, freebies seemed (to me, at least) to make more sense. But now…I just don’t know if they pay off. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself, and my fellow IU minions, for a year now and I never do come up with an answer.
Not sure if this is still accurate, but I believe the Popular list, not the top Sales list but the one you access at top left of Amazon header, factors in free downloads. Which means your book retains visibility much longer on that list. What they call the “long tail” I believe. Because of this I have had great sales continue after a BookBub freebee advert with big downloads. Alas, I haven’t been able to get them to run one recently so I can’t say if this remains true.
I’ve seriously got to figure out how to find all these lists on Amazon. Someone emailed me when I released my latest novel to tell me I was up there on the “new release” list. Thankfully, they sent a link. I’ve always heard of these lists, but couldn’t find them on my own to save my life. There’s so much we have to learn how to do in this business!
Thanks for sharing your numbers – I’m new to this. May I ask a few questions? What platform did the books sell from? Did you get reviews posted on Amazon (the Big Dog) or elsewhere as well as sales? And – this may be hard to tell, but do you think time-of-year effects sales? Thanks 🙂
Hi Kate. Nearly all of my sales are through Amazon, although I do have this particular book (and the whole series) listed through D2D. When the ad produces a large number of sales I do tend to get a review or two out of it on Amazon – not a lot, but one or two. As far as time of year, I’ve heard all sorts of theories, like winter is slow because it’s after Christmas, or summer is slow because people are doing outside activities, etc. But I’ve never been able to detect any sort of pattern to my sales based on the season.
Let me add to that, I *do* think there’s a pattern based on days of the week, but haven’t ever taken the time (or collected the right information) to prove it. My impression, though, is that my ads tend to do best on a Thursday or Friday. Someday I need to go back and see if that’s really true.
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