Bob Hammond here. And just as I promised, too. I am living up to my new year’s resolution by paving it forward and providing all you little indies with tidbits of info to help you be successful in 2016. After 2016, you’re on your own.
In any case, this past Monday, Belinda Claymore – wait, my personal assistant just nudged me and said “Melinda Clayton.” I don’t know who that is. Probably one of my many fans. She can wait a minute or two while I tell you this very important information. Anyway, this Lucinda chick wrote an article about book promo sites losing their effectiveness. I decided it was time for me, Bob Hammond, to look into what Matilda had written to see if I could come up with some empirical evidence to either back it up, or debunk it. So, I had one of my many personal assistants who had run promos on some of my bestselling novels keep track of all the statistics. Because – you know that if there are no sales, it can’t be any of my books at fault. It must be the site!
About a year ago, I gave Judy my American Express Platinum card and told her to have at it. Now, today, exclusively right here on Indies Unlimited, we’re going to release her results. That’s right, I’m going to share my secrets with you, because that’s the kind of guy I am. Helpful. In any case, here are a bunch of numbers and dollar signs and website names that frankly mean nothing to me, but maybe they will be helpful to you.
I (Julie) ran an ad for one of Bob’s contemporary fiction genre books at a sale price of 99 cents on March 21, 2015 with:
eBookBooster $25 (eBookBooster is a site that agrees to send your ad out to various sites, 25 sites for $25, including Awesome Gang, Sweeties Picks, Ebook-Saurus, eBookLister, and maybe HotZippy – maybe was their word, never did know if it was included or not).
Sold 2 books total.
I thought they couldn’t all be that ineffective, so I decided to try some of eBookBooster’s sites directly. Yep, they’re all that ineffective.
Ran an ad for a different book in March with:
Read Cheaply ($15)
Ebook-Saurus ($10 for premium listing)
Ran an ad on April 10 with Awesome Gang ($10 for featured book listing)
Ran another ad with EbookSoda ($10)
Ran an ad in November for BKnights ($5)
Have tried multiple ads with Fussy Librarian ($15)
Never sell more than 3.
To summarize, with ads through EbookSoda, eBookBooster (including Awesome Gang, Sweeties Picks, Ebook-Saurus, eBookLister), Read Cheaply, BKnights, and Fussy Librarian, I spent $120.00 and sold a total of 14 books. At $0.35 per book, That means Bob took in $4.90, which translates to being down by $115.10.
Frankly, the disturbing part of all that jargon is the fact that my books were on sale for 99 cents. Whoever heard of such a thing? I made that sacrifice for you Indies – it’s all for science and art or what-have-you. In any case, I hope that info is helpful to you. Because that’s what I, Bob Hammond, am all about in 2016. Helping out. And you can read all about it in my new book, That’s Me, Helpful Bob Hammond.
31 thoughts on “Some Book Promotion Sites Have Lost Their Luster”
Thank you, helpful Bob Hammond! I was beginning to think I was the only author–indie or otherwise–with lackluster sales on promo sites. Maybe I’ll spring for BookBub, Bob (Great alliteration, huh?). If BB accepts one of my titles, I’m told the ad will more than pay for itself…
Well, jeez, if Bob Hammond gets those kinds of results, what is there for the rest of us to do?
Well, if you’re fame, face, and fortune can’t bring in the bucks there’s no hope for this hopeless fan.
Thanks, Bobby-Boy. If your wonderful books can’t sell through those promo sites, I guess I’ll have to try elsewhere.
Which leads me to ask, If the promos aren’t working, how DO you sell all those millions of books? Word of mouth, your forte?
Um…Bill…I mean Bob…my name is Melinda.
Thanks… I’m not convinced that many sites work to sell books… It seems to me that the best luck is direct promotions by the author or carefully crafted reviews on blogs.. The days of downloading a book just because it’s free or 99 cents are kinda in the past… thanks for your research… now, if I can get your credit card, I’ll send you copies of all my books
Super helpful. I will share. Too many authors think these sites are the path to success because of the low prices to list your books, but the proliferation of these sites and the rise of mega sites like BookBub have changed the landscape completely. I don’t run these anymore either. Waste of $$ even if it’s only $5. I mean really, if you download free books all day, how many of those can you actually read?
I probably won’t run these ads again either. Looking at Bob’s results (and mine were only marginally better) I can’t help feeling that what we’re seeing here is another incarnation of the vanity industry. Once upon a time authors were preyed on to get their books in print. Now they can do it all on their own (thanks to sites like this). What we need now is publicity… and out have come the sharks again to fleece us of our cash – albeit in much smaller amounts – in exchange for very little. I’m not saying they’re all like that (any more than all self-publishing companies were sharks), but it seems there are a number who are. Why does this industry attract so many charlatans?!
I think you’re right, Alan. Promo sites are the new parasites on aspiring authors.
Stephanie & Alan-I feel for new authors. I had one tell me she had her books on 45 of these free sites on Facebook because that is all she could afford and just wanted to get her book in front of people. I had a hard time convincing her that she wasn’t really getting her books in front of a focused audience, but was getting lost in a sea of faceless authors desperate to sell their books. Part of the problem is that many young authors think this is such a wonderful deal because they (maybe) sell a book a week.
At the risk of overstepping the mark, might it be a good idea to put a link to this article and discussion on the list of Book Promo Sites? While this may still be a valuable list for some, at least anyone trawling them will go into the venture with a realistic perspective!
Not overstepping at all, I like the idea. My issue with doing that is the fact that we’d be doing it based on ONE author’s experience. The books in question were contemporary fiction and literary fiction. Do romance or other genre books fare better on these sites? What about time of year or day of the week? I was hoping this article would open a discussion that would give better insight into the factors that impact promotion on those sites. Without that, I’m not sure it’s a fair shake. Do these sites work for anyone? Maybe we should do a survey, but I’m afraid the results might be skewed without knowing the genres and time of year. Do you think a survey would be helpful?
I think if you’ve got the time and inclination, a survey might be very enlightening – though as you rightly say, you would need to get detailed enough information for it to be truly useful. The comments here do appear to imply that it is not just Bob’s experience that fell short of expectation, and if we (you!) could formalise that statistically, it might save more authors falling into what seems to becoming a nasty trap.
I’ll see if our survey expert can put something together. Thanks, Alan.
I’ve had similar results with some of the promo sites lately. The best luck I’ve had in “mass marketing” was by having a bunch of blogs doing various posts about me and the book. Each blog had a unique post and it was over a two week period. I sold quite a few books that way.
I’ve had similar results with some of the sites on your list (I haven’t used them all) and I’ve stopped using those, but my books have had better success than 0 to 3 sales from ads on these sites:
World Lit Care
The two times I used BookBub for a $0.99 sale, the ad more than paid for itself by a wide margin.
But, the sites on this list usually sell 10 or more copies each when I run a $0.99 ad with one or more of them, and eReaderNewsToday (ENT) usually sells more than 100 copies after the ad runs (knock on wood) and before the price goes back up. Last time I used them, the book sold 143 copies and a 100 sales was needed to break even with the ad costing $35.
$15 isn’t much of a profit but I’m not complaining since all the other sites I listed except for BookBub didn’t make enough money to cover the cost of the ads.
I find the only site I get results from these days is Kindle Nation Daily on their free book postings, $29.99 must be up before 6am EST the day you want it to appear. did one yesterday 450 books downloaded and that’s a new pen name, new series…
Bob, thanks for your thoughts and conclusions. I tried Fussy Librarian once, thinking it was the best of the lot, and sold zero books. I’ve read that the only ones making a decent living from books are the promoters.
This was so informative and saved me a sack of money. Thank you Bob. I am sure you have saved many authors from the misery of yet another dud site.
Over the years, it had been obvious to me that the source that brings in the most readers for my books has been my blogs, but building a blog that attracts enough readers, who might buy your books, is hard work and takes a lot of time (with an emphasis on TIME). The key to blogging is what search page your blog posts land on when someone Googles the subject you are writing about. That means your Blog must have a high search engine rank and to get a high search engine rank means writing a lot of posts on a regular bases and making sure to put the elements that search engines measure in every post you write: internal and external embedded links with specific language and images or embedded videos, for instance.
What do you think happens to blog posts that never make the first page of an internet search using Google or one of the other major search engines?
For readers to find your work, they have to find your work and there are several hundred thousand new titles that come out annually competing for readers in addition to tens of millions of websites and blogs competing for the same readers.
I just blogged about your blog. I’ll (hopefully) have some concrete “evidence” come May, 2016.
I’ve done many of the ads that Bob sited without great results, also. The thing that helped me was finding my niche audience and speaking directly to them. But I want a broader audience. How have all of you done with blog tours?
Hi, Effie. If you don’t mind me stepping in here, I’ve done a few blog tours, with mixed results. The tours with organized companies didn’t do much for me, although I appreciated their efforts making banners, enlisting bloggers, and coordinating. But my best results came from a tour I put together myself. It took a bit more time and effort (and it requires a lot of lead time), but I researched bloggers who liked my genre, queried them, and put together a schedule and content. For me, that led to more lasting results. And all it cost me was my time and a couple of giveaway copies.
My experience with blog tours is that it depends on the tour organizer. One operator gave me a stop on a couponing site. 🙁
If you find one who specializes in your genre or who will target your tour stops to bloggers who appreciate your genre, you can at least raise awareness of your name and book with readers of those blogs — which might make them pick up your book later, when they see it again. But in general, I wouldn’t expect big sales from a tour.
Effie, you might find this article helpful: https://indiesunlimited.com/2015/04/28/will-a-blog-tour-work-for-your-book/
This article is so timely. I’m doing research on paid ads to see if they’ll have more of an impact than freebies. I noticed EbookSoda didn’t do (at all, if I recall) the last time I used them. Guess that just leaves the big dogs…
What book did you promote with our services? Let me know and I’d be happy to take a look.
There are many variables that determine the effectiveness of an ebook promotion such as book cover quality, number of reviews, ebook rating and the editorial needs of the sites submitted to. The various ebook sites can get pretty busy so that can be another factor.
With bargain ebooks there are only so many sites that accept submissions (with no charge) so we continually update our list to include all that we can find on the Internet.
Anyway, would love to know which book and we can take a closer look.
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