First off, if you’ve been thinking about reading The Lafayette Campaign, now would be an excellent time to do so, as I’ve dropped the price to $.99 for the next few days. Why? Because I’m going to systematically try out (and report on) the book discount promotional services over the next several weeks.I’ve been intrigued by this method for quite a while, but had never tried it with my first book, in part because I didn’t have direct price control of my book (I had to work through the POD publisher). That made it cumbersome and expensive, and discounting the eBook below $.99 was not allowed at all.
This time around, I’m my own publisher, so this is no longer a problem, although even the Kindle Select program limits an author to five free days out of ninety. That seems to be less critical now, however, as many authors find that people that download free books rarely read, review, or recommend them. Be that as it may, now that I’m my own publisher, I reset my price at will and in under a minute
There are a few other reasons why paying a book discovery service makes sense to me. First of all, there are virtually no promotional methods you can try that take a grand total of ten minutes to put into action that might actually sell books. Since some of these services are quite cheap ($19 – $30), you can’t get burned too bad, and you may even get your some of your money back while promoting your book at the same time.
Notice I said “some money back” rather than “make money.” That’s because if you drop your book price at Amazon below $2.99, your royalty rate drops to 35%. So if you discount your book from $2.99 to $.99 (those are my numbers), you’d need to sell 54 books to earn back even $19. Still, there are almost no other methods that have the potential to generate even meager results.
That’s the theory, anyway. What I’ll find out next is how well (or not) it works.
If you haven’t looked into this technique before, here are a few basics. As with every other conceivable promotional method, there are many service providers all doing basically the same thing, with minor variations. The base service seems to be including your book in a daily email the provider sends to its subscribers. On top of this, they may Tweet your title, list your book at their site, list it at Facebook, and/or boost it at Facebook. The price goes up with the service package you select.
The numbers of claimed subscribers varies widely, with some claiming only 12,500 and others advertising ten times that or more. Since the value of the service will be roughly equal to the number of real subscribers they have, you’ll want to hunt those figures out at a service provider’s site before you make up your mind whether to give it a try.
That said, this is not to say that there’s always a direct correlation between a providers rates and its results. From what I’ve been able to learn from other authors, one of the most effective services, offered by EReader News Today, and ENT is surprisingly cheap. The fee to promote a book discounted to $.99 ranges from $20 to $40, depending on the genre of the book. On the other hand, the most desirable service for authors, BookBub, is significantly more expensive, with listing fees for a $.99 book ranging from $120 (books on parenting) to $870 (Mysteries). On the other hand, according to their rate and results sheet, all authors get meaningful sales, and some do very well indeed.
As you might expect, getting your book accepted becomes not only more expensive, but more difficult the better a sales record the service has. While most of the site claim that there is no bright line test, you can assume that the better the site, the more reviews and the higher a Amazon rank you’ll need to have in order to be accepted. The waiting times from acceptance until the promotion day may be longer as well.
The result is that my own promotional plan has been based on several stages. The first is to get as many reviews as I can, not only to generally credential my new book, but also to make it more likely that I can get a service like EReader News Today to take the book on. The second is to try to work my way up the ladder of discount promotion sites, using the (hoped for) success resulting from the easier to access sites to get my foot in the door at the elite sites. Further to that goal, my plan is to rededicate any proceeds from this approach to buying more listings at other sites.
I’ll close this brief introduction on discounting with one last, important point. As engineers are fond of observing, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” I plan to keep scrupulous records of my sales as I try each service sequentially, so that I can see which work best. Later on, I may try running several separate offers at the same time, in hopes of boosting my Amazon rank high enough that Amazon’s internal algorithms will add my book for a while to the list of books that Amazon actively features and promotes.
So – here I am, on the threshold of another adventure in self-publishing book promotion. I’m hoping I won’t be disappointed in this one, as I’m not aware of any other tool with the same potential. Anyway, I’ll just have to wait and see. At times like these, it’s wise to remember that for the realistic person, writing, like virtue, must often be its own reward.
Meanwhile, don’t forget that a certain great summer read is currently available for only $.99.