As I mentioned previously it doesn’t necessarily make financial sense to extensively market your first book. However, when you have two or three books in a series the financials start to add up a little more. This leaves the million dollar question as to how to spend your marketing budget (which presumably isn’t $1 million).
There are lots of ways to advertise your books, including facebook ads, AMS, YouTube ads and countless more. For this particular experiment I wanted to test out the effectiveness of the book promotion companies. These companies will send out emails, tweets and facebook posts about your book to a curated audience of readers that enjoy that particular genre. They often require the book to be free or heavily discounted from it’s usual price. This creates a win/win for both sides, their readers get a good deal and you get a boost in your sales/downloads.
Bookbub is the biggie in this area and by far the hardest to get into. I did try submitting Getting Lucky, but unfortunately they only promote full length books. I’m going to try again once I have some reviews on the Lucky Beggar Trilogy book.
To get the most out of these promotions I made the decision to make Getting Lucky perma-free on both Kindle and Kobo. If you’re going to spend money on advertising you want to get as much bang for your buck as possible. The benefit of having a series is that a % of customers will ‘read through’ which is just a fancy way of saying they will buy more than one book in the series (and hopefully all of them). This allows you to earn less, or even lose money, on that initial download, with the hope of making it up in read through sales. Obviously the number of people that download a free book vs a $0.99c book is considerably higher. My intention therefore wasn’t to earn back my promotion money with Getting Lucky sales, but hopefully get the book out to a wider audience and in turn earn a little from read throughs.
If I’m going to spend money on advertising I wanted to do my best to try to track its effectiveness. This is far from an exact science, there will always be an element of doubt as to where sales actually came from, but to achieve this as best as I could I used the following criteria:
- At least two days between ending one promotion and starting another (and preferably longer)
- No other background advertising at the same time (ie Facebook ads, AMS ads etc)
- There’s an unfortunate reality that there’s going to be some overlap between the customers of all these book promo sites, so expect diminishing returns over time. This also means you should take the results below with a pinch of salt, if I reversed the order I did the promos the results could have differed considerably.
- I’ll be updating the list below as I run more promos, so this article is going to be ‘live’ for a while. Check back later for more comparisons.
Sweet Free Books
Cost: $7 USD for my genre (Action and Adventure as there isn’t a humour category)
Results: 131 downloads
Cost per download: $0.05
I started with Sweet Free books as they were inexpensive at only $7USD. I provided a minimal amount of information such as the amazon link and a brief blurb and booked a timeslot. They have some requirements which may limit this option for newer authors, including having at least 5 reviews with an average of 3.5 stars (although I believe there is a new author genre to specifically cater to this). They also require your book to be free or $0.99. Availability was decent, I only had to wait a couple of days.
Cost: $12 USD for Humour genre
Results: 113 downloads
Cost per download: $0.11
I was keen on Book Grow as I could specifically target humour readers. From previous experience this is a smaller genre than others, which likely impacted the # of downloads. I went with the Genre Pulse service, which seemed the best fit. One of the nice features was that they use a bit.ly link for your book, which means you can track the number of clicks. Here is mine for Getting Lucky. They actually make all of these public for the last 10 days, so you can go in and see the number of downloads books similar to yours are getting on the stats page to get a sense of if this service would be worth it for your particular genre.
The Fussy Librarian
Cost: $12 USD for Humour genre
Cost per download: $0.04
Availability was more limited with The Fussy Librarian (possibly a good sign?) so I had to book a spot a month out. The number of downloads was more than both the other promotions combined, and considering the fact that this promotion was run after the other two that is pretty impressive. I also noticed a few sales of the sequel books almost immediately after this promotion. Whilst there is no definitive way to connect them to this promotion the timing certainly suggests they were related.