Before moving on to the third book marketing method I’ve tried and that I have had success with, I want to update you on the latest results of my second strategy – using book promos and discounts.If you’ve been following this blog or have read my last post, you know I chose three (of the 140+) websites from my book, Author! Author! Use Book Promos & Discounts to Create Buzz for your Book to promote my two novels on.
Right off the bat, BookBub turned my novels down. When I submitted to them, I still did not have the minimum number of stars they require for approval. I next tried Ereader News Today and had great success with one of my novels, Water from Stone. In fact, that book hit as low as #3 in at least one of its categories. I sold well over 200 books through the site in 24 hours and sales have continued (though tapered off somewhat) since. And, just to note again, the people who run the site were wonderful to work with. I am looking forward to submitting my newest novel, The Stages of Grace.
My Experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips – Things I Liked
Please note: lest you wonder, Free Kindle Books & Tips accepts both free and paid-for books. The name was chosen (I believe) prior to Amazon’s March 2013 crack-down on sites that only promoted freebies. When that changed and the site began promoting discounted books as well, the choice was made to keep the name as it had already earned a reputation. Again, I could be making up that rationale. Michael (Gallagher), please correct me if I am wrong.
A couple of days ago, I tried a third site, Free Kindle Books & Tips, run by Michael Gallagher. There were a couple of things I liked right off the bat about FK Books & Tips, but also a number of things I though, Hmmmmm, about. The good news was that Michael was very responsive to both my regular submission and to a follow-up email question. I have worked with a number of sites that take days to respond to questions, if ever. Michael responded to my question – and what turned out to be subsequent follow-up questions – the same day. A second thing I liked was that Michael allowed me to place my promos several months out. Personally, I hate having to re-submit so this saved me time and hassle. A third thing I liked was that Michael strategized with me. I wanted to run back-to-back promos, and he suggested that I would quickly reach burn out. Instead, he recommended 30-day windows between promos. I took his advice and, well, we’ll see.
Oh, and I liked the price – just $25 for a regular submission. That means that selling just 72 books at $0.99 recoups your investment. (72 x .35 = $25.20)
My Experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips – Things I was Skeptical About
I didn’t like that FK Books & Tips offers only an estimate of the number of subscribers they send email promos to. I believe the estimate is 10,000. That might sound like a lot, but because the site doesn’t specify the preferred genres of those readers, it left me wondering if my contemporary fiction was going to be promoted to paranormal-loving readers.
A second point that left me a bit skeptical was that I have been following FK Books & Tips for some time now and I have noticed that the site promotes a lot of books that have that sketchy “homemade” cover look to them. I don’t mean to be a book cover snob, but, well… OK, I’m a book cover snob. Because I participate in a fair number of book exchanges, I know that a homemade cover often means a poorly-edited book. If an author is going to be tight-fisted about the book’s main presentation, it is pretty much a given that he/she hasn’t bothered to have the manuscript properly edited. I know, I know, that’s my own bias, but a bias that is hard-earned.
And, for the record, The Stages of Grace is meant to have a cartoon on the cover. The main character is a cartoonist and the cartoon character… well, it’s important to the book.
Yeesh. Apparently, I have not had enough caffeine this morning.
So, back to my experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips…
Further to the second thing I was skeptical about (the home-made covers), was that FK Books & Tips does not require that books submitted to it for promotion have a minimum number of stars or reviews. Now, on the one hand, I don’t like star and review minimum requirements because I know so many of them are bogus. As someone who refuses to solicit bogus reviews and stars, I resent that something bogus would be the basis for submission to a promo site. On the other hand, now that my books have earned a fair number of legitimate reviews and stars, I understand how a greater number of stars and reviews translates into more sales. Because promo sites make a lot of money off of book sales, it only makes sense that they would want to limit themselves to books that have already proven themselves.
Because FK Books & Tips does not have a star or review requirement, I wondered if their only source of income was in selling promo space to authors. If that was the case – if the site was not also hoping to make money off of sales through the links in it promotions – then the submission fee would probably be a loss. Why? Because I want sales. I don’t want someone to simply take my money, post a spot on some sketchy blog and then call it a day. I want someone to take my money, post my book on an active site, send it to a large number of greedy book readers, make a ton of sales and then, and only then, call it a day.
The third thing that left me skeptical about FK Books & Tips was that the site doesn’t add much to its promos. Basically, it sends out an email that says, “Here is what Amazon’s book description says about the book…”
OK, what was I expecting? I mean, really, all any site does is include the description from Amazon. That’s a given. I mean, there is no way anyone could read the 10+ books featured each day and offer a review. It’s just, well, FK Books & Tips was so obvious about cutting and pasting and that, well… I guess I would have preferred them to be a little more discreet.
And, finally, my last concern with FK Books & Tips was that my first promo was due to appear on a Sunday. Now, please understand that I ASKED for the “first available” spot – and I got what I asked for so this is entirely on me. I guess I wanted first available, but I also wanted sometime toward the end of the week when (to my mind) readers would be thinking about curling up with a good book over the weekend. But, Sunday was first available and I was grateful to get it – especially because I consoled myself with the idea that at worst it would give me data for a blog post.
So, by now you’re probably wondering whether my FK Books & Tips experiment was worth it or not. Before I answer that, here’s a brief recap:
- Responsiveness to questions
- Michael strategized with me
- Took long-term orders up front
- Price – I’d only need to sell 72 books to break even
Not necessarily dislikes, but things that made me skeptical:
- Not enough detail on subscribers/readers
- Promotes unprofessional-looking (to my eye) books
- Does not have a minimum number of stars or reviews requirement
- Starts each post with, “The Amazon description for the book says…” (or something very similar)
- I was worried about a promo on Sunday
My Experiment with Free Kindle Books & Tips – The Results
Something I hadn’t really thought about prior to this experiment was the date it was taking place on. You see, my book was due for promotion on the 2nd of February. This turned out to be a good thing as Amazon (the site I was tracking) starts fresh each month. So, one month, your sales can hit 1,000, but on the first of the month they drop back down to 0. Because my promo was on the 2nd, I was starting with a low sales number and could easily track new sales. And yes, I know, simple math would give me the numbers no matter how many sales I began with, but, well, this somehow made it easier.
I checked sales on Saturday night – the night before the promo ran – and they were negligible. Water from Stone was doing quite well, but that novel had been gaining traction already. I had not yet formally promoted The Stages of Grace (other than through Goodreads) yet, and so I was not surprised by the low numbers.
On Sunday morning, I checked Amazon sales for The Stages of Grace and was very disappointed to see that only a few overnight sales had been made. I was not totally disappointed by having purchased a one-day promo on FK Books & Tips, so much as disappointed that I had booked promos for the next three months. But then I went back to the site and realized that they work on Central Time and I am in Eastern. My book had not yet been promoted.
I gave it several hours and again checked the results. Sales for The Stages of Grace were picking up, with about 2o sales in the first hour after FK Books & Tips email went out to subscribers. I continued to check numbers throughout the day and evening and enjoyed watching the number grow. Of course, it was not all due to the promotion as the book garnered a handful of sales on its own every day, but I had to give credit to the site for the sudden spike.
I confess, I watched the Super Bowl that night and then went to bed without checking my final numbers. I did, however, wake up around 1:30 in the morning and decided to put in a few hours of work. When I checked the site, sales for The Stages of Grace had reached 78. That made me happy, if only because my promo costs were now covered and any new sales that came from the site were profit. By the next morning, 24 hours after the promo began, I had sold 84 Kindle copies of the book.
But that’s not all.
When I think about success, I am not only looking for sales. Really. Because I have discounted the book while I try out these various promo sites, I only make $0.35 every time a book is sold. After factoring in the cost of the promotion, I only made $4.20. Nope, that wasn’t the high point.
The high point was that the increased sales, added to the sales the book gets on a normal day, boosted it enough to make it an Amazon #1 Best Seller in one of its categories! Look at the image at the top of this post to see its little #1 flag. Not only that, but it boosted the book’s numbers in other categories as well. Long-term, I can get a lot more mileage out of my book being a #1 Amazon Best Seller than I can out of netting $4.20.
OK. all that being said, I have to say this experiment was a success. If you look only at dollar figures, you might not think so. I look at the entire impact a promo has, including money earned, but also improvements in rank and whether my book makes it into the top 100 Paid sales.
For the record, I also have to point out that my promo ran on Super Bowl Sunday. This Super Bowl had the highest ratings ever for any TV show watched. That means that my promo had some pretty fierce competition. For that reason, I am going to see how my next FK Books & Tips promo goes before I let myself come to any conclusions. Happily, that promo is tomorrow – Wednesday, February 3rd – for Water from Stone. I will let you know how it goes.
Read more here:
See more results here: