Ah the selling of books, I’ve done that, quite a lot this year and my latest Book Promotional efforts are looking towards being personal best material. With that in mind and for the purposes of helping a fellow author here’s a detailed breakdown of what I did and the results I got. Roll the intro….
First of all, before setting out and committing to any type of book promotional run it’s important to aim for something. What exactly are we looking to achieve here? In my case which I hope doesn’t sound too complex I wanted to promote my book ‘Cemetery House’ and get as many folks as possible to grab a copy during the run. The ‘run’ meaning the time it was going to be free to download and advertised. The more complex bit is below and optional to read.
Not so important background info, skip if you don’t care…
Over the 2 years ‘CH’ has been available it’s been the most under-performing book on my back list. It has the least amount of sales, reviews and I’m not sure many have actually read it. This is a shame, because it’s the bigger, better older brother to my clunky (but also good) debut novel ‘Open Evening’. ‘Cemetery House’ is also part of the wider ‘Order of the Following Series’ which continues in the form of my 6th book which arrives at the end of this month (September 2020) so you kinda need to read it in order for book 6 to make sense. My true aim in this promo run was to fix all of the problems stated above by getting some folks to actually download and eventually read it.
Strategy – how was I going to do it?
So the best way to get as many downloads for a book is to set the price to Free for a minimal amount of time. 2 days works quite well, you can generate a sense of urgency by saying ‘Free for a limited time only’ which is a sneaky way of pressurising people into downloading it. So as all of my works are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days within a certain period to set any of your books for Free. So I did that.
Cemetery House would be avalable for Free on the 3rd and 4th of September 2020. And then advertised as Discounted on the next two days.
While Free is good, along with the small space of time this offer is available they are not a guaranteed way of shifting books and like every author everywhere the greatest struggle we all face is being heard. Our voice is only as loud as our social media following and even that sometimes isn’t enough.
My go-to way of amplifying my author voice is to used paid advertising in the form of Book Promotion sites. Using a combination of paid sites and some of which were free, I would be able to amplify my voice while also working in tandem with my social media platforms on the days of the promo to maximise telling folks about it. This strategy can be used for all books across all genres. E books sell a lot more than physical copies in my case but that’s not to say you can’t use this strategy to sell all types. Just do your research, there are plenty of authors out there who share their results. And use the Google if in doubt.
Results first, how I did it later…
While you all probably just want to know how I did it, you first need the context of how well things went to gauge whether or not you can try and achieve the same. So here are the results.
Cemetery House Free Downloads: 1643
Stuff I didn’t expect or account for:
Selling nearly all my back list in one damn day….
Including sales of the other two books in the series which are priced at 99 cents:
Darke Blood: 20
Open Evening: 30
Sale of other books not in the series:
The Ghost Beside Me: 1 x Paperback
Total Sales of priced books on Day 1: 51
I probably sold 51 books last year in total without promo. This is an unexpected but wonderful result.
Open Evening sold 33 copies on release way back in 2016. For this promo, in which it wasn’t even specifically advertised, it got downloaded 30 times in one damn day.
All 3 books in the ‘Order of the Following’ series sold very well over the promo run. A huge factor in the success of this is governed by the fact ‘CH’ is the middle book in the series, although there is no particular order in which you need to read them. It is also mentioned on each of their Amazon pages, as seen below with Open Evening. It is mentioned in the start of each book also.
Although on this run I advertised ‘CH’ as stand alone which it can be enjoyed as, there was still plenty of interest for other books in the series and they are both available for 99 cents.
Honorable mentions for both ‘The Teleporter’ and ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which sold copies without any prior advertisement on this run and proof that my single best piece of marketing advice is true. That advice being, the best way to sell a book is to have another available, and then another and so forth. The graph and breakdowns above sing from that hymn sheet big time!
Amazon Chart Movement
My newest strategy in promoting free books is to then advertise them straight after the run as discounted. On this occasion this only generated 3 discounted sales of ‘CH’ after the run, but the sales of ‘Open Evening’ and ‘Darke Blood’ rocketed them both up their respective charts, from several thousand to double figures in a matter of days which will give them some new visibility as they begin to recede back to the dark depths of the unknown, like me…
‘Tis the season
All three books in the Order of the Following Series are occult, horror or thrillers. I’ve been waiting all damn year for the Spooky season to promote them and they always do well this time of year so let that be a top tip; genre and seasons coincide with sales no matter what book you’ve got to offer non fiction or fiction. People will gravitate towards a spooky tale during the run up to Autumn and Halloween. This is probably why ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ sold some copies also.
Execution – what I did
This is most probably best described as the ‘good part’ of the post and probably the reason why you are here, so here’s what I did.
Book Promo Sites
Freebooksy Horror Promotion – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd
E Reader News Today – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd and 4th
E Book Booster Guranteed Promo – Cost: $20 – Date 3rd and 4th
Pretty Hot – Cost: $25 – Date: 4th
Bookzio – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th
Booangel – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th
As you can see some of the dates and sites overlap with one another. A top tip: if you really want to know how much reach a certain book promo site actually has, then just advertise with them only on a single date. The more expensive normally means better reach. You have to be willing to spend a little money if you want some good reach.
On the first day of the Free promotion I put up this banner and then RT’d it later on in the day to coincide with Eastern Time for my American Friends. I’m near to 4k followers so it probably helped with some international reach. I’m proud of this banner which I put together myself via Pixlr.
My ‘gram following isn’t huge but I also shared the banner and put some other info about the results via my story. Come and say hi, you can find me here...
Good ol life invader. I don’t use my page that much these days but my 500 plus following will always be appreciated and so I shared the banner and relevant links on day 2.
A blog post
My blogging efforts are very busy and so I didn’t have the time or space to put out a post on the Free days so instead I put one out on the Saturday. If you want to know what it looks like, here’s the link…
Factors that helped…
Having already mentioned that ‘CH’ is part of a wider series and this is clearly marked on each book’s amazon page, what else helped shift a bunch more books than usual?
Reviews, ratings, critiques whatever you call them, spiritually they don’t matter but in the sense of book promotion they do so it’s a conflicting double edged sword. Even though ‘CH’ did not have any US Amazon reviews at the time of this promo, the two other books did. Having a star rating on Amazon will help shift more copies and I could even argue that is the only purpose reviews serve – that’s a rabbit hole of debate that I wont go into right now.
I firmly sit in the corner of investing well in a good book cover. This is such a huge factor that will attract passing trade. Yes your book is free and being paraded in front of a big internet audience but does it look good? People do judge a book by it’s cover. If you scroll to the very top of this site you will see all 5 of my book covers. Trust me, they matter in sales and they are shiny also.
I Invested with money…
It doesn’t take a business major to see a potential flaw in this book promo run. Giving a book away for free but paying for advertising, how are you going to make a profit? The answer to that question is, I’m not, in the short term. The purpose of the book promotion is to maximise readers, if your work is quality enough for readers to look at more of your books then this will eventually lead to potential profits. Right now I am in the process of building that readership which is growing. This also coincides with having more work available which the results of this promo have proved as a tactic in selling books. If you seriously want success in publishing you need to invest money.
The numbers speak for themselves and I was pleasantly surprised to sell anything more than what I tried to promote. Like everything in publishing apart from the story, us writers aren’t actually in control and that’s both scary and thrilling. Embrace all the stuff you don’t intend to achieve in writing, trust me, its normally the best stuff. Quite recently I have been very much enjoying the connecting with fellow writers who’ve published all types of works from cookery books to vampires which are still the fashion!
To everyone who has read up to this point thank you, I hope you find this post useful an you can hopefully expect the full guide book to arrive next year. But just remember, this post is just Part 1…
But wait there’s more…
Thanks for reading, stay safe and peace out!