Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of 99 cent-eBook

Lessons in Self-publishingFor one week, my epic fantasy eBook Shadows in the Stone was reduced from $3.99 to $0.99. To help promote it, I added the book to Betty Book Freak’s mailing list. I didn’t put it on any other site because I wanted to gauge the results of the paid ad.

Readers of this blog will remember I’m working on my marketing skills, running experiments and testing promotional ideas. The two posts I previously wrote about on this subject are:

Marketing Results

Like all marketing campaigns, many things influence results—day of the week, day of the year, number of subscribers to mailing lists, full moons, a horrible book, a terrible blurb, Trump stealing the spotlight, ghastly book covers, vacations, hens laying…you get the picture—so what did or didn’t work one time might be completely opposite the next time.

And here’s hoping for better results next time.

Sales Results varyI checked several times in the morning to see if Betty Book Freak’s newsletter arrived in my inbox. I’m an early riser, so I started looking around 6:00 am. Just before I went out the door to attend a committee meeting for the exhibition, I checked Betty’s website; my book had been posted there, but the newsletter had yet to be sent. When I returned hours later, it was waiting for me.

Betty Book Freaks email arrived in my inbox 12:29 pm (Atlantic Standard Time).

In the previous campaign, the newsletter arrived at 10:00 am. So there doesn’t seem to be a set time for its arrival. Since my sale would run a few days after the ad day, it wasn’t horribly important for the ad to arrive via newsletter subscription half way through the day. However, if my book was free for only one day, it would give readers only 12 hours to download it (depending on their time zone).

Keep this in mind if you run a free day with KDP Select. I recommend going free for two days, the first being when the ad is published, the second to pick up stragglers who didn’t get to the email immediately.

The number of books I sold on Saturday February 27th—the day the ad ran in Betty’s email—was 0. That’s right, zero.

Castle Keepers Vignettes 02 SmashwordsOne marketing technique I’m using to help spread the word about the upcoming release of “Scattered Stones” on May 6th is the 300-word character vignettes. They can be read on my author page, as well as packaged by the dozen on Smashwords. I just released Volume 2.

Was the paid ad effective? No. Would I do it again? Probably, but I’m going to experiment with a few other book promoters first. Is it discouraging? No. I have a brain dysfunction that allows me to handle rejection well; I’ve got a filing cabinet in my room with dozens of rejection letters in it. If I couldn’t take rejection, I’m in the wrong business.

The cost of the ad was $15.00 US. With our horrible Canadian dollar, that was $21.41 for me.

Mini Note

Running alongside this sale was the free eBook Twistmas – The Season for Love. I decided to use all five days offered by KDP Select to see if the momentum would make it climb in the rankings and in turn, create more downloads. It was also a good test to see what no advertisement would do.

Previously, I had offered the book for free for two days and had a paid Betty Book Freak ad. The results were 78 downloads the first day and 28 the second day.

The download results for my unadvertised sale were 5 (1st day), 4 (2nd day), 1 (3rd day), 9 (4th day) and 3 (5th day) for a total of 22 downloads.

Conclusion: The ad posted with Betty Book Freak increased the number of free downloads substantially.

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34 thoughts on “Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of 99 cent-eBook

  1. Great share Di. I too was experimenting with Betty Bookfreak and found the Free promo more successful than paid. Same for another author friend. It’s important that we share each other’s strategies to learn where the best bang for our lousy buck is. I haven’t done any promos for months and know I’m overdue. I think I’m just going to put a book or two on Free in KDP with no paid ads this time and let it roll. I’ll keep you posted as I know you will us. 🙂

    • I think it’s important to share information like this too. When I started freelancing in the 1990s, I felt as if writers were hoarding information, what they got paid for assignments, who to contact and various other things. It felt like a competition.

      Self-publishing is different. I feel like we are all in this together, and we share what works, what does work and how to get things done.

      Thank you for visiting, and for leaving a comment. Diane

  2. Sorry the advertising didn’t go well. If you’ll allow me to have a copy of your cover, I’ll promote your book on my sidebar–free of charge. I’ll keep it there for at least one month, maybe longer.

    I also suggest you do a search at Twitter. Just put in #booking promoters. You can get to know which ones look feasible to you.

    • Thank you, Glynis. I appreciate this.

      Advertising is one of those things that is hit or miss. I think. Though I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I’m a writer who prefers to write, but I know this is part of self-publishing. So I trudge on.

      I’m getting better with tags and hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and this blog. I’ve also read a few articles on how to choose the proper tag words/phrases for books on Amazon. I’ll look into #book promoters. I’m learning there are a lot out there.

      Thanks again.

  3. I ran kdp select two days in a row then again for two days in a row. I didn’t simultaneously do any other marketing. The number of downloads was moderate but a good number of those who did download my book read it and then added very positive reviews to Amazon – which was an unexpected but very welcome result! So I consider the kdp select campaigns to have been successful and well worth it both times it ran. (I have one free day remaining.)

    • My point is that even moderate short-run sales can lead to positive reviews, which in the long run is more desirable than a few sales. And that putting your book up on KDP Select free days can open up that very important avenue.

      • Yes, getting a few good reviews by giving your book away is great. KDP Select gives us that opportunity. From seeing the huge number of reviews for some books, it does work. The review often states they got the book for free. It’s quite amazing to see 700 or more reviews for book. I’d be happy with a dozen. I couldn’t imagine hundreds.

    • And that’s why I think most self-published authors run the KDP Select free days: for reviews. I hope my free downloads generate reviews too. So far though, no reviews have appeared. Perhaps they are waiting to read the Christmas story in season.

      Thanks for visiting, and for leaving a comment. Good luck with your book.

      • And what I like about the KDP select is that the recipients of the free books aren’t expected to write reviews – but they just do.

        Sometimes it helps to not have expectations!

        Good luck with your writing and all your projects!

  4. I have also found the paid promotional sites unsuccessful. As a Canadian author, I find it frustrating that we can not offer the 99 cent promo to our Canadian audience. The free promo works ok, but we can’t do the 99 cent promo here. I have had much better success posting my promos in FB groups that are in alignment with my genre…and it’s free!

    A question for you Diane…I’ve just made my book Healing Through Creative Expression available in print using Create Space. With the exchange rate, the book is very expensive to get in Canada, my cost is 9.11 USD plus shipping, customs etc. It retails in the US for 15.99 and Canada for 21.50. I make a whopping 48 cents US on that! Do you have any experience or advice for printing books in Canada and using distributors who deal with independent authors…like us?
    Thanks so much, I really enjoy your posts!
    Patricia

    • When you say we can’t do 99 cent promos, what do you mean? We can set the price for Canadians at 99 cents if we want, but we have to manually do this. My short stories are 99 cents in Canada (See Blade of Truth: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00FIFU1UG?keywords=Blade%20of%20Truth%20(Castle%20Keepers%20Tales%20Book%202)&qid=1453551449&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1)

      I can imagine some book promos work more than others. Book Bub–from what I’ve read–works excellent, but it’s out of my price range.

      I read conflicting reports about Facebook ads–some work great; others say it is a waste of money.

      The exchange rate is a killer through CreateSpace at this time. I have paper copies on hand, but I’m holding off buying more, hoping our dollar will rise. I increased the price of each book last year while at markets. My sales didn’t suffer. I assumed people who wanted to buy the book would buy it regardless if it was $16 or $18. It’s not as if the price doubled.

      I’ve looked at some local printers in Nova Scotia (within driving distance to eliminate the cost of shipping), and it was still cheaper to go through CreateSpace. Most local printers want a minimum of 200 or more books printed. I can’t afford that at this time, so buying 20 or 30 copies of each book from CreateSpace is the better option.

      As for distribution, well, there aren’t a lot of options. At least not a lot that won’t cost a lot. I’m going to get my books in a few shops this year (I hope). I’m starting small and going from there.

      My mind is working on a self-publishing Co-op in my province. I want to keep it local to allow everyone to meet, or at least a small chain to form. It’s in the raw stages at the moment, but one thing I’d like to do with it is ‘book exchanges’. In other words, I meet an author from another community and I give her my books, and I take hers, and we return to our communities where we distribute these books to the local shops that sell them.

      Perhaps it could trickle into neighbouring provinces eventually.

      • Thank you for your feedback! It is all such a learning curve! Your co-op idea sounds interesting…we do need to create some sort of support network for indie authors.

        In regards to the 99 cent promo, I ran mine the end of February. The book is priced at 3.99 and was offered at 99 cents for 5 days. This offer didn’t work in Canada, only the US and UK. So, I thought I would just reduce the price manually to the promo price once the KDP promo was done. But here is the glitch…Amazon won’t allow any price changes for 14 day after the promo. I have to wait until March 15 to manually reduce the price. This may be a new policy?? I also understood that one could do a free promo and then move right into a countdown promo, but we can only run one promo within each 3 month KDP Select agreement.

        • Oh, I understand what you are doing now, Patricia. I thought you had ran a ‘manual’ sale. That’s what I did a short time ago. I adjusted all the prices to read 99 cents. The $3.99 price sticker was gone.

          I don’t actually take advantage of these promos, only the five-days-free promo. Maybe I’m too unorganised, or I think it’s too much of a hassle.

          It doesn’t seem fair that you can’t adjust the price for 14 days, but I’m sure they have their reasons.

    • The pleasure comes from knowing I’m not alone. We are all in this together. Writing–I learn more and more each day–gives more back than sales. I was inspired to write a post on where stories come from. It’s half done. While writing it, I realised it doesn’t matter how many books I sell, I will still write. The stories are in me and need to get out. I am a writer, and I will write into the unforeseeable future.

      Thanks for visiting, Tracy. Have a wonderful day. The sun is shining and the snow is melting. I can taste spring in the air.

  5. I’m sorry your results weren’t better. I had terrible results with KDP too. The best results I’ve had were with Tweets though I’mm sure the best results of all (not verified) are if you stand on one leg in a market square reciting Frere Jacques backwards while sipping a cup of tea.
    Best of luck with the next trial.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Results are unpredictable; I understand that. Sometimes they are disappointing and other times, they are surprising. There’s been times when I’ve had sharp increases in sales for no reason at all; maybe the moon was in the right phase. Who knows.

      Your method of selling books sounds similar to how we get a cell phone signal at our camp: stand on one leg on that rock pointed in that direction with the phone angled just right. lol

      Thanks, David.

  6. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Check out this blog. I did a similar exercise with my book Blood Orange and a post on The Opinionated Man’s new bookstore coupled with a cheap ($1 per day) Facebook ads and sold an average of 100 books per day during the 7 day promotion. Your mileage may vary.

  7. Bummer that you had no sales. I wonder if the glut of free books makes the bargain hunters less interested in $.99, even though it’s a fabulous deal. I like the way you’re testing the promotional sites one at a time to see how each performs. I should do that too as I have no idea which ones I use are successful and which aren’t. Thanks for sharing all this valuable info. 🙂

    • I think about the glut of free books out there. One doesn’t have to look far to find them, and once you are on Amazon’s 100 free books in any given genre, you have plenty to choose from. There will always be readers who will want only books for free; they wouldn’t pay for books regardless of the discounted price. I don’t worry about them too much, but I know they are there, and I’m certain free plays a role in how many books authors sell and get paid for.

      Thanks for visiting, and for leaving a comment.

        • I buy books too but mostly paperback. If they are self-published and I know them, I buy directly from them. I’m not sure how much it helps to download their book for free during a promotion, but I will just in case it does. I have several I need to read, so I can post reviews. At the very least I can do that; it’s free to me, and the review helps them sell books in the long run.

          Diana, buying books is a great way to support the indie community.

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