As my first romantic suspense book, “Scarlet Revenge”, heads into its Amazon Promo Week, I’m watching it closely to figure out the best way to promote books. Two big questions started off my promotional journey: how to price a book & how to promote it.
Not too long ago, there was no question about how to price a promo book. It was always free. Of late, that norm has wavered. It is now just as popular to discount a book’s price, instead of offering it for free. If you’ve done any research on the topic, you’ll discover that neither way is win-win.
I decided to discount my book’s price. The Kindle version normally sells for $2.99 and until May 16th it is lowered to $0.99. Couple of reasons…
(1) Free doesn’t guarantee anything. I base this on my own habits. I’ll download every free book I hear about but I rarely get around to reading it. Of course, I want to read the free books. Yes, sometimes I download just to support the writer, but even then I want to read the book. Do I? No. However, if I pay for a book, I am compelled to read at least the first chapter. And if I like the writing, I devour the whole book.
(2) My publisher encouraged me to only reduce the price. Her research, based on watching other romance promo weeks, showed that free did not turn into sales at a later date. It did, however, help a book’s Amazon rank.
So, if a discounted book price equaled finding readers, and free books equaled a good Amazon rank; my first job was to figure out the result I wanted. It should be your first decision, too.
I decided to find readers with my Promo Week. Anyone that ventures over to my Amazon page will see a $0.99 price and a countdown for when the discount pricing will end. Now, If my goal were to score a low Amazon ranking – which is a great goal, don’t get me wrong – I’d offer my book for free.
The next step, no matter what pricing option, is to get the word out.
I’ve combined my Promo Week with paid advertising, guest blogging, social media posts and a few magic beans sprinkled over my keyboard. Okay, I’m kidding about the magic beans. I have learned, though, that you can’t prep enough on this part of your promotional strategy. It takes time, as most sites take over a month to schedule their blogs and advertising. It can also get confusing, so create a spreadsheet or something to keep track. You don’t want any of your online stops falling through the cracks.
I’ll be compiling my results over the next two weeks. Please contact me if you’d like to hear the rest of my promo story – firstname.lastname@example.org. I can relay, pre-promo numbers, that any kind of book promotion is a learning experience. I’ve made mistakes that I won’t make again – like failing to get my second book out in time to benefit from all my promotional efforts to letting a few online opportunities slip through my fingers. These things happen. I’ll do better next time. Book promotion is a long term commitment – just like writing.
Now that my Amazon promo week has ended, I’ve learned two interesting things about book promotion.
(1) While the Kindle version of my book was the only version discounted, my paperback sales increased. I haven’t seen the audio book numbers yet, but I’m assuming they will also show a bump.
(2) While it’s great to see your book’s rank break into the top 100 paid in the Kindle store — in multiple categories — it’s really nice that a month later my ranking is still considerably high, based on prior ranks.
Overall, book promotion works best when you have more than one book to sell, and if the book is available on several platforms — like Kindle, paperback & audio. In the future, that will be my focus before promoting any of my books.
YOU CAN STILL BUY SCARLET REVENGE ON AMAZON!
** Note: I first wrote this blog post for JM Stewart’s blog, as she kindly hosts authors for free. My blog is now buried in her archives, so I wanted to share it here. But, please check out JM’s blog HERE. It’s filled with good information and book deals.
*** Update June 11, 2014: My promo week turned into the best sales I’ve had yet, taking me into triple digits for the first time! So, I’m a fan of book promos, but whether I lower my book’s price or not, just putting in the effort on a month-by-month basis to get my book on blogs and pay for advertising will really pay off. It’s on my To-Do list!