Welcome to another (hopefully) helpful and mildly amusing installment in my series of blog posts on writing your debut novel. If you haven’t read the previous parts of this little series you can find part 1 HERE, part 2 HERE , part 3 HERE and part 4 HERE. Read them first, then come back. Take your time – I’ll just count my hoarded toilet rolls and bottles of hand sanitizer while I wait.
So…you’ve published your book and got some early reviews by using the method I mentioned in the previous post. Hopefully, you’re selling a few copies and building some buzz around your writing. Even the biggest authors experience a lull in sales eventually though – after the initial hype wears off, and Amazon stop showing the book so often in the “Customers Also Bought” or “Books you may like” carousels, there is always an inevitable drop in sales.
The very best way to keep your books fresh and in the customers’ eyes is to WRITE MORE OF THEM, but, apart from that, you can use price promotions to bring back some attention and garner more sales. That obviously pushes your book up the charts and fires up Amazon’s algorithms, so they’ll show it in the “Books you may like” carousel again. Sales breed sales, and a great way to keep that wheel turning is by doing a Kindle Countdown Deal.
One point to bear in mind when running a deal like this, are time zones. You might set the deal to start at say, midday. But if you paid someone like Bookbub to promote the deal, they may be in a different timezone, and their email could go out two hours before your price change takes effect. So, just to be safe, always set your deal to start as early as possible on the date you select, or even on the day before. I got caught out myself this way once, but thankfully the promo site I’d used were good enough to run it again the next day for free – most can’t or won’t do that, and you’ll just lose the money you paid them so make sure you have your dates and times correct!
On that point about using promo sites to boost visibility of your deal – it is imperative you do it, or run an ad on Facebook or Reddit or whatever. If you simply lower the price of your book in a Countdown Deal but don’t promote it, no-one will know about it! I’ve actually seen authors on social media complaining that their deal didn’t bring in any extra sales, then they admit they didn’t promote it in any way. Well, duh!
Readers aren’t psychic, well, maybe some are, but unless you’re promoting a book about clairvoyance you should advertise it with paid ads. You don’t need to spend a huge amount, and any extra sales you get will boost visibility in the charts and lead to even more sales. Here is a list of places you can try, with prices too. I’ve used quite a few of these sites with decent results (Bookbub is BY FAR the best but they are expensive, and very hard to get into so try the others, especially if you’re on a tight budget). It’s also a good tactic to “stack” your promotions, by paying two or three different sites to run your deal on a particular day. Every extra sale gets Amazon’s algorithms moving and boosts your book’s visibility, so run your deal over 2 or 3 days and promote it with ads over all those days.
Should you offer your debut novel for free? I would say – maybe, but only if you are really needing more reviews. I DO think it’s okay to give away your books for free, but generally only if it’s the first in a series you’ve already published. If I give away Wolf’s Head and 10,000 people download it, I might hope even a fraction of them will go on to buy the rest of the series. That is a great way to bring in new readers. But if you only have one book published, there seems little point in giving it away for free, you’re getting nothing out of it. If you have a complete series though, a free deal will drive sales of the later books AND sales of the audiobook edition if you have one.
Here is a graphic showing the difference between promoting a free deal with Bookbub and with some of the other promo sites. All are effective, but Bookbub is the blue bar on the right…These were for free deals I ran on Wolf’s Head. 33,000 vs 5,000!
So make sure you use at least one of those sites to promote your Countdown Deal. Facebook ads can be useful too, just spending £5 or £10 will get you sales and push the book up the charts. It is very much worth the outlay.
Even when you’re not running a price promotion, Facebook ads can be worth trying. My newest novella, Faces of Darkness, was quite low in the UK charts (about 60,000 overall) and then I ran an ad yesterday, spending £5. This morning I woke up to this:
Number 1 in a subcategory, and the overall chart placing was around the 6,000 mark – a pretty big jump, for not a lot of outlay. And that’s a book that’s not even on special offer! (One thing to say here, is that novellas like this, in my experience, never sell as well as novels. So if you’re hoping to earn a living from writing, take that into account). Here’s the ad I’m running – Facebook don’t like you to use any text on your image, but it seems okay to use the KU logo and that will undoubtedly bring in readers who can try your book without spending any extra money.
If you are ever lucky enough to be offered a place in one of Amazon’s official deals (Daily Deal, Monthly Deal etc) take them up immediately. These are the best way to sell books but, again, I would recommend you promote them. Yes, you get free promotion by being on Amazon’s deal pages, and that does most of the work for you, but you want to grab this opportunity with both hands and hopefully impress Amazon KDP enough to put your books in future deals as well. So promote it via Kindle Books & Tips, ENT, Bookbub etc as usual and try to get as many sales as possible.
Right, it’s time for my lunch. If there’s anything I haven’t covered on the subject of book promos, leave a comment or ask me on Facebook or whatever. Next time I will be sharing just some general tips I’ve picked up over the past few years but, again, if you want me to post about something in particular, let me know!
Stay safe everyone, and get working on that debut novel. Go!
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If you’re looking for something to listen to while stuck indoors, you could do worse than trying my Audible-exclusive novel Lucia. You’ll get it FREE if you’re new to Audible, but, if you already have an account, they have a sale on right now in the UK (USA too maybe?) so you can get it for half price (and probably my other Audible books too!). Check it out at the links below: