Paid-promo sites comparison

Discussion in 'Marketing Strategies for Authors' started by jo zebedee, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    The background - my self published book, Inish carraig (obv my publisher does this sort of thing for my published work, so i can only really test results for myself on IC) had a great Kindle Countdown week in Nov with a UK bookbub promo really establishing it. But the US have yet to recognise my charms :)p) - although I'm never sure if the Belfast setting is a hindrance or help with that.

    I decided, now Countdown time has come again, to have another crack at the US. Since Bookbub said no (and, yes, I would have paid the money and swallowed the hefty fee because it paid back well enough in the UK to cover the cost), I turned to a few different outlets.

    This is how they all did, and what I'd use again, or not. I still have the weekend at 99p to go, but the paid promos have all run.

    I made a mistake and put 2 into the same day so results are a little skewed but, actually, that might be a good thing - a good sales spike hits up the rankings well. Anyhow, here are the results of the Inish carraig jury:

    Monday - no paid promo but I facebooked and tweeted and had 6 sales, all in the UK. My TV interview was broadcast in the early evening in the UK which accounted for a few of those, I think.

    Tuesday - Bargain Booksy. By far the most expensive promo of the week at £25 - 8 US sales, 3 UK. Not worth it and I won't use them again. (And they're quite a big player.)

    Wednesday - no promo, but I had a busy day on Tuesday, running events and on local radio. 4 US though (which were probably a carry over from Bargain booksy) and 1 UK.

    Thursday - BKnights from Fiver - 4 US sales, 5 UK (which a second showing of my interview might have influenced.) it probably cover its cost, but not much more and I wouldn't use them again.

    Friday - Booksends (£15) and Book Barbarian (£10) - 39 sales, 38 US, 1 UK. I think most of this was from Book Barbarian for two reasons - their ad hit first and was already getting steady sales and they had a good impact last time.

    My verdict - Book Barbarian, every time. They're great value, they're hitting the right market well and for sff they're only beaten by the far more expensive Bookbub.

    Now, two things. Normally these figures only tell the first half of the story. These sites are used by Kindle Unlimited customers, and usually these sales are reflected in similar readthroughs later - and already around 400 pages have been read today.

    As this promo was focused on the US - I'll do another UK focused next - to have over 50 sales in a market I'm invisible in is great. (I see this as stones in a pond. Both my books get a lot of recommends from readers, and good, good reviews. Each sale is a stone with ripples from it. I see the challenge as getting enough ripples to start to fill the pond)

    I hit my target 70 sales which should just about meet the costs of the promo with any readthroughs being profit. I also have 2 days left with me sitting in the low 5000s in the kindle US store, and in one top 10 category, so hopefully will get another couple of sales. My plan for the weekend is to hit a bit of twitter and facebook promo and hopefully get another couple of sales. :)

    Either way, I hit my target and am a happy writer. :) Hope the stats are useful! Jo
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  2. khrm

    khrm Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life

    Why did they refuse?
  3. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    Nobody knows the mysteries of Bookbub. They reject 4 out of 5 submissions to them. If I had to guess there are three possible reasons:

    1. They had accepted me for 2 UK promos recently and may think it needs some time before another run at it.
    2. Whilst my review profile in the US is good (14 reviews, 4.8 average) at the time of submission I only had 12 reviews and a slightly lower average. In UK I have more reviews, with a higher average.
    3. They may not think an alien invasion of Belfast is a goer in America.

    It's not a reflection of quality - or the UK would never have ran with me - but just the competitiveness of Bookbub listings.
  4. btkong

    btkong Journeyed there and back again Staff Member

    Very interesting to hear about that. Book Barbarian advertised on our site before last year, ironically.

    I've heard good things about Bookbub, but also that it's super expensive.
  5. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    It is expensive. In my case, I did one in the UK only, though, so that cut the cost. It cost me around £60 and I brought in more than double that in sales, and the same again - easily - in read throughs. Plus, my chart ranking in the UK has remained high. I did another one for my other title and had a similar result - and KDP have now shown interest in running a promo with it.

    For the US I think it works out at nearly £300, give or take the exchange rate which is a gamble but will, I believe, pay off. I'll certainly be trying for a spot again in the future.
  6. btkong

    btkong Journeyed there and back again Staff Member

    Have you tried the Kindle Unlimited program? Does that work out for authors? I've always wondered how it works out for the authors with material in the 'digital buffet' programs.
  7. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    You mean selling the book only through Amazon? Yes, I do that. For me Kindle Unlimited reads make up at least half of my sales. What I don't know - who does? - is who of those KU readers would have bought it anyway.

    Where it does come into its own is the 99p weeks, I think. The author retains 70 percent of the royalties. But! Also when I promote somewhere like Bookbub a lot of KU readers find material through those sort of sites (because most of them have some kind of quality check in place) and the read-throughs kick in - at full page-value, not reduced.
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  8. btkong

    btkong Journeyed there and back again Staff Member

    ah, excellent information! Good to know!

    I hope a lot of the author here read some of these marketing posts because this sort of stuff is critical to getting that penetration needed to become a successful indie author (sales wise that is).

    There's just so much indie fiction out there right now that it's pretty hard to get a jump start without paying some initial money for advertising to build up readers and get your name out.

    I know there are some authors who happen to write the perfect book the market is looking for, and it builds its own momentum. But I think for every 1 author writing this sort of book, hundreds are not.

    I think for most regular indie authors who want to go it the self publish / amazon kindle marketplace and not the traditional route, advertising is pretty much necessary for the first year or two to help build readers.

    It's shitty, but it's kind of how the market works now with lots of authors now clamoring to get attention.

    And stuff like breaking down sales states, which websites are effective, building facebook pages, newsletters, and all that are critical marketing skills needed to survive. Unless you are lucky.
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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  9. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    I'm luckier than most sp authors in that the majority of my work is traditionally published, so that helped my profile a little. Having said that, it's small publisher published, and, to be honest, the work needed isn't that much different. But getting into retail stores and chains would not have been possible with the sp title alone.

    I'm doing better than average, but not shockingly well. And for every single sale I have worked for it (well, okay, except my Mum's :D)

    It is the reality. I think, if you look at the successful sp-ers, they know how to market. They know the sites to use and the promos to go with. it's exhausting but there you go.

    (Incidentally, I do know a couple of the sp-ers who have got off to a flyer and continue to do well - it can happen! There is hope. For me, though, I'm not chasing that model. I want the good-sized publisher who can get me on bookshelves. A narrow reject from one of the biggies tells me it's possible.

    80 percent of books are still bought from other sources than Amazon. It's nice to do well there, but it's only part of the picture. Ergo, for me, despite doing all this, the focus is on getting the next books out with my two publishers, finishing the next and trying to get a new agent. Which is another game altogether, and a whole new set of skills. No wonder so many writers give up facing so many hurdles. )
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  10. btkong

    btkong Journeyed there and back again Staff Member

    Thanks -- excellent information there for potential authors, if they take the time to read it.

    Though I'm not an author, but an angry critic of sorts (fact: at one point I wanted to be fantasy author years ago, and actually spent about six months writing the perfect, terrible epic fantasy that I never did finish), I do understand a bit about the book marketplace, self publishing, and marketing -- both because I do it as a living (internet marketing) and because of this specific site I have to deal with things book related like advertising for authors (who want a return on their investment), building newsletters, social media, and all that.

    So I do know how important it is and also how difficult it can be for people who are new to it. Writing the book is only the first challenge, and perhaps, not even the greatest one at that.

    An unread masterpiece of fiction, if no one ever knows about it, will still remain a masterpiece -- and an unread piece of fiction; a book needs readers just as much as humans need air.
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  11. Tanniel

    Tanniel Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Thanks for the information! I just self-published, and while I do think I have a quality product on my hands (professionally edited, revised in several rounds, professional cover etc.), marketing is definitely proving to be a hurdle, for all the reasons pointed out by btkong. I don't mind paying for advertisement, but I have little clue where it will pay off. This is a start, at least. I'll be poking around these forums to see if I can find other pointers on what to do.
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  12. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Journeyed there and back again

    Thank you SO MUCH for this breakdown with such granular info it's down to the sales per day.

    I found many free/ pay promotion sites on my marketing search, but they all promise the moon and yet I didn't get the sense they really delivered. Bookbub was the only one I ever heard any feedback about, and it was usually that it was so expensive. Book Barbarian somehow escaped my search, and I will check them out for my next promotion.

    Seriously, this post is a godsend.
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  13. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    I'm glad it's helpful. :)
  14. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    Oh, by the way I fed back to Bargain Booksy my disappointment, and they refunded my fee in full, no questions asked. Quality service, and I'd try them again on that basis.
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  15. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Journeyed there and back again

    Then I shall make sure to add them to my list if I ever go the paid route. And chances are I one day will.
  16. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    Jo, that is potentially a very useful analysis!
    I am currently waiting to hear from a contact that a fellow-author put me on to - another three, maybe four weeks and I will know that my efforts have failed that particular hurdle - and then I will study your comments in full detail and see where to go next.
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  17. Olli Tooley

    Olli Tooley Philosophizes with Kellhus

    On my last countdown I set it up and then tried to do a Book Barbarian promo.
    No dice, they wanted something like two whole months notice. LOL
    My idea of planning ahead is to phone a mate from outside their house on the way to the pub.
    So, I have booked it in advance for November 11th and I HAVE to remember to set up the actual Countdown when my new KU period comes round in October.
    I did end up using Bargain Booksy and also got WAY fewer sales than would cover the fee.
    Can't see me using them again.
    Should I give some of the others a go, Jo?
  18. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Journeyed there and back again

    I found Bargain booksy disappointing (but when I complained they refunded me so fair enough)

    BKknights (I think - something like that) on Fivr are cheap and do well for some.

    Book barbarian has never failed to pay back for me.

    There are loads of others but I've found their impact limited - apart from the great god Bookbub.
  19. Olli Tooley

    Olli Tooley Philosophizes with Kellhus

    Thanks for that.
    I don't think I can afford the initial outlay for Book Bub, even if they will take my book.
    However, one to consider for the future.
    Has anyone tried and if so, any worthwhile results?

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