The Value of Advertising a Single Self-Published Book

Unexpected Superhero by Kitty BucholtzWe’re all trying to figure out what kind of advertising and short-term discounting works to increase sales and readership. I am at the beginning end of the self-publishing curve with one stand-alone book out, and one series with a free short story prequel and a book one. In October, I did several different things and tracked sales daily. Here are my results.

The Specifics

I put Unexpected Superhero (book one of a series) back in KDP Select for 90 days in July, ending October 21. I used my five free days in October with three days on a Wed/Thur/Fri and two days a week later on a Fri/Sat. It was also on sale for three days for 99c at the end of the month (Oct 31 – Nov 2).

I used advertising on several of those days. I purchased the InD’Tale Bargain Book Ad for $25 on October 8, the eBookSoda ad for $10 on October 10 (the first and last day of the first free period), then Ereader News Today for $20 on October 17 (the first day of the last free period).

On another author’s recommendation, on October 31 I used Ebook Boosters’ $25 service where they submit my book’s 99c sale information to 25 other free-newsletter sites (sites similar to BookBub and eBookSoda). I didn’t try to figure out for sure which sites picked up the book, but I know it went out on at least a few email newsletters that day. (I was at a convention all weekend so I didn’t have time to do Google searches or keep track of Amazon rankings.)

Non-Advertisement Promotion

Additionally, I participated in an author book swap with 19 other authors on November 1. We all put one book on sale for 99c, then blogged, Tweeted, and posted to Facebook about all 20 books, and we all bought each other’s books. (So that accounted for 19 out of 25 sales on book swap day.)

I mentioned all of this to my newsletter list (122 people) once at the beginning of October on the day the book was first free, and on the last day of October when the book was 99c. I did one guest blog, and wrote three other blogs on my own two sites.

I also was at Comikaze, a comic book and pop culture convention, October 31 through November 2, and I told attendees that the book was 99c on Kindle that weekend.

The Finances

Altogether, I spent $80 on advertising. Royalties from Amazon (the only place the book was for sale) were about $38 for 27 sales in October plus about $30 for 15 borrows from the KDP library, and about $20 for 32 sales in the first week of November.  Financially, I broke even, about $8 ahead.

But keep in mind that I had 3710 free downloads as well. If those downloads translate to reviews and newsletter signups, that’s worth the cost of advertising. A bigger newsletter list means more sales when new books come out. I’ve had about the same number of newsletter signups already that I had after a BookBub ad last year yielded 17,561 free downloads of the same book. Last year’s free downloads added about 35 new reviews over two to three months. It’s too early to know how many reviews I’ll get due to the 3710 free downloads last month.

While traditional wisdom is that advertising with so few books out isn’t worth your time and money, check out the difference in sales and in reach between the month before the sale, the sale month, and only one week after the last sale.

September (with no sales or advertising) – 6 purchases, 6 borrows, 0 free, about $27 in revenue

October (with three sales and lots of email ads) – 27 purchases, 15 borrows, 3710 free, about $68 in revenue

November (1 week only, end of last sale) – 32 purchases, no borrows or free (not in KDP Select anymore), about $20 in revenue

While my numbers are small, the percentage of increase is excellent. Because last year’s BookBub ad was for a free book, the reviews were easily worth the $90 I paid for the ad, but there was a very small sales tail after the five free days ended. I believe I sold 24 books in the month following. I ended up with a negative net income that month despite the wild “success” of so many people choosing to download the book.

This time, I spent nearly the same amount of money, reached fewer people but over several different audiences instead of one, and had a positive net income for the month. Also, my book was being promoted over the course of three weeks rather than five days. I will likely derive value from that later since people need to hear about a product a certain number of times before they decide to buy it.

Specific Advertisers

If you’re interested in the results from specific advertisers, these are my stats:

InD’Tale $25 ad to about 10,000 readers = 1238 free downloads that day

(NOTE: There were also 551 free downloads the day after the ad came out, and 245 on the third day, on which I also used an eBookSoda ad.)

eBookSoda $10 ad to 700+ readers = 245 free downloads that day

(NOTE: I used eBookSoda in April and May of this year, and had 0 sales and possibly a few sales, respectively with books priced at 99c. I emailed them and was told Little Miss Lovesick was advertised to 681 subscribers in April with 37 click-throughs to retailers, and Unexpected Superhero was advertised to 714 subscribers in May with 43 click-throughs to retailers.

Ereader News Today $20 ad to “thousands” of readers = 1277 free downloads that day

(NOTE: There were another 391 free downloads the following day.)

EBookBooster $25 ad to 25 sites and potentially thousands of readers = 8 sales at 99c that day

(NOTE: There were 10 more 99c sales during the 3-day sale, and a lot of word-of-mouth promotion as well.)

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. This is data based on having only one book in a series and advertising that book without the next book out yet. I’ll let you know what happens when I do this again when book two comes out.

Meanwhile, please leave a comment with your thoughts, or your advertising experiences. Your input could be very helpful for others contemplating advertising and short-term sales. And please share this post on social media so it can help your friends who are trying to decide if they want to try some of these things. 🙂

One Day Sale – 20 Books for 99 Cents Each

Little Miss Lovesick_NEWSIZE_FINALI was thrilled to be invited to join a group of friends who wanted to do a fun cross-promotion for our books. For one day, today, all of our books – all in various sub-genres of romance – will be available on Amazon for only 99 cents! Yay!

If you like my books, you’ll find several in this list you would enjoy. 🙂 And if you’re reading this after Friday, my book Little Miss Lovesick (and perhaps some of the others) will still be on sale through the weekend. Plus, I’ve made Lovesick 99 cents across all retailers, so you can get it for a buck on Barnes & Noble or iTunes or anywhere you like to buy ebooks!

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook or other places, would you mind passing this information along? I’d love to feel like I helped my friends find new fans. 😀 Thanks a million!

Happy reading!

Kathy Bennett, A Deadly Justice

Kitty Bucholtz, Little Miss Lovesick

Linda Carroll-Bradd, Capturing the Marshal’s Heart

Kathleen Creighton, The Prince and the Patriot

Jacqueline Diamond, The Cowboy and the Heiress

Gillian Doyle, Mystic Memories

Susan R. Hughes, A Baby for Christmas

Michelle Knowlden, Indelible Beats

Heather MacAllister, Counterfeit Cowgirl

Mindy Neff, The Bad Boy Next Door

Louella Nelson, Cora Lee

Lyn O’Farrell, Worth the Risk

Dee Ann Palmer, Where Eagles Cry

Sandra Paul, Last Chance For Marriage

Michael H. Payne, A Curial Quartet

Edie Ramer, Christmas at Angel Lake

Angie Ray, Ghostly Enchantment

Susan Squires, Waiting For Magic

Kristy Tate, Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent

Patricia Thayer, Colton Creek Cowboy

Fun Links for Writers

I’m having an AWESOME time this week hanging out with two of my best writer friends and writing and brainstorming! Woo-hoo!! So I thought I’d give you guys some of the links I’ve been finding over the last week or two. Hope you find one or more of them useful. 🙂

I’ve been sent so many different links over the last few months to posts on The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, or WG2E as it’s affectionately known, that I needed to make sure you’re aware of this web site. You know I’m on a self-publishing journey, and if you are, this is a site you need to check out. There is so much information here that I actually find myself a bit intimidated when I wander around. If you’re a regular, I’d love it if you left a comment about the best way for a writer new to the site to get the most benefit from it. If you’re easily intimidated by information overload, do what I did and just subscribe to the posts so they come in your email Inbox. Easy and done.

Interested in making your own book cover? Or maybe a banner or other picture for your web site? Check out this step by step post on making book covers in PowerPoint. I took one of those free Apple Store classes on using Keynote (the Apple competitor to PowerPoint) and I was astounded at all the things I could do graphically! I think I’m going to take this article on how to play around in PowerPoint and use what I learned about Keynote to do some playing. Hmm…when do I have time for playing? (Note to self: add “playing” to my To Do list.)

Sue Grimshaw, former romance book buyer for Borders and current acquiring editor at Loveswept, talks about promotion on Writers in the Storm. Loveswept is a digital imprint so Sue is actively seeking ways to connect with digital readers. Join in the conversation in the comments section. And subscribe to Writers in the Storm, if you haven’t. They have massive amounts of craft and other writerly information on their blog every week. Lots of great writers there.

Luke Flanagan, a dear friend of John’s and mine, is blogging about his journey to self-publish his children’s book. NOT epublishing, but a real live book. Luke wrote it, illustrated it (he worked with John on Happy Feet 2), and used Pozible.com to raise the money to get the book printed. I find the whole thing exciting and inspiring! And I’m happy to say that our own personal copy of the book will be flying in from Australia soon. Yay! (It better be autographed, Luke!)

Many of you know I’m writing a superhero romantic comedy. (The first short stories in my universe come out this summer, the first novel early next year.) Shonna sent me this great link to Superhero Nation. I’m happy as a pig in mud! Woo-hoo!! Thanks, Shonna! I totally can’t wait to waste a whole day “researching” on this site! 🙂

I’ve only had a chance to skim this article so far, but Dissecting Pages for Mood looks like a great post on how a writer adds mood to her/his stories. And there’s color-coded highlighting! Who doesn’t love that?

Are you writing a story that requires you to plant clues and misdirect the reader? This short post by Kara Lennox might help you. It might also cause you to throw out all your red lipsticks!

I just found this web site on Friday, Indies Unlimited. I have barely gotten past the home page, but it looks like it could be a great site for self-publishers – and probably other writers, too.

If you’re interested in self-publishing, you’ve probably heard about John Locke and how he sold 1 million ebooks in five months. Here is another interesting article about him.

Here’s an article by Bob Mayer on what if/when e-royalty rates go down. And here is a NY Times article on the government’s involvement in ebook pricing.

My friend Dwight sent me this link by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, talking about description versus action. Donald seems to be a fan, like me, of describe it enough for the reader to see it in their imagination, and get on with the story! (My emphasis. 🙂 )

I mentioned this a while back – there is a Self-Publishers Online Conference coming up in May. The dates and major speakers are posted here and, thanks to James Byrd of S.P.O.C., I can tell you the prices. There is a standard pass, giving you access to the conference and the recordings, for $97. The premium pass gives you that access plus several TBD bonus items for $147. After May 1, the prices go up to $127 and $199. Sounds like it could be great! (And if anyone knows of any conferences or classes for publishers, I’d love to know more about them. I need to learn more about how to be a good publisher, especially since I only have one client and I want her to be happy and stick around. 😉 )

And finally, before I totally overwhelm you with links to click, here is my latest reader-must-have – the Albatros bookmark. Check it out, it’s so cool! If only I had a checking account balance that wouldn’t notice if I bought some for my birthday. 🙂

Hope you enjoy some or all of these links. Now that I’ve written them down here and know I won’t lose them, I can close some of the 52 open tabs on my web browswer. Whew!

Guest blog by Camy Tang

We are pleased to have Camy Tang visit us during her blog tour as she promotes her latest book, “Deadly Intent.”

Promotion Routines for Writers

          Hi there! My name is Camy Tang, and I’m thrilled to be guest blogging today!

          Now, before you look at the title and think it doesn’t apply to you, let me tell you—I firmly believe that it’s never too early to start promotion, especially if you are a serious writer, seriously pursuing publication.

          Your book contract might come next week or next year or in a few years, but if you already have your promotion and marketing set up, you’re a leg ahead of all the other writers submitting to agents and editors. Yes, they look to see what you already have set up in terms of marketing!

          I have one simple rule for marketing and promotion:

          ONLY DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.

          And yes, I’M SHOUTING.

          If you don’t like booksignings, don’t pressure yourself into doing them. If you don’t like teaching, don’t guilt yourself into thinking you have to teach. If you don’t like blogging, don’t think that your publisher absolutely needs you to blog to promote yourself.

          Every person has their own strengths. Play to your strengths when it comes to promotion.

          Bottom line: figure out what you like doing. Write a list.

Here is my Promotion Routine. I personally don’t like booksignings, but I enjoy:

  1. teaching, both in person and online
  2. blogging
  3. social networking

Teaching:

          Each year, I apply to teach at a certain number of conferences. Sometimes I get picked, sometimes I don’t. I do this to give back to the writing community and to interact with other writers rather than holing up in my office.

Blogging:

          I started a blog before I became published, and I also did a lot of research into how to blog effectively.

  • Consistency: I blog 5 days a week minimum. Inconsistent blogs are ineffective promotion tools. It’s better not to blog if you can’t do it regularly.
  • Short, easy to read posts: Research shows that because of the difficulty in reading a computer screen, blog posts should be 250-400 words max, have low resolution pictures for easy page loading, and have short paragraphs with LOTS of white space.
  • Blog my brand: I write Christian fiction with Asian characters, so I blog about other Christian novels (I post excerpts and do giveaways), Asiana (neat things people might not know), “extras” about my books (for example, I blogged about and posted pictures of the winery that was my inspiration for my day spa in Deadly Intent, things like that), and a little bit of the personal things that interest me (food, my dog, knitting).

Social networking:

          Even before I was published, I set aside some time each day to do social networking. It basically gets my name in front of other people. When I got my first contract, I already had a bunch of people who knew me or had joined my newsletter YahooGroup who preordered my debut novel.

          In addition to Facebook, I also participate on forum boards and on email loops that have to do with my interests or the things in my book.

          For example, my books are romances, so I am an active participant on a romance reader forum boards. Notice—these are NOT WRITING loops, but READER loops, because I want to interact with readers.

          I also knit and am trying to lose weight, so I participate on boards for knitters and I’m on SparkPeople.com.

          What this does is get my name in front of people. Now, I do NOT post on these boards/loops about my book. I genuinely contribute to the conversation, but my website is always in my signature line in case people are interested in more about me. I’ve gotten several fans that way.

          Your turn! Make a list of your strengths in terms of promotion, and then brainstorm what you can do to play to your strengths!

          Thanks for having me here, guys!

Camy

DEADLY INTENT

SCENE OF THE CRIME

          The Grant family’s exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation—not murder! Then Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, and everything falls apart. The salon’s reputation is at stake…and so is Naomi’s freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect—Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim’s ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn…and whom can she trust?

About Camy:

          Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own…), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away fourteen boxes of books and 24 copies of her latest release, DEADLY INTENT.