Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Business of Writing: 99c is the new Free at BookBub and other paid promo sites

The Giant Dipper ride, 6/23/2015,
Belmont Park, San Diego, CA (c)2015 by neilld,
Bigstock ID 96268628, editorial license only.
There are very few pleasures I enjoy in life more than roller coasters: the excruciating wait of the queue; the niggling anxiety of climbing into the car; the mounting anticipation as the train grinds up that first and steepest incline; the moment of, "Oh, crap, what have I gotten myself into?!?" at the pinnacle; the jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching burst of speed; the sheer joy of feeling the wind through my hair and fingers as I let go of the rail and squeal my vocal cords raw! 

Even the final coast back into the station brings a blessed sense of relief... coupled with the intense urge to race back into the queue to do it all over again.

Although a near-fatal car wreck in 2003 has left me with permanent pins in my neck and has put the brakes on my amusement-park adventures, I just got off the ride of my life: a BookBub feature promotion of my novel Dawnflight!

The Queue

Of all the paid promotional sites that I've tried for all my books in the past year, (sizes of mailing lists aside) BookBub is unique for its rule that a book not be offered at the "deal" price for more than 14 days out of the past 90. They have some way of checking that too, as I discovered last year when I tried submitting another book. It was rejected almost immediately on the grounds that I had violated the 14-day pricing rule; last year I was offering all my titles at 99 cents or free for months at a stretch.

So, since I wasn't sure which book I would be able to place with BookBub first, I gritted my teeth and raised prices on all my full-length novels. This meant suffering next to nothing in sales during that excruciating period, but—as with the roller coaster queue—the torture eased once BookBub informed me of Dawnflight's selection.

The end of the queue had lurched into sight at last!

Climbing into the Car

Sometimes with coasters you have a choice of cars to ride in, and sometimes you don't. Give me a choice, and I will sit in the front seat of the first car every time!

Although you can specify a preferred promotional period, every article I've read about landing a BookBub promotion advises that your chances of being selected improve markedly if you tell them your dates are flexible. So that's what I did.

BookBub assigned Thursday, March 3 as my book's feature date. I chose to follow Amazon's Kindle Select model and have my 99-cent deal run 5 days, through midnight PT on Monday 3/7/16, though for BookBub I specified that the deal would end midnight PT on Sunday 3/6/16.

BookBub gives dire warnings about ending your deal preamaturely, and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't get banned from the ride forever on my very first trip down the rails.

Now here's where the roller-coaster analogy doesn't quite match a BookBub promo, for the stage of grinding up the first and steepest incline is switched with:

"Oh, crap, what have I gotten myself into?!?"

I paid $380.00 for a US-only feature in the Fantasy category, for which BookBub reports a subscriber list of more than 1,400,000.

If a year ago you had told me that I would have been =excited= to shell out that much money for one email promotional advertisement for one 99-cent e-book, I would have recommended that you find yourself a room with lots of padding and no windows.

But in that intervening year, I did a lot of investigating into what other people have written about their BookBub promotions, in addition to studying BookBub's own statistics and recommendations.

My conclusion:
99 cents is the new Free.

Yes, it costs significantly more to advertise a 99-cent book than a free book, and, yes, you will see far fewer downloads. However, you stand a much better chance of recouping your advertising costs by promoting a 99-cent book than by offering it free and then praying to All That Is Holy that people will also choose to buy your sequels and other books.

The advice I read from other authors suggested combining a BookBub feature with advertising on other sites, which I decided to follow.

The promos I chose to run in conjunction with BookBub's, set for a day or more later (3/4/16-3/7/16) to gauge the first day of the BookBub promo by itself:
Total cost: $482.00 (not counting the KDROI one-time fee, which I paid months ago and have used for several promos already).

Would I have snagged more downloads had I offered Dawnflight free? You betcha. Hundreds if not thousands more. However, would I have recouped the promo cost via the sales of other books in the series?

I'm not altogether certain I would have. Why? Because most people downloading a free book will add it to the hundreds of other free books on their e-readers, and heaven only knows when they will get around to reading yours or mine.

People who have bought a book, even at only 99 cents, will be more likely to read it sooner rather than later.

Important: make sure your best work is what you're discounting -- whether it's for 99 cents or free. Author DP Denman in his guest post for BTSeMag offers excellent wisdom regarding why:
The point behind freebies [or 99-cent discount deals ~kih] isn’t to hand out a sample of something you pulled from the trash. Imagine what would happen if a cookie company did that. One taste of the burnt treats full of dirt or bug parts and customers would never buy anything from that company again.
Don't give away or discount your burnt-cookie-and-bug books! You have nothing to gain by that practice, and everything to lose.

You certainly will never land a BookBub promo that way; their jurying process is thorough and rigorous. The current edition of Dawnflight is a rerelease (as an official second edition because of my substantial revisions and content additions) of a 1999 Simon & Schuster award-winning mass-market title. I have my fingers crossed that they will accept other of my full-length titles.

Offer your audience a taste of your very best full-length work—at 99 cents, so you can still profit from the promo—and the rest will attend to itself.

Since this post is already much longer than I'd planned, I'm going to leave you teetering at the top of the incline until next week. Yep, I'm that mean!

Hey, it's better than being stuck at the bottom with everyone else waiting in the queue. The view is breathtaking up here. :D


All this month, you are invited to…

— Follow Kim on Twitter
— Follow Kim on Pinterest
— Subscribe to Kim's YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow

and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books. 

Please enter often, and good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Scribble a note on the wall of the Maze so you can find your way out again... ;-)