Book Promotions ~ Indie Authors Report Results

Written By: Jackie Weger - Oct• 22•16

The hot question among indie authors is: Where can I get the best promotion results for my ebooks?

This is  the first in a series of blogs that will answer that very question.  Right here you will hear the facts and figures from the authors themselves.

Back Porch Cyber Chatter

Welcome to the Cyber
Porch where eNovel authors gather to chat.

In eNovel Authors at Work we share our promo experiences so that we can make the best decisions we can for our books. For instance, we know the average downloads for a Kindle Countdown Deal is between 200 and 500 units.  Submitting to not less than 25 paid and free sites, one author managed 1073 downloads and an ROI of about $700. Read about it here.  Thus, all things being equal,  if an author sees less than 200 units downloaded in a KCD, it behooves the author to 1) Submit the book to more promo sites, free and paid. 2) Review and revise the title’s book description and tag line.  3) Is the book in its best category? Placing a book in a wrong category can kill sales because you are not reaching the book’s best audience. 4) Publish Tweets that direct a reader to an Amazon review. 4) Pump up your Social media activity.  5) Do not use increments. Readers expect KCD priced at 99¢.

Scottish Author. Follow Mary on Amazon

Scottish Author. Follow Mary on Amazon

All right. Let get down to brass tacks. This is not an interview. You can find out more about Mary Smith here. You want to know results…

Here they are in  Mary Smith’s own words…

Before I joined eNovel I would not and did not consider pricing my books on FREE.   I was even resistant to reducing the price to 99¢.  My thinking at the time–skewed I know now–was that if I reduced the price then put it back up no one would buy at the full price. Same with the idea of going FREE. I thought a few people would download it but once the price went back up sales would slump. As for PAYING to give my books away–that seemed ludicrous.

No More Mulberries by Mary Smith

No More Mulberries. Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited

But watching the success of Julie Frayn and Amy Vansant and others in eNovel when they had a BookBub promotion I started wondering whether it might work for No More Mulberries.  I submitted the book to Bookbub in Literary Fiction, priced FREE, and was shocked to be accepted on my very first submission.  The total downloads on the first day was 18,000. No More Mulberries reached the giddy heights of #7 in the Top 100 FREE. The next day 6,500 units were downloaded, and the next: 1500 downloads. No More Mulberries is in the hands of  29,182 new readers. Just incredible. The Bookbub slot cost £150, I placed another £150 in paid slots. I am already seeing new reviews–nice ones! Actual sales since going back to priced, 40 units and counting, plus above 280 borrows. I am also seeing crossover sales and borrows on Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni.  I’m a convert to Free promos!

Here is the breakdown:

May 18: BookBub, Fussy Librarian, Njkinny: Total downloads: 18,000

May 19: fkbt eReaderNewsToday, Booktastik: Total downloads: 6,500

May 20: Choosy Bookworm: Total downloads: 2,333

May 21: No paid promos: Mentions on ebooklister and Jerri Hines’ Romantic Picks: Total downloads: 2219

May 22: No Paid promos: Total downloads: 130


All of the promotion sites mentioned are Above the Fold on eNovel Authors at Work’s preferred list of promoters. Njkinny is a book blogger with one of the highest rated blogs on the Web. Her presentations are spectacular. We also know that every indie author may not have the $$$ for a Bookbub. Grabbing a Bookbub slot is not easy. Some of our books don’t make the cut. In this series, we will tell you about successful promotions sans a Bookbub. When the figures are in, we will share them. Mary Smith’s books are enrolled in Amazon KDP Select–which means she can promote a title only once in a FREE or KCD campaign every 90 days cycle.

Yep. We know many indie authors do not like Amazon exclusivity. However, it is work to set up a successful campaign. Once every 90 days is enough for many of us. It just is.  We have other things going on in our lives. BINGO, for instance. Putting a book FREE allows readers to take chance on an author he or she has never before read. It is solely for exposure. But! Done right and with foresight, indie authors can also see a nice return on investment. We do. No More Mulberries has logged above 35 organic reviews since the promotion. More reviews are being posted every day. Mary has this gem right after THE END in her book:

Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend.  Much appreciated. Thank you, [author name].

Jackie Weger

Jackie Weger. Do subscribe to my newsletter, sent about once a month. It is always full of free and discounted books. Thank you for visiting today.

@2016 I’m Jackie Weger.  Comments are welcome. html is accepted. If you have had success with a promoter, tell us. Go Here to read a blog about a promotion that was not as successful as Effrosyni Moschoudi hoped, but ended with a sensational twist. Moreover, Frossie has compiled a fabulous list of promo sites, free and paid, just for the asking. Savvy authors click live links in these blogs.

Adding this: Over the past months the indie market has been in flux. Amazon is bearing down on reviewers. It has clarified its TOS and made a few adjustments. You can read guidelines HERE. Yes, there are guidelines for blogger/book reviewers. But the basics are still in place. Reviewers may not be compensated IF the review is posted on the Amazon Book page. That means blogs hosts drawings for Gift Cards. That means no affiliate codes attached to books. The blogger reviewer may post the review on his/her blog and the author may capture that and post it in Editorial. Don’t take my word for it. If unsure: ASK AMAZON.

Book Funnel is getting a lot of attention recently as the way to go to  distribute books to readers for reviews. If your book is in Amazon Select you may not use the service. Or, put it this way: Do so, and if Amazon bots discover an exclusive unit distributed free other than on Amazon, the author may find his/her KDP account in jeopardy. Book Funnel hints that Amazon is vague on this issue and that authors are getting mixed messages. NO, we are not. Amazon’s TOS is clear as a bell. Select books get 5 free days per 90 days cycle. That is it. If you can make Book Funnel work for you in that five day window, you’re fine. If not, you ain’t. You may also use Book Funnel to introduce your Select book to readers as long as you do not provide more than 10% of your book text. Use Amazon’s Look Inside Feature as a guideline. Not sure: ASK AMAZON.

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  1. Julie Frayn says:

    Awesome results, Mary! Like you, I am a convert. I’m trying to gather enough reviews on my new release, Goody One Shoe to submit for a Bookbub ad and offer her for free.
    Julie Frayn
    author of Mazie Baby

    • Julie, BookBub requires a certain number of reviews? Didn’t know. How many? I’m sure I’m a long way off, not that they ever accept me!

      • Jackie Weger says:

        Abby: It depends upon the book, I think. Bookbub accepted Finding Home with only about 15 reviews. It accepted my boxed set, Setting Up House with only 1 or two reviews. If Bookbub is introducing a new author to subscribers or a new release, reviews may not have so much weight. However, if a same title is accepted six months or a year later, a substantial number of reviews may be weighted. My suggestion is to submit a book. I always let Bookbub tell me NO. I don’t tell myself NO. Good luck with Bed and Breakfast Bedlam.

      • Julie Frayn says:

        I met with Bookbub at BEA this year and asked about new releases. She told me they prefer not to present new releases to their readers as they’d rather see some feedback first. It’s not a formula, and I know they’ve taken other author’s new releases. I just chose to hold off until I get a few reviews in hand.

  2. Mary Smith says:

    Jackie, reading this makes me feel the excitement of the FREE promo all over again. It was exciting and I’ve learned a lot from it. I will be making sure the book is promoted on more sites at the same time. I didn’t get a lot of notice from BookBub and it was all a bit last minute. Thanks to several eNovellers passing on info I now have a comprehensive list of free and paid for sites to use next time a book is on KCD.
    As for Amazon exclusivity – in the beginning I had my book on Smashwords. Total sales on Smashwords after almost a year = 1. As far as I’m concerned it’s a no-brainer.
    Thanks for spreading the word, Jackie.
    Mary Smith

  3. Oh, and I have a freebie June 13-17 Just the Pits, Book 5 in the Hetta Coffey series. http://amzn.to/15orD90

  4. Dale Furse says:

    Thanks, Jackie and terrific results, Mary. I’m still hanging out for a BookBub ad, but the others you mentioned are top of my list too. 🙂

    ‘Curse’, the first book in the Wexkia trilogy, is free now http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EYSLUQ2

    Dale Furse

  5. Susan Tarr says:

    I get such a buzz out of watching all these success stories come rolling in. There is a tried and true system, and it just needs to be worked. Kind of like removing the training wheel on a bicycle…

  6. Very inspiring account Mary, thank you very much for sharing it. I have always believed in FREE promos and managed a few thousand downloads for my books each time without spending a dime, just by using a list that I have compiled with lots of free sites and FB pages (thank you Jackie for the mention in the post, indeed, anyone is welcome to download my list on the post Jackie kindly linked up to). I am planning to change the cover of my fantasy in autumn and then brave my first Bookbub ad. Fingers crossed 🙂

  7. David WInd says:

    Thank you Jackie! I am having a special for Born To Magic, book 1 of the Tales Of Nevaeh, it will be FREE on Monday June 15th & Tuesday June 16th at http://authl.it/2l4?d

  8. I felt the same way about free promotions. Said I’d never do it. Then I saw where Jackie put hers up and got thousands of downloads. Her books were good and I realized giving them away didn’t say anything about the quality of the book. I’ve been doing free promotions ever since. Speaking of free promotions . . . Here’s a shameful plug. My new book, BED & BREAKFAST BEDLAM is FREE today and tomorrow (6/13 6/14). Doing ENT and Kindle FB&T on the 14th. You can download your copy here: http://amzn.to/1Ar6zkr

  9. Lucinda E Clarke says:

    I’m working on going free – but it’s hard!! I’ve been turned down by Bookbub 3 times, but only offered it at 0.99p. I think they demand free at least for the first time. Did the free promo Mary lead to lots of sales further down the line?

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Lucinda: Thank you for visiting! Most of us have been turned down by Bookbub. Three times is not many. A book just has to fit a slot Bookbub has open and be the best book for that slot among all of the submissions. That is how they choose a book. Yes, Mary is seeing sales and borrows. Actually, we all see sales and borrows after a free, if it is a well-designed campaign. We hear you! Yes, it is hard work and time consuming. Most of us who put books on FREE do see sales and borrows once the book returns to price. This series will continue and
      we will publish the facts and figures.
      Stay tuned.

      Jackie Weger

  10. Jackie Weger says:

    eNovel authors have added The Books Machine to our list of promoters. The site owners are forward thinking and engage authors and readers to help build its Social networking platform. That is key ingredient to our success.

  11. Hi Jackie, I just discovered your blog and I find it very insightful. I published my first and only novel last January (2015). Overall, it has done well in awards and reviews. In sales, it scored about 2000+ paid.(mostly at 0.99 or 1.99)

    I have used a multitude promoters and I concur with your list of those above the fold. Last October I had my first free days which were backed by BookBub and it resulted in 23K downloads (#5 on free list) and in the three days after the free promotion sales at 0.99 were way above average. My book was briefly #1 on Amazon’s Humor and Satire list.

    Before my free promotion I had about 40 reviews with a 4.7 average. As of today, I have 167 reviews with a 4.3 average. Because of a few negative and mediocre reviews since my free promotion, I have concluded that perhaps readers don’t always value a book that they get for free.

    What has been your experience and your fellow authors about reviews after free days?

    Do you, and your fellow authors think I should have more free days when I soon become eligible for a BookBub promotion? Is it worth it to receive more reviews even if some of them are bad reviews?

    Mike C. Erickson,
    author of Pianist in a Bordello

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Mike: 4.3/5.0 is a very good book rank after putting it in the hands of organic readers. The rule of thumb is a book is acceptable at 3.8/5.0 review rank on above 100 reviews. Maintaining a review rank of 4.0/5.0 on 100+ reviews is stellar. Your review rank is up to 4.4/5.0 right this minute. And you are seeing sales and borrows. As for submitting to a Bookbub after six months–Author choice. I usually wait 11 or 12 months…

  12. I should have mentioned in the response above that when I had my free days, I also announced it on 7 or 8 other promotion websites.

    Mike C. Erickson

  13. elle boca says:

    I appreciate the thought provoking post (and comments).

    Like Mike (above) I wonder if ratings drop following promotions because people who don’t normally read that genre or didn’t take the time to read the description of the book to make sure it was their kind of book (or read the first few pages on Amazon) in the rush to take advantage of the freebie end up unhappy or less happy than other readers.

    The question of success in my mind isn’t only whether a promotion (paid or otherwise) results in downloads and sales. I know people who have dozens or hundreds of books they downloaded during promos that they have never read and don’t plan to read.

    While downloads are part of the equation ultimately what I’m looking for is an audience for my books as opposed to sales of one book because it’s marked down to .99 or free for a promo. Reviews and sales of other books in my series are the types of indicators I seek the most. Does anyone have experience, insights or thoughts on that?

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, Elle Boca. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. The fact and reality is: We take our chances when we offer a book in a FREE campaign. People are NOT obligated to read our books just because they’ve downloaded it. However, every free download helps toward where a book lands in Amazon Bestseller stats once it returns to priced. When you speak of ratings do you mean Review Rank? For the most part review rank rises or falls upon the reader’s enjoyment of a book. Again, folks are NOT obligated to read book descriptions or “look Inside” the unit on Amazon. I don’t know where or how that particular entitlement among indie authors reared its head. When I cruise the aisles in a Barnes and Noble, I don’t have the expectation that the author or publisher demands that I read the book description or first few pages before I decide to buy the book or not. They may hope I will, but, hey! Who the heck is a publisher or author to tell me how I must approach a book purchase? It’s my money honey. As an indie author, I promote books to make them visible and get eyes on. After that, it is up to the reader/book buyer. It is none of my business if a reader wants to store 100s of downloaded books on an eReader. Or yours. I download free and priced books by my colleagues every single day to my four Kindles. If any single one of ’em gives me any flack that I’m not reading it, I’ll delete the thing. Done. However, I looked at your books. You are not indie published. So unless you negotiated control of the price of your books, you don’t have much say so in how you get your books visible beyond Tweeting, Facebooking, virtual and personal book tours. You have one book enrolled in Kindle Select and available to Read FREE with KU. You may promote that READ FREE w/KU. The print edition may be eligible for an Amazon Giveaway. Once I engage in a book promotion where I put a unit free or discounted, I always see borrows, KENP pages read, and crossover sales. And reviews. I see Nicholas Rossis, a member of eNovel reviewed one or more of your books. I may not be the person to ask about a dedicated audience. Perhaps another author with more insight and fans can weigh in here…I am not being unkind when I say, unless you have engaged in a FREE book or discounted campaign, you cannot know the benefits–or the pitfalls. You have a very nice array of books. Hope this helps… Best from,
      Jackie Weger
      Caras Ocultas

  14. elle boca says:

    Jackie, I appreciate your passionate reply and your kind words about my books!

    It’s wonderful that you support fellow authors. I do the same whenever possible.

    What I was referring to regarding rating was what Mike said: “Before my free promotion I had about 40 reviews with a 4.7 average. As of today, I have 167 reviews with a 4.3 average.”

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Oh, I get it. Review ranks usually do drop after a free or discounted promotion… Anytime a book can maintain a 4.0/5.0 review rank on 100 or above reviews is stellar. I’ve been buying books for 60 years. I have never posted a review on a book I bought in a bookstore. There was no place to post one. I damned sure didn’t like every book I bought. I bought quite a few that I wondered how in the hell it ever got published. Reader’s tastes vary. How many books do you see on Amazon that maintain a 4.8/5.0 review rank above 100 or 200 reviews? Very few. Legacy or indie published. I happen to own Mike’s book. Not everybody gets satire. 4.3/5.0 is a very good rank from organic readers.

  15. Just about to launch the biggest promo I’ve ever attempted at 0.99c. I gave away 27,000 copies of the same book (with BB) at the end of last October. I’ll try and get back with the results.

  16. A helpful and interesting post. Thank you.

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