I’ve been trying a bunch of different ebook pricing, marketing, and promotions strategies. While you shouldn’t consider me an expert by any means, I have come away with some lessons. The first post is here; the ongoing series is here.
The best thing you can do to promote your story is to start with reviews. Get some reviews. This is a painful lesson I’m in the middle of learning. Reviews? Get them.
- At Amazon, the first reviews you get are the ones that stay at the top of your reviews forever. Beg for a friend to write you a good one. I’m not sure whether this is true across all sites.
- If you do not have reviews (or have a bunch of crappy reviews), all the advertising in the world (free or otherwise) won’t do you jack. Many sites won’t post notification of your free book if you don’t have decent reviews.
- If you put your book up for free, you will get bad reviews. (Something I’ve noticed on Goodreads is that any relatively well-known book has them, too. It’s like…pushing yourself into free means that you’re pushing yourself into the realm of people who weren’t meant to read your book, just as being relatively well-known pushes your book out to people who weren’t meant to read it either. “Fine! I’ll read this stupid book that you loved so much, Grandma!!11!!”)
- Try the free promotions first.
- Have 1-2 books per pen name up for free (not in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Select program; see below) across all sites at any given time; rotate your free books in and out every 3 months or so. This will tend to boost sales across all stories for that pen name.
- To get books to go free across all sites: upload to Smashwords and set price to free. Let Smashwords push the book to B&N (take it down from B&N’s PubIt if you have it up there). Wait for various sites to pick it up as free. As the book starts to go free across sites, you will tend to see a rise in sales on the sites where it’s not free yet. How to make it not free: change the Smashwords price, take the B&N version down at Smashwords and put it up at B&N’s PubIt, and wait for it to go back to non-free. If Amazon takes maddeningly long to catch up (especially on non-US sites), then contact them via Amazon Author Central Help to have it flipped back. Most other sites (Kobo, Sony, Apple, B&N) must be non-free in order for Amazon to flip a story back to non-free. You should see a boost in sales when a book flips back to paid sales; you should also see several returns, as people who didn’t notice it wasn’t free bought and returned it.
- Do not take an existing book and put it in Kindle Direct Select (the exclusive program). You risk getting screwed because some other site doesn’t take down their version fast enough.
- Do not put a book in Kindle Direct Select unless you have: a) 4-5 good reviews on Amazon, b) a number of sites set up to promote your free days heavily (think Ereader News Today and more). If you’re giving a book away for free to the general public, give a crapload of them away. Update: I mean, don’t put it up for FREE using that program until you get your reviews and extra sites set up. Obviously, to get the reviews, you have to put up the book first. Sheesh…
- IF you do a good job prepping for your free days, you should see a lot of downloads (at least in the thousands) AND you should see about 7-8 days of boosted sales. Wait until after the 7-8 days to mentally decide whether your book has taken off or not.
- Your subsequent free days won’t garner as many downloads as the first day, given the same amount of promotion.
- Do NOT use your subsequent free days if your sales are good; you’ll get bumped off your paid sales ranking, which will make you lose sales.
- My Kindle Direct Select recommendation at the moment is: don’t do it if you’re not willing to babysit. This is more than likely a short-term boost, if any. If you want to make sure you’re giving away the greatest number of ebooks to the greatest number of people, I recommend getting the books to go free the hard way, then using the regular free-ebook-promotion sites to promote your books. I also recommend if you use Kindle Direct Select, that you only use it for 90 days, then upload across all sites. You can upload a print book whenever; Select doesn’t affect print books (at the moment, as far as I can tell).
- Ads: I’ve taken out two. Neither of them did squat for sales, although they had a lot of clicks. Admittedly, not a big sample, though.
Coming Friday: Social Media