In this post, we’ll explain the five steps to a successful book promotion. Whether your goal is to get free downloads and shoot up the charts or generate some revenue, we’ve got you covered.
1) Identify your goal: Charts or money
The first thing you need to decide when planning a successful book promotion is what your goal is. Authors generally choose one of two promotion goals.
Goal 1 - Boost your book’s ranking
This is all about getting your book as high on the retailer charts as possible. To achieve this, you’ll want to make your book free for a short period. Free books, understandably, will generate the most downloads.
These downloads will juice the algorithm used to rank books in various online stores, and you can see your work shoot up the charts.
As the book rises in the charts, more and more readers will see it. And, even after your book is no longer free, you can see an increase in purchases.
Another big benefit of this strategy is that it creates a halo effect that boosts your other books, especially if you have a series.
A productive technique for many authors is to make the first book in a series free for a limited time, promote that free book, and watch as readers read free first in series and then pay to read the next books.
Goal 2 - Go for sales
This is all about return on investment (ROI). If giving away a book for free isn’t something you want to do, or you only have a few titles and no series, you’ll likely want to focus on getting sales instead of just free downloads.
Consider what makes sense for you. A free promo, done correctly, can have a huge payoff for authors with a larger catalog. However, it’s still possible that you won’t see many sales.
Promoting a non-free book has a lower ceiling, but you’re also more likely to generate at least some revenue. For authors with less books or no series, this technique might make more sense.
Evaluate for yourself and decide on what you want to try. And remember, you can always try for a different goal at a later date to compare and see what seems to work best for you.
2) Make the discount attractive (free or 99c)
This is a key part of a promotion. Authors need to give readers a reason to buy the book as soon as they see it. To do this, authors need to create urgency and offer an appealing deal.
Reduce your book’s price for a limited time, and savvy readers will snatch it up while it’s discounted or free.
Without a price reduction, readers will be less likely to buy the book as there is no rush. If they are in the middle of reading another book, they might just wait until they are ready for a new read before buying.
Give them a discount, and they are more likely to grab the deal and stash the book for later.
If your book is on Amazon, you have a limitations on how often you can discount your book, so plan around your Kindle Countdown Deal schedule when thinking about your book promotion.
3) Market the price drop: Promo stack
Ok, now it’s time for the promotion part. You’ve decided on your strategy, you’ve got your price promotion scheduled, time for some marketing!
One of the best marketing techniques for authors is promo stacking. Promo stacking is the practice of scheduling multiple marketing efforts, combined with a discount on a book, over a short period of time.
For example, a promo stack might look like this:
Day 1: Make the book free, and run a Freebooksy promotion.
Day 2: Make your book $.099 and run Facebook ads to your book, and email your reader mailing list.
Day 3: Run a Bargain Booksy promotion and run Bookbub ads to your book
Day 4: Do a newsletter swap with another author and run Amazon ads to your book
The beauty of promo stacking is that the result is often greater than the sum of the parts. Each promotional activity, with the help of retailer algorithms, builds on the last. By promo stacking, authors can see better results than simply discounting their book and doing one promotional activity.
When planning your promo stack, think about what marketing activities are available, and have worked for you. Do you have a promo site that delivers often for you? Do Facebook ads work, or are Bookbub ads generally better? Can you do a list swap with another author?
Focus on what works for you, and write out a scheduled plan for your promo stack.
4) Make sure your cover is on genre and you are promoting in the right genre
This is critical. If your book doesn’t have the look of what readers expect from the genre, it can be really hard to get sales.
Before running your book promotion, take a look at what covers in your genre look like, and make sure yours is of similar quality, and theme.
Book cover design can be frustrating. But, unfortunately, books are often judged by their cover. So, having a great cover design can make or break your promotion.
Another issue that can really kill a promotion is not promoting to the right audience.
When you promote with Written Word Media, our editorial team will review your audience choice to make sure it's the best fit. If a different genre is likely to perform better, we'd recommend the change and help you execute it.
5) Back matter: ask for reviews, link to email signup
Lastly, before running a promotion make sure to turn your books into marketing tools. This is a free, extremely effective technique that can help authors connect easily with fans.
At the end of your book, make sure to include information about how readers can find your work and sign up for your mailing list. It also helps to ask for reviews.
Readers love to support authors, and by putting this information in your backmatter, you can make it easy for them to feel connected to you and follow your writing career.
Some authors will even offer readers a reward for signing up for a mailing list. This can be in the form of a short story or a free ebook. Whatever it is, a little extra incentive never hurts.
Running a successful book promotion takes some planning, but the extra effort is well worth it. Putting in the time to decide on a goal, discount your book, and plan your marketing efforts is critical to running a promotion.
Same with your cover and genre fit. Without a great cover, you will leave sales and download on the table.
And don’t forget to take advantage of your backmatter. Make it easy for readers to write reviews and access more of your work. You won’t regret it.
Have you run successful book promotions in the past? What made the difference for you? Let us know in the comments below.