Discount eBook promotions are like cilantro, or tequila, or oysters!
What I mean is, when I talk to authors about this strategy it seems they either love them or hate them.
When you find your stride with discount eBook promotions, and by that I mean you’ve pretty much figured out what works for your genre and reader market, they can be insanely lucrative, and quickly turn into a cornerstone for your continued book discovery.
But if discount eBook promotions still leave you confused, frustrated, and with an overall bad taste in your mouth, my goal is to encourage you to try this again, but after making some smarter decisions about how you should be pricing your book.
The Beauty of Free Discount eBook Promotions
Free discount eBook promotions definitely aren’t required to gain fantastic exposure, and I know a lot of authors have a hard time stomaching ‘free’ anyway.
But believe it or not there are some valid reasons for why including some free promotions throughout the year can really help you out.
Your goal is to simply get books in as many hands as possible
Don’t think this is beneath you. Sometimes you really just need to shoot for downloads and page views. BookBub has reported that free discount eBook promotions see 10x more downloads than those who run promotions at other price points!
This is a great strategy for new authors who really just need to get their name out there. It’s also a great way to convince people to give you a chance when you don’t have a lot of reviews yet.
People are busy and the free time they dedicate to reading is precious, so they want a sure thing. If you don’t have the street cred yet to be a sure thing, help them feel better about giving you a shot by giving them a chance to check out your book for free.
Your goal is to increase sales for a series
Regularly doing discount eBook promotions to make the first book in your series free is a great way to introduce people to the entire body of work, and assuming you wrote a damn good book, they’ll of course come back for more at retail price once they’re hooked.
So this piggybacks off of the “books in hands” strategy above, and it’s really quite simple.
Write a great series. Let people get started for free. Get ready for them to come back and buy the follow up titles at full price.
Another great BookBub stat: authors who make the first book in their series free see 8x higher sales of the other books in the series. This is legit.
Your goal is to drive attention to a new release
Assuming your Amazon presence is top notch (if you’re unsure check out the dedicated Amazon section of our blog), doing a discount eBook promotion for a backlist title is a great way to bring more attention to your new release.
Seems risky? Then here you go – update the book description for the backlist title you plan to discount so you’re also announcing your latest release.
Too many authors leave sales opportunities on the table by not using all the features of their Amazon book page as a cross promotion tool.
Your goal is to sell more books long term
Book buyers are creatures of habit, and once they like one book by an author, they’re highly likely to purchase additional titles.
So if you’re looking to draw more return buyers, run some free discount eBook promotions for your best performing books, those with the best and most numerous reviews, to lure them in and convert them to fans.
When a $.99 Promotion is the Best Move
Discount eBook promotions that offer your book for $.99 also have their place in your book marketing arsenal, but just like free, it’s about making smart decisions that take into account your book marketing challenges and your book marketing goals.
Your goal is to hit a bestseller list
This is a delicate dance. Yes, we all want to hit the bestseller list, so be sure you’re being realistic about your qualifications for being able to do this with a discount eBook promotion.
For starters, you have to have a stellar book that’s already getting really great reviews.
You should also be ad stacking, which to me means you’re supporting your discount eBook promotion through lots of other channels and cross promotion strategies. Simply changing the price and waiting for the sales to roll in won’t cut it.
Basically what you’re doing here is opting for the lowest discount possible that doesn’t make you ineligible for bestseller lists, and you’re supporting that discount by pushing as many people to the limited time offer as you possibly can using all the tools in your arsenal.
As I said, you have to be committed to do this, pull out your book marketing planner and seriously design an entire plan around a bid for a bestseller spot.
Your goal is to push your series but you just can’t do free
There are numerous reasons why some authors can’t/won’t do free discount eBook promotions, and if you’re dead set on this I probably don’t have anything up my sleeve to convince you at this point.
That being said, you can follow this same principle but with a $.99 first book instead. It may not have quite the power as free, but you can rest easy at night that you’re not giving anything away.
That’s what it is, right? Tell me in the comments why you don’t do free!
Sometimes You Just Have to Go Higher
There are definitely some considerations for pricing your book at $1.99 or higher for limited time discount promotions. Again, it’s all about being smarter about when and why you’re making your decisions.
And remember, you’re not being asked to pick one and resigning yourself to that strategy till the end of time. Like any other book marketing approach, you need to do some testing before you find your stride, and it’s almost always a combination.
Your goal is to drive some revenue with your first book
You may have a puzzled look on your face at the above because it seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve talked about this before, you can’t simply have big goals. You have to also recognize the steps it takes to reach those big goals – goals like more sales.
Take a new author with only one book, for example. That author will likely want to alternate between free discount eBook promotions and higher ones, so they’re bouncing between focusing on big exposure and more downloads, and actually pulling in some revenue to keep the train moving.
Bookbub reported that discount eBook promotions priced at $2.99 have on average generated more than 200% more revenue than those running at $0.99, even though the volume of unit sales is lower.
But keep in mind, it’s all about numbers, and trying a combination of approaches.
These statistics also include authors with big platforms and established followings, so they can get away with pricing their limited time discounts a bit higher.
Simply put, don’t walk away from this thinking all your dreams will come true by simply running a $2.99 discount promotion! But it’s good to test it.
Your goal is to promote a bundle book or omnibus
More and more authors are opting to create boxed sets of their books, and with my full support, I recommend this strategy to nearly every author that comes to me with a series.
But of course it’s tough to consider giving away multiple books for free or only $.99. Especially if it’s your only series. So if you’re in this position, yes, don’t feel pressured to go to low with your discount eBook promotions for the omnibus, as long as the $2.99 price point is still a great deal compared to buying the books separately, potential buyers will take notice.
Your goal is to give a boost to an already successful book
Hey congrats, your book is doing well! We should all be so lucky! But before you get too comfortable make sure you have a plan for when the buzz starts to wane a bit.
Well-timed discount eBook promotions at the $2.99 price point, for books that are already seeing steady success, are a brilliant way to milk what you’ve already achieved to bring in even more downloads and keep that Amazon algorithm on its toes.
Your goal is to promote your nonfiction
If you’re in a nonfiction category that regularly commands a higher retail price point, so cookbooks, coffee table books, and more technical and very industry specific business books, as a few examples, you can get away with a higher price point for your discount eBook promotions as well.
Just be realistic about whether your retail price is higher because that’s the industry standard and what readers are expecting, or because you’re trying to work the system or find a loophole to ROI.
If you’re truly unsure what’s “normal” for your genre check out the bestseller lists and see what price points seem most consistent, taking household names and celebrities with a grain of salt because they’ll skew that a bit.
What To Take Away From This Piece
My goal was to encourage you to continue using (or come back to) discount eBook promotions but in a more lucrative way – and I hope I’ve done that – or at minimum challenged you to consider whether you’ve been making smart decisions, or just trying things at random.
There’s a lot that’s very unpredictable about becoming an author, publishing a book, and hoping people buy it and read it, but with some planning and some smart analysis of your goals and challenges, you really can diminish a lot of the guesswork.