99 Cent Promotions: Which Had the Best Results?

When I first released When It Rained at Hembry Castle in February, I decided to set the price at 99 cents so I could use the first couple of months to run ads on the various book promotions sites. While you can advertise your book with prices higher than 99 cents, general wisdom says the lower your book is priced the better it will sell. I tend to believe that’s true because readers who sign up for these lists are looking for bargains.

When It Rained at Hembry Castle was in the Top 20 of its genre categories for most of the three months I used the book promotions.

When It Rained at Hembry Castle was in the Top 20 of its genre categories for most of the three months I used the book promotions.

I had used book promotion sites in the past, but I wanted to be as systematic as I could this time. I knew I needed a new audience for When It Rained at Hembry Castle than I had for any of my other books. While there are some readers of my Loving Husband Trilogy who read and loved Hembry, I still had to help new readers discover the novel. Phase One of my marketing plans was to try as many book promotion sites as I could.

I decided to write this post because when I was searching for sites where I could promote my 99 cent books I found articles like this extremely helpful and I wanted to do the same for others. I’m not advocating certain book promotions—I’m simply sharing my own experiences.

I admit I have a different outlook on book promotions than others. I’ve read comments from some writers who said they don’t pay for promotions because often the promotion costs more than they’ll make from sales. I’ve found that to be true since if I’m promoting a book that’s 99 cents then I’m making about 30 cents per copy sold. This is where you need to consider your goals.

If you’re only interested in making a profit, then 99 cent promotions probably aren’t for you. If you’re looking for exposure, getting your book in front of eyeballs, and making sales in the process, then I highly recommend 99 cent promotions. I broke about even between the amount I spent on the promotions and the amount I made, and for me it was worth it. The promotions didn’t make me rich, but they did get my book seen and, most importantly, bought.

Hembry was named a Hot New Release by Amazon shortly after it was published.

Hembry was named a Hot New Release by Amazon shortly after it was published.

I’ve heard that readers need to be exposed to a book at least seven times before they buy it (some say it takes 20 times for someone to buy what you’re selling, but seven sounds better so let’s say seven). For myself, I rarely buy a book the first time I hear about it. If I hadn’t heard about the book more than once I probably wouldn’t have given it another thought. If doing the promotions helps to give potential readers their first, second, or even fifth viewing of my book, then to me it’s money well spent.

The Numbers

2/7/16

Free Kindle Books and Tips—36 sales

2/9/16

Books Butterfly—19 sales

2/10

Books Butterly—32 sales

2/11

Awesome Gang—26 sales

2/12

Genre Plus—8 sales

2/15

OHFB—78 sales

2/17

BK Knights

Betty Book Freak—26 sales total for the day

(This was a mistake on my part—I set two promotions on the same day. I don’t recommend doing this because then it’s harder to tell where the sales are coming from.)

2/19

Many Books—60 sales

2/23

Fussy Librarian—46 sales

2/26

New in Books—on list “6 Books to Read if you Love Downton Abbey”—34     sales

2/29

eBook Hunter—21 sales

3/8

Book Gorilla—122 sales

3/23

The eReader Cafe—88 sales

3/26-3/27

Books Butterfly—68 sales

4/5

Book Sends—83 sales

4/7

eBooks Habit—10 sales

4/11

Kindle Book Review—9 sales

4/13

The Fussy Librarian—40 sales

4/16

Kindle Book Review—6 sales

4/20

Read Cheaply—23 sales

4/21

Read Cheaply—35 sales

4/23

EReader News Today—215 sales

4/25

BK Knights—26 sales

I even had my first Amazon Author Rank after the EReader News Today promotion.

I had my first Amazon Author Rank after the EReader News Today promotion. The novel was #1,472 overall and #3 on the Historical Fiction British chart and #4 on the Literary Fiction British and Irish chart.

Even on days when I didn’t have a promotion running the novel still sold well—perhaps not as well, but still pretty well. I should also mention that there were times when I had Facebook ads running during these three months (working toward getting potential readers to that 7th—or 20th—time a charm visibility). No matter what marketing strategies you’re using, it’s impossible to say precisely where book sales are coming from—book promotions, Facebook ads, virutal book tours, Amazon algorithms, word of mouth, your Aunt Sally buying 50 copies—but I believe the promotions were the main catalyst because sales spiked on days when the book was being promoted.

Of course, once the promotions stopped and the price went to $2.99 sales slowed. It’s funny how your perspective changes. Normally, I’d be thrilled to see one of my books selling 4-5 copies a day, which is what Hembry is doing now, but after all those sales the 4-5 copies looked a little wimpy. That’s when I put myself back on my “no checking stats” rule which I normally live under (as I speak about here). I think it’s okay to check stats when you have a promotion going (which I did for three months), but then you need to remember there are other things that need your attention—such as writing new books, for example.

For my next experiment I’m going to try promoting Hembry at $2.99 and see what happens. Not all book promotion sites allow for $2.99 price points, but some do. Some charge more for the $2.99 promotions than they do for 99 cent promotions. But now I’m interested in comparing and contrasting what happened at 99 cents and what will happen at $2.99.