Tag Archives: ads

How to develop a strategy for ebook sale promotions (Starting out as an indie author)

Once upon a time, when I first started switching from traditional to indie publishing, all you had to do to sell books was to offer your works free on a regular basis and get a few thousand downloads. After the free runs, the books would be high in the Amazon rankings, which would provide the visibility to sell a decent number of books daily for a while until your book disappeared into obscurity again. My biggest income month as an indie author is still from those early golddigger days.

In that carefree time when I first started out, way back in 2012, even a *short story collection* offered free was enough to boost visibility and garner sales for the more lucrative longer works.

No more.

Now it is hard to even give short story collections away on Amazon (although they do still sell on other venues). And for a free run with a novella or novel to result in any kind of significant bump in sales after it’s over, you have to give away tens of thousands of copies of your book.

So I’ve had to switch gears. In the last year or so, I’ve been testing various sites for advertising my books, as well as new book descriptions, new keywords, and new covers, and I’ve seen a steady rise in book sales, from income of under $50 a month to this:

I realize this is peanuts compared to really successful indie authors, but for me, it’s monetary proof that I’m going in the right direction. For about a year, from late 2013 to late 2014, I pretty much stopped marketing my books completely. I published Chameleon in a Mirror during that time, and it took off like a stone weighed down by a ton of bricks. But that does not seem to have had anything to do with the quality of the book — see my bestseller last month in the image above. πŸ™‚

During my no marketing phase, my books were earning me between $40 – $70 a month. When I was ready to publish Island of Glass, I decided it was time to come out of my marketing slump and start regarding it as a challenge, an experiment, a puzzle I needed to figure out. Here are some of the strategies I’ve come up with during the last year of extensive experimentation.

Permafree

I had already put a short story from The Pendragon Chronicles up for free, but Gawain and Ragnell, even though it is part of A Shadow of Stone, has its own complete plot arc — and thus provides no compelling reason for anyone to read the other books, other than enthusiasm for my brilliant writing, of course. But it has no hook; it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. Readers claim they hate this, but book 2 in a series is more likely to find buyers if book 1 ends leaving lots of questions unaswered.

Since my Pendragon books were meant to be standalone novels, I went a different way to attract more readers: I split up my monster book, Yseult (200,000 words, or 800 manuscript pages), into the four “books” I had already organized it in and published them each separately. Once I managed to make Part I free, I had a cliffhanger book to entice readers to buy either the next book or the complete “boxed set.” And I also now had 2 free “books” in the series that I could alternately promote cheaply or free. (See my blog post on promoting permafrees.)

With some experimenting along these lines, I noticed that as long as I could keep at least one of those two permafree books in the top 20 of the Arthurian Fantasy Free rankings, it helped get me regular sales of Yseult. The Arthurian Fantasy category is small, so it’s not as hard to stay high in the rankings, but by the same token, it doesn’t attract as many readers who will then pick up your higher-priced book or books. I’m pretty sure that if you can keep a permafree high in the rankings of a much bigger category like Epic Fantasy, you would see higher sales of the related book.

Organize promotions around effective advertisers

Don’t set your promo prices and dates and then go looking for advertising. Do it the other way around.

I invested quite a bit last year, in both time and money, testing various advertising sites for ROI (return on investment). You can certainly take my own recommendations as a guideline, but the thing is, your results might be very different. A number of advertising sites recommended on Kboards were a washout for me. Garnering a BookBub ad will pretty much always guarantee a good ROI. But not only are they hard to get, they are very expensive, and not all authors will be able to afford their prices.

Some of the places (besides BookBub) I will build a book promotion around are ENT, BookBarbarian, ManyBooks, and RobinReads. I’ve had less than stellar results with BargainBooksy and any number of sites other authors swear by. That’s why you can’t get around investing in your own experiments, at least a little. I started my experimental marketing investing in sites that authors on Kboards recommended — but of those, there were quite a few that for me had a pretty miserable ROI. You can read some of my results in this post.

The thing is, there is no magic bullet. But while a number of ad sites didn’t pay out for me, in those months I’ve seen a steady increase in sales — with no month that my investment was higher than the money I earned from my books. So as a whole, the increase in visibility is worth it.

After the last few months of experimentation in advertising, I’ve come to the conclusion that most indie authors who are serious about selling on a regular basis won’t be able to get around doing some similar experiments for their own books. Several of the advertisers I had the biggest hopes for turned out to be my biggest disappointments, while some less well known gave me surprising jumps in sales. Genre, cover, subscriber tastes — so much plays a role, it’s hard to say which book will do well with which advertiser.

Some generalizations I can make, regardless of genre and / or experience:

– Before paying money for advertising, try to figure out the reach of the web site or list. If they do not provide any numbers themselves, Alexa rankings might be a good place to start. I have a list of Alexa rankings here.

– Once you have figured out the advertising sites that work for you, apply for an ad with one of your favorites well in advance, usually about a month, and chose the option that your dates are flexible. If your book is accepted, plan your promotion around the effective advertiser, applying for some free or less expensive ads in the days leading up to it.

– Try to do a 99c advertising campaign with at least one of your books a month. (I don’t advocate free anymore, except for permafree.)

– Don’t use the same advertiser and the same book every time. Ads are much more effective if you haven’t advertised a book through the same service in at least six months. Obviously, this strategy works better the more books you have to advertise. If you only have two novels published, concentrate on getting more out before you start experimenting with advertising the way I did. To remain visible as an author with this strategy you would probably need at least four novels or longer novellas, preferably more. (Short stories and collections do not work to boost my visibility.)

Description and Cover

If you can’t get any of the big, more effective advertisers to accept your book, despite the fact that your manuscript isn’t riddled with typos and you have a fair number of positive reviews (don’t believe the myths circulating about the astronomical numbers you need to get a BookBub ad), then it might be time to re-evaluate the presentation of your book.

I am convinced that the single most important thing for selling books is your cover. It’s the first thing your potential reader sees, and if it isn’t interesting or eye-catching enough for him or her to click on it, you’re losing sales right there.

I’ve done several cover makeovers recently, one myself for Chameleon in a Mirror, and two for my Looking Through Lace Series with new covers designed by Lou Harper. All of those books saw dramatic increases in sales / downloads when I did a promo for the book with the new cover compared to the results with the old. Note: you can’t expect a book that’s dead in the water to come back to life with a new cover. If your book is in the lower dregs of Amazon somewhere that no one will ever see it, and you don’t do some kind of promo to increase its visibility, it will remain in the lower dregs of Amazon, despite its stunning new cover.

I have also seen significant increases in sales after changing my descriptions. One of the most effective things I have found for the new product format on Amazon (which only makes the first few lines of the description visible without the customer having to become active and click on “Read more”) is to start with enthusiastic “sound bites” from reader reviews. Here’s an example:

Once I changed the description to make a number of positive reviews plus a teaser prominent in the mini space which is now the Amazon default, I saw a much better conversion rate for the low-level ($1 a day) Facebook ads I’ve been using to try and keep my books from disappearing into obscurity. Now I just have to find formulas for my other books that are as consistent as Chameleon in a Mirror is right now. πŸ™‚

But the operative phrase is “right now.” The thing is, the ebook market is constantly changing, and as an indie author, you have to be willing to change with it: keep abreast of marketing trends, and changes in Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or anywhere else you sell your books. If you really want to make a living selling your books, you’re not going to get around doing your own experimenting, or keeping abreast of changes in the market. You can take this information I’m giving you as a basis to do your own experiments, but my results are based on my books, my covers, my descriptions, and can’t be carried over 1 to 1 to your books, your covers, your descriptions. All I can offer you here are guidelines based on my own experience, some possible ways to develop your own strategy to lift your books out of the doldrums.

In Conclusion

During my Year of Experimentation (following my Year of Marketing Dangerously / i.e. Not at All *g*), I tried plenty of THIS IS THE WAY YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY SELL SH*TLOADS OF EBOOKS strategies. Some of them increased my sales, most of them didn’t. On the other hand, most of those strategies sold as get rich quick schemes have some basis is fact — but they don’t take the individual book or the individual genre into consideration. And many are based on creating cheap non-fiction ebooks written specifically to a niche market.

Those kinds of marketing strategies don’t really work for fiction. In my experience, you just can’t get around testing things yourself for what will work for your own books.

But researching the sites and strategies that have worked for other authors can certainly make the task much easier. And I hope those of you looking for better ways to market your ebooks find this helpful. πŸ™‚

Results of BookBub ad in the UK for Chameleon in a Mirror

Last year, 2015, I sold an average of 8 books a month in the UK. As many of you know who read this blog, I had a UK only BookBub ad for my literary time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror, earlier this month. Right now I have 124 sales and 6205 pages read across all titles in the UK. Last month, it was 4 sales and 1235 pages read, total.

Here are the best UK rankings I saw during the sale for CIAM:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #781 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#3 in Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Chameleon in a Mirror #1

The ad cost $100. Income in the UK since the ad went live has been 75 pounds, plus 4100 pages of CIAM read. All together, that comes to about $130 in UK income for Chameleon since the BookBub ad, dependent on exchange rate and what the payout for pages read will end up being this month. CIAM sold nothing in the UK the previous month (December 2015), so it’s safe to say that most of that income is a result of the BookBub ad.

Added benefit: my other books are selling a bit more there as well.

During the sale, CIAM sold 95 copies in the UK, 2 of those before the BookBub ad went live. Now, a week later, sales are up to 115. Here’s the ranking of the book in the UK today:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,305 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#17 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#28 in Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#62 in Kindle Store > Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Since the BookBub ad, CIAM has consistently been selling a couple of copies a day, and is still in several top #100 lists. At the end of the sale, I started a Facebook ad targeting UK readers with a whopping budget of $1 a day, and since I don’t have an Amazon Affiliates account for co.uk, which would help me track where sales are coming from, I can’t say whether the regular sales are a result of the BookBub ad, or the dollar a day Facebook ad I started after the promo. So I can’t attribute all of those sales and pages read to BookBub. But it certainly got the ball rolling, and I’m trying to keep the book from disappearing into obscurity too quickly with the Facebook ad.

To summarize: I would definitely take another UK only ad with BookBub if that was all they wanted to offer me. The increase in visibility is amazing, and despite the cost, I have made something of a profit and continue to do so. That’s a win in my book. πŸ™‚

Another one bites the dust: The Midlist

Last week, I posted about the results of my most recent 99c sales. Among the sites I listed as worth planning a promo around was “The Midlist.”

Well, not anymore. They have been so successful collecting addresses from readers, they have sold their list to Bookperk, an email subscription service exclusively for HarperCollins authors. Here’s the text of the email I got just a day after that blog post:

Dear Midlist Authors,

Thank you for helping us to grow a thriving community of readers on The Midlist. We know the hard work that goes into creating a story that connects with your audience, and we’re excited to continue investing in your success.

For a little over a year, we’ve built a mailing list of avid readers on The Midlist. At the same time, we have also partnered with the daily reader email Bookperk to help them build up their reader community. Our two reader communities have a lot in common, and we’ve now agreed to extend our partnership by merging The Midlist into Bookperk.

So, what does this mean for you as The Midlist author? It means we can focus 100% on developing our flagship product, instaFreebie, the best audience development tool in the industry. We believe the future of publishing is in the author brand, and the best way to build audience for authors is to share content.

Additionally, as a big thank you to our authors, you will receive three months use on the instaFreebie product, free of charge, when they sign up to a new premium account. We’ll be sending The Midlist authors a redemption code in a follow-up email very soon.

We’re grateful for the chance to support you as an author every day. Please feel free to reach out directly to me with any questions or feedback at Jason@instafreebie.com. I’ll individually respond to every email.

Sincerely,
Jason Freeman
CEO

And what is instaFreebie, you might ask yourself? Why it is a special promotional opportunity where you can spend $20 a month to give your books away! Doesn’t that sound just grand? You can read all about it here.

Another one bites the dust
Of course, this doesn’t have anything to do with A Song of Ice and Fire, but I just love this too much. πŸ™‚

Needless to say, I will be purging “The Midlist” from my various blog posts about where to promote your books. I can give my books away for free quite well myself, thank you. And when it comes right down to it, with the exception of my permafree books, I’ve been trying to move away from free as a promotional gimmick. I don’t intend to offer any of my complete novels free again unless I get another BookBub ad.

So, who else feels like Atlas pushing that boulder uphill when trying to get the word out about their books? Sigh.

Summary of ad results for 99c sales

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When I did my 99c Countdown Deal of Yseult two months ago, I promised to do a summary post after this round of promos was over. Last week, the third week-long promo ended, and now I have put together my results to share with you, along with some conclusions about running a 99c sale. I did not apply for a Bookbub ad for any of these promos, since part of my motivation in testing ad sites like this is to find alternatives to Bookbub. I have had Bookbub ads before, and I know that they are effective, but they are very difficult to get, not to mention very expensive.

Without further ado, here are the numbers for the three promos I did in the last two months:

Yseult

Yseult, Aug. 30 – Sept. 4 (total spent: $98)

Aug. 30 – Nothing – 2 sales
Aug. 31 – Book Barbarian ($8) – 27 sales (29 total)
Booklovers Heaven (Free)
Manybooks.net – (Free)
Sept 1 – Blog and Facebook – 11 (40 total)
Sept 2 – Books Butterfly ($50) – 45 US + 6 UK (85 total) + 6 UK
Sept 3 – Nothing – 1 (86 total) + 6 UK
Sept. 4 – Bargain Booksy ($40)- 30 US + 1 UK (116 total) + 7 UK

Summary: I did not quite break even on the ads, but Yseult stayed in a couple of top 100 lists for the rest of the month and continued selling. But the big advantage of the increased visibility was in pages read: over 11,000 for the month of September. In August, when I didn’t do any ads, it was 2500.

Chameleon in a Mirror

Chameleon in a Mirror, Oct 4-10 (total spent: $48)

Oct. 4 – Nothing – 1 sale
Oct. 5 – Ereader News Today ($20) – 27 sales (28 total)
Oct. 6 – Book Goodies ($5) – 11 sales (39 total) + 1 UK
EbookStage (free)
Oct. 7 – Posted to long list of FB pages (free) – 4 sales (43 total)
Oct. 8 – Choosy Bookworm ($18) – 6 sales (49 total)
Oct. 9 – Sweetfreebooks ($5) – 6 sales (55 total)
Booklover’s Heaven (free)
Oct. 10 – More FB pages (free) – 8 sales (63 total) + 1 UK

Summary: I got closer to breaking even on this Countdown Deal, ending up only $3 shy of earning out. But I have subsequently had only a handful of sales and 3500 pages read. CIAM dropped out of its top 100 lists much quicker. Part of the problem may also be, however, that I need to get it into a couple more niche categories somehow.

Shadow of Stone

Shadow of Stone, Oct 15-22 (total spent: $22.99)

Oct. 15 – None – 1 sale
Oct. 16 – BookGoodies ($5) – 2 sales (3 total) + 2 UK
BookHippoUK (free)
Oct. 17 – The Midlist (free) – 42 sales (45 total + 3 UK)
Oct. 18 – ContentMo ($1.99) – 11 sales (56 total + 3 UK)
Reading Deals (free)
Oct. 19 – Facebook sites, etc. – 5 sales (61 total + 3 UK)
Oct. 20 – Book Barbarian ($8) – 17 sales (78 total + 3 UK)
Oct. 21 – BettyBookFreak ($8) – 2 sales (80 total + 3 UK)

The ROI on this sale was pretty fantastic, mostly because SoS managed to get approved for a free Midlist ad. I scheduled the promo accordingly and booked the other ads around The Midlist listing. Still early days yet, though, to say what the long term effect will be, although it already seems to be dropping in rank faster than Yseult did after its promo.

Here are some other ad results for 99c sales I’ve had in previous months, with the disclaimer that the oldest are from last December and could be quite different now:

Shadow of Stone:
12/16/14 – Fussy Librarian ($14) – 8 sales
12/17/14 – BKnights ($5.50) – 4 sales

Chameleon in a Mirror:
2/24/15 – BKnights ($10.50) – 8 sales
6/2/15 – ManyBooks ($20.00) – 28 sales

Island of Glass

Island of Glass:
6/30/15 – Robin Reads ($10) – 13 sales

As you can see from this list, most advertising sites don’t earn out. On the other hand, getting your book to a high enough ranking that it will stay in a couple of top 100 lists for a while is worth paying more for your ads than you earn. Nonetheless, several of these sites were very disappointing to me in terms of ROI, and I do not intend to use them again unless I start hearing rave reports on places like Kboards. The biggest disappoints for me were Choosy Bookworm and BettyBookFreak, which I had both heard good things about. Perhaps those sites are better for mysteries or romances than they are for fantasy, but I for one won’t be going back for a while.

Another thing to take into consideration is that as soon as they start getting a better reputation, may advertising sites raise their prices so much that they no longer become a good deal. I was quite pleased with the results of my Book Barbarian ads — at $8. But they have since raised their prices to $25. 17 sales for $8 looks very different than 17 sales for $25.

Sites I will definitely be using again (unless they raise their prices too much) are The Midlist,* ManyBooks, ENT, ContentMo, BooksButterfly and Robin Reads. I would also like to try and get a slot with Ereader IQ and Pixel of Ink eventually, to see how well they do. POI used to be what BookBub is now, and while it is no longer the star for promotion, I’ve been hearing good things about it.

Finally, I would like to point out that if you can scratch the money together, it’s much more worthwhile to throw as many effective ads as possible at a promo. Given the results of the above Countdown Deals, I’m suspecting you need a bump of at least 100 sales to create any kind of lasting effect in terms of visibility for your book.

In conclusion, I highly recommend checking out Nicholas Rossi’s list here — and participating in his survey when you do paid advertising. We indie authors have no other recourse than information when trying to make it in this incredibly competitive business. If we share our results, we’re in a much better position to judge which sites might be useful, and which will just be a money sink.

Good luck!

* The Midlist has sold their mailing list to HarperCollins and is no longer promoting indies. You can read more about it here.

Related posts:

Where to promote a 99c eBook sale

Alexa rankings for eBook ad sites

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter – via Lindsay Buroker

I’ve mentioned before on this site that permafree can be a good method of getting eyes on your books, even if it is no longer as effective as it used to be. This week, Lindsay Buroker has some great suggestions on how to push those free books, despite Amazon’s attempts to hide them:

5 Ways to Promote Your Free Book 1 Series Starter

Highly recommended!

And once you have read that, you might want to check out my list of places where you can advertise permafree books.

Luck and skill to all. πŸ™‚

Final ad testing experiment: 99c sale of Shadow of Stone

Shadow of Stone

I’ve been sick with a major head cold recently, which is one of the main reasons why I haven’t posted to this blog in over a week. I’m feeling a bit better today, which coincides with the first day of final round of testing ads for 99c sales of ebooks, this time for Shadow of Stone, Book II of The Pendragon Chronicles. Here’s the lineup for the next week:

Oct. 15 – None
Oct. 16 – BookGoodies ($5)
Oct. 17 – The Midlist (free)
Oct. 18 – ContentMo ($1.99)
Oct. 19 –
Oct. 20 – Book Barbarian ($8)
Oct. 21 – BettyBookFreak ($8)

Applied for free ads: Ebooklister, Read Freely, Read Cheaply, Reading Deals. I have not heard back from any of these however, so I don’t know if the book will get picked up by any of them.

I also have the results for the ads I ran for the Chameleon in a Mirror sale from Oct. 4-10 (total spent: $48)

Oct. 4 – Nothing – 1 sale
Oct. 5 – Ereader News Today ($20) – 27 sales (28 total)
Oct. 6 – Book Goodies ($5) – 11 sales (39 total) + 1 UK
EbookStage (free)
Oct. 7 – Posted to long list of FB pages (free) – 4 sales (43 total)
Oct. 8 – Choosy Bookworm ($18) – 6 sales (49 total)
Oct. 9 – Sweetfreebooks ($5) – 6 sales (55 total)
Booklover’s Heaven (free)
Awesomegang (free) – Apparently didn’t post after all
Oct. 10 – More FB pages (free) – 8 sales (63 total) + 1 UK

I broke even on the cost of the ads, and have since had a few sales and several thousand pages read. These ads were much less effective than those for Yseult last month. On the other hand, for that campaign, I spent almost $100, and it gave the book the boost it needed to get high in several top 100 lists — the visibility necessary to create a long tail for a sale.

When the sale on Shadow of Stone is over, I will put together a summary post of all my results, as well as some of the conclusions I’ve come to. Ads for ebooks are getting more and more expensive, while their effectiveness is dropping. To my way of thinking, the best way to combat that trend is to share our knowledge, so that writers won’t be tempted to put as much money in advertising that doesn’t work.

Testing more ad sites: 99c sale of Chameleon in a Mirror

Chameleon in a Mirror

I have another 99c Countdown Deal on one of my books going this week, this time for my time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror. BTW, it also got a very nice review recently at The Reading Head. πŸ™‚ Anyway, here’s the lineup for the ads:

Oct. 5 – Ereader News Today ($20) – 26 sales so far
Oct. 6 – Book Goodies ($5)
EbookStage? (free) – I have a question mark on this one because they wanted me to post a Tweet which Twitter rejected as spam. As a result, I’m not sure if they will actually promote the book or not.
Oct. 9 – Booklover’s Heaven (free)
Sweetfreebooks ($5)
Awesomegang (free)

I booked the following ad as well, but I don’t know when they will run it:
Choosy Bookworm ($18)

Total spent: $48

I applied to quite a few other free sites but didn’t hear back, so I’m assuming that the book won’t be carried there. I’m curious to see how this one compares to my recent Yseult promo, on which I spent about twice as much in advertising.

Before the promo, CIAM was at #553,601 on Amazon. This morning it was #9,970 overall, and #66 in historical fantasy. πŸ™‚

I have another Countdown Deal of Shadow of Stone scheduled for later this month and will be testing a couple more ad sites then. As a result, I’ve decided to wait on the summary post of advertising options for 99c sales until after the Shadow of Stone promo, when I’ll have quite a bit more info.

Wish me luck! πŸ™‚

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Alexa rankings for eBook ad sites

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Using Alexa

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the results of my most recent 99c sale — which went better than anything I’ve done since the last time I took out a BookBub ad, oh so long ago. It appears I’m getting a bit savvier about where to advertise.

So how do you go about deciding if a place is worth it for you to plop down the hard earned money you’ve made elsewhere in the hopes of someday making enough from writing to quit your day job? Well, I’m glad you asked that run-on question, because I’m going to tell you. The first thing I usually do is go to Kboards.com and search for the ad site I’m considering using to see if there has already been a discussion about it. Then I google the name of the site with something like “advertising” and “results” and other such search terms, to see if I can find out if other writers have been satisfied with the service. Sometimes (probably not often enough), I’ve checked the rankings on Alexa to see if the site really does get the kind of traffic it claims.

You can get into a rut with advertising, if you keep using the same sites over and over that have been successful for you before. It makes sense to hit different sites with (hopefully) different subscribers and readers who may not have seen your book before. So I found a couple of lists with sites I was unfamiliar with — adding up to so many that I knew any time I tried to figure out which to try, I would be end up feeling swamped and wouldn’t bother after all.

So I decided to sacrifice a couple of hours and weed out the lists a bit using Alexa. And since I’d gone ahead and done all that work anyway, I figured I might as well share it with my blog readers.

This ranking is by no means a guarantee of the effectiveness of any given ad site. Many sites are only for authors, with the ads appearing on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites. Many sites these days inform their readers of deals through email, and aside from ad pages for authors, the site is little more than a sign-up for the email list.

Also, some sites only cater to select genres. I was very pleased with the results of my ad with Book Barbarian, for example, which is not exactly stellar in this ranking. But they only promote sff, so they are targeting precisely the readers I want to reach. And at a price tag of only $8, I suspect they are one of the better deals for writers in my genre. I fully intend to use their services again — with a different book next time. πŸ™‚

But the thing is, an outrageously low ranking probably indicates that you are not going to see much of a result from a listing with that site. The worst ranking I encountered was 15,000,000 — and it didn’t even offer free ads. I did not include that site on my list. This irregular blog comes in at a little over 600,000, after all, to give you some comparison. (Which I only learned while writing this post. *g*) And I assure you, none of you wants to give me money to plug your book, although I would be happy to take it …

Price is another thing to take into consideration when weighing whether to advertise with any of the sites listed here. Not surprisingly, BookBub has the highest Alexa ranking. But the prices they charge are also far more than many indie authors can afford.

Since I compiled this list for my own use, when not otherwise noted, the ranking is for US traffic, which is where about 95% of my sales come from, making it most important to me. By the same token, I didn’t even check romance sites, since I do not write romance, at least not yet. I also did not bother to include any sites above a ranking of 500,000 if they don’t provide a free advertising option. I make no apologies for that, and no claim in the first place that this list is anywhere near complete. It was intended for my personal use, and I just happen to be sharing it with you. πŸ™‚ Finally, I want to emphasize once more that this ranking alone does not indicate how effective an ad placed with one of these sites will be, given how many different factors play a role. It can only be one of several data points influencing the decision where to take out an ad. AND it is only current at the time of this writing (Sept. 10, 2015). Alexa rankings may be completely different a month from now.

The sites not already listed on my other promo pages (here, here, and here) I got either at http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2015/02/35-alternatives-to-bookbub/ or http://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites. You can use those to compile you own rankings for advertising purposes. πŸ™‚

Now on to Ruth Nestvold’s personal Alexa ranking list of ebook advertising sites:

https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing
2,176 US; 8,393 global

http://new.ereaderiq.com/advertise/
8,082

http://robinreads.com/author-signup/
9,683

https://ohfb.com/kindle-book-advertising-for-authors-and-publishers.html
16,171

http://manybooks.net/promote.php
17,124

http://digitalbookspot.com/ (bknights on Fiverr)
18,275

http://freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
19,662

https://www.themidlist.com/submit
22,810

http://www.dailyfreebooks.com/promote-your-kindle-book.html
25,940

http://ereadernewstoday.com/bargain-and-free-book-submissions/ (ENT)
29,576

http://www.bookgorilla.com/advertise
37,273

http://digitalbooktoday.com/
38,161

http://www.theereadercafe.com/p/authors.html
45,262

http://blog.booksontheknob.org/subscribe-about-contact/authors-read-this
58,972

http://booksends.com/advertise.php
55,240

http://authors.choosybookworm.com/newsletter-and-website-feature/
56,149

http://fkbt.com/for-authors/
60,736

http://ebookstage.com/authorAreaPage.xhtml
75,536

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/submissions/
76,876

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-books-2/
78,724

http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/for-authors/
82,796

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-books-2/
98,369

http://bargainbooksy.com/for-authors
100,705

http://bookgoodies.com/submit-your-free-kindle-days/highlight-your-free-kindle-days/
116,216

http://www.xtme.de/submitting-a-free-e-book-to-xtmeenglishbooks/
130,042 global; 7,738 Germany

http://www.freebookshub.com/authors/
131,056

http://www.bargainebookhunter.com (can be booked through Hotzippy)
134,201

http://ereadergirl.com/submit-your-ebook/
161,376; NZ 2,827

http://askdavid.com/for-authors
161,996 global; United Kingdom 24,180 (also ranks in India and the US)

http://bookbarbarian.com/why-advertise/
179,531

http://www.freebooks.com/submit/
188,008

http://readingdeals.com/submit-ebook
188,357

http://www.ebooksoda.com/authors/
199,297

http://www.bookbasset.com/authors/submissions/
200,900

http://beezeebooks.com/book-promotion/
206,871 global; 975 New Zealand; also India

http://www.frugal-freebies.com/p/submit-freebie.html
211,208

http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
211,254

http://readcheaply.com/partners/
213,980

http://www.iloveebooks.com/for-authors.html
222,842

http://addictedtoebooks.com/content/free-advertising
224,161

http://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/
237,735

http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/p/promote-your-free-book.html
248,641

http://www.booksbutterfly.com/order?tag=readersintheknow
251,520

http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/
251,886

http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php
279,609

http://www.book-circle.com/submit-free-kindle-ebook-listing/
300,000+ global; 3,000 Phillipines

http://bookpraiser.com/submit-book/
293,107

http://www.ebookhounds.com/pricing/
308,789

http://ebookasaurus.com/authors/
318,623 (global)

http://www.bookbuzzr.com/plans.php
329,155

http://bettybookfreak.com/authors/
367,548

http://www.goodkindles.net/p/submit-your-book.html
371,292

http://booktastik.com/pricing-sale-estimates/
380,520

http://www.freebookdude.com/search/label/Promote%20with%20The%20Book%20Dude
413,117

http://www.peoplereads.com/list-your-ebook
518,197

http://lovelybookpromotions.com
593,211

http://contentmo.com/submit-your-free-ebook-promo
618,531; global 401,223

http://freediscountedbooks.com/submit/
620,927

http://www.armadilloebooks.com/
904,702 global

Hope you all find the list useful. πŸ™‚

Effectiveness of ads for a 99c promo: Results for Yseult

Last week, I had a 99c sale for Yseult running, for which I took out several paid ads — none of them BookBub. *g* I promised to provide a summary of the results once the promo was over.

Here are the ads I took out and the dates they appeared:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

For the week, I spent a total of $98 for advertising. At the beginning of the promotion, Yseult was at #511,349 on Amazon.com. The highest it reached during the week of the promotion was #7,555 on Sept. 3, according to the sales info on Author Central. Here is one of the better results caught as screenshot:

Arthurian fiction bestsellers

It actually made it up to #4 in Arthurian Fiction at one point, but I forgot to take a screenshot. πŸ™‚

Here is how the sales during the week broke down:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, before the Books Butterfly ad came out, I had 38 sales in the US and 2 in the UK. Before the ads came out, there were 2 sales. So I’m sure that most of those sales were a result of the ads, but since they were all on the same day I’m not sure exactly where the sales came from. Nonetheless, excellent ROI, and well worth using again. Perhaps next time on different days, so that I have a better idea which ones work best.

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

After the Books Butterfly ad, I had another 47 sales in the US and 4 in the UK. In absolute terms, that means I lost money, but it is also the ad that pushed my visibility up the most and got me into some top ten lists.

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

After the BargainBooksy ad, I sold another 30 copies of the book in the US and 1 in the UK. For me, in terms of ROI, this was the least effective of the ads I took out.

As I mentioned last week, I deliberately spaced the more expensive paid ads with a day in between so that I’d have a better idea of their effectiveness. When I’ve tested ads before, I’ve tended to do a different ad every day, which makes it more difficult to figure out which ads got me the sales, since there is always spillover.

To my way of thinking, with my limping sales in the past months, this promo was a definite success. Not only did I sell over 130 copies of the book (meaning I recouped the costs of the ads), I also sold several copies of Shadow of Stone, #2 in The Pendragon Chronicles, and paperbacks of Yseult as well — something that hasn’t happened in a long time. πŸ™‚ Even my freebies in the series have a lot more downloads now than they did this time last month.

And now that the book has returned to full price, I’ve made a couple more sales, and seem to have several readers borrowing it, to judge by the pages read in my dashboard.

I promised to compile these results with those of other 99c sales I’ve done, but it’s late now in Central Europe, and I think I’m going to save the summary post for next week.

Anyway, I’m very happy with the results, even if some of them were quite different than expected. But I’m paying for that as well, and will know better what to use next time I schedule a promo for one of my books. πŸ™‚

Promoting your 99c sale revisited: Yseult, A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

About two years ago now, I pulled Yseult and Shadow of Stone, my two big doorstopper Arthurian novels, from KDP Select and went wide with them. Unfortunately, I was never able to get any traction with them on other sales sites, even with a couple of permafree titles. So when Amazon changed it’s payment model for borrows, I pulled them from all other sites and re-enrolled them in Select. At official KENPCs (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) of around 1000 pages each, when those are books are read to the end as borrows, they earn me almost four times as much for a borrow as in the old system — and they earn me more than for a direct sale too. πŸ™‚

But as I have pointed out before, you can make neither sales nor a borrow if you don’t get your book in front of people. This summer has been crazy busy, and I haven’t had a lot of time to set up advertising. Now I finally have a Countdown Deal set up for Yseult this week, during which I will be testing a few more 99c promotional gigs. BookBub is not among them. I am trying to find out what advertising opportunities are out there for which you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars. Next week, I will post my results, as well as summaries of several other 99c promotions I’ve done in previous months with the ads I bought for them.

Another thing I’ll be tracking is the ranking of Yseult. Before the promotion started, it was at #511,349 on Amazon.com. I have already had two sales, and now it is at #97,793.

This week, I’ll be testing the following ad sites:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

I’ve also applied for a number of other free ads, but I haven’t received confirmation that my book will be carried, so I’m assuming it won’t be running on any of the other sites besides ManyBooks and Booklover’s Heaven.

I deliberately spaced the more expensive paid ads with a day in between so that I’ll have a better idea which ones are actually effective. When I’ve done this kind of thing before with a different ad every day, it ends up being hard to figure out how many of the sales are from the ad of the day, or from the ad that ran the day before.

Watch this space next week, when I will post my results, and provide a summary of ads for other 99c sales I’ve tested. πŸ™‚