You Can Never, Ever Give Up On the Dream
I run a different promotion at least once a month. I have five books so it’s easy to vary my attempts. I’ve found that blogging helps get my name out there and long-term it helps sell books but the promotions I run monthly are designed to sell books now. So, I buy ads on promotional sites. Lately I’ve been combining that with a Kindle Countdown deal in order to earn the 70% royalty return. Each time I have a promotion approaching I allow myself to believe. I allow myself to dream that this will be the one where sales take off. My chosen book will perform that initial spike on the day of the sale and keep going and won’t stop until…well you know how the dream goes.
Just like all of us I’ve had promotions that have done very well and some that haven’t worked at all. I ran one of my novels for free too many times. The last time I offered it for free I gave away twenty thousand e-books. This book has been very good to me and is a pretty consistent seller. Each time I’ve run it for free it has hit the top five overall (while it was free) and even got to #1 a couple of times. So, I know how to give away books. I’m more interested in the post-free sales spike of course. That wonderful time when your book goes back to paid, in my case $3.99, and sells hundreds if not thousands of books at the retail price. That’s happened for me so I know what it feels like. The last time I ran my free promotion this was not the case. This book sells at least a copy each day. When it returned to the retail price, after all those freeloads, I calculated that I sold perhaps an additional thirty books. Yep, thirty, after giving away thousands.
So, the dream began before my promo started running. It kept going when I was in the top five free books overall and it was still alive the first morning when I went back to paid downloads. It was even alive at noon when I’d sold three books. It ended shortly after that though. There are only so many excuses you can make.
In addition to having the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time with my first KDP Select free runs I was also on the initial Bookbub train too. At that point the pricing was high but not as high as it is now. And, when your book took off during a 99 cent sale it felt like the old days were back again. Nothing makes you believe like seeing your book race up the rankings. Breaking into the top forty, thirty, twenty thousand, and then seeing it leave the thousands behind and get into the hundreds. Now that’s exciting. I alternate between watching the numbers increase on my sales dashboard and waiting for my ranking to change on my product page. And each time it does I believe even stronger that this is the one. This is the promotion that will propel my book to the top and then it’ll stay there. Maybe not for months but days would be good and a couple of weeks would be outstanding. And then, inevitably, it happens. The downloads begin to slow and that agonizing drop in the rankings begins. That’s when I stop watching.
I wrote a self-publishing guidebook last year and I’ve updated it so that the information is current. In it I list websites that I’ve used to promote my book. Most of us know the names and many of us have experimented with different sites. From time to time I recommend a couple of sites that have worked well for me but I also qualify my recommendation because the effectiveness of a site can vary with book and author and of course that means genre too. So, just because something is working for me doesn’t mean it will work for someone else.
I never believed there was a secret sauce. If we assume that we have a product that readers will want to read once we find a way to connect with a gazillion of them, and we present our product in a professional manner, there are still a number of factors that come into play when you put your book on sale. One is the competition that you’re up against. I advertised on a site six months ago and there were some really big names on the page beside me. One was a John Irving novel. I’ve always loved Mr. Irving’s work and it was an honor to see his book beside mine but I did wish that his publisher had waited until the next week to run a special. So, it takes more than finding the site that works or the price point or the correct day of the week. It takes a combination of a lot of things to see that sales spike really SPIKE. Recently I ran a Kindle Countdown deal on a romance book that I wrote last year and the good folks at Ereader News Today were kind enough to feature it on their page too. I sold a lot of books during that promo and hit #1 in a category with my very good friend Sable Hunter at #2. Two years ago if you’d asked us whether sitting at the top of a popular category was a possibility for us we probably would not have believed you. Sable lives at #1 these days and I just visit from time to time, but I don’t let it get me down. That recent promotion saw my book move up and then inevitably it went back down in the rankings. So, now it’s time to move on. I look at my planner and see where my next promotion is. And, I start believing all over again. You see, I know it’s being done. I have friends who routinely sell tens of thousands of books every month. And, I have a photocopy of a check that Amazon sent me a couple of years ago that was certainly the biggest paycheck I ever received. So, it is possible. You just have to ride it out and keep believing. You can never, ever stop.
At time of publication, my bestselling novel “My Temporary Life” is being featured for 99 cents. Its current position is 1,556 overall and is #1 in three separate categories on Amazon’s bestseller rankings. The dream is back and I’m believing once again.