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How to Run Discount eBook Promotions That Work

Authors either love or hate discount eBook promotions. Regardless of how you feel about them, the reality is that they can be insanely lucrative—especially if you know what works for your genre and market.  In fact, once you find your comfort level, discount eBook promotions will become a key part of your book marketing plan…. [Read More]

Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

Authors either love or hate discount eBook promotions. Regardless of how you feel about them, the reality is that they can be insanely lucrative—especially if you know what works for your genre and market.  In fact, once you find your comfort level, discount eBook promotions will become a key part of your book marketing plan.

If you’re still struggling to find your sweet spot, here are some things to consider as you plan how to price your book.

The Power of Free

You can still get fantastic exposure without making your eBook free, which is welcome news for  authors who have a hard time stomaching ‘free.’Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

With that said, there are some valid reasons that featuring some free promotions throughout the year can really help you out.

You Want Books in as Many Hands as Possible

This shouldn’t be beneath anyone, especially when you’re shooting for downloads and page views. According to BookBub, free discount eBook promotions see 10x more downloads than any other price point!

So if you really just need to get their name out there, this is a powerful tactic. What’s more, it’s a great way to convince people to give you a chance when you don’t yet have a ton of reviews.Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

People’s time is valuable and they want a sure thing, or a book they know they’ll like. If you haven't established street cred, offering them the opportunity to check out your book for free could be just the push they need.

You Want to Increase Sales for a Series

Making the first book in your series free is a great way to introduce new readers to your work. If your book is top-notch, they’ll want to come back for more at the retail price once they’re hooked.

This piggybacks off the “books in hands” strategy above, and it’s really quite simple.

In summary, write a great series, let people check out the first volume for free, then watch them come back to buy the following titles at full price.Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

Not convinced? BookBub’s numbers show that authors who make the first book in their series free ultimately see 8x higher sales of the other books in the series. This is legit.

You Want to Drive Attention to a New Release

When you have a killer Amazon presence (if you’re unsure check out the dedicated Amazon section of our blog), a discount eBook promotion for a backlist title can work in your favor when it comes to driving attention to your newest release.

To capitalize on this strategy, you’ll want to update the book description for the backlist title you’re discounting so you’re also announcing your latest release.

Don’t leave sales opportunities on the table by not using all the features of their Amazon book page to cross-promote your marketing efforts.

Additional Resources:
Optimizing Your Amazon Book Page-Part 1
Amazon Themes & Keywords: Optimizing Your Book Page-Part 2

You Want to Sell More Books Long Term

Book buyers are creatures of habit, and once they are a fan of one of your books, they will likely be back to purchase additional titles.Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

So if you want to create more return buyers, run some free discount eBook promotions for your titles with the most (and best) reviews, to lure them in and convert them to fans.

Sometimes a $.99 Promotion is the Best Strategy

eBook promotions that discount your book to $.99 can also be powerful. However, just like the free promos, you’ll want to make smart decisions that take into account your book marketing challenges and goals.

You Want to Hit a Bestseller List

This is a delicate dance. Yes, we all want to hit the bestseller list, but be sure you’re being realistic about your qualifications to pull this off with a discount eBook promotion.

You must have a stellar book that’s already getting really great reviews.Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

You should also be ad stacking. The idea behind this is to support your discount eBook promotion through lots of other channels and cross-promoting it wherever possible. You can’t bank on simply changing the price and waiting for the sales to roll in.

The goal here is to offer the lowest discount possible without making you ineligible for bestseller lists. You’ll also want to be sure to support that discount by pushing as many people to the limited time offer as possible.

As I said, you have to be committed to do this and plan it really well, basically building an entire campaign around your bid for a bestseller spot. (If you haven’t downloaded my free book marketing planner, you can get it free here.)

Additional Resource:  Tips & Resources for a Tiered Discount Book Promotion

You Want to Push Your Series, But Not for Free

Tips for successful discount eBook promotionsThere are plenty of reasons why some authors can’t or won’t do free discount eBook promotions. If you’re 100% against free, then there’s probably not much I can do to sell you on it.

However, you can follow this strategy in principle, but simply using a $.99 first book instead. It may not have quite the power as free, but you can rest assured that you’re not giving anything away.

Sometimes You Just Have to Go Higher

There are definitely some considerations for doing a discount eBook promotion priced at $1.99 (or higher). Again, it’s all about making strategic, smart decisions.

Remember, you’re not being asked to make a choice that you have to stick with forever. Like any other book marketing approach, you will likely need to do some testing before you hit your stride.

You Want to Drive Revenue with Your 1st Book

If this seems like a no-brainer, know that you can’t expect to achieve big goals in a vacuum. You have to recognize the steps it takes to reach goals, whether they relate to book sales or something else.

A new author with only one book will likely want to alternate between free discount eBook promotions and higher ones, so they’re bouncing between gaining exposure and downloads, and actually pulling in some revenue to keep the train moving.

Interestingly enough, BookBub says that discount eBook promotions priced at $2.99 have, on average, generated 200% more revenue than those running at $0.99, even though the volume of unit sales is lower.

That being said, it’s all about numbers and trying a variety of approaches.

BookBub’s stats also include authors with big platforms and established followings, who can get away with pricing their limited time discounts a bit higher.

The takeaway here is while it’s good to try out a $2.99 discount promotion, it doesn’t mean that it will be your book’s sweet spot.

You Want to Promote a Bundled Book or Omnibus

More and more authors are opting to create boxed sets of their books. I love this strategy and recommend it to nearly every author that comes to me with a series.

I know how hard it is to consider giving away multiple books for free or only $.99.  As long as the $2.99 price point is still a great deal compared to buying the books separately, this is a solid option for lots of authors, and potential buyers will take notice.

You Want to Boost an Already Successful Book

Before you get too comfortable with a book that’s doing really well, make sure you have a plan for when the buzz starts to wane.

Discounting your book to $2.99 can be a great strategy if you’re seeing steady success because it gives you a brilliant way to maximize downloads and keep that Amazon algorithm on its toes.

You Want to Promote Your Nonfiction

If you’re in a nonfiction category that regularly commands a higher retail price point, like cookbooks, coffee table books, and more technical, industry-specific business books, you can offer a higher price point for your discount eBook promotions as well.Tips for successful discount eBook promotions

Ultimately, you’ll need to be realistic about whether your retail price is higher because it’s what readers are expecting in your category, or because you’re trying to work the system or find a loophole to ROI.

If you’re unsure of what’s “normal” for your genre, check out the bestseller lists to see which price points seem most consistent. You’ll probably want to focus more on successful authors that aren’t household names and celebrities because the more widely known names will skew that "norm".

The Bottom Line on Discount eBook Promotions

eBook promotions can be a powerful strategy, especially if you make smart decisions and use them strategically. If you have been trying things at random, you may want to reconsider your approach and try again. If you’ve got a great book and a strong market, smart planning and these tips will help you achieve your goals!


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2 thoughts on “How to Run Discount eBook Promotions That Work”

  1. Thanks, Penny.

    I avoid free books. I have hundreds of them on my Kindle and know I’ll never have enough time to read them. I’ve also found that free self-published books tend to be lower quality than those with a >0 price tag.

    If I have to pay for a book, even if it’s only 99¢, I read it.

    1. You make a good point, Kathy. I’m betting that is true for a lot of readers. Thanks for weighing in.

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