Holiday Author Marketing - Survey Results

When most people think of the holiday season, hot chocolate and snow angels come to mind. We love a cup of cocoa as much as the next person, but all we want for Christmas is a report on holiday author marketing trends. We couldn't find a report to gift ourselves, so we compiled our own. We surveyed our authors (and others) to determine where and when authors plan to market their books and get a sense for sales expectations.

Let's first look at the breakdown of who filled out the survey.

  • 80% of respondents were self-published.
  • Around half of respondents sell fewer than 50 books per month.
  • During an average (non-holly-jolly) month, these respondents use paid advertising and Facebook marketing most often.
  • Most respondents spend less than $600 per year on paid advertising.
  • 58% of respondents have published more than 5 books. 

 

Genre Distribution

The bulk of respondents write Romance, Mystery, and Fantasy respectively. Those three genres account for 68% of total respondents. Science Fiction, Nonfiction, and Literary Fiction round out the second tier with Erotica, Religion, Christian Fiction, Young Adult, and Children's at the long tail.

There is a definite trend of sales inequality amongst authors. 46% of authors sell less than 50 copies a month, while 31% sell more than 200 per month. 23% fall somewhere in between.


Holiday Expectations

60% of authors surveyed expected sales to increase over the Holidays. 

 

Only 40% of authors surveyed expected a decrease in sales over the holiday period. Genre distribution was most noticeable in this segment. Of those who expressed an expectation of decreasing sales, 90% were Romance, Mystery / Thriller, or Fantasy / Paranormal authors. The 'long tail' of smaller genres wasn't represented at all.

Takeaway: Romance, Mystery and Fantasy authors are more pessimistic about seeing book sales growth over the Holidays. This is despite an overall trend of increasing ebook sales over the holidays.  Whatever their perspective authors had strong opinions on marketing during the holidays: 

"Last year we saw indies who didn't get proactive and plan for the holidays take a big hit. I am trying to plan proactively to survive the holiday season regardless of what big publishers plan (price drops, advertising, etc). Anything that can help me get through the holiday season with my sales steady is something I plan to pursue..."

"I find that it's extra hard to have effective promotion during the holiday season, as there is tons of competition. But if you don't, it's just that much harder to get your head above water again after the holiday season. Sales naturally increase, at least for me, and promotion almost isn't needed, other than to avoid the after the holiday slumps. But it is a great time to reach out to new readers."

"It has been my experience that not a lot of e-books are sold over the Christmas holiday period. Perhaps it's my genre (Romance), but I find that on holidays that focus around family, sales are basically the same as for the rest of the year."


Holiday Marketing Plans

Authors were very split about marketing plans for the holidays. 39% have special holiday marketing plans, but an almost equal portion plan to promote their books as usual. The remaining portion were unsure. Takeaway: authors don't have one defining set of plans (or lack thereof) for holiday marketing.

One trend that holds true during both holiday and non-holiday time periods is that Facebook and Paid Marketing continue to be the top two marketing tools used by authors. Authors spend more on marketing over the holidays on the aggregate. 41% of authors plan to run a paid promotion on deal sites over the Holidays compared to 22% in non-holiday months.

Most authors spend more than $50 on advertising during the holiday season, with 39% of authors spending over $100 on advertising during the holiday season. 


What We Think

Every year, we see an increase in book sales over the holiday season. It starts in October after the summer doldrums and peaks in December . The increased sales trend continues through the end of January, likely because a lot of people received e-readers as holiday gifts and are therefore new members to the ebook industry. Those people tend to get really excited to fill their Kindles, and therefore download a lot of free books and purchase many discounted books (instead of one or two $15 books) so that their Kindle homepage is nice and full.

If you are an author, what should you do?

  • Organize a price drop or promote a free book in December or January. 
  • Put your 'new reader acquisition' hat on during the season. Retaining your existing reader base and getting those people to buy more of your titles is important, but you'll have to be constantly acquiring new readers to maintain sales and now is a great time to do it.
  • Expect higher costs on Facebook. Facebook CPCs (cost per click) have more than doubled since last year. If the last time you tried a Facebook ad was last holiday, prepare for that same ad to cost a whole lot more.

If you're planning a price drop or free promotion and want to book a Bargain Booksy Feature or Freebooksy Feature with us, time is running out. Slots are selling out for the Holiday season. 

Summer Sales Trends

The summer doldrums. The dog days of summer. The slow season.

Not very cheerful in terms of book sales, perhaps, but that's the truth of summer in ecommerce. People travel, take vacations, and spend time outside - which means fewer hours in front of the computer shopping. Fewer eyes on your book. Fewer dollars spent online. The outlook isn't completely bleak - things will pick up again in August.

Your month over month growth may look more like a decline, but don't fret: that's normal. A typical ecommerce entity (meaning someone who sells products online - like an author) will see a seasonal fluxuation that looks something like this:

Sales dip down in the summer, with June and July as the worst performers. Things start climbing up again in August and spike over the holidays in November and December.

So, what should you do about it?


1. Measure growth year over year instead of month over month.

Looking at your sales count for May 2014 and saying 'I sold 10% fewer copies in May compared to April' isn't all that helpful - because everyone probably sold fewer copies in May.

Instead, pull your sales from May 2013 and look at your growth year over year. Consumer behavior in May will almost always perform differently than April - but it should perform on par with last May. Measuring year over year growth instead of month over month growth accounts for seasonality and will give you a much better sense of where you stand.

2. Try new marketing tactics while things are cheaper.

One upside of the summer doldrums: the 'big guys' in ecommerce aren't running a bunch of campaigns. There's far less competition for ad space in Facebook, and CPCs are cheaper in June than they are in November. If you've been wanting to try a Facebook ad or sponsored tweet, now's the time to experiment. Your ad is far less likely to get lost in the noise.

3. Utilize book promos to get the ball rolling.

The good news for authors? Voracious readers will buy books all year long. They might just need a bit of a push. Summer is a great time to entice readers by discounting your book or trying a free run.

Our readers come to us every day, every season. We're happy to help you jump start your sales if you're stuck in the dog days of summer.


Have you seen your sales decline over the summer? Have tips for fellow authors to combat seasonality! Tell us in the comments!

Want to Write for Freebooksy?

Authors: we recently started a new blog on Freebooksy focused on the joy of reading. And we'd love to have you contribute.

The audience for the blog are readers (not authors) and the content we are posting is focused on reading, books, and things that readers love. You can see some of our recent articles here

Here are some examples of the type of content we are accepting:

The article cannot be a long advertisement for your book. We want to focus on reading more broadly and will not accept posts that read like an advertisement.

The article must be original content that is not posted anywhere else on the web. 


What you'll get out of it:

  • Links to your website and a book of your choice in your author bio.
  • A post on Facebook and Twitter, tagging your author Facebook page and Twitter handle.
  • Free exposure to our audience of more than 150K readers!

If you'd like to submit an article to us, fill out the form below!

Name *
Name
What will your article be about? 3-5 sentences.

If you already have a post written, please email us at info@freebooksy.com. Please note that we reserve the right to refuse a post for any reason and may edit your post for formatting or clarity.

How To Price Your eBook

There is an ongoing debate among authors on how best to price their ebooks. As the author of your ebook, you are in the best position to determine the optimal price for your ebook. You have access to all your sales data and how it fluctuates when you run different promotions.

However, it's always useful to have macro trends and data points to refer to as you are analyzing your data and deciding what your next price promotion should be. We decided to run a high-level analysis on all Kindle books sold through our sister site, Bargain Booksy, in the last 6 months so we can share the aggregate demand for ebooks at different price points. (Freebooksy features books that are free, so we don't have any sales data to analyze from Freebooksy features). 


The Data:

  • The data includes all Kindle books sold on Amazon.com in the past 6 months through Bargain Booksy. 
  •  The Kindle book sales include both indie titles and traditionally published titles.
  • The data does not account for other variables that may impact demand, such as genre, reviews, ranking or popularity of author. 

The Bargain Booksy audience consists of avid readers who have signed up to get deals on ebooks, so they are likely more price-sensitive than the general population (but they likely account for a larger share of ebooks purchased on average than the general population). 


The Demand Curve

In a typical demand curve the number of units sold declines as the price of the product increases. A typical demand curve looks like this: 

Typical Demand Curve showing the relationship of Price to Quantity Sold (Q) at that price. 

Typical Demand Curve showing the relationship of Price to Quantity Sold (Q) at that price. 

This is what the demand curve looks like for the Bargain Booksy data: 

eBooks Demand Curve.png

Unsurprisingly, the most Kindle units were sold at the $0.99 price point. The demand then drops slightly for ebooks priced at $1.99, and again for ebooks priced at $2.99. The demand for ebooks priced above $2.99 drops steeply and eventually normalizes at low volumes for books priced $4.99 and above. 


What About Revenue? 

So, what is the implication of this demand curve on author revenue? 

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 2.03.47 PM.png

Even though more Kindle books were sold at the $0.99 price point, the $1.99 and $2.99 price points generate more revenue. 

This is even more pronounced when you factor in the royalty rate. If you are not enrolled in KDP Select, your royalty on books priced at $2.99 and below is 35% vs 70% on Kindle books priced at $2.99 and above. If you are enrolled in KDP Select, you can take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Deals and retain your 70% royalty (though you are limited to how many days you can run a promo at the discounted price). Factoring in the royalty rates, the revenue to an author looks like this: 

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 2.18.53 PM.png

In this scenario, you are better off pricing your ebook at $2.99 if you are trying to maximize revenue. 


Conclusion

As mentioned above, there are many variables that are not factored into this analysis. And there are many reasons you may choose to price your book at $0.99, for example: 

  • You are a newly published author with no reviews or audience. Pricing your book at 99c will help to get more copies into readers hands which will in turn generate reviews and sales. If your goal is to get your book out there, running a free promotion is another effective tactic you may want to consider. 
  • Your book is a novella or the first in a series. In this scenario, the goal of your 99c book is not to generate revenue on the first book, but to spur the sales of the following books in the series. 
  • You are in a genre where there is competitive pressure to price your book at $0.99. As our analysis does not take genre into account, it is likely there are some genres that do not display the aggregated demand curve that we share above. 

What do you think? Have you tried pricing your book at different price points? What were the results? Please share with us in the comments below. 

Free Promotional Opportunity for Horror Authors

Halloween Books edit.jpg

AUTHORS: We're planning a book giveaway for Halloween. If your novels are creepy, spine-tingling, full of scary creatures, or otherwise terrifying, we want to include your book. There's no fee for this promotion - we'll just need a copy of your book.

What you'll get:

  • Promotion on the Book Giveaway page on Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy 
  • A Facebook post and Tweet about the giveaway

Fill out the form below (so we can make sure your book is a good fit) and we'll email you to confirm.

Deadline for inclusion: October 24.


Name *
Name
http://
Which format(s) can you provide? *

Books and Holiday Gifting: Survey Results

We recently conducted a survey to find out about the gifting habits of our audience this holiday. See the infographic below for results.

Key findings:

  1. 89% of people are planning to purchase books for gifts this year.
  2. 63% of people will spend $20 - $100 on books for gifts.
  3. 32% of people gift books that they've read and enjoyed - so leverage your existing reader base this season!
  4. Most people haven't yet decided which books to purchase as gifts.  Which means there's room for your book in their holiday plans.

 

Great, but what does this mean for authors?

This holiday, make sure that people are buying your books as gifts as well as for themselves. The great thing about gifting? You're acquiring two new readers in one purchase - the gift giver and the gift recipient. 

Reach out to your existing base of readers and tell them why (and for whom) your book makes a great gift. 31% of people gift books that they're read and enjoyed, but they might not think to gift your book unless you remind them.

Encourage new readers to wish for your book over the holidays. Wish lists (especially Amazon wish lists) are powerful. 

How will you be marketing your book over the holidays? 

How to Make the Most of Your Freebooksy Feature

So you have a KDP Select promo coming up, and have a Freebooksy Feature booked. Congrats. 

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your promotion: 

Before your promotion:

  1. Log into your KDP Select account and double-check that your free day has been scheduled. Triple check that the date of your free promo matches the date that your Freebooksy Feature will be run.  
  2. Follow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook and Sign up for our reader emails - (make sure to sign up for your genre). We'll mention you in all three places (if you bought a Feature Plus), and that way you'll have easy access to your promotional channels. Go ahead and add us to your circles on Google Plus as well.
  3. Draft an email that you will send out to your family and friends on the day of the promotion. The more downloads you get, the higher your ranking on Amazon will be. Here's an example of a draft email:

Hello friends & family,  

As many of you know I have authored a book that is now available on Amazon. Today I am running a promotion to get the word out about my book and I need your help! My book will be free for Kindle today only and it is going to be featured on Freebooksy, a blog that reaches over 100,000 Kindle readers! The more downloads I get, the better my Amazon rankings will be. I would really appreciate it if you could take 5 minutes out of your day today and help me by:  

1) Going to [insert Amazon book URL] and downloading a copy of the book (it's free so this will not cost you anything).  You can download a free copy even if you don't own a Kindle, simply choose "Deliver to Cloud Reader". 

2) Following Freebooksy on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Freebooksy) and Liking and Sharing the post that features my book.

3) Forwarding this email to your friends.  

Thanks again for your help,  

[Your Name] 

The day of your promotion:

  1. Check your book page on Amazon and confirm that your book is free.  (If for some reason your book is not free please email us as soon as possible and let us know.)
  2. Go to our website, find your feature (posts go up at 5 AM EST), and grab the link. Tweet it out and share it on Facebook. 
  3. Send your email to family and friends. 
  4. Monitor Freebooksy on Facebook and Twitter. Retweet the Freebooksy tweet about your book. Share the Facebook post that mentions your book.  
  5. Check your Amazon download numbers and rankings every 2-3 hours. Track the numbers in a spreadsheet so you can refer back to it later.  

After your promotion:

  1. Send a thank you email to family and friends. Here's an example:  

Hello friends and family, 

Thank you so much for helping me with my book promotion yesterday. My book got over [insert number] downloads and was ranked #[insert ranking] on the [insert genre] charts on Amazon. I am thrilled and I couldn't have done it without you!  

I hope you enjoy reading my book. As always, I'd appreciate if you could leave a review of the book on Amazon when you have finished reading it. 

Thanks again for your support.  

[your name] 

      2. Get your "I was Featured on Freebooksy badge" and install it on your website or blog.  

      3. Track your book ranking and sales over the next 2-4 weeks.  

      4. Start planning your next promotion.

     

As always - shoot us an email at info@freebooksy.com if you have questions or feedback. 

Facebook For Authors: How To Create Facebook Ads

By Taylor Coil

If you've never tried Facebook Ads before, the process can be a bit daunting. Fear not: we're seasoned professionals and can help you out. Here's a step-by-step process to creating your first Facebook Ad to get more likes. 

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.19.11 AM.jpg.jpg

1. Locate the Ads Manager.

Look on the left hand sidebar of your News Feed on Facebook. Under your photo, (in 'Favorites') look for 'Ads Manager.' Click on it!


Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.19.32 AM.jpg.jpg

2. Create an Ad.

Once you're in the Ads manager, look in the top right of your screen for a green button that says 'create an ad.' Click on it! 


3. Select Which Facebook Page You'd Like to Advertise. 

Once you're in the ads creator, the first option will be a drop-down menu of all the pages you manage. Select the Facebook page you'd like to advertise from that menu.  Immediately below the page drop-down will be an option to get more likes, promote posts, or see advanced options. Select 'Get More Page Likes.'

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.19.51 AM.png

4. Decide on Your Ad Copy and Imagery.

This is where you get to be creative. Think about what your target audience will respond to - something meaningful to the reader. Do you write thrillers? Try something like "fans of John Grisham will love this book."

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE ADS: Use an image with bright colors to stand out. Customize your ad's headline AND copy. Add a call to action like 'Click Like to Learn More!' at the end of your ad. Test multiple variations of ad copy and imagery to find the formula that works the best.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.20.51 AM.png

5. Select Your Targeting.

Targeting is perhaps the most important part of advertising: you have to reach the right people. Think creatively about what your readers like and talk about online. If your book is a mystery or thriller, try targeting people who like New York Times Bestselling authors in your genre. If your book is going to be free on Kindle, take a stab at people who own Kindles.  You can target by location, age, and interest.

TIP: When targeting by interest, there will be two different options:  target audiences with #'s in the beginning, and those without. #'s indicates a broad interest that topic: so #John Grisham targets people who have posted or commented about John Grisham AND people who have expressed interest in closely related terms (like "John Grisham's books"). Audiences without #s in the beginning mean that people in that target like a precise interest with no variants (so John Grisham means that people like the page have expressed interest in John Grisham).

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.22.08 AM.png

6. Set Your Budget and Duration. 

Name your campaign something that you'll be able to reference later. Set your budget - it can be a set amount you'd like to spend per day, or over the entire course of the campaign. You can also pick a start and end date or run your campaign continuously. 

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.22.55 AM.png

Need help with Facebook Ads? We have a beta product offering for authors. Fill out the form below if you're interested, and we'll be in touch.

Name *
Name
Have you run Facebook Ads before? *
What do you need help with? *

Have you found Facebook ads to be effective in your book promotions? Tell us in the comments! 


About the Author

san fran square2.jpg

Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading SciFi, mysteries & thrillers and anything by Sophie Kinsella. You probably can't beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

Join a Twitter Chat for Writers This Summer

Engage with your readers on Twitter in a new an fun way this summer - join a chat for authors on Twitter!

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a Twitter chat, here's how it works:

  1. The host(s) decide on a hashtag, topic, date, and time.
  2. On the decided date (ex: Wednesday at 5PM EST), the host(s) will start asking questions of the participants in the chat and use the decided hashtag (ex: #YAlitchat).
  3. You join in, answer the questions, and talk to other participants!

Here's an example topic:

 

Ready to get started with Twitter Chats?

 

Here's a handy list of book-related Twitter chats for authors. Let us know if you join in - maybe we'll see you there ;)

#YALitChat: 9-10 PM EST on Thursdays. There's also a membership option with some cool bonuses on their website.

#KidLitChat: Tuesday 8-9 PM CT. For authors of children's fiction and nonfiction.

#MGLitChat: Thursday 9-10 PM EST. For Middle Grade readers and authors.

#IBCChat: A chat for Indie authors!

#SciFiChat: Fridays, 2-4 PM EST. Hosted by David Rozansky.

#FantasyChat: Tuesday 8-9 PM EST.

#LitChat: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 4-5 PM EST.

#FaithLitChat: Tuesday, 6-7 PM EST. For authors of Christian fiction and nonfiction.

#BlackLitChat: 3rd Sunday of every month, 9-10 PM EST. For authors who write about and readers who love reading about black culture.

#k8chat: Thursday, 9-10 PM EST. "A publishing related chat where we discuss topics relevant to readers and authors."

Special thanks to Kate Tilton for helping us build this list!

 

Know of other Twitter chats for writers that we haven't included? Tell us in the comments and we'll add them to this post!

eBook Prices: How to Price an eBook

By Taylor Coil

Pricing an eBook takes more thought than slapping a number into Amazon and watching sales skyrocket. There are essentially three factors to think about when discussing ebook prices:

  1. Perception of value
  2. Number of units that will sell at set price
  3. Revenue earned per unit at set price

Let's look into all three.


1. Perception of value

When we talk about perception of value, we're talking about how the consumer (or reader) percieves the value of your book based on the price that is set. We're not talking about how highly YOU (the author) value your book - because that's obviously a lot (or should be).

The average price of the top 20 paid eBooks on Amazon right now (September 25th) is $7.92, the cheapest book being $0.99 and the most expensive being $19.99. It seems that NYT bestsellers are consistently priced between $7.99 and $12.99 on Amazon. Logically, books priced in that range would have the same percieved value as those NYT bestsellers. But that's not the full picture.


2. Number of units that will sell at a set price

The biggest problem with price-matching your book to a NYT bestseller? You're going to price out a bunch of would-be readers. NYT bestsellers will sell a lot of units at $7.99 because there's tons of buzz surrounding the book and people are clamboring to read them (hence 'bestsellers'). Doesn't matter if INFERNO is $2.99 or $12.99: a lot of people are going to buy it.

Not the case with an author trying to get a bunch of new readers without the buzz that comes with huge bestsellers. Purchasing decisions for books that a reader hasn't heard of are more about price than for a book with a ton of buzz. Unfortunate, but true.


3. Revenue earned per unit at a set price

This is the most confusing part of pricing an eBook. Self publishing platforms have different royalty percentages, not to mention Amazon's royalty schedule. You'll earn a 35% royalty on Amazon for books priced below $2.99. You'll also sell more books, because $0.99 isn't much of a gamble from the reader's perspective. If they don't like the book - eh, they're out a buck. 


So what's the sweet spot?

We're going to agree with Catherine Ryan Howard and say $2.99. As Catherine puts it:

At 99c, you make a 35% royalty, or about 35c. That means you’d have to sell around 286 copies to make $100.

At $2.99, you make a 70% royalty, or about $2.09. That means you’d have to sell around 48 copies to make $100.

$2.99 isn't so expensive that lots of would-be readers won't try it. It's not too cheap to significantly lower the percieved value of your book. And you hit the sweet spot of the 70% royalty. Plus, you qualify for a Bargain Booksy Feature at $2.99.

Authors, do you agree? Does $2.99 work for you?


About the Author

san fran square2.jpg

Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading SciFi, mysteries & thrillers and anything by Sophie Kinsella. You probably can't beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

4 Tips for Getting Featured on Freebooksy

We love authors. We want to help you sell more books. That's why we offer editorial submissions: so that authors without a marketing budget can still get the word out about their books.

However, we can't feature every book that comes through our editorial submissions. Here's how to maximize your chances of being featured.

 

1. Get reviewed on Amazon.

A book with even one review looks better than a book with none. We do sometimes feature books with no reviews, but not as often. We want to provide readers with high-quality ebooks, and Amazon reviews are a great way for us to figure out if our readers will like the book. Send free copies to your friends, but tell them to be honest. Three 5-star reviews that are overly glowing and clearly biased aren't helping your case, and will make readers skeptical.

 

2. Submit your book at least one week before your promotion.

We schedule our content calendars about a week in advance. If you tell us about your book a day before it goes free, our calendar will already be full and we won't be able to feature your book. Fill out the form in advance to make sure it doesn't slip through the cracks.

 

3. Have an engaging cover.

We put most of the books from our editorial submissions into 'round-up' posts (like this one), which feature multiple books in the same genre. Readers don't have a book description to rely on - they're clicking on covers that look good to them. We want to provide content that readers will love - and books that readers will download. As cliche as it might be, people do judge books by their covers. Make sure yours is good. Not only will it increase your chances of being featured, it just might boost your downloads and sales.

 

4. Categorize your book broadly (without being inaccurate).

As stated in #3, we usually put our editorial picks into round-up posts organized by genre. Pick one genre that you think represents your book best. Maybe your books is a thriller, but has some SciFi and Fantasy woven in. If it's primarily a thriller, put 'Thriller' in the genre classification. We still want to know that it's a bit a SciFi and a bit of a Fantasy, so put that in the 'other info' section. Clear genres save us time, which means your book is more likely to get included.

Twitter Hashtags to Help you Sell More Books

Hashtags allow new readers to find you on Twitter. A great way to promote your book is to include hashtags that already have a following on Twitter, in your tweets. 

How exactly does that work? 

You simply append the hashtag to the end of your tweet when it's relevant. 

Here is a list of hashtags that are already popular among the reading community on Twitter, with examples on how you can use each one. 

 

#FridayReads

Readers tweet what they'll be reading in the upcoming weekend. 

How you can use it: 

Looking for a good book to read this weekend? Try [insert title]. #FridayReads

 

#FreeBook

#FreeDownload

#Kindlefreebies

#Freebies

All 3 are good for days when you are running a free promotion.

How you can use it: 

My book, [insert title] is free today and tomorrow. Grab a copy while you can. #freebook #Kindlefreebies #Freedownload #Freebies

 

#Giveaway

#BookGiveaway

A great hashtag if you are running a giveaway.

How you can use it: 

I am giving away 10 copies of my highly accliamed novel. Enter to win. #bookgiveaway

 

#Beachread

#Mustread

These 2 are especially useful as we head into Summer. 

How you can use it: 

Looking for a great #beachread? [Insert title] is the perfect escape for your weekend of sun. 

 

Are you already using hashtags as part of your marketing strategy? Tell us which have worked for you in the comments. 

April Special Offer: Sell More Books with Bargain Booksy

During the month of April we have partnered with KindleBoards and World Literary Cafe to give your book even more exposure! Authors who purchase a Bargain Booksy Feature for an April feature will ALSO be included in the KindleBoards daily blog post (with links to the post from KindleBoards' Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail newsletter) and on the WLC website

We have a limited number of slots available each day. We will send you a confirmation email within 3 business days of receiving your order to let you know if you have qualified for a slot. Your book must be featured in April to qualify. 

To learn more about a Bargain Booksy Feature click here

 

Buy a Bargain Booksy Feature Now →

March Special Offer: More Book Exposure with the Feature Plus!

UPDATE: All the KindleBoards slots for March have been filled. 

During the month of March we have partnered with KindleBoards to give your book even more exposure! Authors who purchase a Feature PLUS for a March feature will ALSO be included in the KindleBoards daily blog post (with links to the post from KindleBoards' Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail newsletter). 

The first 31 authors to buy a Feature Plus will get this additional value at no extra charge.

We have a limited number of slots available each day. We will send you a confirmation email within 3 business days of receiving your order to let you know if you qualified for the KindleBoards slot. Your book must be free in March to qualify. 

Need more help understanding the benefits fo a Feature Plus? Check out our handy grid to help you: 


Buy a Feature PLUS Now →

Selfpublishing Options: Where Should You Self Publish Your eBook?

By Taylor Coil

You've written a great book. You want to get it in the hands of readers. You don't want to deal with a traditional publisher - or maybe you tried, but they passed on your book.

So you've decided to self publish. Unfortunately, the world of self-publishing is confusing. Everyone has different regulations on royalites, and distribution, and promotional opportunities, and you're going cross-eyed. We're here to help.


Direct Publishing to Kindle, Nook, and Apple

Make sure your book is on the main three ebook markets: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple. Each company has a direct publishing option (KDP / KDP Select is Amazon, PubIt! is Barnes and Noble). See the below chart for info on each of those:

selfpublishing ebooks options.jpg

The above chart is a nice at-a-glance comparison of the four, but here is some more in-depth info for you on KDP, KDP Select, and Apple:

KDP: Here are a bunch of FAQ's about KDP, but we've pulled out some key things for you: 

  • If your eBook is priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you'll get a 70% royalty rate (see our post on eBook pricing).
  • Publishing your ebook on KDP does NOT require you to make the content exclusive to Kindle. However, using KDP Select does (see below).
  • Amazon has more than 60% of the market share for eBooks, so it's foolish not to publish on Amazon. 

KDP Select: An add-on for KDP. KDP Select is a 90-day program (with automatic re-enrollment unless you withdraw) that is great for new authors (or authors who have released a new book).

  • You have to make your title exclusive to Amazon and Kindle during your enrollment in KDP Select. That means you cannot sell (or give away if it's free) copies on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Wattpad, Kobo, Sony, or even your own website. Amazon has absolute exclusive distribution rights. Amazon does have the market share, so this shouldn't be a deal-breaker (especially for 90 days).
  • During your 90-day enrollment, you have 5 days available to make your book free (as a promotional tool). If you use KDP, try it. Our data shows that it boosts your sales.
  • You get paid a royalty for sales, but also based on percent of borrows (from the Kindle Lending Library) of all KDP titles. Each borrow is worth something different each month and comes from a set fund ($600K in September 2012).

Apple: Apple's direct publishing isn't easy to use. If you decide to publish directly with apple, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Sign up for iTunes Connect Account.
  2. Download iTunes Producer to your Mac (this won't work on a PC- you have to have a Mac).
  3. Upload your book to iTunes Producer and deliver to Apple (you have to have some basic technical expertise to figure out how to do this).
  4. Wait for approval. This can take up to 90 days.

Helpful Links:

KDP: https://kdp.amazon.com

KDP Select: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect

Pubit!: http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com

Apple: https://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/wa/bookSignup


Third Party eBook Self Publishing

If you don't want to bother with using Apple, Amazon and Barnes and Noble's direct publishing tools, there are a number of third party sites that will help you self publish your book and get it on the right channels. For eBooks, we're going to talk about Lulu and Bookbaby.

book baby vs lulu self publishing.jpg

There are two major differences between Lulu and Book Baby:

  1. Lulu only distributes your eBook to Barnes and Noble and Apple, which means you'd have to use KDP to get your book on Amazon. Book Baby gets your book on all three channels.
  2. Book Baby requires an initial fee to publish, but gives you 100% of royalties. Lulu is free to publish, but takes a cut of your royalties.

Helpful Links:

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/publish

Book Baby: http://www.bookbaby.com


About the Author

san fran square2.jpg

Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading SciFi, mysteries & thrillers and anything by Sophie Kinsella. You probably can't beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

How to Schedule a Free Promotion in KDP Select

KDP Select is a wonderful thing, but can be pretty confusing at times. We've had a couple of authors new to KDP Select tell us they've had trouble using the promotions manager in author central. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make sure your book goes free when it's supposed to.

1. Log into KDP.

2. You'll be taken to your dashboard. Don't click on your title!

3. Click the check box next to your title.

4. Click on Actions, then 'Manage Promotions.'

5. Click 'new.'

6. Name your promotion, set your dates, and click Save!


Freebooksy Report: The State of KDP Select Free Promotions

In May of this year, Freebooksy commissioned a survey of authors who had used KDP Select’s free promotion days between January and April 2012.

72 authors completed the survey. Some of these authors had been featured on Freebooksy, some had not. We posted the link to the survey in Kindle forums and groups to get a cross-section of respondents.

The findings of our survey are below. We have opened up our survey for authors who conducted a KDP Select Free Promotion between May and August. Please help us to provide this data by completing the survey now. 

Book Profile

Of the 72 books that ran a free promo:

Average number of reviews = 17

Average review Score = 4.2

Average Price = $3.09

Median Price = $2.99

 

Genre Breakdown:

Free Downloads

The average number of days a book was free was 2.36 with 2 free days being the median.

Average number of free downloads = 6,972

Median number of free downloads = 4,004

 

Least amount of free downloads = 74

Most amount of free downloads = 35,400

The number of free downloads was most positively correlated with the # of reviews a book had. So, the more review a book has, the more likely someone is to download that book free.

This makes sense as readers like to know that content has been vetted before spending time downloading and reading it, even if the content is free. The number of reviews acts as a validator, telling the author that many people have read and reviewed this book so it is worth downloading.

Notably, the review score does not hold the same predictive power, perhaps because readers know that not everyone will like the same material (the bestselling book on Amazon today, Gone Girl, has just as many 1- and 2-star reviews as it does 4- and 5-star reviews) but just knowing that many people have read the book, gives them comfort.

Authors also see more free downloads if they offered their book free for more days, but the average number of free downloads per day is greatest over a 2-day free promotion.

Sales Spikes

To control for price distribution, we looked at sales spike by units of books bought before and after the free promotion days.

Average number of books sold before promotion (per week): 19

Average number of books sold after promotion (per week): 141

On average, authors saw a 6-fold increase in book units sold after their promotion ended.

 

Median number of books sold before promotion (per week): 5

Median number of books sold after promotion (per week): 49

Most authors saw an almost 10-fold increase in book units sold after their free promotion.

The sales unit spike was most highly correlated with the number of reviews a book had, the # of free downloads a book had and being featured on a 3rd party site.

This makes sense as the more downloads a book gets, the higher it ranks on Amazon’s Top 100 Free charts. When the book goes back to full-price, Amazon tends to keep the book listed on the charts for at least a few hours, giving the book exposure at it’s full price.

Similarly, if the book is featured on a 3rd party site, the book feature stays up on that site giving it visibility for a few days at full-price.

Marketing & Promotion

On average, authors spent $20 promoting their free promotion days, with the maximum amount spent being $500.

Half of the authors promoted their free days on their website, 78% of authors promoted their free book on Facebook & Twitter and 67% were featured on a 3rd party site. 29% of author sent an email to family & friends and 15% sent an email to their fan list.

Being featured on a 3rd party site and promoting the free days on Facebook & Twitter resulted in more free downloads and a higher unit sales spike.

87% of the authors plan to run another KDP Select free promotion in the future. 

Takeaways for Authors 

  • Run your promotion for 2 days
  • Make sure your book has at least 10 - 15 reviews
  • Promote your free days on Facebook & Twitter (if you don’t have pages yet, set them up)
  • Tell 3rd party sites about your promotion in advance (At Freebooksy we need at least 5 days notice for editorial features, and 48-hours notice for paid features.

Don't foget to take the current survey so we can provide this data to you again in a few months!

 

Go On, Brag a Little...

Have you and your book been featured by Freebooksy? That's no small feat as we hand-pick all the books featured on our site. We figured you may want to brag about this, so we created this cool badge for you to share on your blog or website. Just grab the code underneath the badge and past it on the page where you want the badge to appear:

I'm a featured author at Freebooksy
I'm a featured author at Freebooksy

Copy and Paste this Code: 

<a href="http://www.freebooksy.com/?utm_source=website&amp;utm_medium=badge&amp;utm_campaign=featured-author" title="I&#39;m a featured author at Freebooksy" target="_blank"><img src="https://static.squarespace.com/static/50182737c4aa5fb338c46dcb/51a7520be4b066cbbaed6567/51a7520be4b066cbbaed6569/1329876904026/1000w/featured_author_badge.gif" alt="I&#39;m a featured author at Freebooksy" style="width:180px;height:150px;border:none;margin:8px"></a>