What I’ve learnt about self-publishing – Book Promotion is Changing

Often when indy authors are asked; ‘What is the thing you need the most help with?’ the answer is most often ‘marketing’. And it’s because of this answer that there are now hundreds of different services offering to promote your books.

Since publishing Heir to the Sundered Crown back in 2014 I’ve experimented with a wide variety of these services. Sites such as Booksends, Fussy Librarian etc are basically businesses that have large mailing lists that they send daily deals to their subscribers. An author pays them for a spot on one of their mailing lists (often sent out on a specific day) and these prices can vary from as little as a single Dollar to hundreds of Dollars.

Bookbub

The holy grail of these sites, however, must be Bookbub. With a mailing list of hundreds of thousands from across the world, landing a promotion with this site is incredibly difficult due to the sheer number of authors applying for promotions. This fact alone tells you just how highly regarded Bookbub is to many Indy authors.

Personally, I’ve only ever managed to get a UK Bookbub promotion and that was a good few years ago now, the results of which were by far the best I’ve ever had in comparison to other promoters. Now don’t go thinking Bookbub will propel your book to the top of the sales charts, the book still has to be good enough for people to want to buy it which means having a professional looking book cover and quality writing.

The market is changing

As I mentioned in my previous post I’m part of a small group of authors called Firebound Books. We regularly compare our promotional data and the main thing that we’ve all discovered is that the market is changing. Whereas a few years ago a promotion on the smaller sites would guarantee a decent amount of sales and a boost to the sales rankings. Today, the payoff from the same sites is a lot smaller for paid titles. Even 99p/c sales result in very few sales and often fail to cover the initial cost of the promotions. As I’ve discussed before (read here) it now seems that the only way to guarantee large numbers of downloads is to give your books away for free.

The main cause of this seems to be that the majority of the promotion sites are massively oversubscribed with authors. Some of their mailing lists have gone from advertising just three books per day to ten and if your book is put at the bottom of the list then you’ll likely see a poor return for the investment.

To overcome this decline in returns we must do things differently. The market is now swamped with books and only by improving the quality of indy books can we hope to continue to make a dent in the market. Good book covers and most importantly well-written books are key. Unfortunately, Indy authors are often given a bad name because of the countless poor-quality books produced. We need to up our game if we are to remain competitive in this ever-changing marketplace.

For a list of book promotion sites look here.

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