What is a price promotion? And why use a price promotion to market your book?
If you’ve so much as dipped a toe into the vast pool of self-publishing book marketing, you’ll know that there are tons of cool promotional strategies to try, from Facebook ads and reader magnets to homegrown mailing lists.
But price promotions are an oft-mentioned marketing tactic for indie authors. And for good reason. They’re one of the best ways to gain visibility, expand your readership, and rake in royalties on your book.
However, many authors don’t realize that to run an effective price promotion, they have to plan it in advance! While you can simply offer your book at a reduced price and hope for the best, making the most of a price promotion requires conscious effort and some fairly specific steps. Fortunately, this post will show you exactly how to run a successful price promotion for your next book — and all books you publish in the future.
A Guest Post by Reedsy
Tip #1: Price according to your priorities
As you begin planning a price promotion, you need to know what you want it to accomplish. Take a minute to consider what’s most important to you. Is it reaching readers? Getting reviews? Or making as much money as possible? While these things are not mutually exclusive, it’s still best to know where your priorities lie and set your promo prices accordingly.
If you’re a brand-new author without an established following, your main concern will probably be readers and reviews. As you might expect, if you want to attract as many people as possible to your book, you should price it cheaply. And, ideally that means giving it away for free. Alternatively, you can set the price at $0.99 or another very low number. But be warned that a 99-cent book is much less appealing than a free book, especially in the cutthroat world of online retail!
Now, if you already have a substantial following, your primary goal might be profit. In that case, keep your book’s promotional price at $2.99 or above — especially if you’re publishing through B&N Press, since that’s the cutoff for the 65% royalty plan (for books priced lower than $2.99, you get 40% in royalties).
It may seem counter-intuitive to offer a discount on your book at all, if money is your end goal. However, keep in mind you’ll almost always move more copies through a price promotion than at regular price. And buyer quantity can more than compensate for the “losses” you’ll sustain by applying a discount.
Tip #2: Optimize your cover and description
If you’ve gotten this far in the publishing process, you’ve surely heard this advice already. But it’s still worth repeating: before you run a price promotion — indeed, before you even launch your book! — make sure you’ve done all you can in the cover and description department.
It’s impossible to overstate how important these are to your sales. Even when you’re running a price promotion, even when your book is free, readers are very unlikely to take a chance on a title with an amateur-looking cover and sloppy description.
Pay particular attention to cover design. And even more so if your book belongs to a genre with distinct aesthetics. You’ll want readers of that genre to know right away that it’s for them. Also, think about how you might incorporate similar design elements across all your books! Consider authors like Nora Roberts and Stephen King, who have carved out signature “looks” for their covers that readers instantly recognize. Finally (and above all), if you doubt your own ability to create an appealing, genre-appropriate cover, invest in a pro designer who can do the job right.
Apply this same degree of genre relevance and overall quality to your book description. Use phrases and keywords that relate to your genre. You can pose questions about the story to lure readers. And include a pull-quote or two from any positive reviews. This last feature can be especially helpful, as it lends social credence to your book: “someone else enjoyed this, so you will too.” While these may seem like small factors, they really do make all the difference in terms of drawing readers to your price promotion.
Tip #3: Limit most promotions to 2-3 days
Speaking of drawing in readers, let’s talk about the optimal length of time to run your promotion. Naturally, if you want to get exposure to potential readers, it can’t be too short, but it also shouldn’t be too long — you don’t want to dilute the sense of urgency that compels people to buy things on sale.
Taking both these measures into account, 48-72 hours (or 2-3 days) seems to be right in the sweet spot. This is plenty of time to get the word out, especially if you start publicizing your promotion before it begins. However, it’s not so much time that the “hype” declines and you actually start losing potential royalties! If your price promotion lasts too long, you’ll end up selling at a discount to stragglers who would’ve been perfectly willing to pay full-price.
That said, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. At some point you might want to do a “super limited-time” promotion for less than 48 hours. Or, a longer promotion for a week or so. B&N Press allows you to schedule promotions for as long as you like — not to mention you can create customized coupons for readers to use! Just exercise your best judgment when it comes to these options. For example, if you’ve recently had a follower spike, a 24-hour promotion or 50% off coupon could be a savvy way to harness that momentum for sales.
Tip #4: Create “tiered” awareness
Again, the main reason for a multi-day promotion is to have time to generate awareness. But you don’t want to just send out an email blast and leave it at that! Instead, you should create “tiered” awareness. And do this with the help of various resources. So you’re reaching both current fans and potential new readers on days one, two, and three.
Weeks before you even run your promotion, you need to scout out third-party promotional services to help spread the word. Fittingly, these services also fall into “tiers.” Tier I are highly reputable promotions to hundreds of thousands of readers. While Tier 4 are relatively new and/or small promotion services. If this is your first book, you’ll have to start with Tier 3 and Tier 4 services while you establish your reputation as an author.
Luckily, there are some great promotional services available at those tiers. And, especially if you can find those that cater to your genre. When you reach out to the relevant contacts, try to make your appeal personal and well-informed. You should indicate that you’ve actually read their blog and appreciate their work, even if you found them through a directory. And of course, always follow the submission guidelines to the letter! This should help you secure at least a couple of external promos for each day of your own price promotion, exponentially increasing your sales.
There are a few other things you can do during your promotion, too. You might put a countdown on your blog, so readers feel that crucial sense of urgency to buy. Or, you should also post once or twice a day on social media; you never know who might be stumbling onto your page for the first time. Lastly, if you’re able to run Facebook ads, give it a shot. But don’t break the bank on this. Lower-priced promotional services can be just as (if not more) effective.
Tip #5: Make one book perma-free
Here’s another tip for our authors who have already published multiple books in a series, or who plan to do so eventually. You can try making the first book in your series permanently free. While this doesn’t fall under the traditional “price promotion” umbrella, it’s still one of the most reliable ways to gain new readers and, in the long run, sell more books. Even if it breaks the previous rule of not going over 72 hours.
Why? Because every reader who discovers you will have an automatic, irresistible “in”: a free book! And once they’ve finished reading that book, they’ll want to find out what happens next. This usually means they end up buying the next installment in your series, and hopefully becoming a full-fledged fan.
If you want to make this offer extra enticing to new readers, you can also try running frequent promotions on the second book in your series. This doesn’t mean you should have it discounted at all times. But a temporary price drop every few weeks can work wonders for truly immersing readers in your series.
The great thing about running these promotions with B&N Press is that you can tweak them whenever you want. You don’t have to go through the Amazon rigmarole of trying to beat the system to make your book perma-free, nor are you limited to one price promotion every 90 days. Of course you should research and experiment with different platforms to decide which is right for you! But as you probably realize by now, when it comes to running price promotions, there are some deals you simply can’t beat — for authors and readers.
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