Our book publishing world changes every single month. Things that worked perfectly in 2019 no longer work well in 2020. A book genre that is smoking hot in March could cool down by October. Authors need to stay aware of these trends to maximize their sales and reader engagement. Think of it as a fun challenge, like knowing what the best movies to watch are. It’s something which brings great rewards for you, both as a reader and a writer.
Just one example is how book promotional newsletters work. I’m focusing here on free book newsletters, because in general readers are very likely to try out a new author for free – but they are far less willing to risk money on a new author. Free promotions are by far the best way to drive up rankings and review counts for long term success.
Back ten years ago, readers were amazed at the idea of getting free books. Until then, most readers had been paying a fair amount of money to physical bookstores to read books. Now they were being informed they could get books INSTANTLY for FREE. This was eye-poppingly amazing. Readers signed up to newsletters in vast droves to get this information. Every day they would get directly emailed a list of what was free for that day. Readers would pounce on those books ravenously, even if they weren’t planning on reading them right away. They wanted those FREEEE books in their libraries.
Even super-cheap newsletters like BookBasset, with a relatively tiny mailing list and only costing $8 for a run, would get an author downloads of 700 or more in a single day. And given the current sales volume on Amazon, this could vault you very high in their lists. This is one of my promos.
Book Basset’s newsletter volume has grown greatly. So they have more subscribers. But what has changed is that Amazon is now STUFFED with free books. A reader can easily go to Amazon, go to their favorite genre, sort by price (or show the ranking by free books) and they get hundreds of books right there which are free. The problem no longer is getting your hands on a free book. The problem is that your Kindle or Nook or whatever device you use can easily be stuffed with TENS OF THOUSANDS of free books and a large portion of them are awful. So if anything readers hesitate before clicking on a free book now.
The reader evaluates the cover. Does it look professional enough to indicate the author is worth trying out? Is the blurb well written and engaging? Maybe they use the ‘look inside’. Is the content going to be worth adding to the giant pile of To Be Read books already waiting?
So the experience is wholly different. Readers are much pickier about what they put onto their device, even if it’s free.
On Thursday, August 6th, I ran a free BookBasset promotion for S. M. Nevermore’s demon book. You can see the online version of the promo here –
As a result, the book got 65 downloads on Thursday and then another 16 on Friday. Which brings up an important point. If you are “dropping your price” to free for a newsletter promotion ALWAYS RUN THE FREE PERIOD FOR AT LEAST TWO DAYS. Have it free for the day of the newsletter plus the next day. You want to get as many people as possible to download and review your book, to boost its ratings and rankings. Many people don’t get to their email on the day it’s sent. Give them the extra day.
This book hit #1 in short Fantasy and #2 in short Teen/YA which are two targets for her.
On the very next day, Friday, August 7th, I ran a free BookBasset promotion for book 16 in my medieval series. The online version of the promo is here –
That book got 371 downloads on Friday and 106 downloads on Saturday. In addition, I got 36 Kindle Unlimited pages read on Friday and 265 on Saturday. Readers in KU also see the books as the rankings rise and jump to grab it, too. I get paid for those pages read. This promo also then raised sales of all my other books in this series.
My book hit #1 in teen/YA historical romance and #4 in the overall (adult) medieval romance. Those are target areas for me. I was #520 in the entire Kindle store. Again for only $8. If you do this with a bigger newsletter you get far better results, but $8 is cheap and easy.
Note that it’s not like you can run in the exact same newsletter every day! Maybe once every three months is the maximum, because now you’re just hitting the exact same readers over and over again. Either they got it the first time or they aren’t interested, in general. But the point here is you should USE these resources because they exist. Other authors in your genre are using them. If you watch other authors vaulting up the charts, undoubtedly they are doing something like this. To get your book found, you want to do the same thing, on a regular cycle.
So on one hand you can say I “only” got 371 downloads, where a decade ago I could have gotten over 700 downloads. On the other hand, it’s still enough to get me high rankings in my target area I care about. I don’t need my medieval romance to compete with mystery readers or horror readers. I care about reaching my medieval romance readers, and as long as I reach them, that’s what matters.
It’s also worth it to note that each genre has its own volume of readers. Nevermore was able to get to #1 in her area with “only” 65 downloads. While I got a higher 371 downloads, I was still only #4 in my adult medieval romance area. And note that isn’t even in the main “romance” genre area!! It was only the sub-genre of medieval romance. It shows how much tougher it is to get a high ranking in romance, with so many authors hammering their marketing every single day. So the more you can specialize into a specific sub-genre, the more able you are to be seen by those specific readers and make that connection. It is definitely true that many regency romance readers adore regency romances and have little interest in medieval romance. It’s also true that many contemporary sexy romance readers have zero interest in gentle regencies and medieval stories.
Sure, there are always readers with wider interests. But our modern world has created an environment where many readers can and do delve into one particular sub-genre and gladly relish that world. So the more an author can be aware of that and know exactly where their fan base lies, the better they can market.
To summarize – first make sure your cover and blurb are top-notch. Keep revising and tweaking them. That is ALL that is seen in a book newsletter, to lure in the click. Then run a FREE promo for your book. Have your book set for free for at least two days to soak up as many readers as possible. Hammer the book in all other platforms (Twitter, Instagram etc) during that time period to maximize the book’s ranking rise. That up-swell in ranking should then translate into sales and reviews in the coming weeks. Be patient. People who download free books rarely read them instantly. But they will get read. This is a long-term marathon, not a sprint :).
Ask with any questions!
Here is my historic review of BookBasset, to see how it worked in years past.
Here’s a link to BookBasset itself –