Guest Post by Kevin G. Chapman: More on Bargain Book Platforms for Marketing

I recently met an author of a police thriller series, Kevin G. Chapman, through AXP’s Typo-Killer program. I signed up as a reader for that program in part to get more experience with proofreading and in part because I’m just an English language nerd. Kevin’s next novel, Fatal Infraction, the fourth in his series of four novels, was my first experience with the program, and as soon as the book officially launches, I’ll be adding a review. The process led to several subsequent conversations with him.

When I saw one of Kevin’s earlier novels, Lethal Voyage, on Bargain Booksy, I reached out to ask him about his experiences with those I mentioned in my earlier post on the topic. His response provided me with this guest post with his reflections. His response provided so much information I put it into a guest post.

Free Booksy and Fussy Librarian Free.  I’ve run free book offers three times. Each time, I advertised the offers on both Free Booksy and Fussy Librarian’s free offers emails. This prevents me from knowing which one had better results, but the point was to get as many downloads as possible, so testing the effectiveness defeats that purpose. In all three cases, the book I was giving away managed to make it to #1 on the amazon “bestseller” list for free books in at least one category. That was the goal, and I got there. Each time I was in the 4,000 – 5,000 free downloads range over the course of a week. This has not translated into a ton of reviews (as hoped), nor a ton of follow-on purchases of other books in my current series (although there are only 3 current books). I did get a substantially better pre-order and launch week sales performance from book #3 in the series after I ran free offers on book #1 and book #2 in the month before launch. Some of that may also have been simply better general marketing preparation and execution for book #3. These free promotions are easy to schedule and since many subscribers get both emails daily, maximum exposure comes from being live on both.

Authors XP I love this group, both for author services and for promotions. For authors working on new books, their early reviewers program and especially their “typokillers” program (which also generates early reviews) are wonderful. Even after having a book professionally edited, there will always be typos, blemishes, small mistakes, word choice issues, and other copy editing problems that creep in after the main edit, or which you and your editor missed along the way. The typokillers (for a very modest $100) will comb through your book and point out all these errors/issues. It’s a great feeling to finally push the “publish” button knowing that your small copy editing issues have been reduced to nearly zero. Plus, those typokillers can become fans and will give you early reviews, so you get a double-bang for the bucks.

For a series, AXP offers a “Series Spotlight” option to put your whole series in front of potential readers for a reasonable cost. I recommend this in particular since you have significant creative flexibility to say what you want to say about your books. You decide what to discount and when to run the offer.

On one recent promo I got 50 downloads of my $0.99 discounted book #1, which didn’t pay for the ad, but which I consider a great result since people who pay even 99-cents for a book are more likely to actually read it and leave a review than free downloads, which tend to languish on my Kindle.

For mailing list builders, AXP is simply great. A very small fee gets you listed among other authors in a group giveaway contest. Potential readers enter the contest by providing their email address and agreeing to receive promotional emails from the participating authors. At the end of the promo, you give away a few ebook files, or maybe one paperback, and you get 700+ email addresses for potential readers in your genre. It’s also a way to get your title included among a bunch of your fellow authors’ books, which helps your branding and name recognition. Building a mailing list is hard, and getting large chunks of emails from people who are confirmed readers in your genre is well worth the small charge.

Kindle Book Review promotions  Related to Bargain Booksy via Written Word Media, KBR runs the Kindle Book Award contest and offers promotions to their mailing list. The mailings are sharp and have many listings from multiple genres, and the $20 cost for a listing is low.  Be careful about scheduling your promo and following up to make sure it runs as expected, but the format here is good and the “Kindle” name results in lots of open emails.

The Fussy Librarian.  Best used in conjunction with a discount offer (e.g., $0.99) rather than for full-priced books, the Fussy Librarian emails don’t contain too many titles, so your book gets good exposure. I can’t vouch for sales numbers just for this promo platform (I have not pressure-tested it properly), but sales have certainly happened. 

BookBub.  The great thing about BookBub is that they will run free or low-cost ads for you for your new releases (if you have 1,000 followers). You can also run discount listings via CHIRP for audiobooks. For general ads, you can run cost-per-click ads that you don’t pay for unless people click on your ads — and people who click tend to buy. I run a lot of ads with low bids, which don’t generate a lot of clicks, or even impressions, but I’m not paying for them so they give me a chance to put my ads and covers in front of a lot of eyes even if they don’t buy. Cost-efficiency here is very good if you bid low. You can run a “Featured Deal,” which I hear is great, but it can run $1,500 depending on your parameters — I have not tried that yet.

Thanks, Kevin, for sharing your observations.

Featured Image credit: Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash

4 responses to “Guest Post by Kevin G. Chapman: More on Bargain Book Platforms for Marketing”

  1. Interesting and fun!

  2. The one unanswerable question about the bargain sites is whether they condition a universe of potential readers to the idea that your books are “cheap” so that they will consider them as $1.99 or $0.99 bargains, but they won’t pay “full” price — even $4.99. I’m not sure anyone has done research about that, but it’s something always on my mind. — KGC

  3. I read somewhere (but I can’t find the source anywhere through Google search) that there are two important numbers for authors to seek: 100 reviews and 100,000 books “sold.” The word sold is in quotes because the blog post author acknowledged that to reach 100,000, most first-time authors will have to give away many books. The bloggers conclusion was that once 100,000 copies of a book are in circulation, the likelihood of real sales going up are greater because the likelihood of people talking about the book is greater.

    1. I’m sitting at 96 reviews now for book #1 in my Mike Stoneman Thriller series. We’ll see whether hitting 100 reviews makes a difference in the way amazon markets my book to readers. I’m hoping!!

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