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a: Do Daily Deal Services Work? One Author’s Experience with 19 Promo Sites


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Posted 03 September 2017 - 11:00 AM

Please welcome Laura Heffernan, the author of America’s Next Reality Star and Sweet Reality, to WU today! A little about her:

Laura is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

When Laura first pitched writing a piece on her experience with a large number of promo sites, we thought it could make for a fresh and interesting case study–and it does. Sales are a funny thing, and linked to variables that are often unknowable to us. Laura’s personal analysis of her sales numbers and their correlation with a roundup of ad runs provides food for thought and may introduce you to services you never knew existed.

Thank you, Laura, for taking the time to compile and share your numbers for us!

You can learn more about Laura and her novels on her website, and by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

Do Daily Deal Services Work? One Author’s Experience with 19 Promo Sites

In the middle of June, I got the news that America’s Next Reality Star was going on sale for about six weeks. Immediately, I started looking for daily deal sites to spread the word. I wanted to know which sites work. There’s unfortunately not a lot of information out there, so I did my own experiment. During this time, I signed up for 19 sites that send out daily deal emails to their readers, ranging from free to…not cheap.

This experiment focuses on Amazon for two reasons:

  1. Due to their ranking system, it’s the only platform where I can estimate sales with anything resembling accuracy.
  2. Most of the sites only advertise Amazon links.

The book is a romantic comedy, so I looked for services that listed this as a separate genre. When it didn’t have one but a site was highly recommended, I chose romance instead. Sales are estimated, based on extensive analysis of the rankings.

My book was 99¢ during this experiment. Books listed for free might get more downloads.

The Free Sites

Six different free services (who shall remain nameless) ran ads for me: 2 on weekend days, 3 on a single weekday, and 1 for two consecutive weekdays. I can sum this up pretty handily: I did not show a single estimated sale on Amazon on any of the days I used free services to advertise my book (other than sales from my Amazon affiliate links).

Most people would say, “You get what you pay for,” and to be honest, I didn’t expect to get loads of sales from a site that didn’t cost me anything. However, most of the sites have paid counterparts. I chose the free service to see if it would be worth signing up for paid promo later. As a business, this is their chance to hook me by showing what great service they provide. None of them did that.

The Cheap Sites ($4.50 – $40)

  • Crave Reads: $4.50 with a coupon on the site’s popup.

Run on 2 consecutive weekdays.

Amazon Ranking Before: 7,744

Amazon Ranking After: 10,916

Estimated Sales: 5 books on the day I ran this promo. However, I had Romance Reads going at the same time, so it’s possible those sales came from them. For less than $5, it might be worth trying again.

  • The Fussy Librarian: $15

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 56,321

Amazon Ranking After: 55,451

Estimated Sales: 4. A huge disappointment, because I’d heard good things about this service.

  • Book Reader Magazine: Normally $20/$15 with a coupon.

Run on a Saturday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 99,941

Amazon Ranking After: 190,775

Estimated Sales: 0. The deal promised 7 days exposure on their site, plus a feature in their daily emails and on social media. My book was not listed in their emails or on social media. My email to the company received no response, so after my book’s price reverted, I requested and received a refund through Paypal. Would not use again.

  • Hot Zippy: $23.

Run on 2 consecutive weekdays.

Amazon Ranking Before: 56,589

Amazon Ranking After: 59,185 (Day 1)

Estimated Sales: 2 books on Day 1. On Day 2, my ranking did not start to drop until 2 hours after my E-Reader News Today posting went live, and I believe they’re responsible for the sales I got on Day 2. (See below)

  • The eReader Cafe: $25 for the deal of the day.

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 36,788

Amazon Ranking After: 38,198

Estimated Sales: 4

  • Free Kindle Books and Tips (FKBT): $30.

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 120,301

Amazon Ranking After: 32,629

Estimated Sales: 9. I believe this site is more geared towards Kindle Unlimited users, as they all got priority in the email that went out.

  • Just Kindle Books: $31.

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 118,848

Amazon Ranking After: 61,405

Estimated Sales: 7

  • EReader News Today: $40

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 59,185

Amazon Ranking After: 11,201

Estimated Sales: 18. This is the only cheap site I’d consider using again.

The More Expensive Sites ($60+)

  • Robin Reads: $60 for standard booking/$75 for premium. (I was not approved for premium.)

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 92,039

Amazon Ranking After: 7,602

Estimated Sales: 21. Will try for premium booking next time to see the difference.

  • Bargain Booksy: $70

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 55,451

Amazon Ranking After: 16,716

Estimated Sales: 17. Might use again

  •  Romance Reads: $85

Run on 2 consecutive weekdays.

Amazon Ranking Before: 7,602

Amazon Ranking After: 10,916

Estimated Sales: 10-15 (Crave Reads was going on the second day, so hard to know.) Their site estimated 60-80 sales for RomCom, which would have been worth it, but I wasn’t even close.

  • One Hundred Free Books (OHFB): $100 for featured placement

Run on a weekday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 12,900

Amazon Ranking After: 9,868

Estimated Sales: 13. This is a generous estimate, as some of these sales were early enough in the day that they may have come from EReaders News Today. But when I emailed them about it, they offered me another ad at no additional charge. Will try again the next time I have a sale.

  • Books Butterfly: $170 for 100 guaranteed sales.

Run Monday through Saturday.

Amazon Ranking Before: 60,295

Amazon Ranking After: 118,848

Sales: For this one, I called my publisher. They said I got 40 sales for the week. I’m going to be honest – I doubt all of these were due to Books Butterfly, as my publisher had their own promo going this week. But their terms of service say they get credit for all sales, so I gave them credit. I then emailed under their guarantee and got a second free promotion, this one guaranteeing 60 sales.

I didn’t really expect it to work, but my initial promo ran over a holiday week, and I thought that might have impacted sales. At the end of the day, I wanted the sales. Every single sale helps, especially for a new book. People can’t buy America’s Next Reality Star if they’ve never heard of it. So I took the credit and applied it toward another promotion.

  • Books Butterfly, Take 2: $0, because I’d already paid. 60 guaranteed sales

Run on 3 consecutive weekdays.

Amazon Ranking Before: 49,157

Amazon Ranking After: 99,941

Sales: Approximately 4. I obtained a partial refund in accordance with their terms and conditions.

“If you like sweet contemporary romances with a reality show theme, then you are going to enjoy Heffernan’s Reality Star series.” – RT Book Reviews

 

Note that the more expensive sites didn’t necessarily achieve better results. I did well on some sites with romantic comedy lists, but not well on others. There are only a few of these sites I’d consider using again, but I’m open to other, similar services when my next sale rolls around.

Three things I take away from this experiment:

  1. I highly recommend finding an author in your genre who had success with any site you’re considering before booking. BookBub is of course the gold standard, but they’re hard to get (and they’re expensive). Same with Kindle Daily Deals. These will likely result in sales, but unless you’re self-published, you would ordinarily have your publisher schedule and pay for them. If sales across multiple platforms are important, look for sites that include links to retailers other than Amazon.
  2. Six weeks as a sale period is probably too long. I’m happy to get 20 sales here, 15 sales there, but my hope was to lower my Amazon ranking enough to get noticed. To do that, it would’ve helped to have run multiple deals at a time, thereby expanding my daily reach. (Then I’d have no idea which sites worked, which is one reason I didn’t do that.) Also note that some of these sites require sign-ups at least a few weeks in advance, so start looking as soon as you know a sale is coming up.
  3. Read all the terms and conditions carefully before signing up. For example, Books Butterfly doesn’t guarantee 100 sales if your book has ever been featured on BookBub (which makes sense – there’s probably a lot of overlap in their lists). You’ll need proof of sales to request a refund, so if you’re not self-published, make sure you can get sales numbers from your publisher.

Have you gotten sales from any of these sites or similar? (other than BookBub?). Let me know in the comments!



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