A Pleasant Surprise from @bookSCREAM #bookpromotion 99-cent #CountdownDeal

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.


I received a pleasant surprise this morning.

I found myself mentioned in a tweet from @bookSCREAM:

@ChrisDMcMullen Another great deal! We featured HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK in today’s newsletter! bkscr.me/9P9Um

Cover design by Melissa Stevens at theillustratedauthor.net

What a cool surprise.

I clicked on the link mentioned in the tweet and found my original self-publishing book featured with one of four non-fiction books on the bookSCREAM page.

  • How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon.com
  • by Chris McMullen
  • Informative, Tips, Advice
  • $0.99 was $2.99

I like the concise description that they included with the ad: “informative, tips, advice.”

This was totally unexpected:

  • I didn’t contact or approach bookSCREAM.
  • I haven’t advertised my Countdown Deal anywhere. This is the first I’ve mentioned it just now.
  • bookSCREAM discovered my Countdown Deal all on their own.
  • bookSCREAM advertised my book promotion all on their own.
  • I only discovered their advertisement after they had placed the ad.

Very cool! Thank you, bookSCREAM.

What’s the opposite of being rejected by BookBub? Being featured by bookSCREAM out of the blue.

I was just testing out the Countdown Deals. My intention was to let it run unadvertised and see how it does.

However, I don’t mind that it picked up an external promotion all on its own. I don’t mind at all. 😉

Partly, I was also testing out the lower price. In the past, I haven’t had any success with 99 cents on any books (which is why you’ll find my Kindle e-books priced between $2.99 and $7.99, except for rare deals like this).

How to Self-Publish a book on Amazon.com is my original book on self-publishing. I originally published this back in May, 2009. A lot has changed since then, which is why I updated this book significantly in 2014, but it’s also why I have since published A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing (Volumes 1 and 2). (I also have a four-book boxed set, which includes all of these.)

Of course, you can find a ton of FREE information about self-publishing right here on my blog.

I wouldn’t mind dropping the prices of my self-publishing books. But like I said, I haven’t had much success with 99 cents or $1.99. I wouldn’t mind making it more affordable to learn about self-publishing. (Again, you can learn much for free right on my blog. I would even make one or more of these books perma-free—these books are more about sharing knowledge and helping other authors—but it seems ridiculous that I would have to publish these books outside of Amazon to get them free on Amazon.)

But I thought I would test out lower prices with a few Countdown Deals to see if things may have changed recently.

And that’s when I received this pleasant surprise from bookSCREAM.

Unexpected free marketing for fellow authors is a great thing. It makes self-publishing better for everyone.

If it happens to you, pay it forward.

It’s about reading. All authors work together to inspire more quality reading.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Book Promotion Opportunities for Authors (It’s Free)

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock


Marketing books is hard. I will try to help.

I have a few book promotion opportunities for authors.

Participation is FREE.

(1) Meet the Characters

I have a page on my Read Tuesday website called Meet the Characters.

On this page, readers find short creative pieces featuring one of the characters from various books.

The idea is that readers can learn about books without first seeing the cover or price.

Their first taste of the book is a character’s personality and the author’s writing style.

Many authors and readers have expressed positive feedback about this idea.

(If you like the idea, please tell a friend.)

But we need more authors to participate. Signing up is free.

The earlier you participate, the better the reader-to-book ratio works in your favor.

Once submissions grow enough, Meet the Characters will grow onto multiple pages, different pages dedicated to different genres.

This is potentially permanent exposure for your book, which will hopefully grow over time, with just a little work for you to do in the beginning.

I make no promises about results, but I do offer this opportunity at no cost to you.

Learn more about Meet the Characters and how to sign up here:

Meet the Characters

Meet the Characters Follow-Up

(2) Cover Reveal

I’ll be doing cover reveals for a few of my books in the coming weeks.

But why reveal only my own cover?

This is an opportunity to reveal the covers of several books alongside my own.

The first cover reveal will be soon, but if you miss that, don’t worry, there will be others.

Have you done a cover reveal recently? Will you do one soon?

If so, leave a comment. Once you’ve written a post about your cover reveal, leave a link to your post in the comments.

Remember, I’ll be doing multiple cover reveals, so I may not include all of the covers in the same reveal, but may choose to spread them out (it depends on the number).

(3) Book Contests

Similarly, I’ll be running a few Goodreads giveaways.

When I announce my book contest, I could also announce your book contest.

Goodreads giveaways are preferred, but I’ll consider others.

(Amazon Giveaways tend to finish quickly, so they would be hard to work in unless my post happens to be perfectly timed with your giveaway, which is unlikely.)

If you have a Goodreads giveaway that will be open sometime in June, leave a comment to let me know. If it happens to be running when I do one of my contest posts, I’ll include mention of your giveaway in my post.

(4) Special Categories

Many authors feel that their book doesn’t quite fit properly into any one of Amazon’s browse categories.

So I created a Cool & New Books page at Read Tuesday.

This will showcase books which would best be classified by categories not currently listed at Amazon.

Even if your book is getting by with the available categories, but would fit better in a new category that doesn’t exist, you may submit your book.

Here is your chance to stir reader interest in a brand new category.

The first authors to sign up will enjoy the greatest reader-to-book ratio.

Learn more about Cool & New Books and how to sign up here:

Cool & New Books

(5) More Opportunities

I expect to create more opportunities to help authors promote their books.

When they come, I’ll either announce them here on my blog or over on the Read Tuesday blog.

Follow me and follow Read Tuesday (if you don’t already) to stay tuned.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Book Contests & Giveaways


Win, Win, Win

Being a winner is a great feeling.

One way to help promote interest in a book is to give something away through a contest.

The winners feel special.

It’s different from just giving the book away for free with KDP Select. With a Select freebie, everyone gets the book for free. Through a contest, only the lucky winner gets something free.

When the book is free for everyone, it tends to be valued less. When you win something, it tends to be valued more.

People who enter the contest, but don’t win, have learned about the book. The contest provides exposure, creates buzz, and helps with branding.

As with all marketing, it works best when readers in your target audience participate.

You still have to promote. People won’t come out of the woodwork, marching zombie-style to your contest.

But promoting a contest or giveaway may be a little easier than promoting your regularly-priced book. You might find bloggers and websites willing to help promote your contest.

The prize can be a free copy of your book, an autographed copy, a special edition, a bookmark, or a t-shirt, for example. The idea is to give something that the target audience will value to help stir interest in your book.

One popular website for arranging contests is Rafflecopter. Charles E. Yallowitz, author of the Legends of Windemere sword and sorcery series, presently has an amazing Rafflecopter giveaway running through the end of February. This was put together by Danielle Taylor.

There are over two dozen prizes, including many great books and a $10 Amazon gift card. (Charles E. Yallowitz has his Legends of Windemere books participating, Danielle Taylor has entered her books, one of my books, A Visual Guide to Extra Dimensions, in color and in paperback, is participating, and there are over two dozen others.)

Click here to see and enter the giveaway.

Another way to give a few free books is through a Goodreads giveaway. Some recipients will post reviews or ratings at Goodreads. Several people will mark the book as to-read. Reviews on Amazon aren’t as likely.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Selfless Promotion


With millions of books to choose from, it’s necessary for most authors to promote their books in order to help readers in their target audience discover them.

We sometimes see blatant self-promotion, like going to external websites and posting, “I just published my new book, Whip It Out There. Buy it today.” You should mention your book occasionally on your own site; after all, it is your site. At other sites, this behavior is often strongly discouraged, if not against the rules.

Many of the people who come to your site already know about your book. What you really want to do is find your target audience at external sites, where nobody knows about your book. And this is exactly what you should do, only at most sites you need to let people discover your book by checking out your profile or mentioning your book in the proper context, where this is allowed and acceptable. Some sites allow a brief signature, where you can include a link to your book; where it’s common to post with a signature, you can blend in nicely, and if you make a good impression, people may check your book out.

A milder form of self-promotion is mentioning your book in context. Instead of saying, “Check out my book, In Your Face,” try to find something else you can post where mention of your book is relevant. For example, asking for opinions about your blurb gets you a little attention and helpful feedback while not coming across as a salesperson. Obviously, you can’t ask about your blurb three times a day all year. Use the creativity that you obviously have as a writer and find relevant ways to mention your book. Study the ambiance of each site first and be sure not to behave in a way that may be frowned upon.

“Self, how would I feel if I were just chillin’ with my pals online and some other author posted that?”

Before you post it, think about how it looks from the other side.

Most marketing isn’t about instant sales. When you see an advertisement on t.v., do you run right out to the store and buy the product immediately? “Sorry, dear. I know it’s 3 a.m. Saturday morning, but I just saw an advertisement for honey and I really need to get some. Could you please watch the kids?”

It’s about branding. You learn about a product enough times that you recognize it. But you don’t want to be branded as annoying. Strive to find less obtrusive ways to get discovered. Come across as a professional. Make a good impression. Brand a positive image as an author to help get your target audience interested in your book over a long period of time.

The best exposure you can get is selfless promotion—i.e. when others market on your behalf. One way you can do this is to seek honest online book reviews or arrange a blogger to interview you. However, most of this is beyond your direct control.

Imagine a reader who discovered your book online, enjoyed your book, and posted a good review for your book online without your even knowing about it. Or imagine a reader who loved your book and told all of his or her friends about it. Recommendations and word-of-mouth sales are golden. They’re also very hard to come by. If a book is truly exceptional in some way, or if the book elicits strong emotions, this is more likely. The first step is to perfect your book from cover to cover and include some wow-factors in your writing. This is quite challenging, but ask yourself this: “Will people recommend a book if it’s just so-so?”

What good books have you read lately? What are you doing to help spread the word about those amazing books? Don’t just review and recommend books because you’re hoping for the same in return. Do it because you discovered a great book and believe others would enjoy it, too. Definitely, don’t recommend books that you don’t honestly believe to be worth recommending. There are many good books out there, and they can use your support.

I see plenty of selfless promotion in the form of reviews and recommendations. It’s a great sight to see. You might notice that I recently added a couple of pages to my blog, highlighting a few books by other authors. It’s a short list, presently, but it will grow.

Brace Yourself, Here Comes the Self-Promotion

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Suggestions for Promoting Your Book (on Read Tuesday)


Read Tuesday—a huge book sale on December 10—is an opportunity for all authors to promote their books.

As opposed to promoting your own short-term sale all by yourself, with Read Tuesday you can be part of a large coordinated effort among hundreds of authors.

There are a few ways that Read Tuesday can help you promote your books:

  • You can add your book to the Read Tuesday catalog for free. You just need to agree to discount your book on Tuesday, December 10 and let us know that you will be participating. Find the link to learn more toward the end of this post.
  • We’re promoting the event. Hundreds of authors and readers are already spreading the word about Read Tuesday in many forms, in person and online. We also have a few advertisements running on different sites, targeting book lovers. Some popular authors (like M. Louisa Locke and Jessica James) are participating, which helps lend credibility to the event and draw in more readers.
  • Promoting that your book is participating in Read Tuesday may help you generate more interest than merely promoting your own book.
  • We will announce sale prices, discounts, discount codes, availability, and book extras for the big event. There is no charge to include your book’s information in these announcements.

In addition to adding your book to the book catalog, your author photo to the author catalog, and your sale information (look for a post in the next couple of days about this on the Read Tuesday website; we haven’t started collecting sale price information yet, but will soon), following are suggestions for what else you might do to help promote your books:

  • Green Embers has 38 free advertising slots for indie authors from December 1 thru December 9. (You don’t even have to participate in Read Tuesday to take advantage of this free offer.) This is an amazing offer. All you have to do is click here to sign up. Where else will you get free advertising?
  • Write about your book’s participation in Read Tuesday on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This will help you create interest in your book among your fans, followers, and anyone who stumbles across your author sites. Mention that your book will be on sale, describe what Read Tuesday is, tell what you’re looking forward to, and help to create buzz for your book and the event. Promoting the event along with your book may help to create more interest in your promotion.
  • You’re free to use any of the Read Tuesday images (these were designed by artist Melissa Stevens) in a positive way. You can add one to your sidebar, include the image with your posts, etc. You’re welcome to link to the Read Tuesday website to refer interested readers or authors for more information.
  • Find other authors who are participating in Read Tuesday—look for authors who show signs of past success and authors with books similar to yours—and check out their blogs and social media pages to see ways that they are promoting their books. This will help you generate ideas for how to promote your books.
  • There are many ways to spread the news of your book’s promotion and your book’s participation in Read Tuesday to your target audience. You can share this with any of your interactions with your target audience in person or online. Search for Facebook groups relevant to your genre or category. Consider placing a low-cost advertisement (find a list of services in this post). Ask other authors for ideas. If you have suggestions, feel free to include them in the comments section.
  • Browse the Read Tuesday catalog for books that interest you or other books similar to yours. Instead of just promoting only your book, consider promoting a variety of books that interest you, or multiple books in a given genre (including yours, of course), for example. This might help you create additional interest. Reach out to other authors; you might be able to get together and help promote one another’s books.

For information regarding how to put your book on sale, read this post.

Check out the Read Tuesday sample catalog:

How do authors sign up?

We’ll be collecting discount information soon, and we’ll be promoting sale prices, discount codes, and availability information closer to Read Tuesday, on December 10, 2013.

Read Tuesday: It’s going to be HUGE!

Give the gift of reading this holiday season.

Love books? Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday event just for books (all authors can sign up for free): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

An Opportunity for Authors to Promote Their Books

Buying Books Pic

All authors need exposure for their books. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to get.

It’s rare that a free promotional opportunity comes by that requires very little effort, so when one does, you want to notice it and take advantage of it.

Black Friday is almost here. It seems like there should be a great promotional opportunity here, doesn’t it? But with all the sales of electronics, toys, and clothing that are heavily advertised for this occasion, books are likely to go largely unnoticed.

If only there was a day like this just for book lovers. Oh, but there is: It’s called Read Tuesday and will make its debut on December 10, 2013.

This is a great promotional opportunity for authors (and a great buying opportunity for readers, and a great gifting opportunity for the holidays):

  • Participation is free, so what do you have to lose?
  • Effort is minimal. Just put your book on a short-term sale that includes December 10. Send me the url to where you book will be on sale and I’ll add it to the Read Tuesday catalog. Ta-da! Free exposure for your book. (If you would also spread the word about your book’s participation in Read Tuesday, that will help you out, too.)
  • The event is being promoted on your behalf. Struggling to promote your own books? Having your book included in a catalog that is being promoted is worth a shot, isn’t it? The event is gaining popularity daily, with some popular authors signed up and even published authors showing interest.
  • Many authors use the one-day promotional discount effectively, putting the book on sale and promoting it heavily. We’re not putting one book on sale and promoting it. No. We’re putting hundreds of books on sale and promoting the event as a big holiday sale.
  • Every author who signs up increases interest in the event. Your book will be one more book in the catalog. Over a hundred authors before you have helped to stimulate much interest already. You have a chance to add to this. Every author counts.
  • What are you waiting for? Maybe you’re waiting until after December 10, so you can read about the success stories of hundreds of other participating Read Tuesday authors. If so, it will be a long wait until Read Tuesday returns in 2014.

Book lovers can check out the catalog by clicking here.

Authors can learn how to sign up by clicking here.

Give the gift of reading this holiday season.

Join over 600 followers (@ReadTuesday) on Twitter.

Be one of over 900 book lovers to Like the Read Tuesday Facebook page.

Chris McMullen, founder of Read Tuesday and author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

How to Put Your Book on Sale

On Sale Now

Table of Contents:

I. paperback

A. at your CreateSpace eStore

B. at Amazon using CreateSpace

C. at your website

II. e-book

A. with Kindle

B. with Smashwords, Nook, Kobo, etc.

I. paperback

A. at your CreateSpace eStore

  • It’s quick and easy. Just make discount codes.
    • Click on a book from your dashboard to open its project homepage.
    • Select ‘Channels’ on the ‘Distribute’ column.
    • Choose ‘Discount Codes’ under CreateSpace eStore.
    • Look for the ‘click here’ link in the paragraph above the table.
    • This will create a new code. Click ‘View Codes’ to see them all.
    • Copy and paste the code into the table (previous window).
    • Choose dollars off or percentage off.
  • Enter a ridiculous amount, like 99% off, and CS will tell you the maximum discount you can offer. This way, you don’t have to guess or figure it out yourself.
  • If you want to make a royalty on the sale, don’t choose your maximum discount. The smaller your discount, the greater your royalty.
  • (List price — discount) x 0.8 — book cost = royalty. Example: ($7.99 — 20%) x 0.8 — $2.53 = ($7.99 —$1.60) x 0.8 — $2.53 = $6.39 x 0.8 — $2.53 = $5.11 — $2.53 = $2.58.
  • Make sure you are happy with your royalty. If you want to double-check your math, feel free to use the comments section below.
  • You can use the same discount code for multiple books. This makes it easy to put several books on sale for 20% off, for example.
  • However, you must add the discount code to each book separately.
  • Here are some important notes:
    • Customers must sign up for a CreateSpace account. They don’t have to publish a book, but they do need to enter a username and password.
    • Customers know and trust Amazon. Customers who aren’t already familiar with CreateSpace may be reluctant to use it.
    • Customers must pay shipping at CreateSpace. Customers who qualify for free shipping at Amazon might not want to pay for shipping at CreateSpace.
    • Shipping is cheaper when purchasing multiple books. Encourage customers to buy multiple books at CreateSpace to save on shipping.
  • When your sale is over, return to the table of discount codes, check the box to delete the discount, and save your changes.

B. at Amazon using CreateSpace

  • Simply reduce your list price.
  • Customers won’t know that your book is on sale by viewing your product page at Amazon; you’ll have to promote the sale price to spread the word.
  • If you have Expanded Distribution, this will limit the possible discount.
  • You may disable the Expanded Distribution during your sale in order to offer a deeper discount.
  • It can take weeks for your Expanded Distribution changes to propagate throughout the system. Disabling and enabling this channel before and after your sale may create an interesting ripple effect, but if you primarily sell through Amazon, you might not be as concerned about this.
  • The sale price might change in a matter of hours, but according to CreateSpace, it could take up to 5 days for the list price to change at Amazon. This extreme time frame may be unlikely, but if you invest time, effort, or money on a promotion, you’d hate for Murphy’s law to strike.
  • What’s the harm in putting your paperback on sale 5 days early leading up to the big day? Better safe than sorry. When the event is over and you raise the price, if it doesn’t change immediately, it just makes your sale last a little longer.
  • You may be paid a royalty based on the lower list price for some books that sell at the original list price. The royalty payments just after a price change may be based on the lower royalty, even if the book sold at the higher list price. You probably expect to sell many more books at the lower price anyway, so if your promotion is successful, this may be a minor concern.

C. at your website

  • A third option is to sell your book directly: in person, through your website, via PayPal, etc.
  • Advantages:
    • You can potentially draw a higher royalty.
    • This allows you to also make a more enticing discount.
    • If you order stock in advance, you can be sure that the customer is receiving a quality book. Be sure to allow ample time to exchange defects (and to exchange defects of replacements, if needed).
    • Alternatively, you can order your book at CreateSpace and have it drop-shipped  to the customer. No packing ship will reveal sensitive information. You won’t be able to see the book before it ships to prevent the customer from receiving a possible defect, but this way you don’t have to pay shipping twice (though if you order in large quantities, you save on shipping from CreateSpace to you).
  • Disadvantages:
    • You have to deal with the hassles of collecting payments (although PayPal is a convenient option).
    • You have to deal with the hassles of packing and shipping, unless you drop ship.
    • You run the risk of defects if you drop ship.
    • Some customers may be reluctant to purchase directly from you.

II. e-book

A. with Kindle

  • There are three options:
    • KDP Select authors can run a Countdown Deal.
    • KDP Select authors can run a free promotion.
    • Without KDP Select, you can still make a temporary change in list price.
  • Using the new Kindle Countdown Deal:
    • You can’t run both a Countdown Deal and a free promo during the same 90-day enrollment period.
    • The book must be enrolled in KDP Select for 30 days.
    • You must wait 30 days after changing the list price.
    • The regular list price must be at least $2.99 for the US and 1.99 pounds for the UK.
    • The sale price must be at least $1.00 off the regular list price.
    • Customers can see how much they are saving and when the sale ends.
    • If you ordinarily earn 70% royalties, you will still earn 70% even if the promotional list price is under $2.99.
    • If you have a large mobi file size, do the math to see what your royalty will be at the promotional list price; you don’t want to be shocked later.
    • You can’t publish at Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, or any other e-book retailers while enrolled in KDP Select.
  • Using the KDP Select free promo:
    • You can’t run both a Countdown Deal and a free promo during the same 90-day enrollment period.
    • Giving the first book of a series away for free may help to generate sales of other books in your series.
    • You don’t earn any royalties during the free promo; you just hope the promo helps to create exposure and interest afterward.
    • Your sales rank will fall off during the free promo; you need to get sales afterward to improve your sales rank.
    • Many people don’t check out your blurb or Look Inside since it’s free; many people who get your book won’t read it.
    • You must promote your free promo effectively to make the most out of it.
    • The free promo is a good time for bloggers and book reviewers to pick up advance review copies.
    • You also want bloggers and book review sites to feature your free promo before it starts.
    • If your book is 99 cents or at the minimum list price for its file size, the free promo is the only way you can discount your book (other than through price matching).
    • You can’t publish at Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, or any other e-book retailers while enrolled in KDP Select.
  • For those who aren’t in KDP Select:
    • If your book isn’t already at the minimum possible list price, all you need to do is republish your book at the lower list price prior to the sale (it may take 12-24 hours for this to take effect in the US and longer in other countries) and back at the original list price after the sale.
    • Check your converted mobi file size on page 2 of the publishing steps at KDP. If it’s greater than 10 MB, the minimum list price is $2.99 and if it’s greater than 3 MB, the minimum list price is $1.99; otherwise, the minimum list price is 99 cents. You’d hate to promise a sale only to discover later that you can’t do it.
    • Customers won’t know that your book is on sale by viewing your product page at Amazon; you’ll have to promote the sale price to spread the word.

B. with Smashwords, Nook, Kobo, etc.

  • The easiest way to create discounts with Smashwords is with the coupon manager.
    • Go to your dashboard and choose “Coupon Manager.”
    • This allows you to distribute coupons for customers to use.
    • Your list price must be 99 cents or higher (unless you want to use the coupon to make your book free).
    • Coupons only work for Smashwords sales. They do not work at Apple, Nook, Sony, Kobo, etc.
  • Alternatively, you can change your list price.
    • Be sure to also change your list price for Kindle at the same time, otherwise you can get into permanent price match issues. Even then, the big e-reader companies, like Kindle and Nook, like for your list price to be the same, and it’s difficult to synchronize, especially using Smashwords for Nook. If publishing directly with Nook, the price change will occur in about 12-24 hours, so it will be much more in sync with the Kindle list price.
    • The Smashwords list price updates immediately, but other retail channels will take 5 days to multiple weeks to update. This makes it impractical to run a short-term promotion through those channels using Smashwords.
    • If you want to run a short-term promotion and have your book published at a variety of e-book retailers, it’s best to publish your e-book directly with Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and anywhere else that option is available. This way, the prices will update in about 12-24 hours for US sales, keeping your list prices relatively in sync over the course of the promotion.

If you want your sale to be successful, you must promote it effectively. See these articles for more on this:

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

Love books? Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday event just for books (all authors can sign up for free): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Promote Your Kindle Countdown Deal or Select Free Promo (or Other Book Sale)

On Sale

The writer who carves a masterpiece out of words and publishes the book faces a new challenge:

  • how to help the target audience discover the book

As there are millions of books to choose from, this is no easy task.

One way to try to help stimulate sales is to put the book on a temporary sale, e.g. through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

  • Amazon has a new Countdown Deal available for books enrolled in KDP Select. This allows for a temporary reduction in price and shows customers how much they are saving and when the sale ends.
  • The older KDP Select free promo option is another alternative. (Note that you can’t mix and match Countdown Deals and free promos for the same book in a given 90-day enrollment period.)
  • Books that aren’t enrolled in KDP Select can still have a temporary price reduction by simply republishing at the new list price.

Everyone likes a sale. It’s great to save money.

But there’s a catch: The sale won’t attract buyers if customers don’t know about the sale.

You still have the problem of discovery. Just putting your book on sale through a Kindle Countdown Deal, KDP Select free promo, or other temporary price reduction isn’t enough:

  • A temporary sale, all by itself, probably won’t help much with getting your book discovered.

Nevertheless, a temporary price reduction can be effective if you succeed in spreading news about the sale:

  • Instead of just promoting your book, promoting that your book is temporarily on sale may generate more interest. That is, it can help make your marketing more effective.
  • Any promotions that you do to spread the news about your sale may be amplified by people in your target audience who become interested in your book.
  • If people develop interest in your book, the looming deadline may help to generate sales.
  • Sales that you may generate as a result of placing your book on sale can help improve your book’s visibility through sales rank, customers-also-bought associations, and customer reviews.

(Note that KDP Select free promos generate a free rank instead of a paid rank, but any subsequent sales once the free promo ends will help boost the paid rank.)

It all comes down to getting your book’s sale discovered by your target audience.

The usual marketing strategies—blogging, Twitter, Facebook, press release, building buzz, interacting with your target audience, readings, guest blogs, etc.—can help with discoverability. Instead of just promoting your book, you’ll be promoting the temporary sale of your book, which may help to generate more interest than your usual marketing.

Also, if you’ve been branding an image, prospective buyers who may have been considering your book might be sold when they see that your book is now on sale.

However, you probably want to use this golden opportunity to try and go beyond your usual marketing reach. For example, you might want to consider if a low-cost advertisement may be cost-effective.

Don’t focus solely on projections for how many people may view your advertisement. It’s also important to consider:

  • What fraction of the people who view your advertisement are in your specific target audience? They are more likely to make the purchase, appreciate your book, and leave a review.
  • How marketable is your book? Will the cover and blurb make the genre clear and appeal to your specific target audience?

If you have a highly marketable book in terms of both packaging and content—i.e. it will both attract and please a significant target audience—then it may be worth advertising at a site that can show your advertisement to your specific target audience.

One popular site is BookBub, but there are other options, like Ereader News Today, Kindle Books & Tips, Book Gorilla, Book Blast, and Pixel of Ink. You want to learn about stats to help you with your decision. For example, the BookBub pricing page provides data for subscribers by genre, average downloads, and average sales. There are also sites to help you promote seasonal events. For example, check out Read Tuesday, designed to help stimulate holiday sales.

With a Kindle Countdown Deal or temporary price reduction, you earn royalties during the sale. Your hope is that these immediate sales and a possible increase in sales following the sale will recover your investment and then some, but as with any investment, there is always a risk.

In contrast, a KDP Select free promo doesn’t yield any royalties during the sale. Here, the hope is that if you succeed in creating interest for your book during the promo, then enough people will read the book (only a percentage who download it for free will eventually read it, and some will be from outside your target audience) and recommend it to others. That’s a big IF, and it doesn’t always work out that way. A successful free promo can lead to a significant improvement in sales, but not necessarily (it was more common in the early days of KDP Select, but still happens now; a highly marketable book and an effective promotion improve your chances).

A nice feature of the new Kindle Countdown deal is that any sales made during your promotion improve your paid sales rank, whereas your sales rank slides during a KDP Select free promo.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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Readers and Authors, What Constitutes Self-Promotion?

Self Promo

This is an important issue for both readers and authors. Authors know they need to be discovered through marketing, and so readers come across countless attempts by authors to get their books discovered by them.

At the same time, it isn’t easy for readers to navigate through hundreds of thousands of books to discover those few that most interest them. Authors want to be discovered, and readers want to discover books they will enjoy. Successful marketing helps readers find books that are likely to be a good fit for them. This helps readers. In contrast, ineffective marketing can be quite a nuisance, and distracts readers from the opportunity to discover books that are likely to interest them.

The most obvious attempts by authors to get discovered by readers come in the form of spam, where an author repeatedly posts about the book with high frequency. Many authors realize that this is more likely to develop a bad reputation or simply be ignored than it is to succeed. It’s also prohibited on most forums and online platforms if done too frequently.

There is a danger in being branded as an annoying insect if posting too frequently on social media platforms. Borderline spamming might get the title or author name out there for possible branding—“I recognize this book,” or, “This must be a big-name author because I see that name all over the place”—but it’s also likely to be tuned out or to brand a negative image—“I hate that author for spamming the boards all the time,” or, “I think I’ll click that Unfollow button so I can find the posts I like.”

One step down from spamming the board is explicit self-promotion. For example, “Hello, I just wrote a book called Best Book Ever by Self Promoter. Please buy it.”

Some community forums—like the Amazon customer discussions (which attract some authors because they expect to find customers there, but may not be the ideal place to get a book discovered)—don’t allow explicit self-promotion like this. Even where explicit self-promotion is permitted, it’s often frowned upon by various (and sometimes outspoken) community members.

Aside from this, explicit self-promotion has the problems of overt advertising. Most people prefer to avoid commercials. We put up with commercials on television, radio, and magazines for lack of a free alternative (though you can pay for commercial-free alternatives). Except when you need a bathroom break in the middle of a movie, you usually aren’t pleased to have your show interrupted. (If you want to shout “Infomercial,” I’ll grant you a point.)

On the other hand, some level of self-promotion is what authors need to do. Spam and explicit self-promotion to the point that it seems that your post served no other purpose may not be in your best interest even where they are allowed. However, if you want to be discovered, you do need to promote yourself in some way.

Effective marketing requires visibility among your target audience. You need your target audience to see your book cover and read or hear your book’s title and your name for branding to do its work.

Essentially, this is self-promotion. You’re trying to get discovered. You have to tell people about your book for this to happen. Yet spam and too much self-promotion can backfire.

The trick is to get discovered in a way that doesn’t come across as self-promotion.

This begs the question: Exactly what do people perceive as self-promotion? Part of the problem is that everybody doesn’t agree on the answer.

Following are a few suggestions to help judge this:

  • Does it seem like you are present mainly just to promote your book? Or are you providing relevant and meaningful contributions?
  • Does the mention of your book seem out of place? Or are you mentioning your book at your own site, or to establish your expertise or experience as an author, or to provide a reference to relevant content?
  • Does it look like you’re trying to grab everyone’s attention? Or does it seem like you’re just hoping to get discovered by those who enjoy interacting with you. (For example, it could be the distinction between coming right out and telling anyone about your book versus mentioning this when asked or only offering this information in your profile.)
  • Is your book irrelevant for much of the audience? Or does your audience closely coincide with the target audience for your book?

Context is important, too. If you’re running a special one-day sale, you want to get the word out, and people in your target audience may be grateful for the discount. Also, more self-promotion is to be expected on your own turf than otherwise (but posting too much about yourself isn’t as likely to attract an audience as providing meaningful content for your target audience).

Self-promotion isn’t just an issue online. It’s also important when interacting in person.

How do you feel about self-promotion as a reader or as an author? How do you define the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not? Do you think there is a type of self-promotion that needs to be done, but another type of self-promotion that should be avoided? What kinds of marketing do you consider not to be self-promotion?

Well, we’ve reached the end of this post so I better mention my book now. I might as well promote Read Tuesday while I’m at it. 🙂

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Read Tuesday: It’s going to be HUGE!