This is a curated list of promotional sites that I personally use to sell books (I’ve booked ads in almost every genre other than cozies, romance, YA/MG/children’s books & non-fiction). Last updated on Aug 2, 2018.

Note: Many sites offer “book of the day” options or special packages. Stick with the standard vanilla offerings; they’re cheaper and often provide better results on a cost-per-download basis. There are exceptions, but it’s difficult to keep dozens of options straight, and expensive to separate the wheat from the extreme chaff.

Unless otherwise noted, these sites can be used for free and paid books. Some sites have review requirements; if you need reviews, learn how to get those here.

Top 5: Always, if Available

  • BookBub (price varies): BookBub trounces every site on this list by many orders of magnitude.
  • ENT ($35)
  • RobinReads ($30 – $80): becoming more difficult to book
  • FreeBooksy ($50 – $100): the best site for free books outside of BookBub
  • Book Barbarian ($25 – $50): SF/Fantasy only

Tier 2

  • BargainBooksy ($25 – $80): FreeBooksy’s sister site for paid books; not nearly as powerful, but still solid
  • Booksends ($25 – $75): better for $0.99 rather than free books due to pricing of respective ads
  • Book Adrenaline ($8 – $20): Book Barbarian’s sister site for thrillers/mysteries.

Tier 3

For Free Books

  • Fiverr (gig 1) or this gig ($5): automatically submit your free book to 30+ free promo sites instead of filling out forms; also a far cheaper alternative to services like eBookbooster or ReadingDeals’ submission tool

Author Cross Promos

These are generally free. A great way to cultivate quality also-boughts and/or generate mailing list subscribers.

Paid Newsletter Builders

Done For You

If scheduling promos is unappealing, you can book a service (for a fee) to do the heavy lifting for you.

  • Book Rank: submits (e.g. fills out all the pesky forms) to promo sites of your choosing; also has pre-built bronze/silver/gold packages for a set price. Read my review here.

Important Notes on This List

My aim here has been to cull to the absolute essentials, rather than publishing a collection of garbage links and things you could possibly use but, um, like, I’ve never actually tried. I can’t guarantee results; all I can say is that I assembled this list for my own use and refer to it when booking my own promos.

This list is constructed based on data and experience: I’ve spent $30k+ on promos over the past four years. In the beginning, I lit a substantial amount of money on fire.

I’d like to spare you a similar fate.

To answer the inevitable “why isn’t site X included?” objections: I’ve excluded sites that provide OK results but have annoying billing policies, onerous submission forms, or ridiculous booking times (1.5+ months). Also excluded are sites that can provide some “pop” but are so overpriced that you’ll be swimming in a sea of red. It’s possible these can be useful during special circumstances (e.g. gunning for the USA Today Bestseller List), but you’re usually better served by saving your money.

So yes, rest assured, I’ve almost certainly tried site X – likely multiple times – and was underwhelmed. I’ve seen authors claim there is “no harm” in listing all sites – or, worse, submitting to tons of them. It’s important to address this point, since it’s wrong for three reasons:

  1. Most sites lose money. The only ones that will make back your money even 50% of the time (on the promoted book itself) are BookBub (pretty much a lock) and ENT. Robin Reads hovers around that mark, too. To best harness the benefits of promo sites, you’ll need a series for sell-through or have goals other than ROI (e.g. reviews/newsletter sign-ups). Some sites will never, under any circumstances, make you money. They have been excluded from this list; pour one out for my bank account. It suffered to help yours.
  2. It assumes your time is worthless. There is opportunity cost involved in filling out forms, so even free sites aren’t free. The submission process is a massive time suck that can be spent building actual skills, such as writing or learning PPC ads. Don’t forget that your time has value.
  3. Extreme 80/20: BookBub generates 5x to 10x the downloads of every other site on this page combined. The remaining Tier 1 sites (ENT + RobinReads + FreeBooksy + BookBarbarian) will often generate 2x – 3x as many downloads as the remaining non-BookBub sites combined. You can get 90%+ of the downloads in 15 minutes, using the saved time to write and the saved money on other marketing endeavors.

Important Notes on Promo in General

While it’s wonderful to see your sales graph spike, buying sales at a premium is not a smart way to run a business. Never pay for visibility alone (e.g. a ranking boost). 99.9% of the time your book ends up right where it started 1 week after the promo concludes (e.g. the cellar).

Always have a concrete goal when running a promotion:

  • ROI (best calculated using the series sales, since sell-through is critical)
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Reviews
  • Launch visibility

The number one rule of promotion: structure your promos so that you have a gradually upward trending sales curve:

You’ll never have a sales curve as linear as the example. Just keep the basic premise in mind and gradually increase sales over the promo run (a 3 – 10 day period). Why? Amazon’s algorithms aren’t favorable toward sharp spikes. Spreading things out maximizes your promo dollars and visibility. With a little fairy dust, you can even get sticky – which is when your book “sticks” at a good Amazon rank and continually sells without any outside marketing. This is rare, but when it happens, it can be quite lucrative.

In practice, this means you should schedule your promos like this:

  • Day 1: a couple tier 3 sites (smaller ones)
  • Day 2: a couple tier 3 sites, a tier 2 one
  • Day 3: a couple tier 2 sites, a Top 5 site

Important: the first time you use a promo site for a book will be the most powerful. If a site generates 50 sales on the first run, expect it to generate 20 – 30 sales on a second run on the same book. Use that first promo blast wisely, because none of the follow-up ones will match it. BookBub is exempt from this “rule”; sales hold much steadier from run to run, although there is an occasional drop off depending on genre.

Traffic sources like your newsletter, social media accounts and so forth can supplement the promo sites to help create an upward trending sales history. Just slot them in according to their firepower – if you expect 5 sales from Twitter and 15 from your mailing list, put the former on Day 1 and the latter on Day 2.

You can’t predict exactly how many sales you’ll get from any source, so just estimate. It’s okay if there’s a dip on Day 3 or 6; we want to be generally trending upward and have a consistent sales history.

For more on optimal book promotion strategies, check out the Ultimate Guide to Promotion.

© Copyright Nicholas Erik - 2018