This is a curated list of promotional sites that I personally use to sell books (in essentially every genre besides cozies, romance, YA/MG/children’s books & non-fiction). Last updated on July 9, 2017.

Note: Many sites offer “book of the day” options or special packages. Stick with the standard vanilla offerings; they’re cheaper and provide similar results, minus the money pit price-tag and often substantial booking lead time. There are exceptions, but it’s such a pain in the ass to keep hundreds of options straight that I just stick with the rule of thumb.

Unless otherwise noted, these sites can be used for free and paid books.

Top 5: Always, if Available

  • BookBub (price varies): BookBub trounces every site on this list by many orders of magnitude.
  • ENT ($35)
  • RobinReads ($30 – $70): becoming more difficult to book
  • FreeBooksy ($50 – $100): the best site for free books outside of BookBub & ENT
  • Book Barbarian ($20 – $50): for SF/Fantasy only, but great if you write in those genres.

Tier 2: For Promo Stacks

  • FKBT ($25 – $30)
  • BargainBooksy ($25 – $80): FreeBooksy’s sister site for paid books; not nearly as powerful, but still solid
  • Booksends ($25 – $50): much better for $0.99 rather than free books due to pricing of respective ads
  • ReadCheaply ($25 – $35)
  • ManyBooks ($29)
  • Book Adrenaline ($8 – $20): Book Barbarian’s sister site for thrillers/mysteries.

Tier 3: Smaller Sites

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

For Launches

Promoting a launch has different rules and goals than pushing a backlist title. Read about sites you can use for new releases with no reviews here. Need reviews? Learn how to get those here.

Author Cross Promos

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

Important Notes on This List

This list is constructed based on data and experience: I’ve spent $10k+ on promos over the past three years and lit a substantial amount of that 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 various 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 dumping money into terribly optimized Facebook Ads instead.

So yes, rest assured, I’ve almost certainly tried site X – likely multiple times – and was underwhelmed. To whit: I’ve booted at least five sites from this list in recent months for under performance.

I’ve seen authors argue that 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 might hover 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 kindly 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. Each site also has different submission requirements (reviews, which books can be promoted), which gets to be a pain to remember beyond 10 – 15 sites. Don’t forget that your time has value. If you are spending over an hour scheduling promo sites, you are usually applying to far too many.
  3. Extreme 80/20: a BookBub ad generates 5x to 10x the downloads of every other site on this page combined. 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, then use the rest of your marketing time to either write (which most prefer, anyway) or working on something with a higher payoff (your blurb, PPC etc.)

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

Important Notes on Promo in General

While it’s wonderful to see your sales graph spike after days of nary a pulse, 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. in 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 largely disregard one-off spikes. By spreading things out and gradually increasing the volume of sales, you maximize 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.

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

Note that traffic sources like your newsletter, social media accounts and other sources of traffic can replace the promo sites. 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.

Obviously you can’t predict exactly how many sales you’ll get from any source, so just use estimates. It’s okay if there’s a dip on Day 3 or 6; again, we just want to be 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 - 2017