Part 6: The Ultimate Guide to Promo Strategies

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Welcome back for Part 6 of the Ultimate Guide to Book Marketing! In this section, we’ll cover seven different promotional strategies you can use to sell more books. If you’re just stopping by and want to start from the beginning, you can find the complete series here. Each part stands alone, though, so if you’re just interested in a particular topic, feel free to jump in wherever you see fit. If you don’t know how to generate traffic yet, however, you’ll want to read Part 5: The Ultimate Guide to Traffic before diving further down the promo rabbit hole.

After you know how to get people to your book page, the next step is to structure that traffic into a cohesive strategy. You’ll find that you can use your three primary traffic sources (e.g. stuff like promo sites, PPC ads, and so forth) in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, this flexibility is a double-edged sword: it can be a frustrating exercise in trial and error determining which approaches work, and what situations to use them in. And simply flinging dollars around and hoping for the best rarely turns out well.

My aim here is to cut through the massive number of possibilities and present the methods that I’ve found most effective. To that end, this guide isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you can possibly do; much like the rest of the Ultimate Guide to Book Marketing, this section uses the 80/20 rule as its North Star. Thus, consider these strategies the essential building blocks that you can combine, tweak, adapt, and build upon to create entirely new ones.

The more creativity you bring to the marketing table, the better chance you have of forging a career. After all, it’s hard to stand out when you’re doing the same exact things as everyone else.

The seven strategies we’ll cover are:

  1. PPC Ads on Backlist
  2. The Netflix Strategy
  3. Permafree
  4. BookBub Featured Deal
  5. Kindle Countdown Deals
  6. Free Run to $0.99
  7. $0.99 KU box set launch

These are not ranked by effectiveness or quality. Instead, I’ve organized them according to applicability: we’ll begin with strategies that work for both wide and Amazon exclusive books, before moving into more retailer-specific approaches.

Before we hop into the guide, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention launching, which is the most powerful promotional strategy of all. Since launching has its own rules, however, it receives a dedicated part unto itself. Keep in mind, however, that many of these strategies are effective when used in conjunction with a new release.

Finally, it’s also important to mention that these strategies, while useful, are not an antidote for slow or nonexistent releases. You must be releasing new books at a consistent clip. While you can survive with minimal marketing in certain genres should you release at a fast pace, the opposite is not true; with no new books, your earnings are destined to slowly dwindle, even if employ an arsenal of effective promotional strategies.

Before we get into the details of said strategies, however, let’s talk about blocking out the noise. Specifically, a common refrain: that no longer works.

The Noise

There is a ton of BS out there when it comes to marketing books, none moreso than in the promo arena. Although it’s an indie truism that book marketing experiences an axis shift every six months or year, I have not found this to be the case. Many of these strategies have worked for years.

Nonetheless, “that doesn’t work any more” has been shouted for as long as I’ve been an indie author. You’ll no doubt have seen a half dozen or more authors claim that each strategy listed within this guide is no longer effective. I’ve even seen some say that releasing more books is no longer an effective strategy because there are people/content mills that can produce content weekly (or even faster).

This is lunacy. Releasing a new, high-quality book is the best tool in an author’s marketing playbook. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

The reason for the discrepancy in opinions is simple: strategies have multiple moving parts that require varied skillsets. Those expecting marketing to be a fully plug and play endeavor will be met with disappointment. And, inevitably, folks seeking immediate success are disproportionately likely to share their experiences with others.

If you listen to enough of this chatter, you’ll be frozen in a state of analysis paralysis. The key, then, is to assess the available information, filter out the noise, then take action. It takes experience (and failure) to fine-tune these strategies to your own books. You will never have a 100% hit rate. Promotions and launches will flop. As with anything, your mileage may vary depending on genre, quality of your writing, phases of the moon, and a host of other factors that can’t be anticipated. Those seeking guarantees are in the wrong business. A major reason entrepreneurs receive sizable rewards when they succeed is because they’re willing to assume risks others are not. This does not mean being rash; rather, when the probabilities are favorable, it means you make strategic bets and let the chips fall where they may.

Ultimately, you should base your business decisions upon your own data and books. Because, as the old saying goes, everything else is just noise.

Brief Refresher: The Algos

Since we’ve covered a lot of ground in the first five parts of The Ultimate Guide to Marketing, a little refresher on the algorithms is in order before continuing. Getting the algorithms working in your favor is critical for the Kindle Unlimited centric strategies outlined below. If your KU book isn’t being recommended to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited customer database, your book is often DOA. When you’re wide, having a grasp on how Amazon’s algos behave can still enhance your promo efforts, but it’s far less critical. Not all promotional strategies require activating the algorithms; there are plenty of other ways to sell books, which we’ll go over.

Three things matter more than anything else for tripping the algo wires:

  1. Sales volume & velocity (this is the main factor) (key for pop lists/bestseller charts)
  2. Sales consistency (key for pop lists/bestseller charts)
  3. The sample of people who buy your book (key for Amazon’s automated emails, also-boughts and on-site merchandising

The algo also factors in:

  • Newness: promotes new content more readily than old backlist
  • Sales history: if a book has a consistent history of poor sales, it’s harder to revive it than one that has a steady history of solid sales. Don’t worry; if your book is in the cellar, you can market it. Just understand that a book with steady sales is going to be easier to revive/boost up than one camping in the telephone number ranks.

Note that the most important factor here is sales volume & velocity, which means that you need to hit critical mass. If you nudge an elephant with a stick, it might not even wake up. But blow an airhorn in its ear and you have a stampede.

Same thing with Amazon’s algorithms: if you don’t push enough sales during your promotion, you won’t get the visibility necessary for Amazon’s algorithms to sit up and take notice. The elephant will remain asleep, and you will have wasted your time and money. A big part of hitting critical mass is stacking: combining multiple different traffic sources (promo sites, newsletter, various ad platforms) on the same day to push as many sales as possible.

As a basic illustration of critical mass, if you have the option between two $500 promos and one $900 promo, the latter gives you a better shot at triggering the algorithms. There is a point, of course, where it makes more sense to split the money between multiple promos. Why? Because it’s easier to spend $5,000 apiece on two series than it is to efficiently spend $10,000 on a single title or series. In the latter scenario, you’ll be contending with rising ad costs and diminishing returns. Such higher dollar campaigns thus require more skill (with Facebook, BookBub, and Amazon Ads in particular) to run properly.

With budgets of up to $5,000, you want to focus on a single series. At dollar amounts above $5,000, assess your own skillset and genre – if you can efficiently spend that additional money on a single series, go for it. Otherwise, consider putting additional funds beyond $5,000 toward a different series.

This is merely a general guideline, as are the budget recommendations that accompany each strategy. You’ll get a feel for the lower and upper limits of what you should spend as you promote.

Page Reads: A Brief Primer

The promotional strategies in Kindle Unlimited are primarily centered around generating page reads. This is where the real money is in Kindle Unlimited for many authors, particularly in genres like romance, where page reads can account for 70%+ or more of an author’s income. This, combined with the fact that each borrow counts the same as a sale in Amazon’s ranking algorithm, can lead to explosive results from promotional efforts.

Given that Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon product, it’s unsurprising that the majority of reads are driven by Amazon’s own algorithms and ecosystem. Mechanisms like promo sites and pay-per-click ads don’t often generate tons of page reads directly; instead, you’ll use these tools to push your book high enough for Amazon to recommend it to its expansive KU audience.

There are four primary ways to generate page reads:

  1. Releasing a new book in an existing series.
  2. Releasing a highly successful new book in a new series in the same genre as the rest of your backlist.
  3. Discounting your backlist – e.g. a KCD on Books 1/2/3 in a series, a box set at 99c etc. – so that you can get the ranks up (and hence visibility) enough to get Amazon recommending the books to KU readers
  4. Amazon Ads

Methods 1, 2 & 3 are all based around generating Amazon visibility, which in turn produces page reads. This makes them somewhat indirect methods of producing page reads. New releases provide visibility, which in turn triggers Amazon’s recommendations to people who have borrowed/bought the series in the past. If your new release is popular enough, you’ll also be recommended to new readers.

If your backlist is all in the same sub-genre (e.g. you write urban fantasy exclusively), then a single hit will result in significant spillover to your past books. This is for two reasons: Amazon will start recommending these titles to people who enjoyed your breakout hit (since they’re in the same sub-genre). And people who enjoyed your recent book will naturally go and look for similar stuff you’ve written in the past. If they’re Kindle Unlimited readers, then it stands to reason they’ll borrow these books as well.

Without the benefit of a new release providing significant visibility, however, you must get that backlist visible enough for Amazon’s algorithms to take notice. Advertising a full price book directly can work, but it’s often difficult and expensive. You’ll find that each book typically has an equilibrium point where it likes to stabilize at full price. Breaking beyond that can incinerate money at an alarming rate.

Thus, instead of storming the gates directly, you can break through that ceiling by discounting the book and heavily promoting during a brief window. With a concerted ad spend, it’s possible to get a backlist title into the Top 1000 or Top 500 – which will trigger Amazon’s recommendations and a page read tail. You can then work in concert with Amazon’s algos, lengthening the tail by advertising the book when it goes back to full price. You’ll often find it’s more receptive to ads, and settles in at a far higher equilibrium point than it did previously.

It’s critical to note that there’s a delay in page reads. The reason for this is two-fold: one, people have to read the book and have their reading device sync with the cloud. This takes time. Two, the recommendation system driving reads are delayed. Thus, you should expect your peak reads to occur somewhere between four days to two weeks following your promo.

Amazon Ads (Method #4) are not based around generating visibility. They’re the main direct method of producing page reads, in that you can turn on ads, and see your page read graph go up if the ads are converting. Facebook Ads, depending on genre, can do this as well, but they’re much more hit or miss. You can (and should, if you have a lot of titles in Kindle Unlimited) advertise on Amazon Ads at daily amounts ranging from modest to huge and directly generate page reads for your efforts.

But what if you’re wide and don’t have any page reads to worry about? Don’t worry. I have you covered with some general tactics.

Wide: General Tactics

The number one thing you need to keep in mind when promoting wide books: it’s a slow burn. You’ll read stories of people hitting it out of the park with their first KU book or series (although to be clear, such situations are still rare). Barring a lightning strike, that’s just not gonna happen when you’re wide. As such, chasing rank (or focusing on it at all) is a waste of time. Your ranks will be terrible because you’re not getting borrows. Resist the temptation to run promos/PPC with the sole intent to boost the rank. Plenty of wide authors, despite their ranks, are making far more than high-ranking Kindle Unlimited authors, because they’re consistently selling books at full price.

Remember that, when you’re wide, you have very little algorithmic assistance. Amazon heavily favors Kindle Unlimited titles, and the other retailers’ recommendations are largely based around editorial curation and merchandising, rather than data. That means you have to bring the traffic when you’re wide. And you’ll have to wring every last ounce of that out of the various options at your disposal.

To start, make sure you have links to all retailers on your website. Fairly obvious, but many wide authors only link to Amazon. By the way, if you don’t have an author website, you need one when you’re wide.

The same principle applies to your autoresponder and broadcast emails: include buy links to all retailers. If you sell well in specific regional stores, include direct links to those as well.

If you plan on making wide a central part of your publishing strategy, go direct to each retailer, when possible, to take advantage of site-specific promo opportunities. For example, most of the merchandising if you’re not direct, email D2D to inquire about merchandising opportunities; their might be nothing available, but there are often First in Free or Exclusive Pre-Order opportunities available.  These tend to be pretty effective, and all it costs you is an occasional email.

In your back matter, use a direct link to your website to push the next book in the series instead of a universal link a la Books2Read. I use a page on my website where I display the entire series + all the retailer links (example: dnerikson.com/ruby). Getting readers to my site allows them to explore my backlist and also subscribe to my newsletter. In theory, uploading retailer-specific editions with a link straight to that retailer will probably produce higher sellthrough versus sending them to a landing page. But that’s a pain in the ass.

A few assorted notes:
  • WIDE: other retailers have a stronger foothold in international markets, so make sure your prices are properly set (i.e. not auto-converted) for regions like Canada and Australia
  • WIDE: readers tend to be less price sensitive, especially in non-US countries
  • KOBO and APPLE: you can price higher than $9.99 and still get 70% royalties. This allows you to sell “Complete Series” sets exclusive to these two platforms for higher prices while still offering readers a compelling discount.
    • KOBO: The Kobo Writing Life team is receptive to providing merchandising placements for these Complete Series sets, so reach out to them for consideration.
  • KOBO: has promotions that you can apply for when you’re direct
  • KOBO: when using pay-per-click ads, you can strip out the country codes from URLs to auto-redirect readers to the correct regional store.

None of this stuff is going to make you rich. But remember our goal: brick-by-brick. Each of these is a tiny cobblestone. But over time, with each promotion, they compound into something much, much bigger.

Fundamental Groundwork

To maximize the effectiveness of the strategies below, we need to lay some groundwork.

The first order of business is establishing the real goal of promotion. Reasons such as “promoting because someone told me it’s necessary” or “running ads just to run ads” are common, but not valid. There are real dollars at stake here, and while it’s not the end of the world when a promotion bombs, you want to stack the deck in your favor. That requires keeping a keen eye on your advertising dollars and using them judiciously.

Turning a profit is part of the goal, but it’s not the complete picture. Many people making good money five years ago are no longer in business. Why? Because they didn’t consider how each new book and promotion built their career.

So that’s the number one goal of promoting: laying another brick (or five, or ten) in your author career. You don’t build a house in one day, and you don’t build a thirty year career with a single massive launch. Instead, each new book and promotion compounds slowly until you hit an inflection point.

People will call this overnight success, or say that this was their “breakout” book. But this is really just the cumulative effect of making sure each promotion and launch are focused on moving you forward. Even if it’s only an inch.

This mindset helps us avoid short-term home run thinking. Don’t get me wrong; money today is great. More money today is even better. But often, chasing dollars too early just results in poor decisions and wasted effort. Because marketing and writing are complex skills that demand experience to master.

That’s why I recommend focusing on (and hopefully mastering) three traffic sources.  Being amazing at Facebook Ads is far more useful than being mediocre at two dozen different things. At first, when you don’t know what will work, you’ll go much wider than three, then cull things to the absolute essentials. This is an approach I call shotgun and narrow. Take the time to figure out what works for your books and your genre, then work hard to hone those marketing skills to a fine point over the ensuing months and years. You needn’t do this before embarking on your first promo; indeed, you build your marketing chops through the fires of launching and promoting. There will be successes and failures. But through them, you will learn.

How do you analyze what works? You track your numbers. At the very least you want to do this weekly, monthly, and annually, but for certain scenarios outlined below where you’re spending quite a bit of money (particularly on PPC ads) you’ll want to track things daily.

With your traffic sources and tracking systems in place, you’ll need to set a promotion budget. Promotions can be stressful, and authors often retreat at the first sign of trouble. Knowing your numbers is one half of avoiding making emotional decisions in the heat of the moment; the other half is setting a budget beforehand. Make sure this is money that you can afford to lose. Your goal, naturally, is to turn a profit, but even the best laid marketing plans can be scuttled by any number of factors. Knowing you won’t be out on the street if your promo is a flop removes a tremendous amount of stress off your shoulders and frees your mental resources to focus on executing your strategy.

You can set a budget for each specific launch or promotion, or on a monthly basis. I do a combination: if I have a promotion or launch scheduled for the month, I’ll earmark a set budget for it. In a non-promo or launch month, I’ll set aside a specific amount to use for backlist marketing, then divide that daily. If my monthly budget is $1,500, for example, then I know I can spend $50/day on ads. This, too, relieves stress: I don’t have to wonder if I’m spending beyond what I can afford. As long as I’m adhering to my monthly budget, I’m golden.

As for how often to promote, I have a simple rule of thumb: launch a new book or run a big promotion on a backlist series every month. If you have six series and release six books a year, you can advertise something new every month, rotating through. By consistently having a promotional iron in the fire, you ensure that your royalties don’t precipitously drop from month-to-month. It also helps keep your ads and audiences fresh; continually running the same ads to the same series each month can result in ad fatigue.

If your backlist, budget, or time constraints don’t allow this level of marketing (or you just hate it), aim for a launch or a big promo every other month. Your royalty drops will be steeper, but this should still be often enough to keep your earnings steady and books visible.

Note that if you’re good at using PPC ads, you can run ads continually to sell books and keep your earnings relatively steady, as an alternative to frequent large launches or promotions. While this sounds easier, it’s generally a harder path to sled, however.

By the way, that word series? It’s critical. The larger your backlist, the more fruitful your promotional efforts will generally be. A sizable backlist ensures that each new reader who buys one of your books has a lot of additional products they can potentially purchase. If you have thirty books to sell a reader, and they read ten of them, you can spend way more on advertising than someone who needs to make their money back on a single book. This tenet is hardly exclusive to book marketing; in business, if you can pay more to acquire a customer, you generally win. That’s just reality. Many authors struggle because they’re trying to push their obscure translation of short stories or a standalone with no follow-up. You want to make it easier to win, instead of rigging the game against yourself.

Naturally, our objective isn’t to brute force this by outspending everyone. You want to make sure you’re leveraging each ad dollar to its maximum potential. But it’s always nice to have a war chest to fall back on when all else fails.

To reiterate:

  1. Each promotion (or launch) is a building block in your career
  2. Master your three traffic sources
  3. Track your numbers
  4. Set a promotion budget
  5. Launch a new book or run a big promotion on a backlist series every month (or every other month)
  6. Series are critical for turning a profit and allow you to spend more acquiring each reader
  7. Use your war chest and resources to your advantage, but also leverage clever/low-competition ways to maximize your ad dollars.

Finally, make sure your books and website are optimized for sellthrough and subscribers, which directly relates to item #1: always be building your platform. For more on that, check out the video below.

Flight Check (Optimization)

I Have No Money – What Do I Do?

Things will be more difficult. There’s no reason to sugar coat it.

But you’re also not screwed. If you’re willing to grind, you can build up your business one step at a time. It’s just going to take longer, because advertising is like having a book of matches: if you have the right pieces in place, you can quickly get a fire burning. You can make a bow drill from sticks you found in the surrounding woodlands, but it’s a hell of a lot more time consuming.

First, you’ll want to make sure you have a professional cover/formatting and a proofread book. People will try to skimp here, but these are mandatory in 2019. If you don’t put out a professional-level product, your book will be buried among the millions of other titles available. You can barter for these services or find low cost providers. There are cover designers who do solid custom work for around $100 and folks who will format your book in Vellum for $15 – $30 (you can also format your book for free in Word).

  1. Write in the hottest Kindle Unlimited genre that fits your writing style and release a full-length novel every month.
  2. Watch the optimization video above so your back/front matter and website are set up to boost sellthrough and newsletter subscribers.
  3. Build your newsletter via cross promotions, as covered in Part 8.
  4. Use some of the low cost or free traffic sources outlined in Part 5 to generate inexpensive visibility for your books.
  5. Rinse and repeat. Build up your subscriber base and war chest over the next 12 – 24 months, reinvesting some of your royalties into paid advertising.

To answer the inevitable follow-up question: what if I can’t write a book a month?

Answer: write one every two months.

If you can’t do that, then your third option is to have transcendent craft chops.

In any business, you need a competitive advantage. Remember our indie trifecta of success: productivity, craft, and marketing. If you publish slowly, write mediocre books, and have no money, it’s unrealistic to expect to succeed. There is a lot of competition. No one is owed success. It’s best to be at least decent in all three areas, but if one is average or below average, the other two must be that much stronger to pick up the slack.

So if you can’t throw some dollars at marketing, you need to release faster or your books need to be really good.

1: PPC on Backlist

  • BUDGET: $200+ a month
  • KU or WIDE: Both
  • TIMEFRAME: indefinite.
  • THE STRATEGY: run ads on Facebook, BookBub, or Amazon to first-in-series books (or box sets) that have strong sellthrough to a long series.
  • THE GOAL: sell your books profitably via pay-per-click ads.
  • ALTERNATIVE GOAL: maintaining rank after a big promotion.
  • OTHER
    • Works best with a long series (e.g. 5+ books), as you’ll often lose money or breakeven on the sale of the first book/box.

This is the hardest strategy on the list. It’s also what most authors gravitate toward, because PPC is often presented as a career changing magic bullet. It sounds easier than writing new words: just throw a few ads up on Facebook and watch the dollars roll in.

It isn’t. Competition is fierce on all of these platforms, and learning how to use the ads requires a significant investment of time and money.

That being said, if you can hone your chops, the buzz is true: ads can change the trajectory of your career. But you have to build your chops first. And most authors give up long before they see rewards. That’s not surprising; most of the available information is incorrect or poorly explained. The main reason, however, for failure is one of strategy: authors almost inevitably gravitate toward advertising their worst performing series.

I understand the urge. It also makes no sense: series that performed poorly upon release or when marketed on other platforms will likely produce poor results when advertised via PPC. Nonetheless, authors persist in pushing boulders up hill, forever doomed in a Sisphyean loop until they inevitably throw in the towel in frustration.

Thus, you want to focus on running PPC ads to your most profitable series. The ones that performed best upon release. Your best earners, preferably with multiple titles to sell books to. These are the easiest candidates to run profitable ads to. Ads are usually directed toward the 1st book in the series (usually either free or priced at $0.99 or $2.99) or a box set of the first three books, unless you’re pushing a new book or using them for one of the strategies outlined below.

Depending on your genre (size and click costs) and the series length, you can potentially scale to higher spends. There’s no limit here, other than when the ads become unprofitable (or your cash reserves are exhausted).

It’s important to reiterate that advertising your backlist via PPC is very difficult, and most series will not be profitable. Don’t push if the results aren’t there. You can lose a ton of money.

Since PPC is best explained via video, I’ve put together a 2+ hour free PPC Crash Course diving into the fundamentals of Facebook, BookBub, and Amazon. If you’re struggling with ads, it walks you through the core of what you need to know, step-by-step.

2: The Netflix Strategy

  • BUDGET: $0
  • KU or WIDE: Both
  • TIMEFRAME: indefinite.
  • THE STRATEGY: set up an autoresponder that sends out an email every Friday (or other day of the week) introducing a new backlist series to your readers.
  • THE GOAL: introduce people already interested in your work to more of your books.

Services like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO have vast content libraries that can be overwhelming to navigate. To keep you engaged (and subscribed), these companies periodically highlight shows or movies that you might enjoy via curated emails. This happens more frequently than you might expect. Don’t believe me? Do a quick search for their name in your inbox. You’ll be shocked at the number of emails you receive.

Netflix sends me an email like this about new or backlist content every few days:

We can adapt this same idea to our own backlist by sending subscribers an automated email every week introducing a new series to them. All you have to do is schedule an autoresponder email every Friday (or a different day of the week) with a subject line like “looking for your next weekend read?” Want to do Wednesday instead? Try something like “Work sucks. This book doesn’t.” Obviously, you want to be on-brand: that irreverent tone might work for urban fantasy, but it’s not going to fly for sweet romance. Calibrate things to your readers.

Have an email every week this until you run out of series.

Don’t lump all the series in a single email. This can be tempting, but it’s overwhelming and counterproductive. Introduce one series at a time.

This strategy is an excellent, passive way to sell books without active promotion.  Never assume your fans are familiar with all of your books – this won’t be the case, especially if you’re prolific.

You may be worried this will irritate your subscribers. The reason I had you do that quick inbox search was simple: you don’t even realize how many of these emails you’re getting. Why? Because they’re relevant. Even when you don’t watch the content, Netflix’s recommendations are solid. That’s because they have a massive amount of data on your viewing habits.

Luckily, we don’t need a multi-million dollar analytics department to determine what our readers like. Because they’ve already told us they like our books by signing up. Thus, our other books will be relevant and interesting to them. They might not buy them right away. They may never buy certain titles. But they also won’t be annoyed to learn more about them. That’s why they signed up in the first place: to find more books like the one that encouraged them to subscribe.

You’re doing them a favor by introducing them to new books they might like.

I ignore most of these emails, but occasionally something catches my eye. The series Another Life featured in the email above? It stars the same actress who played Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (which I watched on Netflix). Battlestar Galactica was great, and she was the heartbeat of the series. So you better believe I’m going to watch that series at some point.

A related method of promoting backlist titles is to mention a specific book in your broadcast emails in a PS. This will often drive a surprising number of clicks, especially if the book is discounted or free.

3: Permafree

  • BUDGET: $0+
  • KU or WIDE: Wide
  • TIMEFRAME: indefinite.
  • THE STRATEGY: indefinitely make your first-in-series book (or box set) wide.
  • THE GOAL: enjoy a trickle of free organic traffic to your Book 1, which, if people enjoy, will in turn produce sales of the latter books.
  • OTHER
    • Need at least 3+ books in the series for this to be viable.
    • Can mix a permafree Book 1 + the rest of the series in Kindle Unlimited, but this isn’t recommended because of the way Amazon’s algorithms are designed (permafree books don’t show up in the also boughts).

Permafree (a portmonteau of “permanently” and “free”) is an old standby. For those concerned about the “permanent” part, it’s more indefinitely free; you can raise your price back to whatever level you choose at any time. The strategy is simple: set your book to free on non-Amazon retailers, then get Amazon to price match it (since they don’t let you directly set the price to indefinitely free from their dashboard). Amazon rarely does this automatically, so it’s best to directly email KDP Support with the relevant retailer links and request that they price match the book in question on all Amazon Stores. Occasionally they’ll reject your request or won’t put it through properly; if this happens, just contact support again. A different rep will make the change.

While permafree isn’t as powerful as was at its 2013/2014 peak (at least in terms of being a “set and forget” strategy), rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. Hooking customers with a free sample is a tried and true marketing method across almost every industry, and books are hardly exempt. If you have a quality product that readers actually enjoy, a certain percentage will pick up later volumes at full price.

Three misconceptions make people shy away from permafree:

  1. They expect much higher sellthrough from the free title to paid ones. While higher rates are occasionally reported, 2 – 5% sellthrough to Book 2 is typical.
  2. They expect it to be completely passive. The change to Amazon’s also boughts mentioned above, plus more competition means that you must bring visibility to your permafree book. It also means that the free product must be of higher quality than in previous years, since readers have significantly more choice (e.g. Kindle Unlimited subscribers essentially have a “permafree” library of 500,000+ titles available to them at any time).
  3. They don’t have a series behind their permafree book. Making your only book permafree is fairly pointless. You must have a series/backlist for people to pick up after they read your free book.

To maximize the effectiveness of your permafree book, you need to get your book in as many hands as possible. If you have 1,000 copies of Book 1 out there, you might expect to sell 20 – 50 copies of Book 2. If you only have 100, that number drops to 2 – 5.

In addition to having your permafree book available on all retailers, you’ll want to put it up on Story Origin, Prolific Works, and BookFunnel too. Depending on the platform, you’ll generate some additional passive downloads. But you can also enter cross promotions with your permafree to extend its reach and get it out to more readers (while generating email subscribers, to boot).

Adding a PS to standard newsletter broadcast emails with a link to the permafree can result in ~50 – 100 downloads each time I sent it out to my 16k+ list. A permafree book also makes for an effective addition to the weekly autoresponder strategy outlined above.

You can also advertise your permafree book. While huge blitz campaigns are generally not recommended, you can run occasional newsletter promos or even PPC ads to your permafree book. While paying to advertise a free book might seem counterpoint, with strong sellthrough and a lengthy series, this can actually be extremely profitable.

With a long series, you can get more aggressive with this strategy. Instead of making a single book free, you can make a box set of the first three books permafree.

An alternative to permafree is a “perma” $0.99, where you keep Book 1 (or a box set) at $0.99 indefinitely as a loss leader. It’s worth experimenting with your backlist, but generally speaking, the greater volume of downloads generated by virtue of the book being free will make it more profitable than the nominal royalties you receive at $0.99.

How to Make Your Book Permafree

The process for making your book permafree is simple. Some resources will suggest that you click the little “report lower price” link on your book’s page. This is ineffective. Instead:

  1. Publish your book on all retailers: Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo & Google Play. iBooks and Google Play are the most important for getting Amazon to do the free price match. Make sure the price is $0.00 everywhere.
  2. Email Amazon. Go to your KDP Account, click “Help” at the top right, and then scroll down to the yellow “Contact Us” button located at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  3. Use this template:

“Hi, my book [title] (ASIN: XXXXX) is currently available for free on [other retailers]. I am emailing to notify you of the lower price and request a price match.

Retailer link 1:

Retailer link 2:

Thanks for your assistance!

[Name]

If they give you boilerplate nonsense about not price-matching, just try again a few days later. And that’s it: soon enough your book will be indefinitely free, until you decide otherwise.

4: BookBub Featured Deal

  • BUDGET: $200+
  • KU or WIDE: Both, although it’s much easier to get a Featured Deal on a wide title.
  • TIMEFRAME: indefinite.
  • THE STRATEGY: submit regularly to BookBub and hope they accept your book or box set.
  • THE GOAL: get the most powerful book marketing service on the planet to advertise your book to millions of voracious readers and then sit back to collect your money.

BookBub Featured Deals have long been the Holy Grail of indie book marketing. While their career-making power has always been a bit overblown, they’re the most effective marketing tool, dollar-for-dollar, in our arsenal. Naturally, authors are more apt to share mind-blowing results rather than run-of-the-mill ones, which is why, perhaps, there have been recent rumblings about BookBub declining in effectiveness. Unrealistic expectations, rather than a sudden shift in their efficacy, are the likely culprit behind these rumors. It can seem that BookBub has become a shadow of its former self when the majority of stories you hear are about 5-figure returns, and yours quadruples its investment for “only” a 4-figure haul. The latter scenario, however, has always been far more common.

As a side note, tales of truly massive windfalls are far rarer these days, so there is some truth that the ceiling of a BookBub Featured Deal has been lowered. The reason for this, I believe, is that Amazon has refined and tweaked their algorithms to mitigate the impact of BookBub on the bestseller charts. That greatly reduces the chances of a book sticking indefinitely at a high ranking watermark following a Featured Deal. But 99% of authors never experienced this perpetual stickiness anyway (I haven’t in the 30+ deals I’ve gotten). Thus, for all intents and purposes, BookBub functions the same as it always did for most.

To get back to the main thread: BookBub Featured Deals are worth taking whenever you can get them, which won’t be often. But they’re lucrative when you do, often earning out their cost on the same day of the ad. The only downside, as anyone who has ever tried to get one of these deals knows, is their elusiveness: BookBub rejects the vast majority of applicants. Their website claims less than 20% of books are accepted, but I’d imagine the actual number (based on my own acceptance stats) is below 10%, perhaps nudging toward 5%.

But I’m not here to tell you what you already know: BookBubs are awesome and hard to get. Having bagged over thirty of these across a variety of genres, allow me to share five tried and true tricks for increasing your chances of getting a BookBub Featured Deal:

  1. Perseverance. Oh, you thought this was going to be clever? The number one reason most people never get a BookBub is because they stop submitting. Seriously. You want to know the main reason I’ve gotten 30+ BookBubs? I’ve submitted over 230 times. Here’s the trick: when you get rejected, you mark the calendar, then you submit on the first date you’re eligible. And again. And again. Most people stop submitting after a single try; perhaps two. It takes less than 30 seconds to submit a book. Just keep doing it.
  2. Submit for free immediately after you get rejected at 99 cents. You can do this the moment after you’re rejected; you don’t have to wait 28 days to resubmit. While you may be hesitant to offer your prized work up for free, it’s worth noting that the free BookBubs are cheaper than their 99 cent counterparts – and often more powerful, to boot.
  3. Subscribe to the email: make sure you’re subscribed to the genres of choice. Look for trends: do they only accept wide books? Box sets? Only trad pubs. This will clue you into how your approach might need to change to maximize your shot at a deal.
  4. Go wide. They’re more likely to accept wide books.
  5. Submit a box set at 99 cents. BookBub loves box sets because their readers love deals. A set of three quality books for $0.99 is the epitome of a tremendous deal. If you’re having trouble getting them to run your single novels – a tall order in certain genres – consider boxing up at least the first three titles and submitting it.

Finally, if you’re offered an International Deal, you may have heard mixed reports on their efficacy and thus be reticent to accept. The rumors are somewhat true: the international deals are far less powerful than their US-brethren. Nonetheless, in my endeavors, I’ve always broken even; and with a series for readers to snap up after the advertised books, these usually end up being solidly profitable. And it’s worth noting that BookBub’s editors seem to use the International Deals as a sort of proving ground: should your book perform admirably here, your chances of receiving a US deal are enhanced.

Like all things in publishing, of course, a BookBub Featured Deal is not guaranteed to make money. But in a business filled with uncertainty, it’s about as close to a sure thing as you’ll find.

5: Kindle Countdown Deal

  • BUDGET: $1000+
  • KU or WIDE: KU
  • TIMEFRAME: 5 – 7 days (full 7 if only doing KCDs, 5 if they coincide with a free run). Absolute minimum of 4 days.
  • THE STRATEGY: use a combo of PPC, promo sites, and your platform (newsletter/social media/promo swaps) to push the first three books (or more) in a series via Kindle Countdown Deal.
  • THE GOAL: get Book 1 into the Top 2k – 3k (preferably Top 1k) and generate a page read tail that peaks 4 days – 2 weeks after the promo.
  • OTHER
    • The more books in the series, the better, since this offers substantial opportunity for profit if people go on to pick up later volumes at full price (or read them in KU).
    • It significantly helps if the advertised series is in a popular Kindle Unlimited sub-genre, since a lot of your revenue will come from the page read tail generated by the promotion.

For the uninitiated, Kindle Countdown Deals (henceforth referred to as KCDs) are one of the benefits of Amazon exclusivity. At first glance, KCDs seem like a throw-in perk, paling in utility to free runs or getting page reads. But they have two major benefits:

  1. When you discount a book to $0.99 (or $1.99) via KCD, you get a 70% royalty rate instead of 35%.
  2. There’s a timer ticking down on the page, which introduces urgency and also establishes that the discount in question is actually limited. This improves conversion.

The upside of these two factors is not immediately obvious, however. You might have run one or two, been relatively uninspired by the results, then promptly forgotten about their existence. That was certainly my approach until I discovered the foundations of this strategy in David Gaughran’s book Amazon Decoded. Following that revelation, I’ve spent the better part of a year-and-a-half fine-tuning and testing various permutations. It can be used in conjunction with a variety of the other strategies outlined on this page: by itself, with a BookBub Featured Deal, or as part of a launch.

The reason for their efficacy is simple when you dig beneath the surface: the 70% royalty rate makes a massive difference in profitability. It’s often enough to turn a mediocre promo into a good one, and can transform a well-designed promo into a smash hit, as you net 70% on your promotional sales and set your series up for a huge boost in page reads after the promo ends. Coupled with the increased conversion thanks to the ticking timer, you can blast your Book 1 into the Top 1,000 or higher.

You can even run a KCD on a just launched book. Set a pre-order for at least 30 days and tick the enroll in Kindle Unlimited box. You’ll then be able to run a KCD on the new book when it comes out. Give it at least a three day buffer (e.g. if your book comes out the 15th, don’t schedule promos until the 18th), since you can’t actually schedule the KCD until your book is live.

We’ll be aiming to get Book 1 into the Top 1k with the steps outlined below. This strategy is all about hitting critical mass – pushing the books as high as possible in the store – and has three components:

  1. Choosing a price structure.
  2. Structuring your traffic sources to maximize your rank on the last day of the KCD, and directing these sources to the series page.
  3. Maintaining the tail by running PPC ads after the promo ads to “pin” Book 1’s rank between 5k – 10k in the store.

A final, but important administrative note: whenever you change your price, you’re locked out of using a KCD on that book for 30 days. So if you’re planning a promotion, keep your prices static.

Here are four price structures you can use (feel free to come up with your own variants; these are starting points).

The standard:

  1. Books 1, 2 & 3 $0.99/ea, rest of series full price
  2. Book 1 free, Books 2 & 3 $0.99/ea

This is tried and true, and works in a variety of applications: from launching to promoting backlist. Getting the first three books high in the store gives the series solid visibility on the charts, while also letting you bank sellthrough to later full price volumes.

Staggered:

  1. Book 1 free or $0.99, Book 2 $1.99, Book 3 $2.99, rest full price

This is a little more conservative; you won’t sell as many copies of Books 2 and 3, which limits their respective visibility. Many authors gravitate toward this, but in my experience, this is the worst price structure. The goal of the KCD is to push enough books to get massive visibility. Anything that cuts down on that visibility is a huge negative and dramatically impacts the page read tail.

Aggressive:

  1. First book free, rest of series $0.99/ea
  2. All books $0.99/ea

Aggressive discounting on the entire series make more sense if you have a completed series that’s been languishing in the ranks. The instant sellthrough gives the entire series a shot in the arm as people purchase all the books at one time, thus massively boosting the series’ visibility in the store. This limits your opportunity for sellthrough, of course (unless you have a spin-off series), but it has the highest upside (in terms of a page read tail) if Amazon starts pushing the entire series to Kindle Unlimited readers after the KCD concludes. Plus, with a fairly long series (5, 7, 9 books), that ~$0.70 you get from each sale adds up to good money.

If you don’t get the latter books high enough, however, the page read tail won’t make up for the lost sellthrough that you would’ve generated at full price. So while this option is better than the staggered, I usually go with the standard 1/2/3 approach.

After you’ve chosen your price structure, you heavily advertise the deal via the following avenues:

  1. Promo sites on Book 1. Generally speaking, these will produce a lower cost per sale than PPC ads, unless you’re extremely skilled at running ads. Use my curated list of promo sites.
  2. Your newsletter/social media. Set up some cross promotions and newsletter swaps with authors in your genre if you’re feeling ambitious. Be sure to direct your readers to the series page.
  3. If you have a larger marketing budget and have booked all the effective promo sites, use Facebook/Bookbub PPC ads. BookBub Ads are the most useful, by far, since their conversion is the highest of the three platforms when pushing heavily discounted books. Amazon Ads are less useful because the ads don’t kick in or show impressions reliably, and conversion doesn’t dramatically increase when you discount a book to $0.99. Direct readers to the series page.

Sending readers to the Amazon series page instead of a specific book’s page has two primary benefits:

  1. Readers can buy the entire series with 1-click at a discounted price on the series page instead of clicking through to the individual pages. They are especially likely to 1-click the series if all the books are $0.99, since the insane deal falls into impulse buy territory.
  2. There are currently a limited number of ads on the series pages – far less than the rest of the Amazon site, so your conversion is better sending readers to these pages versus a book page that’s overwhelmed by ads.

You do sacrifice the Countdown Timer (which only appears on individual book pages), but these benefits are worth it.

When structuring these promotions, you’re trying to trigger Amazon’s algorithms, meaning you need to consider the following:

  1. If my budget is smaller, I run the KCD for 5 days, and use a free run on Book 1. Visibility is cheaper to generate for free books, and it’s easier sales for 5 days versus the maximum 7 days you can run a KCD for. With larger budgets, however, I’ll use the full 7 days to my advantage.
  2. Heavily backload the promo sites and ad spend for the last two days. I generally use the first few days to test ads. Then I’ll spend 50% – 75% of my budget on the final two days, making sure I end the final day with a bang. My goal is to end the promo at peak rank. Backloading everything also increases conversion: when people see the promo is ending soon, – Amazon’s algorithms respond best to a sales curve that trends upward over the promo

One absolutely vital point to reiterate: there’s a lag when it comes to the page reads kicking in. Peak reads won’t arrive until anywhere from 4 – 14 days following the promo. If your reads are anemic during the actual promotional period or the day after, fear not: provided you got the books’ ranks high enough, the page reads should hopefully be forthcoming. That being said, poking Amazon’s algos is an inexact art at best, so never risk money you can’t afford to lose (and never charge massive promotions, or anything else in this business, to a credit card to pay off later).

This waiting period can be stressful, particularly when you’re spending money at a loss to promote the book. But knowing what to expect can help you prevent making decisions that can chop your promo off at the knees.

Finally, you can increase the tail and prolong the effects of the promo for weeks or even months by running PPC ads to the book in question.

By working in conjunction with Amazon’s algorithms, you can often keep Book 1 in the top 10k at full price with about $50/day in ad spend. Thus you want to keep some money in reserve to taper off when it goes to full price. This is a critical part of the strategy and cannot be overlooked. If you spend a huge amount of money during the KCD then promptly drop your ad spend zero, your book often plummets into oblivion. You greatly increase your chances of generating a solid tail if you leave some money in reserve to advertise things after.

Putting It Together (an example):

This is for a hypothetical 7 day KCD with the first three books at $0.99/ea and a budget of $1500.

  • Day 1: newsletter/social media, Facebook or BookBub testing ($25)
  • Day 2: Facebook or BookBub testing ($50)
  • Day 3: Facebook or BookBub testing ($75)
  • Day 4: Facebook or BookBub testing ($100)
  • Day 5: start scaling Facebook and/or BookBub ($150+)
  • Day 6: promo sites ($100+), Facebook ($100+), BookBub ($200+)
  • Day 7: promo sites ($200+), Facebook ($150+), BookBub ($300)+, thank you newsletter
  • Day 8 and beyond: run FB ads to Book 1 at $50 a day (can be more or less, but $50 is generally the equilibrium point).
    • Monitor the book’s rank and sales to make sure that these ads are converting. You should hopefully see Book 1 settle in somewhere in the top 1k over the week following the promo. You want to continue the ad spend if things are working, but be prepared to cut down if performance isn’t where you want it.

Note that if you aren’t good at BookBub ads, you don’t want to run this level of budget to them. Bad BookBub ads will torch money at alarming degrees. However, if you have good ads, I’ve found that few things produce higher conversion on deals like this. Facebook can be a substitute if you find that BookBub doesn’t work for you.

Additionally, if you’ve promoted a book multiple times via the main promo sites, then you’ll probably experience significantly diminishing returns. In that case, it might make sense to go light on the promo spend (e.g. only the very best sites) and use that money toward PPC.

Don’t sleep on Kindle Countdown Deals; they’re one of the most flexible and useful strategies available to Amazon exclusive authors. I’ve used them to effectively promote both launches and backlist. If you’ve never run one and have the budget to support one (remember, we’re aiming to get Book 1 into the Top 1k), consider testing one out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

6: Free Book to $0.99

  • BUDGET: $500+
  • KU or WIDE: KU
  • TIMEFRAME: 5 days.
  • THE STRATEGY: set the price of Book 1 to $0.99. Then run a KDP free promo on Book 1 for 5 days.
  • THE GOAL: When Book 1 comes off the free run, it’s easier to sustain the visibility generated by the free run since it’s an impulse buy at $0.99.
  • OTHER
    • The more books in the series, the better, since this offers substantial opportunity for profit if people go on to pick up later volumes at full price (or read them in KU).
    • It significantly helps if the advertised series is in sub-genre popular with Kindle Unlimited readers, since a lot of your revenue will come from page reads after the promotion.

This is an alternative to a more involved blitz like the Kindle Countdown Deal strategy we just covered. It’s both cheaper and easier to run.

It involves three steps:

  1. Set Book 1’s price to $0.99.
  2. Run a KDP Free promotion on Book 1 for the full five days. Stack promo sites to get the book into the Top 100 Free, structuring them so the bulk of your firepower is on the last two days.
  3. Run low budget PPC ads to Book 1 when it returns to paid. Or simply let the tail run its course.

Basic structure:

  • Day 1: promo site/newsletter/cross promo
  • Day 2: 1 – 3 sites
  • Day 3: 1 – 3 sites
  • Day 4: 2 – 4 sites
  • Day 5: 3 – 6 sites

Check out my curated list of promo sites for current options.

This is just an example; you could kick things off with nothing at all, then essentially coast with a few cheap promo sites or a couple newsletter swaps until the last couple days. Or you could replace the bulk of you promo sites with cross promotion or your author platform, if those have enough firepower to push hundreds of downloads. You don’t have to mention the free run to your newsletter or on social media at all, of course. The only thing you must do is you load up your heavy hitters on the final day so you’re hitting the Top 100 Free List.

The reason this works? Free runs produce visibility in the Paid Store. How? When you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, the button on the book pages default to “Read for Free in Kindle Unlimited,” even when the book itself is available for free download. Thus, a decent number of KU subscribers who see your free book will actually borrow it in Kindle Unlimited. This not only generates page reads, but since each borrow counts toward your sales rank, should you hit the Top 100 Free chart, you’ll often return to paid with a rank below 10k.

The $0.99 price point ensures that you’ll sustain this visibility longer than if your book is available at full price. You’ll often get 20 – 30 sales on the day immediately following the promo from people finding the deal in promo newsletters, clicking on it, then deciding to pick it up at $0.99, which is still an impulse buy. These sales, combined with the visibility from the borrows during the free run, can keep your book at a decent rank for a week or two, thus generating page reads and sellthrough to later volumes.

If you run ads to Book 1 at $0.99, this can be a less pricey alternative to “pinning” Book 1 in the Top 1k than the KCD outlined above. You won’t experience the potentially explosive burst of reads on the discounted books associated with the KCD, but you can keep Book 1 selling for awhile at $0.99.

7: 99 cent box set launch in Kindle Unlimited

  • BUDGET: $1500+
  • KU or WIDE: KU
  • TIMEFRAME: 5 – 7 days for the launch push. PPC ads on the set for the first 30 days.
  • THE STRATEGY: release a box set of at least three books (minimum 1,000 KENP, preferably 2,000+) at $0.99 and get it into the Top 500.
  • THE GOAL: make readers the proverbial “offer they can’t refuse” by offering them a no-brainer buy at $0.99. This blasts the book up Amazon ranks, and gets it recommended to Kindle Unlimited readers, which can be insanely lucrative, given the huge KENP count.
  • OTHER
    • Most commonly used in voracious Kindle Unlimited genres like certain sub-genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance.
    • Can be significantly more profitable if you have a corresponding audio set, since Audible members can pick this up for a single credit.

This is a simple strategy, but it’s also one with a high degree of difficulty. Basically, you’re trying to push a deeply discounted box set into the Top 500 and hold it there until Amazon starts recommending it to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Since the box set is a gigantic number of KENP, this can produce a correspondingly massive number of reads (50k – 100k+ a day) and even things like All Star Bonuses.

However.

If Amazon doesn’t grant you this visibility, then you’re completely hosed. Because most of the ads and promotion you’ll be running will be producing sales at $0.99, your royalties will be anemic if the reads don’t kick in. And this can be both nerve-wracking and completely out of your control.

Thus, this is a high upside, high risk strategy. You can hit low to mid five figures during the ensuing tail. Or it could completely bomb, leaving you out a couple thousand bukcs.

If you want to give it a go, the principles are much the same as we’ve already discussed: spend the first few days testing ads, then backload most of the spend for the final two days. Follow this up with a consistent ad spend to hopefully pin the set within the Top 1000 (top 500 if possible).

In fact, you can use the same structure outlined for the KCD:

  • Day 1: newsletter/social media, Facebook or BookBub testing ($25)
  • Day 2: Facebook or BookBub testing ($50)
  • Day 3: Facebook or BookBub testing ($75)
  • Day 4: Facebook or BookBub testing ($100)
  • Day 5: start scaling Facebook and/or BookBub ($150+)
  • Day 6: promo sites ($100+), Facebook ($100+), BookBub ($200+)
  • Day 7: promo sites ($200+), Facebook ($150+), BookBub ($300)+, thank you newsletter
  • Day 8 and beyond: run FB ads to Book 1 at $50 a day (can be more or less, but $50 is generally the equilibrium point).
    • Monitor the book’s rank and sales to make sure that these ads are converting. You should hopefully see Book 1 settle in somewhere in the top 1k over the week following the promo. You want to continue the ad spend if things are working, but be prepared to cut down if performance isn’t where you want it.

Generally speaking, the more money you have to push the box set, the better your chances of hitting a home run. Naturally, this increases the risk, because if all you do is get a bunch of $0.99 sales, that won’t be enough to cover your costs. 5,000 sales sounds like a lot, but at $0.35 a pop, you’re looking at a meager $1,750 in royalties. And you’re probably looking at a cost-per-sale at $1 a pop, minimum. Which means that the math can go against you fast.

If you have an audio set that you can link to the eBook set, this can turn the numbers dramatically in your favor. Why? Because Audible members can pick up the set for a single credit, getting 15 – 20+ hours of audio for the same cost as a single book. This is our only real way of discounting audio. And the massive visibility on the eBook set will generate huge spillover visibility to the audiobook set.

Thus, I’d only recommend this strategy if you have money you can afford to lose. This applies to any strategy involving paid advertising, of course, but it’s especially important to note here: this strategy is not one to roll out if you need something to work. Because Amazon’s algorithms are fickle. And they could leave you out in the cold.

What’s Next?

We’re back for Part 7: The Ultimate Guide to Branding, where I break down how to get a killer cover, write a blurb that hooks the reader and doesn’t let go, the correct way to price your books and a bunch of other crucial branding-related stuff.

But before we move forward, take a moment to do this section’s Action Steps to start promoting your books.

Summary

  • Block out the noise about things not working and rely on your own experience and data to make the best decisions for your catalog.
  • Make sure you understand Amazon’s algorithms, particularly if you’re advertising a KU book.
  • Optimize your back/front matter and website to increase sellthrough and subscribers.
  • If you have no money to advertise…
    • Write in the hottest Kindle Unlimited genre that fits your writing style and release a full-length novel every month.
    • Optimize your back/front matter and website are set up to boost sellthrough and newsletter subscribers.
    • Build your newsletter via cross promotions, as covered in Part 8.
    • Use some of the low cost or free traffic sources outlined in Part 5 to generate inexpensive visibility for your books.
    • Rinse and repeat. Build up your subscriber base and war chest over the next 12 – 24 months, reinvesting some of your royalties into paid advertising.

Seven keys fundamental keys to keep in mind when using any strategy:

  1. Each promotion (or launch) is a building block in your career
  2. Master your three traffic sources
  3. Track your numbers
  4. Set a promotion budget
  5. Launch a new book or run a big promotion on a backlist series every month (or every other month)
  6. Series are critical for turning a profit and allow you to spend more acquiring each reader
  7. Use your war chest and resources to your advantage, but also leverage clever/low-competition ways to maximize your ad dollars.

The seven strategies you can use to promote your books are:

  1. PPC Ads on Backlist
  2. The Netflix Strategy
  3. Permafree
  4. BookBub Featured Deal
  5. Kindle Countdown Deals
  6. Free Run to $0.99
  7. $0.99 KU box set launch

Action Steps

  1. Choose one strategy, adapt it to your series, and execute it.
  2. If you don’t currently have money to advertise, either design and execute a low cost (or free) option, or outline a hypothetical strategy with a budget of $3,000.