There are a range of sites that all follow the same model for selling book promotions to authors. The core of the business is that they get an email list of readers who are interested in free or discounted books. These readers specify the genres they’re interested in. Each of these sites sells spots in their daily email with bargain books, which are sent based on reader interests.
From the writer’s perspective, these readers then buy (or download for free) the book and hopefully become devoted fans of that writer.
The grand-daddy of these sites is BookBub, which is viewed as one of the only “sure things” in book promotions. They’re VERY selective about which books they’ll accept, but authors report that they’re almost guaranteed to make back the cost of the promotion when they’re selected.
A slew of copycat sites have appeared, which are less selective (and effective) than BookBub, but they have the benefit of accepting books that would be rejected by BookBub. I’ve recently run my 4th promotion on two of these sites and wanted to write up my experience for other authors and for myself to refer to in the future.
Written Word Media
I ran a promotion for my non-fiction book Negotiating After Getting A Job Offer on January 20th, 2023 with Written Word Media. It cost me $30. I sold 8 ebooks for $0.99 each, netting $0.35 for each ($2.80 total).
On March 19th, 2023, I ran a promo for my fiction book Endless Seas. It cost me $45. I sold one copy for $4.99, which netted me $3.44.
BookRaid has an interesting feature that you pay by the click, up to a maximum amount, which varies by genre. If your book bombs (and no one clicks on it), you don’t pay anything (or at least a much smaller amount).
I ran a promo on September 11, 2023, and did a free giveaway of Merchant Magician. It cost me $48 and I had 581 clicks. I simultaneously promoted the free giveaway elsewhere, so I actually had more “orders” than clicks. I’ve been reluctant in the past to do free book giveaways, just because I worried that it would pollute Amazon’s data about my book. I suspect most of the people who downloaded it for free will never read it. I sold 4 copies of the sequel to Merchant Magician, Friendship Magician, and got some Kindle Unlimited reads. All of these I attributed to this promo. I made $8.60 on these.
On October 2, 2023 I ran a promo for Endless Seas again. It was $0.60 a click, for 23 clicks, with a discount from a code I found (ebookfairs20) for $11.04. I sold a single copy for $2.99 ($2.04 royalty to me). The poor performance, only selling one copy from 21 clicks, could indicate a fundamental problem with my book.
These sites certainly get some people to consider my books and get me some sales. The overall value is tough to quantify since someone might read the book I promote, enjoy it, and then read everything else I’ve written. It’s hard to track readers in this manner.
Overall, I feel like the return on investment has been poor. Each promo feels like I’ve lost money on it. Strictly speaking, I’ve absolutely lost money on each. Any acquired readers are hard to value, but I don’t think it’s been worth the cost.
The expenses involved weren’t huge and these were four worthwhile experiments to determine for myself the value of these sites and promotions.
The quality of my books is obviously a factor in the sales. If my cover and blurb are poor or if the book itself is no good, the sites promoting it can’t magically make it sell.
Other authors have had similar experiences with these sites. I suspect these sorts of sites will have a tough future since they seem to charge authors more than the promotions are worth.