Ebook Revolution

Group Promotions – Attempt One

I’ll try anything twice. Once to thoroughly mess it up, and then a second time to give myself a chance to learn from my previous botched attempt (hopefully) before I assess how effective something is, whether that be a story, a way to connect with readers, or a way to market my books.

As of last week I tried my first group promotion, banding together with 6 other authors who have a bit of romance in their books, for a Valentine’s day special. I’ve always tried to be quite honest on my blog about the things I attempt, my results and my thoughts on how they went. Which is why I have no qualms in telling you that my first attempt at this method ended up looking like a bowl full of spaghetti throw across the floor and then rolled in by a dog. Truth be told, I expected it to be rocky considering I only decided five days before the promo I was going to give it a crack. I wasn’t expect I’d be climbing the charts and booting the #1 bestseller off, I just wanted to see what would happen. I wanted to poke the mystery mound and see what came out.

After the first poke it appeared not a lot was in that mystery mound. However, just because Attempt One did not take off like a child who’s eaten a spoonful of chilli doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a lot from the experience. So below I have broken down the result that we got and how I would change what we did for Attempt Two.

The Results

The promotion was run with 7 authors (including myself), and 11 books. When I set up the promotion I used a suggestion out of David Gaughran’s, Let’s Get Visible, which included setting up Amazon affiliate links to track the number of click throughs from the promotion page to Amazon. The below figures come from that tracking:

Number of Link Clicks Feb 13-15: 43

Number of Kindle e-books purchased: 11

Number of Books out of the 11 that sold: 8 books out of 11 got at least one sale

Conversion rate from clicks to sales: 39.53%

Average Conversion rate per book: ~25 %

Low numbers all around, but again this was what I was expecting when I only had four days in which to think up exactly how we were going to promote this thing. Below I break down what went wrong and what I would do differently next time.

Why The Rush?

The day I finished David’s ‘Let’s Get Visible’ was the day I decided I wanted to try a group promotion and cast around for the closest special day that might relate to the themes in my book The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain. Madeline Cain has a small romantic sub plot and what happened to be popping up in 5 days time but the world’s biggest day of the celebration of love? Knowing most other public holidays/days of celebration were a bit too generic I decided I would try for Valentine’s Day and see how the experience went. Which brings me to my first point:

Give Yourself At LEAST 1-2 Months Lead Time

There are several reasons for this but the main one is you need to tap influential people on the shoulder to help spread the word. Your social network and blogs and mailing lists are all fine, but the people on them all know about your book, they’ve probably been bugged by you several times to buy it, and they’re probably ready to wack you over the head with a shovel just so you’ll stop pestering them.

With a group promotion not only do you need to announce it to each author’s tribe via social media, you need to let people who know nothing about you know that this promotion is a thing. The one thing we couldn’t manage to organise in five days was to get in contact with any influential bloggers about promoting the event out to their readers. This would require things like additional giveaways, and a build up of excitement to the promotion day with guest posts, interviews & reviews etc. As a result we had only limited reach.

Potentially with each author pitching in a couple of dollars we could have also built a buzz around the promotion doing our own rafflecopters from our blogs in the two week lead up to the promotion. That would have had the added effect of determining which authors were serious about making the promotion the best it could be.

In addition to notifying bloggers, in my second attempt I would also be alerting various sites that list bargain books. These sites then pass on good quality promotions to their email subscribers (Such sites include place like Pixel of Ink, or Ereader News Today etc).

Join Many Authors Rather Than A Few

Comparing the amount of promotion we were able to muster to the results David was talking about for his promotion, I can see now that we were probably too few to make a significant traffic push. We were only 7 where as the promotion David used as an example had almost 21 authors. We were a bunch of skinny teens trying to push a boulder up a mountain that required an army. For my next attempt I would try to gather at least 20 authors and probably limit it to one book per author so we didn’t lose any potential readers in the deluge of description.

Split Test The Promotion Page

How we set up each book on the page.

On Valentine’s Day I kept an eye on what other group promotions were on. I was surprised to find there weren’t many, but the ones I did find structured their landing/promotion pages quite differently to ours (you can see ours here: http://www.madelinecain.com/vdaypromo)

Though our page was quite comprehensive – each book had multiple links, a blurb, a cover and reviews – I have a feeling that many people may not have bothered to scroll down to the end of the page. I worry that we may have lost the impulsive buying vibe by doing this. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments about what does and doesn’t work for you in our promotion page.

But my thoughts are the next time around I would set up two pages, one we did with this group promotion, and another where all you had was the intro blurb and then the covers with their links and nothing else to distract someone from clicking. Then I would alternate which promo page I would send people to over the course of the promotion. That would allow me to compare how many more clicks each one got and then how many more sales we got as a result.

Create Freebies

Like a child refusing to eat just one kind of ice-cream, I have refused to join the Kindle Select program. I dislike being told you must NOT play with the other flavours if you want to eat ours. I feel it creates a reliance on one company and history has show that those who rely on monopolies can get burnt.  This of course means I have a very hard time running limited-time free promotions on Amazon. It is for that reason that I set the promotion price to be $0.99 for the books and authors that participated in our promotion.

Doing it again, I think I would create several short works that I didn’t mind throwing away as freebees as a way to draw people into my other titles. Potentially this might be what I would try on my third attempt at a group promotion, because I still believe that $0.99 books are still a viable promotion price point.

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With those five alterations in place I reckon I’m in a much better position for my next attempt. Hopefully this discussion has been helpful in avoiding the pitfalls I willingly threw myself into -all for your benefit of course :)

Have you ever run a group promotion? What did you do to get it out into the world? Please share in the comments below!

3 Responses

  1. Great explanation of what a plot is. Setting and plot are what hook me.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’d never thought about a group promotion so really learned a lot. About your question and info given . . . I tend to avoid lengthy/heavy book promotions. I’m pretty flexible about genre. Setting and theme are what hook me.

    • Emily Craven says:

      That’s great to know Kittie, thanks for the feedback! That’s an important reminder to make sure your setting and theme are present in a short 25-50 word tag line/blurb.

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