Why Your eBook Promotion Didn’t Work (and how to fix it)

So you did an eBook promotion and didn’t get a great number of downloads. Does it mean that the eBook promotion is passé? Well, not necessarily. An eBook promotion, when done properly, can really help boost exposure and sales for your book. So if yours was not great, let’s take a look at what might have gone wrong:

Price point: There is no shortage of eBook deals out there, in any given day you can find thousands of discounted (and free) books on Amazon. The problem is that many book promotions aren’t priced correctly. When I talk to authors about their promotions sometimes they feel strongly that discounting the book by $1 or $2 is sufficient to drive sales. That’s fine if you’ve got some mega blockbuster book everyone has been waiting on, but we know from buying history that eBook buyers are pretty price sensitive so discounting a book by just a few dollars probably won’t work. Part of the reason for a smaller reduction is that authors are eager (sometimes desperate) to make some sales.

Another price point that authors often stick with is under $5 for their promo, so pricing it at $2.99 and running that for three days or so. Now $2.99 can work, but keep in mind that the closer you get to that $5 mark, the lower your sales will be. We often don’t see huge sales numbers that align with this price point. However, if you’re going to do this, make sure that it’s not your first book, that you have a lot of reviews, and that you have a solid (read: large) fan base.

Not Enough Reviews: With all of the books out there being discounted, most serious readers aren’t interested in downloading a book that has only a few reviews. Generally, I recommend if you have less than ten or twenty reviews, maybe rethink whether you’re ready for an eBook promotion. Why? Because people like what other people like, especially when it comes to discounted eBooks (since there are literally thousands) and especially if you’re using this promotion to drive new readers to your book(s) — which for most of us is the primary reason for doing these.

This is especially true if you’re in a cluttered genre (and these days, which genre isn’tcluttered?), if you want to compete effectively with other books out there, make sure you have enough reviews to help push this book higher on your readers’ radar screens.

You Discounted the Wrong Book or Your Timing Was Off: Sometimes when doing price promotions, authors will discount books that are older — in some cases too old to grab the attention of a new reader. A lot of non-fiction falls into this category because most of it has a shelf life and requires updating. Or perhaps you wrote a self-help book that may seem like an evergreen title, but the truth is that since you released your self-help book, nine million other self-help books have been released since that time. So consider, as objectively as you can, whether your book is really going to garner interest or be the crucial piece you need to bring in new readers.

Or maybe the problem is that you did an eBook promo to push a new release that isn’t on Amazon yet. So, for example, I’m releasing Red Hot Internet Publicity and to boost the sale of the book, I did a freebie promotion of How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon. In the back of the Amazon book, I included a link to the new title, again to help boost it. So, a lot of authors I speak with use a big eBook promo to announce the release of their new book. That’s fine if the (new) book is on Amazon or, at least, up for pre-order. But if you’re just announcing that it’ll be live soon — that’s not necessarily going to hurt your promo, but it will hurt whatever goal you’ve set for yourself to use this book as a tool to push a new title.

Lack of Promotion: So you did your giveaway and ran it in BookGorilla, the price point was right, you had enough reviews for it but you still found your results lackluster? Well did you promote it? Beyond just running an ad in one or two publications, you need to make sure and promote your giveaway, too. Not sure where to begin, here’s our handy guide for eBook promo promotion: http://www.amarketingexpert.com/ebook-deal-guide/. Also, consider doing a Facebook offer (https://www.facebook.com/business/offers), which is a great way to drive some eyes to your deal, too!

Post-Promotion Price: While this may not affect the success of your eBook deal per se, it can affect how well your book sells post-promotion. I always recommend that authors keep the pricing low for the first 3–4 days post deal. Why? Because you’re going to find people spotting this deal on various sites, or not seeing the BookBub or BookGorilla newsletter until the dates have passed. They may click the link anyway and this kind of residual book visibility can net you some great sales. And while it may seem counterintuitive to do this, keep in mind that the person clicking probably has no experience with your work so even if the deal has passed, if they can grab it at a discounted price they may be still willing to take a chance on you. And isn’t that what building a fan base is all about?

Your Book Description Wasn’t Enticing Enough: Once you get someone to click the link in their social media feed or in a newsletter, the book description needs to do a good job of selling. If yours doesn’t, then consider rewriting it. How will you know? Well you won’t really because potential eBook buyers likely won’t write you to say they decided not to get your book based on it’s description. You could though run a survey via SurveyMonkey and offer some incentive for a fan’s willingness to participate — like a Starbucks or Amazon gift card. Book descriptions are product descriptions and they are as important to your book as anything else you’ll do.

Your Book Cover is Not Great: As eyes are the window to the soul, book covers are a window to your book. You may love your book cover but does your reader? Much like the book description mentioned earlier, if you aren’t sure or the feedback is mixed, maybe it’s time to ask your fans what they think? While redesigning your book cover may not be the most ideal thing you could be doing, it’s better than promoting a book with an off-putting cover. I also recommend checking out the covers of the top books in your market, see what your competitors are doing — because they’re doing a lot of things right and I assure you the book cover is at the top of the list.

Your goals are wrong: Why are you doing an eBook promotion? Your answer will determine what you do with this book, including how you price it, how long you run the promotion, and which book you promote. If, let’s say, you’re trying to push a series of books — so a fiction series (or even non-fiction) if it’s crucial that the reader read all the books in the series for it to make sense, why would you promote book four of a series? All that will do is disappoint (and likely confuse) the reader. So be thoughtful in how you execute a book deal, especially if you’re only working with five freebie days that KDP allots you through Amazon. Your goal also shouldn’t be to make a ton of money. There, I said it. The goal should be exposure. Think of it as an opportunity to get in front of hundreds and even thousands of potential readers that you’d have no way of reaching otherwise. Get them reading this book by offering a great deal, and save focusing on selling them something at a higher price point the next time around, once they’re already familiar with (and in theory liking!) your work.

What Else Are You Doing? While eBook promotions are great, they shouldn’t be your only effort. eBook price promotions are a great way to boost exposure, but if that’s all you’re doing, that may be why it didn’t work. I have talked to people who say “Well, I got into BookBub so that’s all I’m doing.” And while a promotion there is great, it should never be a single effort. Figure out how to leverage your eBook promotion or use it in conjunction with something else you’re doing (like to announce a new release). Or maybe you have a set schedule for your eBook promotion — as part of a larger effort. So let’s say you run an eBook promo every six weeks or so (this works especially well if you’ve got multiple books).

When it comes to book promotion, doing anything in a vacuum is generally a bad idea but doing it as part of a larger strategy is a much better way to push your book onto the radar screen of new readers.

This post originally appeared here.