Beginner’s Guide to Running Ebook Price Promotions


One of the biggest challenges authors face is getting their books in front of new readers, especially since hundreds of thousands of books are published each year. A price promotion is one of the most effective ways to get more exposure and make your book more attractive to potential readers. Whether you’re looking to launch a new book, ramp up backlist sales, expand your audience, or hit a bestseller list, running a price promotion in conjunction with a BookBub “Featured Deal” can help.

Price promotions work so well because if a reader has never heard of an author before, they’re more apt to get the book when it’s free or discounted. In fact, 95% of bargain readers have purchased a book from an author unknown to them because of an ebook price promotion. They also become loyal fans willing to pay full price for other books by that author.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to running a successful price promotion:

Step 1: Choose a book to discount

Which book you discount goal. For example:

  • If you want to hit a bestseller list, discount your most popular book.
  • If you want to promote a book series, discount the first book in your series.
  • If you want to promote a new release, discount a similar/related backlist title.

Whatever your goal, try to choose a book that was released at least a few months ago so it has time to generate enough reviews and accolades to make it more appealing to the wide audience it could reach via a price promotion.

Step 2: Choose a price point for your discount

Once you’ve settled on the book for which you’d like to run a price promotion, decide on the price point.. You have a few options:

  • Discount your book to $0.99, $1.99, or $2.99. An ebook’s price can impact sales more than you think, and in general pricing lower will increase sales
  • Make your book free, temporarily. Making a book free can generate 10 times more downloads than non-free books.
  • Make your book permanently free. Making one of your books permanently free can make sense if it’s the first book in a series or if you have a large backlist. You can attract a large volume of new readers who become loyal fans this way.

Step 3: Decide how long you want to run your promotion

The length of your price promotion will also depend on your marketing goals. For example:

  • If you want to increase revenue, discount your book for five days or fewer.
  • If you want to hit a bestseller list, discount your book for the entire weekly cycle of the bestseller list you’re trying to hit.
  • If you want to market a book series, discount your book for more than three days.

Step 4: Plan for coordinating your discount

You don’t actually want to discount your book across retailers until you have advertising lined up (see step 5), but it’s worthwhile to make sure you know how to discount your book (and that you can).

As a self-published author, your book’s price is something you have control over. Here are some instructions you might find helpful:

If you’re traditionally published, you’ll need to work with your publisher to discount your book, as they’re the ones who have control over pricing. If you’d like to run a price promotion, reach out to your publisher and see if you can work together to coordinate the discount.

Step 5: Advertise your price promotion

Simply dropping the price of your book across retailers won’t generate the increased sales volume you need to make the price drop successful. You’ll need to advertise your book with discovery platforms like BookBub in order to make sure people interested in your genre know about your discount.

A BookBub Featured Deal lets you promote your discounted book in BookBub’s daily email and on the BookBub website, reaching millions of new readers interested in your genre. Here are some stats showing how a “Featured Deal” have helped BookBub’s partners:

  • Authors’ average earnings from a book increase 196x during a Featured Deal.
  • 85% of partners saw an increase in their book’s full price sales after the deal ended.
  • 70% of partners reported sales of their other books increased after the deal ended.
  • 70% of partners saw increased measures of exposure, such as reviews, Facebook likes, and email list signups.

Once your book is accepted for a Featured Deal and you’ve secured a promotion date, you can coordinate your discount with your retailers.

Step 6: Measure your results

The best way to measure your results is to determine the return on investment (ROI) of your price promotion. To find the ROI, subtract the cost of advertising your price promotion from the revenue you generated, and divide that number by the cost of advertising the promotion ([Author Revenue − Campaign Cost]/Campaign Cost). Multiply by 100 to see the percentage.

ROI is expressed as a percentage — the higher your ROI, the better your price promotion performed.

  • A positive ROI means you made money on your campaign.
  • An ROI of 0% means you broke even.
  • A negative ROI means you lost money on your campaign.

The positive effects of your price promotion can last for a long time, since the increased volume of sales will lead to increased buzz, word-of-mouth sales, and sales of your other books. But you can still measure the immediate results of the promotion to ensure it accomplished your short-term book marketing goals.

Diana Urban is the Industry Marketing Manager at BookBub by day and a YA thriller author by night. She’s an inbound marketing expert and regularly publishes content on book marketing, self-publishing tips, and publishing insights. She was previously the Head of Conversion Marketing at HubSpot. Follow her on Twitter at @DianaUrban.

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