Our partners know that discounts can increase sales of backlist books — but what about new releases? After the initial sales peak, a discount can give new books another boost by hooking in a fresh batch of readers who might need an extra push to purchase.
Blackstone Publishing discounts newer books to ensure they’re continuing to engage readers after the initial release excitement dies down. We interviewed Anne Fonteneau, Chief Sales Officer at Blackstone, to gather more insight on how this strategy helps the publisher drive more sales for new releases.
What are some of the main challenges of launching a new book?
Launch challenges vary depending on the genre and the author. It is easier for us to promote a known author versus a debut, since they will have an established fan base. The rise of self-publishing has also made a more competitive market, with more books being available to readers than ever before. Finally, there is much more content available in general, so books are now competing with social media, streaming services, etc., for consumers’ time.
What does a typical Blackstone launch plan look like?
A typical launch plan consists of a preorder campaign as well as a launch campaign. These would include general marketing and publicity, placements in publications and major websites, digital/print ads, influencer support, endorsement outreach, conference promotion, and engagement with all market segments (national brick-and-mortar stores, libraries, digital platforms). We also coordinate author programming, book tours, and book trailers for major launches. In addition, we submit titles for award consideration, “Best Of” roundups, and other recognition as appropriate (LibraryReads / Indie Next), and we pitch to national book clubs.
Why do you think it’s important to think about price promotion early in a book’s life cycle?
We’ve found that early price promotion can complement traditional efforts. A limited discount campaign can help with ranking and placement on retailer sites by driving sales early on, which boosts the book’s platform and leads to a halo effect for future full-price sales. We must balance the price point against the anticipated volume of sales, but for BookBub promotions this is leveraged by the outreach to the reader community. A low introductory price can entice new readers and help grow an author’s profile.
How soon after a book’s release do you consider a price promotion?
We submit to be included in The Short List within weeks after the release to help drive initial sales and grow awareness around the book and author. This amplifies our efforts in reaching relevant readers and targeting active customers.
We consider scheduling a Featured Deal to go out three months after publication, when there is usually a natural decline in sales. This gives the title a jump start and allows us to reach BookBub readers who may not have taken advantage of a Short List deal, as some readers will only buy deeply discounted titles. Running successive discounts multiplies exposure and helps sustain sales.
You used this strategy for Hotel Portofino by John O’Connell. What were the results of the two promotions?
We were very happy with the results of our recent promotions for Hotel Portofino. The book released on January 18, 2022. We had a Short List promotion at $6.99 on January 26, and sales more than doubled versus the first week. We showed an ROI of over 1115% for this Short List promotion.
We ran a $0.99 Featured Deal on April 15, and sales for the month of April increased exponentially over the month of March. Featured Deal results vary from book to book, but we have seen consistently good results from these promotions.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
BookBub promotions have made a significant, positive difference in sales and outreach for our new titles. We value our partnership with BookBub and consider it a key program for our launch efforts.
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