Authors and book marketers are always looking for ways to increase discoverability and revenue of their backlist books, and price promotions are a known way to reach a high volume of readers. But how can you run the most effective promotion possible? Using data to determine what kind of price promotion you should run can help you achieve your goals more effectively, whether it’s to reach more readers or increase revenue for a particular book.
In 2015 BookBub ran over 12,000 price promotions for over 7,000 authors. In the process of running all those deals, we learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Below you’ll find the most important findings from analysis of our deal data and surveys of our partners.
While these lessons are based on BookBub data, we suspect that they are relevant for price promotions run by book marketers and authors anywhere.
1. Pricing low can drive higher unit sales volume
If you’re hoping for a book to hit a bestseller list, or if you’re promoting the first book in a series to drive sales of later books in the series, your priority may be to drive higher unit sales volume. In this case, price low. The volume of book sales is over 75% higher at $0.99 than $2.99.
2. Pricing “high” can yield more revenue during a price promotion
If you’re marketing a book that already has a significant amount of buzz and you’re hoping to open up the floodgates or prolong the hype, discounting to $2.99 or higher can be an effective way to drive revenue. Books featured by BookBub at $2.99 yield 142% more revenue during their discounts than books priced at $0.99, even though the volume of unit sales is lower. Despite the higher price tag, the discount will still attract readers that have heard of the book or have been meaning to read it but hesitated at the full-price tag.Note that books featured by BookBub at $2.99 or above usually have the type of existing platform mentioned above. If your book does not have high recognizability amongst genre readers, you’ll likely see higher revenue at price points below $2.99, and you’ll have a higher chance of being selected by BookBub for a Featured Deal.
3. Shorter price promotions drive more revenue
Discounting a book for five or fewer days results in a 4x higher increase in post-promotion revenue. The key here is to revert the book to full price while it’s still high on retailer bestseller lists in order to maximize full-price sales and thereby drive more revenue.
4. The first book in a series is the best one to discount
Analysis of our partners’ sales results shows that sales of full-priced books in a series are 5x higher when the discounted book is the first book in the series than when it’s any other book in the series.
Once readers are hooked on the first book in a series, they’re often willing to pay full price for the subsequent books. After all, 77% of bargain readers also buy full-priced books.
5. Cross-promotion increases full-priced series sales
If you’re running a price promotion and want to drive full-price sales of another book in a series, promote the full-priced book in the discounted book’s back matter. Partners see a 3x higher increase in sales of other books in a series when the discounted book includes links in the back matter.
Here’s an example of the back matter from If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones:
6. Worldwide promotions can pay off
Promoting a book in multiple regions is more impactful than restricting the price promotion to the US. In fact, our partners see a 32% higher increase in sales when they promote their book in our international editions — UK, Canada, and India — in addition to the US edition.
7. Price promotions increase revenue
We know that sales volume increases when you discount a book. But what happens to revenue during the timespan of the price drop?
Our partners reported an average 196x increase in earnings over the same timespan prior to their price-drop. This was for an average discount of 74%. In other words, price promotions don’t just drive sales, they can increase revenue, too.
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