Running an ebook price promotion is a great way to drive revenue, maximize unit sales, and connect with new readers. And if you want to run a Featured Deal to reach BookBub’s audience of millions of power readers, you’ll need to run a limited-time discount (between $0.99 and $4.99) or make a book temporarily or permanently free.
But how should you determine the discount price for your next promotion? The answer will depend on your unique book marketing goals. In this post, we’ll discuss scenarios in which you should consider making your book free, discounting to $0.99, or setting a higher price point for your discount.
When should you run a free promotion?
1. If you want to maximize eyeballs on your book
If you’re looking for sheer volume of downloads and readers, running a free promotion is the way to go. BookBub partners who run free promotions see 10x more downloads than those who run promotions at $0.99. So when your primary goal is exposure, try making the book free.
2. If you want to increase sales of a book series
Making the first book in the series temporarily free or permafree as a gateway to the rest of the series is a highly effective strategy. BookBub partners who make the first book in their series free see 8x higher sales of the other books in the series than partners who discount the first book to $0.99 instead.
Also, if you’re considering discounting a later book in the series instead, keep in mind that our partners have seen a 5x higher increase in sales of other books in the series when discounting the first book (vs. discounting any other book in the series).
3. If you’re launching a new release
Coordinating a free promotion for one of your backlist books on the new release’s launch date (or soon after) can help drive sales of the new release. Since 63% of BookBub’s members have purchased other books by an author they discovered through a price promotion, and 77% purchase full-price books in addition to bargain books, introducing this audience to one of your older titles can lead them to buy the new book as well.
To ensure as many of these readers go on to purchase the new book as possible, update the back matter of the discounted book to promote the new book. Authors who promoted a book in the back matter saw more than a 2x higher increase in sales of the promoted book than those who didn’t, and those who included an excerpt saw the highest increase in sales.
4. If you want to drive revenue
Since so many bargain readers are also willing to purchase full-price books, 76% of BookBub partners saw increased sales of their other books after a free promotion. Running a free discount on an older title with stagnant sales can introduce a massive new audience to an author, and they’ll likely go on to buy more of that author’s books at full-price, thereby providing a nice revenue bump. Just be sure to update the promoted book’s back matter to make it easy for new fans to find other, similar titles.
When should you run a $0.99 promotion?
1. If you want to try hitting a bestseller list
Discounting an ebook can help launch it to bestseller status. This is possible because discounting can lead to high volumes of unit sales with the right marketing support. Choose the lowest price possible in order to drive the highest volume of unit sales — free downloads won’t count for many of the top lists, so $0.99 is the ideal price point if hitting a list is your goal. Our partners see a 75% higher sales volume at $0.99 than $2.99.
We also recommend discounting a popular book to ensure it gets the most possible downloads, and stacking promotions during a specific week to gain the most momentum possible!
Here are some fantastic examples of authors who hit a bestseller list following their $0.99 promotion:
2. If you want to boost series sales without making the first book free
If you aren’t willing to make the first-in-series book free in order to drive full-price sales of later books in the series, discounting to $0.99 is the next best option to accomplish this goal. 92% of partners who discounted a book in a series sold an increased number of other books in the series during the promotion. In fact, Glynnis Campbell increased series sales 100x by discounting the first book in her series to $0.99.
So making the first book $0.99 will still hook new readers into the series — you just won’t see the same volume of downloads as you would if the book were free.
When should you price high ($1.99+)?
1. If you want to drive revenue for an author’s only book
If you’re an author (or are marketing for an author) who has only published one book, making that book free or $0.99 might not make sense. Without any other full-price books to promote in the back matter, or any sequel or series books for readers to gobble up next, you could just be losing revenue. In some cases, if you’re trying to build exposure, this can still be a great strategy. But if you need to drive revenue during the promotion, a higher price point might make more sense.
Our partners running promotions at $2.99 have on average generated more than 200% more revenue than those running at $0.99, even though the volume of unit sales is lower.
Keep in mind that many of the authors running BookBub deals at these higher price points already have big brands. So if a book isn’t well-known enough, it’s possible you’d make less money on a higher priced deal because too few readers would be incentivized to buy. Also, BookBub’s editors take price point into consideration when selecting books for Featured Deals. It’s much harder to be selected at a higher price point ($1.99+), so authors considering this price tier for a BookBub promotion should consider this when making their pricing decisions.
2. If you’re trying to drive box set sales
If you’ve published a series or have an extensive backlist, bundling some of these books into a box set can be an effective way to drive sales and reach new readers. Box sets are usually priced to let readers spend less than if they had purchased each included book individually, but you can discount them to a higher price point since they contain multiple books. If a four-book box set is priced at $2.99, readers will still get each book for less than a dollar, and that’s an enticing price tag.
Also, Featured Deals for box sets consistently generate high engagement and conversions from BookBub readers. We’ve seen 20% higher average click-through rates and 29% higher average purchase rates (the percentage of readers who received the deal that went on to purchase) for box set deals than single title deals. Because box set deals can generate higher purchase rates, they often outperform single books discounted to the same price. So if your goal is to drive revenue and maximize the ROI of your promotion, you may want to consider a higher price point for your next box set discount.
3. If you want to drive revenue for books with a lot of existing buzz
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 (we have seen great results running new releases from brand-name authors at $3.99 or $4.99 a few weeks after launch) might be a sufficient price drop. Despite the higher price tag, the discount will still attract readers who have heard of the book or have been meaning to read it but hesitated at the full-price tag.
4. If you’re promoting nonfiction
Serious nonfiction, cookbooks, and coffee table books heavy on design generally see a higher tolerance for higher-priced discounts ($2.99, $3.99, and even $4.99) because the production value is so high. So if you’re discounting a book in a generally high-priced genre, setting the discount at a higher price point can help drive revenue without dissuading readers like it would for fiction genres.
As you can see, the price point you choose for your ebook price promotion depends on the book and your marketing and revenue goals. But hopefully these recommendations will help you reach a decision that’s right for you!
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