Discounting an ebook can be an effective way to drive a high volume of downloads, increase revenue, boost a book up the retailer rankings, build author buzz, and more. And promoting that discount via services like BookBub can expose the book to millions of power readers eager for a good deal. But when should you consider dropping the price of one of your books?
The timing of your price promotions should depend on your particular books, so we’ve outlined some scenarios that are favorable for running effective price promotions.
When you’re launching a new book in a series
When you launch a new book in a series, discounting the first book of the series can be a great way to drive sales for that new release. The lower price point will attract new readers who will be eager to find out what happens next in the series. And they’re often willing to pay more for the subsequent books — 77% of bargain readers also buy full-priced books.
If you decide to run a discount to promote the newest book in a series, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Discount the first book in the series. On average, our partners have seen a 5x higher increase in sales of the other books in a series when the first book is discounted vs. any other book in the series.
- Make the first book free. Downloads of free books featured by BookBub are 10x higher than downloads for $0.99 books. Also, if you make the first book in the series free, the later books in the series will sell 8x more copies than if you price the first book at $0.99 or higher.
- Promote the subsequent book in the first book’s back matter. Our partners see a 3x higher increase in sales of other books in the series if links are included in the back matter of the discounted book. Go in order so readers know which book comes next in the series without getting confused.
When you’re releasing a new standalone
If you’re releasing a new title that’s a standalone or isn’t part of an existing series, discounting one of your backlist books is still an effective way to gain exposure for the new release. After all, 63% of bargain readers have purchased other books by an author they discovered as part of a price promotion.
Make sure to promote the new release in the back matter of the book you’re discounting. Because readers aren’t already hooked on the story or characters of your new release, include a short excerpt or the first chapter from your new release. Make sure this excerpt ends on a cliffhanger so readers are intrigued enough to purchase the new book.
When it’s the holiday season and you have a holiday-themed book
If you want to boost sales or downloads for a holiday-themed book, wait for the holidays to run your price promotion as readers are more inclined to purchase those books when they’re in the holiday spirit. Because of this, BookBub tends to select more holiday-themed books during the December holiday season.
Since we know that these books tend to perform well throughout the year, especially in certain categories like Contemporary Romance, we do select holiday-themed books year-round. But holiday-themed books that were promoted in December in those categories had 45% higher average purchase rates than holiday-themed books that were promoted throughout the rest of the year.
Similarly, free holiday-themed books that were promoted in December in those categories had 62% higher average click-through rates than those that were promoted throughout the rest of the year.
While this sample size is small, it’s a good indication that it’s worth waiting to run price promotions for holiday-themed books during the holiday season.
When a current event aligns with your book’s topic
If you can strategically promote a book during specific seasons, an annual event, or when something pops up in the media, take advantage of that opportunity and discount your book to attract some of this attention. For example:
- If you’re promoting a romance, consider discounting your book on Valentine’s Day.
- Promote funny chick lit as a fun summer beach read or as airplane reading during the holidays.
- Compare Tudor historical fiction to a hit new Tudor-related TV show and target fans of that show with a discount at the beginning of the next season.
- If you have a new book featuring athletes overcoming great obstacles, discount it during the MLB or NFL playoffs, the Olympics, or another relevant sporting event.
A great is example of this was when the Workman Publishing Group ran a well-timed promotion for The Nurses, a nonfiction book with content well-aligned to build buzz during National Nurses Week. According to Thea James, Director Workman Publishing Group:
Working in tandem with print sales, marketing, and publicity, The Nurses was downpriced to $1.99 for 24 hours on National Nurses Day (May 6), with support on BookBub and select major ebook retailers.… Following the 24-hour promotion, gradual price increases from $1.99 to full price over the next two weeks maintained the ebook’s visibility and sales on retailer sites.
With these steps, The Nurses landed on the New York Times bestseller list for ebook nonfiction and stayed on the list for several weeks.
You can move sales for a relevant book by strategically taking advantage of what’s trending in the news. Try discounting your book during one of these timely events to boost its visibility and volume of sales.
When you want to hit a bestseller list
If you’re hoping for a book to hit a bestseller list, discount that book to the lowest possible price — ideally $0.99 — to maximize sales volume. Also be sure to concentrate all your promotion during a specific week by keeping your price lowered for the entire week to drive as many unit sales as possible in the lead-up to that week’s list. The cycles for each bestseller list are different, so you may want to plan your discount timing and promotional strategy around the specific bestseller list you’re aiming to hit:
- New York Times: The NYT bestseller list is published on Sundays, and each week’s list tracks book sales on a Sunday through Saturday cycle.
- USA Today: The USA Today print edition shows the top 50 bestsellers on Thursdays, and the online edition shows the top 150 bestsellers on Wednesday evenings. The rankings reflect sales from the previous Monday through Sunday.
- Wall Street Journal: The WSJ bestseller list is published on Thursdays, and each week’s list tracks book sales on a Saturday through Sunday cycle.
- Amazon: Amazon’s bestseller list updates each category list on an hourly basis.
Does day of the week matter?
Our partners often ask which day of the week is best for running a price promotion. So we looked at historical data to compare the average click through rates, conversion rates, and purchase rates on BookBub Featured Deals for each day of the week and found that the response rates of BookBub subscribers are roughly the same regardless of the day.
Therefore, aside from optimizing your discount for bestseller list cycles, the day of the week in which you run your price promotion doesn’t really matter. But as you can see, there are several times that are particularly conducive to running a price promotion that are largely related to your own unique books and publishing schedule.
When else have you strategically discounted one of your books? Let us know in the comments below!
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