Promo-Stacking by Rebecca Heflin

Copy of Untitled (3)In March of 2019 I struck gold, securing one of those rare BookBub Featured Deal spots and was astounded to see the impact on sales and rankings. I wrote about it in a blog post. They truly are the gold standard when it comes to free and bargain book newsletters. Problem is, they are hard to come by, especially if the book you want to submit isn’t sold wide, and they are pricey. Very pricey.

But do not despair, there are lots of free and bargain book newsletters out there with spots that are far easier to snag (and far cheaper). And while they don’t have the same impact on sales as a coveted BookBub Featured Deal, their impact is not insignificant. The key is promo-stacking.

When I decide to run a 99¢ promo, it’s usually on a backlist book whose sales have withered. And my goal isn’t money, it’s sales, with the anticipated end game being an uptick in sales of my other books, especially if the bargain book is a first in series.  

But where to start? I don’t go into the promo with a specific date in mind, but rather a general timeframe that will give me enough time to set everything up, create social media graphics, place other ads, create Tweets and Facebook posts for friends to share, and to get the price changes confirmed. (If it’s one thing the newsletters frown upon, it’s saying your book will be on sale at a certain price on a certain date, and as the result of some error, it’s not.) If the timing is right for my monthly newsletter, all the better.

Then I start submitting to the newsletters, which can be tedious and time-consuming. Some are more difficult to obtain than others, so I start with those first and the dates they have available work to narrow my timeframe. Some say they will get back to you within seven days to let you know if you’ve been selected and for what date. Others allow you to see availability and you can select the preferred date. The prices range from as low as $16 to as high as $85, depending on the category selected and whether the book is free, $.99, or $1.99.

I run my sale over a week, stacking the various newsletters based on their availability. For instance, I’m currently running a sale on one of my first-in-series, backlist books and I was able to get spots in four newsletters the first day of the sale, four the second day of the sale, and one the fourth day of the sale. I’d rather they were more evenly distributed over the course of the week, but I’ll take what I can get.

Here’s a list of the newsletters I am using for this current sale:

  • Reading Deals
  • Pillow Talk Books
  • Bargain Booksy
  • eBook Discovery
  • Full Hearts Romance
  • Fussy Librarian
  • Manybooks
  • eReader News Today
  • InD’tale Magazine Newsletter

There are certainly others out there, so do your research, and mileage may vary.

I also schedule social media posts about the sale—not too many—or followers’ eyes glaze over every time they see yet another post about buying my book. I’ve found that three posts is the sweet spot­—one the first day of the sale, another in the middle of the week, and a final one right before the end of the sale.

Next up, I put it in my newsletter to go out the week of the sale. Finally, I set up PPC (pay-per-click) ads on BookBub. I have found I get the best bang for my buck with BookBub ads over Facebook or Amazon. Doing all of this ahead of time creates less panic the day before the sale starts.

One final task—I set up an Excel spreadsheet to monitor the stats, including rankings by platform, number of books sold, and royalties earned over the course of the sale, as well as the cost of each newsletter slot and the BookBub ads.

If your goal is jumpstarting sales, rather than increasing royalties, promo-stacking free and bargain book newsletters is a terrific marketing tool. Additional outcomes from this strategy are “tail sales” (sales that continue long after the promo is over), increased sales of other books in your list, and additional reviews from the readers who purchased the bargain book.

What strategies have you used to promote sales of your backlist books?

About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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8 Responses to Promo-Stacking by Rebecca Heflin

  1. Excellent post! Thanks for sharing your promo strategies, Rebecca 🙂

  2. Susan says:

    I like yours. I want to try it.

  3. viola62 says:

    Great post! I’ve run Facebook ads, and I’m awaiting approval of a Good Reads ad. It’s hard sometimes when you don’t have unlimited resources.

    • Very true, and it is frustrating when there is no return on investment. Try BookBub ads next. If you don’t already have an author page with them, you’ll need to set that up first.

  4. Thanks for all the great tips!

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