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How to Make a Price Promotion Work for You

Nothing beats the thrill of finding a great read on sale for a couple of pounds. (Or even less!) This is the same principle that makes price promotions so effective. During a price promotion, you market and sell your book at a reduced price, or even for free, for publicity purposes.

While you might balk at the idea of discounting your prized product, an effectively marketed price promotion is one of the best ways to bring in new readers, reviews, and revenue. Read on for our cultivated tips on how to run a high-powered and high-caliber promotion.

1. Perfect your product

If you’re planning on using a price promotion to market your book, make sure it’s optimised to attract readers before you even put it up for sale. Think of it this way: the promotion is the push that gets the ball rolling, but the ball has to be designed to roll.

Before you even begin your price promotion, you have to nail your book’s cover, description, and featured reviews. Your book cover is particularly important: on Amazon, the cover thumbnail is the #1 sales tool for your book. Ensure you communicate your exact specifications to your cover designer so the result will be eye-catching, genre-relevant, and thumbnail-friendly.

You should also spend time honing your description, employing emotionally-engaging language and including reader testimony and accolades. Finally, acquire as many positive reader reviews as possible before you start your promotion, preferably 20-25. This lets readers know your book is “tried and true,” and improves your chances of using a top-tier promotional service, some of which require a minimum number of reviews. But don’t worry if your book doesn’t have many reviews before your promotion — if it works out, you’ll have plenty to choose from in no time!

2. Prioritise new readership

As we’ve established, a successful price promotion should garner readers, reviews, and revenue — but new readers are by far the most important part of the equation, since they ultimately elicit the other two. Luckily, there are a few things you can do in order to attain fresh readership.

First off, you need to set your pricing to maximise exposure to new readers, which ideally means marketing your book for free. This may be hard to swallow for authors hoping to make a pretty penny from price promotions, but just remember: during a promotion, reader exposure is more important than actual sales. Setting your book’s price for free is hands-down the best way to reach new readers, who represent many possible book sales in the future.

If you can afford it, you might even consider making one of your books “permafree,” as in free to read even after the promotion has ended. This works especially well for books in a series — by offering your first book at no charge, you give readers a sample of your writing and make them more inclined to spend money on your next book. You can then use your permafree book as a reader magnet on your website and mailing lists, as well as to boost future price promotions.

Another excellent way to reach new readership is by using book promotion services like Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, and Bookbub during your promotion. These allow you to promote your book(s) beyond your own standard platforms, which is critical to expanding your audience. Outside promotional services are also very helpful if it’s not financially viable for you to price your book for free — you’ll still be able to reach a wide audience even without free downloads, and may even make a decent profit in the course of your promotion.

3. Promote for a short period of time

Besides free pricing, another counter-intuitive but highly effective strategy for your price promotion is to only run it for 2-3 days (48-72 hours). Though it may seem truncated, this is the optimal amount of time to run a price promotion. The 2-3 day window caters to Amazon’s preference for recency (meaning newer deals have more visibility) and makes the low pricing seem like a more exciting, limited-time offer for readers — so that more of them will rush to download your book.

Of course, just because you’re running a short campaign doesn’t mean you can short-change on prep. Again: ensure the aesthetic and preview details of your book are attention-grabbing. Then set up a chain of newsletters in your mailing list a few weeks in advance, so you can build up to the promotion, and hire your promotional services to target that particular window.

Also, be sure to emphasize the limited time nature of the offer. For example: “Flash sale on book #1 of my series — get it for free the next three days!” Just don’t be too clickbaity: “You won’t BELIEVE what happens in the next installment!! Click here to find out!!!” Strike a balance between advertisement and enticement for the best outcome.

4. Plan for your next campaign 

Your promotion will be finished before you know it, but that doesn’t also mean you’re done. Once your price promotion has ended, it’s time to evaluate your results and figure out what worked and what didn’t, so you can smartly invest some of your profits in your next round of promotion.

If you’ve marketed and sold an eBook through Amazon, you can check your sales figures instantly on the site, and even see exactly how many pages each person read. You can then compare these figures to your initial goals and decide if you’ll need to change your tactics for the next price promotion you run.

Additionally, look at the click-through data from your mailing lists and external promotional services. If one method produces better results than another, make that the primary strategy for your next promotion. For example, if you find you get more downloads from advertising on Twitter than you do from a promotional service, forget about the service and focus your efforts on self-promotion. Basically, whatever works best, double down on it next time in terms of both monetary and mental investment.

By following these tips, you can streamline your entire marketing process and rocket-boost your sales — and eventually, your price promotions will quite literally work for you!

Savannah Cordova is a writer for Reedsy, the world's largest marketplace of professional editors, book designers and ghostwriters. She also curates a series of free webinars and online courses designed to teach writers how to create and publish better books.