I’ve been reading blogs lately about the viability of paying to list, or place an ad, on book promotion sites. I’ve also talked with several authors who’ve taken part in some sites. While the info coming in is anecdotal at best, there is a common pattern, which is that the sites aren’t as effective as they used to be. Here’s just one example of the same story I’ve been hearing:
Author Melinda Clayton posted a detailed compilation of her promotion results over a two-year period and, like her colleagues, found that they weren’t as useful. She concluded that it’s not a good idea to promote a book more than two or three times on a single site. She also doesn’t believe that the glut of books is the sole reason for diminishing returns, but also attrition. Apparently, a number of these sites are merging or being purchased by publishers like Random House to showcase their own authors.
It’s interesting that, again generally speaking, the most profitable book promotion site for authors, BookBub, is also the most difficult to be accepted into. It’s also hugely expensive to join that elite club. I took a look at their price page and nearly gagged. If I wanted to list one of my cozy mysteries for free, I would have to pay $460. If I wanted to sell it at below $1.00, the fee would jump to $920, and if I wanted to sell my book between $1.00 and $2.00, I’d have to pay $1,600! They say that the average discounted sales on this type of book is 3,620. In other words, if I put my book out there at $1.99 and sold 3,000 copies, I’d make $5,970. Hmm, but is that really true? Numerous authors have reported that BookBub isn’t as effective as it used to be, although it appears to be still profitable. If you’re thinking of investing that kind of cash, it’s a good idea to carry out your own research specific to your genre.
You can see, though, why that some authors are starting to feel that book promotion sites are the newest parasites in the long list of services designed to take your money without giving back a whole lot in return. And these authors have a point. Some of the sites merely take your money and list your book. Are they actively promoting their lists through social media? Are they targeting specific genres to fans of that genre? Are they living up to the claims that they make?
At this point, I’ve only experimented with three smaller sites for my novella, Dead Man Floating. As it turns out, not all book promotion sites accept novellas, which is another challenge. Whether I sold anything or not will become clear in the royalty statement from my publisher next month. At this point, I’m not even sure which sites I should pursue, if any, given the increasingly challenging odds. If anyone has insightful information to share, I’d love to hear your experiences.