Ereader News Today started a new bargain-priced promotion for authors whose books are on sale for 99¢. The submission details are on this page, but the short of it is that you set your book to 99¢, inform ENT, and if you’re lucky enough to make the cut, they post your book along with three others on their site (which gets a heavy, heavy amount of traffic). They only do four books a day—a restriction that helps authors more than it hurts them (less reader fatigue; more visibility), even though it makes getting onto the site a bit more difficult.
So what do they charge in exchange for this opportunity?
Two days after your promotion, ENT sends you a Paypal bill for 25% of the sales made through clicks on their site. You’re selling at 99¢, which means you get 35¢ a sale. 100 sales is $35—25% of that is $8.75.
$8.75 for every 100 sales.
Sales to readers who have never read your work and who probably don’t know a thing about you. Sales to readers who are more likely to write reviews than if you had given away the book for free. Sales to readers who could become fans.
What this type of promotion does is wipe away the risk in paying for advertising. The term “break even” doesn’t apply here. Even with one sale, you make a profit. It’s a win-win for everybody, and good on Ereader News Today for hatching this scheme.
I submitted my first novel ASHES on the 25th or 26th, and it was posted to their site on the 31st. I’m not sure if this is an average delay, or fast, or whatever—I can only imagine the number of submissions they’re receiving. You can see the posting here (third one down). They list how much the reader is saving with the sale in red, which I think is a nice touch. Something I didn’t notice when I submitted is that if you tell them you are setting your price to 99¢ just for that particular promo, ENT will alert you when your book will be posted to give you enough time to drop your price on Amazon. Otherwise you drop the price on your own time and cross your fingers, hoping that you make the cut. I set a hard date of August 3rd to raise the price of my book back to normal, and if it wasn’t posted on ENT by then I would have assumed it was a no-go.
ASHES is currently #1 in the Horror/Dark Fantasy category on Amazon:
So it’s a legitimate #1 bestseller on Amazon. It took about 100 sales in one day to get there (faster sales in a shorter time probably means a higher ranking than steadier sales over a longer period, but I’m not positive), and I’m sure it would take a lot more than that in a really populated category. That’s not the result of free copies boosting the ranking, then said ranking holding over when the book switches back to paid. It reached the top spot through actual sales, which is something I had not previously achieved. Does that mean I can slap “#1 Bestseller!” on the cover of the book? In the back of my mind it’s still a small category—one in which I deliberately placed ASHES with the hopes of gaining more visibility through lesser competition.
#23 in Contemporary Fantasy ain’t bad either, considering that list is chronically plagued with vampire romances and witch stories (read: impenetrable genres that will likely dominate the top spots on lists for years to come).
I’m not sure how long the book will stay up there before it starts to slip. It jumped tens of thousands of spots in Amazon’s ranking, so hopefully that has an effect on its visibility for the next couple of weeks. I don’t purport to be an expert on ranking algorithms and I don’t know any secret techniques to get your book in the back door beyond things like this that I stumble across. I’m trying all of this stuff out for the first time myself and posting about it along the way so that other writers can (hopefully) make use of it.
Will the same thing happen to your book if ENT lists it on their site? Who knows? It depends on your genre, category, and the amount of sales, as well as whatever kooky device Amazon uses to sort its lists of eBooks. The bottom line is that with a promotion like this, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Give it a shot.