Case Study on Marketing a Self-Published Novel


I am not a marketer by profession or by inclination. However, as a writer and self-employed consultant, I have to spend some time marketing my work. This post is for writers and describes a price promotion I recently conducted for my novel, Playing the Game.

The usual price of my ebook is $4.99, but I reduced it for a couple of weeks in late June and early July to $0.99.

Self-published writers debate whether free promotions or $0.99 promotions are best, but I decided on a $0.99 promotion for two reasons. First, I wanted to keep my book for sale on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble during the promotion. Amazon’s Kindle store will not permit free ebooks except (1) for a few days if the book is enrolled in Kindle Select, or (2) if the ebook is free somewhere else. Second, free ebooks work well as an enticement to get readers to buy other books, but at this point I only have one novel to sell. I had nothing for readers to buy after trying my work for free, so I wanted some money for the book I do have!

Keep in mind that at a price point of $0.99, the author earns just $0.40 per ebook—it takes a lot of books to get rich! Wealth as a writer, as of yet, has eluded me.

PTG #1Here are the results of my promotion:

  • Playing the Game became the #1 ranked financial thriller in the Kindle store during the promotion, and stayed in the Top 100 in this category for a month—for several weeks after the promotion was over.
  • My sales at $0.99 per ebook covered the costs of paying for several book promoters to advertise the novel. I chose free and inexpensive promotional sites. Some were more successful than others.
  • The most successful site where I promoted the novel was EReader News Today. This book promoter takes 25% of the royalties earned through clicks through their site, which I thought was eminently fair, because it guarantees that the writer won’t lose money.
  • By contrast, I did not recoup my costs in advertising on The Fussy Librarian. I like the look of this site’s advertisements, but I did not sell enough ebooks through The Fussy Librarian to make it worth my while, even at the low price of $6.00.  Maybe if their readership grows, this will be a better opportunity for writers.

I learned a lot conducting this price promotion. Next time I promote my novel, I will probably invest more money up front on more expensive book advertising sites. It takes money to make money, in this context as in so many others.

And I also learned I should get back to writing!

In the meantime, I hope that my sales continue to grow and the book continues to get positive reviews.

Many thanks to readers who purchased my book. If you read and liked it, please post a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and/or Goodreads.

I appreciate those of you who have already reviewed it. Each review has made me smile.

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1 Comment

Filed under Playing the Game, Writing

One response to “Case Study on Marketing a Self-Published Novel

  1. Pingback: Discounted Ebooks: A Review of Promotional Sites | Sara Rickover, Behind the Corporate Veil

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