Why SO Many Book Sales?

I’m constantly looking for ways to increase my book sales. I mean, that’s why we write, right? To sell books? Well, maybe.

According to all the marketing “stuff” I read, one of the most effective methods is through promotional discounts on eBooks. The theory is by offering promotional discounts, I can attract more readers and build a loyal fan base that will help me sell more books in the future.

I’ve had mixed results. Most of my marketing and promotions are what’s called organic, i.e., I use free sources to get the word out – social media, this blog, my newsletter, my podcast, etc. However, I’ve had far more success, granted, with promotions I’ve paid for – Amazon ads, Facebook ads, specific genre promotions offered by marketing websites, etc. But the paid options are expensive, and I use them judiciously.

Promotional discounts on eBooks come in many forms, from percentage-based discounts to free eBook giveaways. If you’ve followed me for even a brief time, you know this is the way I go about it organically. I reduce the price of one of my titles for a month and offer some free days within that month.

However, it’s a double-edged sword.

Free = Zero Royalties

In a promotion I bought into a few months back, I “sold” close to 1,000 copies of my debut novel from 2017, A War of Deception, sufficient to push it to No. 2 on an Amazon bestseller list – for free books. Free means I got no royalties until days or weeks later when the people who downloaded the free book had time to read it and I got royalties (considerably less than for actual sales) for Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read.

Yes, if you have a Kindle or the Kindle app, the ‘Zon tracks how many pages you’ve read for the purpose of giving authors royalties.

Now, I didn’t become published for the sole purpose of making money. I’ve said this before. I have stories I want to tell, and they’re going to be published whether anyone reads them or not. They are my legacy. I’m happy, elated, and proud when someone does read them, and grateful, too, but I’m one of literally millions of authors out there. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage or utilities from my royalties.

Back to the two-edged sword.

I know that the lower I price my books, the higher the chance someone will buy them. I know when I set a book up for free days, I’ll get a bump up in orders. I suppose it’s the Scots DNA in me that recoils from that. Most of my books are between 80,000 and 100,000 words. Putting them on sale for 99¢ makes me cringe, but I do it because I want to “attract more readers and build a loyal fan base.”

So, maybe it’s a three-edged sword because if you price your books too low, some readers will interpret that to mean that it’s not worthy of their reading time. Yet, there are other readers who consider 99¢ too much and can’t understand why books can’t be free all the time.

Well, here’s a good reason: I have writers friends who are full-time writers. (So am I, but in a different context.) Their royalties have to be enough to pay the mortgage, feed the families, and keep the utilities running. I was lucky to have a job that provided me a decent annuity in retirement so I can focus on writing and not worry about the water and electricity being shut off.

And, frankly, getting a book from concept to something you can hold in your hands and read is hard work. It’s a job, a profession, or for some of us, a calling.

Okay, So Why Do You Keep Putting Books on Sale?

Because probably deep down, I want you to read them. And enjoy them. And recommend them to your friends. And don’t forget the review. Reviews are your small part in helping me grow my fan base and sell more books.

Hey, I just gave you a reduced-price or free book – give an author some love. 😉

So, here’s the hard segue into what this week’s blog post is really about.

Two of my first novellas are on sale this month for 99¢ each: The Yellow Scarf and My Noble Enemy. I will also offer both for free toward the end of the month, probably around my birthday. See, on my birthday, I’m giving readers presents!

The Yellow Scarf is about the Siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s and how Mai Fisher, my U.N. spy, works to achieve a little justice for a young mother killed by a Serbian Army sniper. She opts for the civilized way – gathering evidence to add to a long list of war crimes. Her partner, Alexei Bukharin, opts for a less civilized approach. You’ll have to read it to find out. You can download The Yellow Scarf for 99¢ HERE.

My Noble Enemy is the poster child for the theme of my work – real spies with real lives. A dying, ex-CIA case officer looks up Mai Fisher at her new job at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to say goodbye before he deals with his stage 4 lung cancer his own way. Instead, he finds himself surrounded by people who care for him while he finishes his journey. You can download My Noble Enemy for 99¢ HERE.

I hope you enjoy them, and don’t forget the review.

Transparency Disclosure: I used AI to suggest the topic of this post, but the words are all mine.