Being a little author can be tough. It’s tough knowing what works, what you should spend your money on, and whether you’re doing okay given what you’re putting in. Obviously I’m talking about indie authors with only a few books, not those who get upset they’re not on the NYT – those authors I’m sure can mop their tears with their bundles of cash. One of the things I appreciate though, is when people are open about what went right / wrong with book things, so I can understand what I should expect / benchmark myself.
In that collegial spirit, I am going to share the results of a historical romance featured deal, free. The book is Falling for a Rake (FFAR hereafter). It’s the first in a series of 3, but the last book was on pre-order at time of promo. Here’s the link.
Before the promo it had about 14 reviews, a couple of good pull quotes from Dear Author and Frolic, and a telephone number sales rank. When I submitted it, it also had the old photo cover (not the illustrated one seen in the link). It was in KU and sales and reads were, I dunno. A few a week. Basically, not great.
I submitted it to BB by just chucking in the link. That was it. (I submitted to BB because Zoe York – who is my new favourite ever writing person – said you should try it in one of her videos. And I watched her videos and I am now basically her lemming. She is wonderful, so are her books, and videos, and you should gobble them up.)
I nearly fell off my sofa when BB said yes. Even more so since the publisher of Six Weeks with a Lord had done a 99 cent BBFD just the previous month. Unlike the last time I got a BBFB, I got a whole month’s notice of this one, and it was America AND International.
I’ve heard from many authors that they earned out in the first day. I did not. I had a full panic at many points that day and several others that I would never make back the (for me) huge hunk of money I’d committed to this promo. I did not experience BB as a cash machine. I am trying not to feel like a failure for that. In fact, that’s somewhat why I’m posting this. Because not all BBFD are resounding day-one successes and if yours wasn’t a success, come and cry in my twitter DMs, any time.
I did 5 days free (as per KU limits). The BBFD was on day 2. Day 1 I ran a promo with ebookdaily ($5). The BBFD cost $74 for International and $402 America
Downloads (free) of Falling for a Rake per day:
- 448 (ebookdaily)
- 18,960 (Bookbub say their hist rom average free downloads is 18,300)
Total revenue for up to 19 days after the promo:
- International: $380 (ROI of 5.1)
- of which ~20% was ebook sales and 80% was KU reads.
- and Book 1: (FFAR) was ~77% and Book 2 ~23%
- America: $1060 (ROI of 2.6)
- of which ~24% was ebook sales and ~76% was KU reads.
- and 72% was Book 1: (FFAR) and 28% was Book 2
I can’t be bothered to do the numbers for Book 3 (the pre-order), but they were about 40 sales or so across both markets, and ticked up well after the promo (i.e. mostly people didn’t buy all the books together, they read the free book first.
I also sold about 3 paperbacks. Definitely worth it, got about 50 cents total for those, lol! (I keep the prices of paperbacks as low as possible, because I consider them a reader service not an actual product.) Love those people who buy paper – you’re unique!
It’s now about 40 days after the promo, and sales are still significantly up compared to previously. Like, I’m making in a day what I was making in a fortnight. The ratios are holding – FFAR is the majority, KU reads are the majority. Both by a long way.
I have no idea what to attribute any of this to, or whether to mark it down as a success or not. Some things I *feel* positive about:
- The decision to change to an illustrated cover just before the BBFD.
- The decision to lower the price of FFAR to 99 cents about 30 days after the promo to beat the ’30 day pop list cliff edge’ (see David Gaughran for more on that).
- Being in KU
- Going for International as well as America.
- Stopping my (low key) Az ads during the free promo
- Not ‘stacking’ the promo either side of the BBFD.
- Giving away 25,000 copies of my book. That’s a lot of books. It feels exciting just in and of itself that so many people might read my book.
- The ROI.
- The 300+ ratings / reviews FFAR now has. Yeah, some people didn’t like it, but a ton more loved it.
- Sorting out my back-matter before the BBFD so readers can (and have) signed up to my newsletter.
- Doing a BBFD free again. Definitely. I absolutely will.
Some things I feel more ambiguous about:
- Why did I get chosen? BBFD are notoriously fussy. I don’t understand. My best hypothesis is that if you were wide and not a huge hist rom author, you’d be struggling to break even on these numbers. So maybe less people are applying for hist rom BBFDs? Pure speculation.
- Running some Az ads when FFAR was $3.99 after the free period was over. I don’t know how much they did. But my experience is that they definitely do something, so I continued and they broke even.
- Setting all my prices at $3.99. It made perfect sense at the time, and I am deeply grateful to the person who advised me on it. But I wonder if that was a bit steep for such an unknown author. Especially for KU, I think I might have done better to go for 99 cents or $2.99 and get more sales and possibly more KU reads. Dunno. I am not sure about this.
- My read through. It pretty clearly sucks. Book 2 of the series isn’t very tropey, (FFAR is), and it just doesn’t appeal to the same audience, I think. I am not going to attempt to fix this. I am going to move to a new series. Though I might still do one more book in the Fallen series, just for fun and arc completion.
- There is only slight read-through to other books (outside the series). The KU reads suggest readers are getting through FFAR, but not often picking up my other books, for whatever reason. Maybe they just didn’t like FFAR enough? Which is something for me to think about and work on for series 2.0.
- This book’s performance compared to other historical romances, or compared to other romances. I don’t know. I feel okay about this overall. Actually, that’s a lie, I feel delighted. 25k copies of my book are in reader hands. A year’s worth of income (by my standards!) in a month. But I worry it underperformed *compared* to what it should have done. It’s complicated.
So, yeah. If you have any thoughts or questions on this, slide over to Twitter (I turned off commenting on this site because of spam years ago and can’t even remember how to turn them back on.). I’d be really happy to hear your comments or experiences.