My recent promotion – the results

Two Covers

If you’re a regular follower of this blog you’ll know I ran a promotion over the weekend for both Second Chance and Absent Souls and I wanted to share my results with you.


Outside of blogging and the rare promotional tweet, up until June this year I’ve rarely run a book promotion. Second Chance was published in January 2014 and has stayed in the minor charts on ever since. Its sequel, Absent Souls, was published November 2014. There is a third book due out later this year (if I pull my finger out).

I’ve been lucky that I’ve had success with both books on but my efforts of getting noticed in the US have been virtually zero. This is bad news for my sales (the US is by far the largest single ebook market) but good news for testing promotional effectiveness.

I’m not intending to heavily promote my books until book 3 of the trilogy is finished but I wanted to test the effectiveness of different forms of advertising beforehand to see where to focus. I ran my first paid ad in June this year through Booksends, offering Second Chance for free. At the same time I put Absent Souls on a 99c/99p countdown deal. Over the three days Second Chance was downloaded 1000 times and I should enough copies of Absent Souls to cover my costs. While my sales on since then have been flat, my pages read (both my books are in Kindle Unlimited) resulted in a higher income than before but were starting to tail off after two months.

The Goal

As in any business, your book promotion should have a goal. My goal was to increase awareness of my two books on, gain new mailing list subscribers and to cover the cost of advertising. I would also hope to see an increase (read: any) in sales and/or pages read over the following weeks.

Promotion Plan

Use the same offer, Second Chance for free and Absent Souls for 99c/99p over three days.

Day 1 – Promote only on my blog, a promotional post by the wonderful author Tammy Salyer, and one or two promotional tweets.

Day 2 – Two adverts placed, one with Ereader News Today (ENT) and the other with Robin Reads. I’d originally planned to promote only with ENT but I’d heard Robin Reads had a good UK following, and as they had a space free I thought I’d try them as well. The cost of both came to the same amount as the cost of the one promotion with Booksends.

Day 3 – No promotion other than the odd tweet.

The Results

IMG_3394Day 1228 downloads of Second Chance.

This was a surprise as I’d expected maybe 50 with so little promotion, so thank you to everybody who took the time to support the promotion with tweets, reblogs or by telling their friends.

Day 21830 downloads of Second Chance.

Because both mailing lists are US based, the first (Robin Reads) didn’t go out until 3pm UK time. I immediately noticed an upsurge of downloads at this point, from around 30 to over 300 by the time the ENT mailing went out at 5:30pm UK time. This is when things went crazy. By the end of the day I’d reached no.2 in the free science fiction/cyberpunk charts, no.8 in the science fiction charts and had broken into the overall top 100 at no. 65. This was well beyond my wildest expectations and a little surreal.

The down side was that I made hardly a ripple on, so either the information about Robin Reads was incorrect, or the majority had already bought my book. 🙂

Day 3385 downloads of Second Chance

Over the same period Absent Souls hit no. 13,000 in the overall paid charts, with total sales more than covering the costs of the promotion.


It’s always a little dangerous drawing conclusions from such little data, however it’s clear promoting on two mailing lists was more effective than one. I know this may sound like common sense but remember I paid the same amount of money for the June promotion and the one last weekend.

I also believe you need momentum for a successful promotion. The promotion in June met my goals but it only got Second Chance into the top 50 of the Science Fiction charts. Breaking into the top 10 of science fiction, and the top 100 overall, meant Second Chance was visible to a much larger audience, giving it a second chance (no pun intended) to be seen and downloaded by readers other than those on the mailing list.

For the longer term goals it’s too early to say. I know from Kevin Brennan’s blog earlier this year, that high free downloads doesn’t automatically mean higher sales, but even if I don’t reach this goal as yet, I’ve learnt another lesson on the effectiveness of different promotional options and strategies.

What about you? If you’re a writer, which promotional routes do you find most effective? Or if you’re an avid reader, have you signed up to any bargain book mailing lists and if so, which ones? I’d love to hear from you.


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33 thoughts on “My recent promotion – the results

  1. The terrible thing is, as a fellow author, that this all sounds so technical that I can hardly understand it. I suspect, as a traditionally published author, I’m not allowed to try these marketing ploys anyway, but even if I were, I don’t think I’ve got the brains to pull it off, so well done you 🙂

    • I don’t think you’re allowed to do this but your publisher certainly is. Maybe you should talk to them about what promotional plans they have in store for your book. The amount of outlay involved is relatively small and I’ve yet to run a promotion like this that hasn’t at least recouped its costs.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your results, Dylan. Articles like this are very helpful for other authors. Sounds like the promotion paid off. Congratulations on the downloads. I’ve heard others have found EReader News Today helpful too. The only bargain-book mailing list I’m on is BookBubs, but honestly, I rarely read it because I have so many other books waiting for my attention.

    • My pleasure, Carrie. Yes, EReader News are very good and great value. I’m also on BookBub which is a little painful when they turn you down and then send you the books they preferred only a couple of hours later. 😤

  3. Thanks for the mention, Dylan, and I hope the promo earns you a bunch of new fans. I do believe that the lists these promotional outlets mail to are highly genre-focused, so something like sci-fi with a very dedicated readership might do quite well. And since you’re working on a trilogy, you have another big plus in your column.

    Looking forward to a follow-up post in a while to see if you get a bump in reviews too.

  4. Really interesting article, Dylan – thanks for sharing your stats. I understand why giving away your audiobook to build your mailing list is a good move, and visibility is so important in our self-publishing universe.

      • 😳 Oops… I’d just been talking audiobooks with someone else. I don’t suppose I can blame auto-correct, can I? 😉

      • [ahem…]… Darn it, Dylan. I just noticed that when I commented on your E-book earlier, my pesky iPad auto-corrected for me and turned ‘E’ into ‘audio’. Goodness knows why it did that! I can’t imagine how it thought I could possibly have meant to write ‘audio’ when actually – as you must have realised – I wrote ‘E’!

        Although…… purely as an aside, apropos of nothing (and certainly not that annoying little autocorrect thingy)…. have you thought about turning Second Chance into an audiobook?

        Just askin’….. 😘

  5. There’s me lying fallow in the promo area and there’s you on your sky rocket. Humpf. Just need to get my ass into gear I guess. Thanks for the tips and hints. All very useful.

  6. Thank you for disclosing your promotions. You did well. I’m one of the masses who downloaded Second Chance. I thought it sounded interesting, and then I recognized your name because I follow your blog.
    Waho! I hit that click button.

    Now truth be told, I haven’t done anything yet because I review books on scifibookreview and have a list. Let’s say I’m swamped. But I do plan to read it as soon as I’m able and will respond in some manner.

    For September I already have a a Robin Reads promo and Freebooksy. Promos can get expensive, but several are worth it. It’s just trying to figure out which ones those are. KDP Select usually does well, but I have a series and that helps.

    Good luck and keep us informed.

    • Thank you, Sheron. I hope you enjoy Second Chance. I’ve been following your blog for quite a while and know you’re a big supporter of science fiction and fantasy, so I’d love to hear your thoughts when you finally clear that backlog. 🙂
      Good luck with your own promotions. Yes, they can be expensive but I’ve yet to lose money on a promotion and are great for raising a book’s visibility.

    • I think with BookBub it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. I’ve only downloaded one promoted book from BookBub myself as I prefer to find my own but they have promoted a few books I’ve already read and enjoyed.

    • I’ve been lucky that I’ve not lost money on advertising but you shouldn’t assume this will always be the case. Only spend what you can afford but many of the services I’ve used are relatively inexpensive.

  7. All data is valuable when so little is available, Dylan! So great to read this and see how clearly defined goals should be set out. If more posted their data as you’ve done – I know Nicholas C. Rossis has shared promotional data too – indie authors could make much better choices. Sounds like you got some really great results.

    • I don’t understand why more authors don’t share their data. It helps enormously when deciding which promotional avenues to use. I tried ENT because of the great work done by Nicholas C. Rossis and I’m glad I did.

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