Google+ Badge

6.18.2015

Promotion Services Update: More BookBub, Bargain Booksy, Free Booksy, Kindle Marketing, Genre Pulse

I’m Robert Stanek, a pro author since 1994 and an indie since 2001. Today, I have a special report in a continuing series of articles on book promotion services. I had hoped to have the full research reports completed for a number of services we’ve been tracking and testing since 2014. But with the unexpected early release of Windows 10, which I’ll be writing about in three upcoming books: Windows 10: The Personal Trainer, Windows 10 Step Up and Windows 10 Fast Start, I’ll have to keep this update short and sweet. Thanks to the team for the initial writeup, with my additions and edits!

Team Update


Yes, Team Read Indies heard and considered your increasing complaints and gripes about BookBub (www.bookbub.com), and how you’re tired of its high prices that keep going higher for decreasing returns on your investment and sales. Team Read Indies increasingly agrees the service is overpriced for what’s delivered, and that pricing seems largely based on how much money they think the average writer is going to make from a promotion. We also agree with complaints that the information and statistics provided by BookBub are misleading and need strong disclaimers regarding active, open, click and buy rates.

Our research on BookBub is here and here. For another take on BookBub, we recommend the independent research from Indies Now:


The eye-opening graphic below, reprinted with permission from the book, best summarizes the true picture regarding BookBub--and the statistics come from BookBub’s own published numbers and public statements.

As the graphic shows, one million subscribers doesn’t mean one million people are going to see the ad for your book. Only about 30 – 45% of subscribers are active at any given time and of these, only a smaller percentage even open the daily email containing any particular ad. This quickly whittles down the 1 million number to the base number of people who potentially could see your ad: 22 – 35% of the actives or about 66,000 to 157,500 per one million subscribers.

Of these, only 21 - 29% actually click on something and of the clickers only 34 - 58% actually buy something. Overall, only 8 to 12 % of buyers buy your book (when an email has 5 to 12 book listings). The chances of getting a buy go down proportionally to the number of book listings. If a daily email has 20 to 25 books instead of 5 to 12 your chances of success go down 50 to 75% (closer to 3 to 5% of buyers).

An update on promotion services Team Read Indies has been researching since 2014 and had hoped to have final research reports on :

Bargain Booksy (www.bargainbooksy.com)
Free Booksy (www.freebooksy.com)
Genre Pulse (www.genrepulse)

Bargain Booksy / Free Booksy


Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy are two of our favorite up and comers. Both services are run by the same management team – a team who graciously accepted our offer to talk with them regarding their services. Robert sat down with the management team and conducted an extensive interview, which will be part of the upcoming research report.

As the names imply, Bargain Booksy is where readers go to find bargain books and Free Booksy is where readers go to find free books.

With Bargain Booksy, pricing ranges from $25 to $50 and all genres of books are accepted. Pricing here is somewhat high relative to return on investment, and like most promotion services somewhat high for the value delivered. Fair pricing, based on observed results from the 18-month study, would be at least 20% - 35% lower than current rates.

However, this is true of all services we’ve tested. For example, based on actual value delivered for paid books, BookBub is priced 150% to 500% over the actual value delivered, depending on genre and book price. However, BookBub offers a mostly fair value for promotions of free books. 

With Free Booksy, pricing ranges from $40 to $200 and all genres of books are accepted. Though we like the service, pricing here is very high relative to return on investment and value delivered. As an example, a paranormal romance promoted at BookBub for $195 will get most authors 4,000 to 16,000 downloads, a cost of .05 to .0125 per download.

A paranormal romance promoted at Free Booksy for $200 will get most authors 1,200 to 3,500 downloads, a cost of .17 to .06 per download, making Free Booksy up to 7X more costly than BookBub. Fair pricing, based on observed results from the 18-month study, would be at least 50% - 75% lower than current rates. To be clear, the same is true of most of the promotion services we’ve studied:

BookBub is overpriced 150% to 500% for paid books. We’d like to see flat-pricing for paid books—not pricing based on how much money BookBub thinks you’re going to make off a promotion and then pricing everything so most authors break even at best (and at worst spend a lot of money for a lot less return than expected).
ENT’s recent price hike has made them less of a value and actually put them on the overpriced side. The price hike was unwarranted and also increasingly based on how much money an author can potentially earn from a promotion. Whether an author wants to price a paid book at .99, 1.99 or 2.99 pricing should be the same.
Fussy Reader also recently hiked prices, making them less of a value. We’d like to see the prices rollback to retain the high value we saw in our earlier research.
The Reading Club has had two recent price hikes, both making the service less of a value. Again, we’d like to see the prices rollback to retain the high value we saw in our earlier research.

Where Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy shine is with helping newer authors with promotion, as their rules and restrictions are more inline with how these types of businesses should operate. Basically, if you have a book that has a marketable cover, a marketable description, looks professional overall, appropriate pricing and money to spend on advertising, you should qualify for any service and be able to spend that advertising money wherever and however you please. Amen. Kudos to Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy for their openness and true interest in helping authors.


Kindle Marketing


On to Kindle Marketing (https://www.fiverr.com/kindlemarketing). Our earlier research on Fiverr promotion was pretty condemning. However, we did find a few bright spots and have researched them thoroughly. One of these is Kindle Marketing, a dedicated team of marketers who truly cares about your success and gives excellent value for your marketing dollars. The $5 basic gig plus the $5 viral social media option gave the best value: daily promotion for 7 days on social media. This is a great value for the investment, as Kindle Marketing will create an ad for you and then promote it up to 20 times each day for 7 days, giving you up to 140 promotion opportunities.

Basically, in talking with Kindle Marketing your $10 is buying 1-hour of an associate’s time. Kindle Marketing will go to sites, groups on Facebook and other social media and post for you each day. We’ve tried something similar and it took 5 hours to set up with all the sites and another 3 hours to make a similar number of promotions each day ourselves. So $10 for an hour of an experienced marketer’s time? Yes, a great value.

Another excellent value was the $5 basic gig plus the $5 viral social media option and the $20 option to extend the promotion for 30 days. Again, a great value for the investment, as Kindle Marketing will create an ad for you and then promote it up to 20 times each day for 30 days, giving you many promotion opportunities. In talking with Kindle Marketing your $30 is buying 3-hours of an associate’s time. Considering Fiverr gets a 20% cut and Kindle Marketing actually only receives $24, it’s a great value, unless you really have the time to do something like this yourself. We tried and even with everything set up for promotion, it took 6 -7 hours of our time.

Another excellent value was the career makeover gig, which provides everything an author needs to start turning his or her writing career around and start getting sales. To be effective, you really do need to order the complete set of extras in the appropriate quantities and then get out of their way to let them help you. The service requires an investment of time and money—and Kindle Marketing expects the author to work as hard as they do to turn things around. Here the options you need to make the service worthwhile can include cover revisions, bio revision, social media building, revision of book descriptions, keywords and categories, and more depending on author.

The initial analysis provides a report on your current author platform and where you need to go. A required first step so Kindle Marketing can review where you are on social media. You’re not really paying for the report; you’re paying for their time in reviewing your current efforts. Thus, if you buy this option and nothing else, you’re wasting your money and time.

The average cost of a makeover was $200 to $500 and the results? Authors who previously had no or few sales, started seeing regular sales. To them, it was money well spent. There are caveats, though. For authors with one book or two, your time and effort is better spent on writing your next book. You really do need 3 or more books to benefit from this type of service.

Genre Pulse


Genre Pulse is another promotion service we’ve researched and will report on in the weeks ahead. James, the founder of the service, was also gracious with his time and willingness to work with our team and Robert. Robert interviewed James and discussed the service at length, the results of which will be published with our forthcoming study.

Genre Pulse is a service that shows a lot of promise and potential. However, during our research, the service was priced at $30 for full promo and $10 for apps only promo. Both of which were slightly overpriced based on results. The service is now priced at $40 for full promo and $15 for apps only promo, with no real change in results. Though the service is growing, we don’t feel the price increase is warranted. Look for the occasional sales that put pricing for full promo at $20 - $25 to get a better value. Though fairer pricing would be $20 flat fee. Apps only pricing, however, needs to come down about 50%, which would then make the offering a value.

That said, Genre Pulse retains a recommendation with caveats we'll discuss in more depth later. James seems to genuinely want to help authors, so let him know your thoughts and give his service a try! If you don't get the expected results, let him know that too and he may help you out.



Thanks for reading,


Team Read Indies

3.22.2015

More on Social Media Promotion Services: BuckBooks (NO!) and BKnights (Maybe!)

BuckBooks, operated by ArchAngelInk (AKA ArchAngelEST, Matt Stone, Rob Archangel, Buck Flogging, et al), is a promotion service that requires member authors to promote and talk up the service in exchange for free promotion. Be aware that authors talking up the service typically are being compensated in some way to do so, whether by virtue of their free promotions or otherwise.

BuckBooks is not a mini BookBub or anything approaching a mini anything and those stating such are doing so for the sole purpose of getting authors to sign up. Team ReadIndies has not been able to verify any of the wild claims of sales success, and we have tried many times. ReadIndies is issuing an avoid advisory on this service, based on this behavior and the behavior of its founders.

In our earlier report on Social Media Promotion Services, we were disappointed to find that by and large the facebook/twitter/blog services didn't work. However, we did hold back on discussing a service with potential:


Our comments about Bknights have been publicly available since February 16, 2015 (http://readindies.blogspot.com/2015/02/facebook-twitter-blog-book-promotion.html) and this post expands on those comments.

Although this service was included in our earlier study, we just now completed full research on the service for the 24 participating authors who used the service to promote 34 books from many genres/categories, including:

Mystery
Thriller
Romance
Scifi
Fantasy
Horror
Literary Fiction
Self-Help
Cooking
Health

At least 16 of the 24 participants used the service one or more times. What follows is a summary of results gathered.

We didn't include our research in the previous report as fundamental changes to the service were made subsequent to the time we started our research.

Bknights provides several Fiverr gigs, all of which revolve around various social media promotions:
  • $5 for promotion to 15 Best Kindle sites
  • $5 for FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Digital-Book-Spot/376198459143010?fref=ts
  • $5 for promotion on a website at www.DigitalBookSpot.com
  • $5 for promotion on Twitter @DigitalBookSpot
  • $5 for promotion via DigitalBookSpot newsletter for ebook lovers
The first gig submits a FREE kindle book to 15 kindle sites/facebook groups. The remaining four gigs revolve around DigitalBookSpot promotions. Individually, the participants did not believe each option was worth $5, and collectively, the full package doesn't seem to be worth $25 either. However, if you can get multiple services for $5 instead of $15, $20 or $25, this likely would be a good value.

To get multiple services for $5, you must be a member of one of the discussion forums that Brian, who runs the service, hangs out at, and you must mention the forum when ordering the gig. Just be aware, that this preferential treatment, given to a subset of customers, gives extra value that may be the source of the excessively high praise. Keep in mind, however, that you might not get the preferential treatment or the value from which the raves are derived, and the raves themselves are often from the same raters over and over. (NOTE: Fiverr allows the same raters to rate as many times as they use a service with no limitations and that's how a few raters rating over and over can suddenly become thousands.)

Further, when reviewers are talking about getting XYZ of downloads from a Bknights promotion, they're talking about books in popular categories being given away for free at Amazon that may or may not have received any actual boost from the service.

ReadIndies advice for anyone considering Bknights is to use the website gig and no other options. The Twitter and Facebook gigs have virtually no value (and should in fact be free as part of the standard $5 gig). The value of the newsletter is growing, as the subscriber base grows. However, at the time of this writing, having a listing in the newsletter isn’t worth $5.

If possible, you should also ensure you receive more than one service for $5. Otherwise, at present, way too many books are being featured each day for there to be any consistent value. As examples:

  • 90 books were featured on 2/17; 71 books were featured on 2/16; 59 books were featured on 2/15
  • 121 books were featured on 3/18 and 79 were featured on 3/17

That's way too many features for any book to stand out, and substantially different than the number of books featured historically. As an example, these numbers are 3X - 4X what they were last June/July -- and that was a time when listings could stay up for multiple days as well.

To be clear as crystal, Bknights was absolutely a good value last June/July and earlier, with 25 or so books featured each day. However, with 80, 90, 100 or more books now being featured at a time, Bknights is no longer a good value. Some few who use the service may get results to return the nominal investment; many others won’t.

It should also be pointed out that Bknights is much more than a $5 service. If in fact 70 books on average are new features each day, that means Bknights could quickly develop into a $100K+ a year business. While we think Fiverr may be a good place to start a business, we hope Bknights will develop the service further to ensure every author gets true value.


Thanks for reading,

Team Read Indies

3.12.2015

Promoting a First Novel with Book Promotion Services – Which Should I use?

Recently, received an excellent question in the comments from “Dollar for Dollar Are These the Best Book Promotion Services?” regarding promotion of first novels and wanted to put the answer in its own post as I think it may be helpful to other first-time writers.

Question: If I am trying to promote my first novel, should I avoid these services? - as I wouldn't earn enough to recoup the costs, and I don't have any other titles that might benefit. Any recommendations for first timers?

Answer: On the contrary, BargainReading, Fussy Reader and The Reading Club truly are the best performers with respect to return on investment, dollar for dollar. Under our focused tests, which carefully tracked only true results, these three actually either came very close to earning back 100% of the investment or actually earned back the investment plus. No other book promotions services we’ve tested have done that, ENT and BookBub included.

Enewsreadertoday and BookBub remain top recommendations and thumbs up selections. However, they didn’t give a full return on investment. With Enewsreadertoday: At .99, authors earned back $7 on average from royalties and paid $30 on average. At $1.99, authors earned back $14 on average from royalties and paid $45 on average. At $2.99, authors earned back $62 on average from royalties and paid $90 on average.

@ .99 this is a .23 ROI. @ 1.99 this is a .31 ROI. @ 2.99 this is a .69 ROI. All of which is a good and tangible result, which you don’t necessarily see with marketing.

With BookBub: At .99, books didn’t recoup the cost of the promotion or even come close; the average .99 book earned $108 (.35 from each sale) but the average promotion cost was $420. At $1.99, books didn’t recoup the cost of the promotion or even come close either; the average $1.99 book earned $224 (.70 from each sale) but the average promotion cost was $772. At $2.99, books came closer to recouping the cost of the promotion; the average $2.99 book earned $788 (2.04 from each sale) but the average promotion cost was $1294.

@ .99 this is a .26 ROI. @ 1.99 this is a .29 ROI. @ 2.99 this is a .61 ROI. All of which is a good and tangible result.


The reason ENT and BookBub remain top recommendations are because you typically don’t see complete return of investment from marketing – the actual return isn’t necessarily a tangible result. This is true of all marketing – all marketing ever done. Marketing isn’t necessarily about the instant sales. It’s about building recognition, brand, name, etc. What you get with ENT is access to some segment of 500,000 readers. What you get with BookBub is access to some segment of 5 million readers.

Similarly, Bargain Reading gives you access to 500,000 readers. Fussy Reader, access to 1.5 million readers. The Reading Club, access to 5 million readers.

With Bargain Reading, for .99 books the earnings were $38, $47, and $57 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, after paying $50 on average. For 1.99 books the was $50, $59, and $69 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, after paying $50 on average, actually showing ROI.

@ .99 the ROI is .76, .94 and 1.14 respectively.
@ 1.99 the ROI is 1.0, 1.18 and 1.38 respectively.
@ 2.99 the ROI is 1.22, 1.34 and 1.4 respectively.

All of which are exceptional, tangible results.

With Fussy Reader, For .99 books, the earnings were $88, $92, and $99 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, after paying $90 on average. For 1.99 books, the earnings were $102, $106, and $114 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, after paying $90 on average. For 2.99 books, the earnings were $111, $116, and $122 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, after paying $90 on average.

@ .99 the ROI is .98, 1.02 and 1.1 respectively.
@ 1.99 the ROI is 1.13, 1.18 and 1.27 respectively.
@ 2.99 the ROI is 1.23, 1.29 and 1.36 respectively.

All of which are exceptional, tangible results.

With The Reading Club, authors who paid $300, earned back $295 to $390 and authors who paid $750 earned back $729 to $965. Thus, the ROI ranged from .98 to 1.3 for genres with smaller audiences and from .97 to 1.29 for genres with larger audiences.

All of which are exceptional, tangible results.

That said, it’s very hard to build following and sales with a first novel. Better to write the second than to spend money on marketing, but if you’re going to spend money, services that give you value over time would be your best bet, rather than one-time listings. 

With first-time novelists, I would avoid one-time listings for the most part, unless your book has been well received and has many favorable reviews. For that reason, I would more readily recommend BargainReading, Fussy Reader and The Reading Club to first-time novelists over the alternatives. You’re going to get so much more value for your money with respect to the things that can lead to long-term success: name/brand recognition, awareness, etc. As an example, Bargain Reading and Fussy Reader cost less than $20 a month for regular promotion and you'll get so much more value than if you purchased a few $10 listings somewhere.

But you really need to keep working on the next and the next novel to build that to success.  

3.02.2015

Dollar for Dollar Are These the Best Book Promotion Services? Bargain Reading, The Reading Club, Fussy Reader

Recently, Read Indies completed a year-long study of book promotion services and published several research reports. Some of the top services we discovered in our research include Bargain Reading, The Reading Club and Fussy Reader.

First of all, these services in their original form were only available to traditional publishers and mainstream companies. We asked them why not indies? We got an earful about how their readership preferred traditional books and products, blah, blah, blah. So we screamed and hollered until they let us in (and THEN we tested the HECK out of their services :-)

We found these services to be so effective that we're not continuing with our own efforts to manage separate promotion services and instead joining their partner network, which rewards our promotional reach with discounts, offers enhancements anytime we market through them and more. That network is called Marketing Partners Network. You too can try to get into their partners network here: http://www.the-reading.club/marketers/index.htm. If you use these services or join the network, let them know ReadIndies sent you or you might not ever get in.

Now on to the good stuff. Here are the sites:

The Reading Club - http://www.the-reading.club/

Here are the rules we followed during our research:

18 participants tried each service and tracked the results. Each participant used at least 2 of the 3 services:

Bargain Reading has a 4-month promotion cycle
The Reading Club has a 6-month promotion cycle
Fussy Reader has 6-month promotion cycle

It’s important to note that The Reading Club features 2 primary promotion titles for each cycle for authors who have “4 to 12” or “12 or more” books. The total of number of promoted books was 56 and they included books from 15 genres:

Mystery
Thriller
Adventure
Horror
Contemporary Fiction
Inspirational Fiction
Contemporary Romance
Paranormal Romance
Historical Romance
History
True Crime
Advice/How-To
Business
Teen/Young Adult
Children's

As before, our overall rating for these services is a simple thumbs up or thumbs down system:

Two thumbs up - Excellent
One thumb up - Good
One thumb down - Not Good
Two thumbs down - Not Recommended

To this, we added a numeric indicator from 0 to 20 to indicate level of success regarding downloads or sales during the promotion:

0 - the lowest score, the worst value for your time, money
10 - the middle score, a good value for your time, money
20 - the highest score, the highest value for your time, money

Note that the scores are about value for your time AND money. All of these services require a bit more of your time than any other services because they work to promote you over long periods of time, rather than in a one-time listing. Whether the time investment and the monetary investment are worth it is up to you to decide.

Something we really liked about these services is that they were willing to listen to our feedback and make adjustments to their offerings based on the results of our research, which we released preliminarily to them quite some time ago. Not only that, they incorporated these changes into their new enhanced offerings when they recently re-launched. To be clear also, Bargain Reading, The Reading Club and Fussy Reader are new brands for their pre-existing products and were designed specifically for indie and traditional books rather than traditional books and other traditional products.

NOTE: Made the preceding bold since some people apparently don't understand what a new offering / brand means.

Based on our feedback and work together, they developed several features to remove much of the frustration we experienced while trying to work with other promotion services. The features include:

Dedicated Slot – The services limit the number of promotions at any one time using dedicated slots in marketing inventory. This reduces the number of products being marketed at the same time and improves visibility and overall chance for success of every participating author.

Express Lane – Once you are accepted, you no longer have to re-qualify your books and pray they are going to accept you. You simply follow the Traffic Forecasts and submit when there are openings and because you’ve been pre-screened you’ll always be accepted (though there are a few restrictions, such as those regarding overly suggestive and explicit book covers).

Traffic Forecast – Lets members know how far in advance promotions are booked. Since only currently accepted authors get access to a forecast page about openings, here’s the forecast as of Feb 25, 2015:

Website                          Next Availability
The Reading Club              June 29, 2015
Fussy Reader                     June 17, 2015
Bargain Reading                July 2, 2015

Hold Queue – Puts your submission in the hold queue and lets you keep your place in line for opening slots. Kind of like taking a number at a store. This saves you from having to submit, get rejected due to lack of space, and then do this over and over in the hopes you’ll eventually get an opening.

It’s important to note that normally the Hold Queue is only available to Diamond members and Tier 3 marketing partners. Diamond members are simply members who have used the service 3 or more times, or who have chosen AlwaysOn promotion. Tier 3 marketing partners are members of Marketing Partners Network with a large verified social media reach. Each is limited to a certain number of listings in the hold queue, but we found a Tier 3 partner willing to share their queue: Kindle Indies (https://www.fiverr.com/kindleindies). For $5, you can use one of their slots in the hold queue.

If you get in the hold queue, you should be contacted as openings become available. Sometimes slots can open sooner than expected too, which is a very good thing.

Don’t put yourself in the hold queue if you don’t think you can respond and reserve a spot within 48-hours (2 business days, not weekends / holidays) of email notification regarding availability. The reason for this is that if you don’t respond to the follow up, regardless of whether the email got stuck in your junk folder or you were in Tahiti, you won’t be eligible to use the hold queue again for 1 year.

Getting in the hold queue doesn’t mean you must accept the spot. However, from experience, if you turn down a held opening twice in a row, you’ll not ever again get in the hold queue.

It’s important to point out that the services work together and within their Marketing Partners Network to promote accepted works not just once but with targeted marketing over a 120 to 180 day promotion window, giving authors value over time instead of a one-shot and soon-gone listing. In addition to mailings, articles in the press, features, interviews and more: The Reading Club members are promoted throughout all Tier 1, 2 and 3 partner networks; Fussy Reader members are promoted throughout all Tier 1 and 2 networks; and Bargain Reading members are promoted throughout all Tier 1 networks. Indeed, an important part of the value of these services comes from the marketing networks. Bargain Reading may also go to a 180-day window. If so, then all three will use the 180-day window.

Under our research of their original offerings, all three services performed better than any other service we tested (except for BookBub). The downloads and sales listed are those downloads and sales that were above typical levels seen for any title. For example, if a title typically had 12 sales a month, 12 sales a month were subtracted from the results to give the total additional sales for a month.
 
Bargain Reading

Rating: One Thumb up, though high marks for being an excellent value.

Bargain Reading’s total reach is 500,000+. Bargain Reading accomplishes this reach through its own combined mailings lists, its websites, social media and its partner networks. Promotion with Bargain Reading also buys you promotion with partner networks, and the coordination is all handled by Bargain Reading.

Bargain Reading doesn't charge a different rate based on the price of featured books. Thus, it doesn’t matter whether the book is FREE,. .99, 1.99, 2.99 and 3.99. The reason for this is that their promotions focus on a whole author concept and not individual titles per se. That said, authors get 1 primary title for promotion during their 4-month promotion window. Having anyone promote you periodically for 4-months for $40 - $60 is a pretty good value and a rate of about $10 to $15 per month per title. For that you’ll get mailing list promotion, a web page and some targeted periodic marketing.

Success Level for Free Book: 4.

Success with free books was hard to gauge because of the long promotion window. Bargain Reading lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like this:

Book 1  Everyday Price: $5.99
June 1 - June 5: FREE
Jul 15 - Jul 30: $2.99
Aug 18 - Aug 20: FREE
Sep 23 - Sep 26: $.99
Where  AMAZON, GOOGLE, NOOK, APPLE, KOBO

They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. The where value tells them where the sales will be, as in what major retailers. They only care about Amazon, Google, KoboBooks, Apple and Barnes & Noble.

If you have changes or a previously unforeseen sale, they let you send them updates too (but only a few during the term because they’ll charge you extra if you try to make changes every week), though at least 14 days in advance. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been free during the entire promotion:

Fewer than 650 downloads (above typical levels) on average for lower flat-fee ranges ($30/$35) and fewer than 1275 downloads (above typical levels) on average with higher flat-fee ranges ($50/$60). Most other promotion companies we researched (except Bookbub) brought in about 100 – 200 downloads for each $10 of investment.

By this metric Bargain Reading did well with about 210 downloads for each $10 of cost. Unlike most other services, Bargain Reading doesn't charge a different rate for free or paid books. It's one-flat rate for all, and we loved that.

Success Level .99, 1.99: 5.

Bargain Reading accepts all price levels for bargains, including boxed sets as high as 9.99 and even traditional publisher books at 9.99 (as long as it represents a deep discount or everyday value). For example, a traditional publisher may have a $34.99 boxed set that they mark down to $9.99.

The participating authors tested the service with books priced .99 to 3.99.

NOTE: As stated earlier, Bargain Reading lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like the one shown earlier. They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or a sudden sale, they let you send them updates too. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been paid at the price specified during the entire promotion.

Fewer than 46 @.99 and 37 @ 1.99 sales on average for lower flat-fee ranges books ($30 to $40) and fewer than 78 @.99 and 61 @ 1.99 sales on average with higher flat-fee ranges ($40 to $60). Unlike most other services, Bargain Reading doesn't charge rates based on sale price. It's one-flat rate for all, and we loved that.

With these sales level, authors didn’t earn enough to recoup the cost of the promotion. At .99, authors earned back $22 on average from royalties and paid $50 on average. At $1.99, authors earned back $34 on average from royalties and paid $50 on average.

However, Bargain Reading also helps to promote other titles by the author, through its website, articles, and related promotions of the author and his/her works (the whole author approach they use). Bargain Reading calls this secondary promotion and participating authors did see an increase of sales of other titles throughout the promotion period. Every author gets a web page, one or more articles, etc. as part of the promotion.

The other sites in this group have 3 categories of authors and that's how they work promotion on the back side too. Those with "3 or less" works, those with "4 to 12" works and those with "More than 12" works.

Participating authors in the "3 or less" category saw on average 12 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.24, this meant about $16 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "4 to 12" category saw on average 19 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.24, this meant about $25 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "More than 12" category saw on the biggest boost, an average 26 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.24, this meant about $35 in additional earnings.

This meant:

For .99 books the total additional earnings was $38, $47, and $57 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which earned back the investment (just barely sometimes).

For 1.99 books the total additional earnings was $50, $59, and $69 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which earned back the investment (most of the time).

Success Level 2.99, 3.99: 5.

Fewer than 19 @ 2.99 and 12 @ 3.99 sales on average for lower flat-fee ranges ($30 to $40) and fewer than 26 @ 2.99 and 21 @ 3.99 sales on average with higher flat-fee ranges ($40 to $60). Unlike most other services, Bargain Reading doesn't charge rates based on sale price. It's one-flat rate for all, and we loved that.

NOTE: As stated earlier, Bargain Reading lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like the one shown earlier. They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or a sudden sale, they let you send them updates too. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been paid at the price specified during the entire promotion.

With these sales level, authors didn’t earn enough to recoup the cost of the promotion (though it was close). At 2.99, authors earned back $47 on average from royalties and paid $50 on average. At $3.99, authors earned back $46 on average from royalties and paid $50 on average. (The promotion made more because authors earned ~70% on these sales instead of ~35% from Amazon.)

However, Bargain Reading also helps to promote other titles by the author, through websites, articles, and related promotions of the author and his/her works (the whole author approach they use). Bargain Reading calls this secondary promotion and participating authors did see an increase of sales of other titles throughout the promotion period. Every author gets a web page, one or more articles, etc as part of the promotion.

The other sites in this group have 3 categories of authors and that's how they work promotion on the back side too. Those with "3 or less" works, those with "4 to 12" works and those with "More than 12" works.

Participating authors in the "3 or less" category saw on average 8 additional sales (meaning sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.79, this meant about $14 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "4 to 12" category saw on average 12 additional sales (meaning sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles at ~$2.79, this meant about $20 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "More than 12" category saw on the biggest boost, an average 14 additional sales (meaning sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles at $2.79, this meant about $23 in additional earnings.

This meant:

For 2.99 books, the total additional earnings was then $61, $67, and $70 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which did an okay job of earning authors additional value for their investment.

For 3.99 books, the total additional earnings was then $60, $66, and $69 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which did an okay job of earning authors additional value for their investment.


Fussy Reader

Rating: One Thumb up, though high marks for being an excellent value.

Fussy Reader’s total reach is about 1,500,000+. Fussy Reader accomplishes this reach through its own focused pooled mailings lists, its websites, its social media venues and its partner network. Promotion with Fussy Reader also buys you promotion with partner networks, and the coordination is all handled by Fussy Reader.

Fussy Reader also doesn't charge a different rate for the price of featured books. Again, the reason for this is that their promotions focus on the whole author concept and not individual titles per se. That said, authors get 1 primary title for promotion during their 6-month promotion window. Having anyone promote your periodically for 6-months for $60 - $120 is also a pretty good value and a rate of about $10 to $20 per month per title. For that you’ll get mailing list promotion, a web page and targeted periodic marketing. Some repeat authors even got free press releases for new and pre-order titles.

Success Level Free Book: 5.

Like Bargain Reading, Fussy Reader lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like this:

Book 1  Everyday Price: $5.99
June 1 - June 5: FREE
Jul 15 - Jul 30: $2.99
Aug 18 - Aug 20: FREE
Sep 23 - Sep 26: $.99
AMAZON, GOOGLE

They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or an unforeseen sale, they let you send them updates too, though you must give at least 14 days advance notice. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been free during the entire promotion:

Fewer than 1450 downloads (above typical levels) on average for lower flat-fee ranges ($60/$70) and fewer than 2600 downloads on average with higher flat-fee ranges ($110/$120). Most other promotion companies we researched (except Bookbub) brought in about 100 – 200 downloads for each $10 of investment.

By this metric Fussy Reader did well with about 215 downloads per $10 of cost. Unlike most other services, Fussy Reader doesn't charge a different rate for free or paid books. It's one-flat rate for all, and we loved that.

Success Level .99, 1.99: 6.


Fussy Reader also doesn't charge a different rate for the price of featured books. It's one-flat rate for all prices. Fussy Reader accepts all price levels for deals, including boxed sets as high as 9.99. The participating authors tested the service with books priced .99 to 3.99.

NOTE: As stated earlier, Fussy Reader lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like the one shown earlier. They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or a sudden sale, they let you send them updates too. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been paid at the price specified during the entire promotion.

Fewer than 94 @ .99 and 59 @ 1.99 sales on average for lower flat-fee ranges ($60 to $70) and fewer than 187 @ .99 and 121 @ 1.99 sales on average with higher flat-fee ranges ($110 to $120).

With these sales level, authors didn’t earn enough to recoup the cost of the promotion. At .99, authors earned back $49 on average from royalties and paid $90 on average. At $1.99, authors earned back $63 on average from royalties and paid $90 on average.

However, Fussy Reader also helps to promote other titles by the author, through websites, articles, and related promotions of the author and his/her works (the whole author approach they use). Fussy Reader calls this secondary promotion and participating authors did see an increase of sales of other titles throughout the promotion period. Every author gets a web page, one or more articles, etc as part of the promotion.

The other sites in this group have 3 categories of authors and that's how they work promotion on the back side too. Those with "3 or less" works, those with "4 to 12" works and those with "More than 12" works.

Participating authors in the "3 or less" category saw on average 29 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.24, this meant about $39 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "4 to 12" category saw on average 32 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.24, this meant about $43 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "More than 12" category saw on the biggest boost, an average 38 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.24, this meant about $51 in additional earnings.

This meant:

For .99 books, the total additional earnings was then $88, $92, and $99 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which earned back the investment (just barely most of the time).

For 1.99 books, the total additional earnings was then $102, $106, and $114 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which did an okay job of earning authors full value for their investment.

Success Level 2.99, 3.99: 6.

Fewer than 28 @ 2.99 and 23 @ 3.99 sales on average for lower flat-fee ranges ($60 to $70) and fewer than 52 @ 2.99 and 40 @ 3.99 sales on average with higher flat-fee ranges ($110 to $120). Unlike most other services, Fussy Reader doesn't charge rates based on sale price. It's one-flat rate for all, and we loved that.

With these sales level, authors didn’t earn enough to recoup the cost of the promotion (but just barely). At 2.99, authors earned back $84 on average from royalties and paid $90 on average. At $3.99, authors earned back $88 on average from royalties and paid $90 on average. (The promotion made more profit primarily because authors earned ~70% on these sales instead of ~35% at Amazon.)

However, Fussy Reader also helps to promote other titles by the author, through its website, articles, and related promotions of the author and his/her works (the whole author approach they use). Fussy Reader calls this secondary promotion and participating authors did see an increase of sales of other titles throughout the promotion period. Every author gets a web page, one or more articles, etc as part of the promotion.

The other sites in this group have 3 categories of authors and that's how they work promotion on the back side too. Those with "3 or less" works, those with "4 to 12" works and those with "More than 12" works.

These numbers are the same as discussed previously. Participating authors in the "3 or less" category saw on average 16 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.79, this meant about $27 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "4 to 12" category saw on average 19 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles at ~$2.79, this meant about $32 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "More than 12" category saw on the biggest boost, an average 23 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles at $2.79, this meant about $38 in additional earnings.

This meant:

For 2.99 books, the total additional earnings was then $111, $116, and $122 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which did an okay job of earning authors additional value for their investment.

For 3.99 books, the total additional earnings was then $115, $121, and $127 respectively for “3 or less”, “4 to 12” and “More than 12” authors, which did an okay job of earning authors additional value for their investment.

The Reading Club

Rating: Two thumbs up, and high marks for being an excellent value.

The Reading Club’s total reach is 5,000,000+. The Reading Club accomplishes this reach through its own specialized multilevel mailings lists, its websites, its social media venues and its partner network. Promotion with The Reading Club also buys you promotion with partner networks, and the coordination is all handled by The Reading Club.

The Reading Club also doesn't charge a different rate for the price of featured books, but does charge based on the number works an author has published. The reason for this is that their network is so large and they promote the whole author as well as the title or titles you’ve setup for promotion. That said, authors with “3 or less” works get 1 primary title for promotion during their 6-month promotion window and authors with “4 to 12” or “More than 12” get 2 primary titles for promotion.

Following this, the current rate (and they just changed them so we had to redo our numbers) for 1 promoted mystery/thriller book is:

$440 for “3 or less” authors
$625 / 2 for “4 to 12” authors, which is $312.50 per title
$750 / 2 for “12 or more” authors, which is $375 per title

And the current rate for teen / young adult is:

$180 for “3 or less” authors
$255 / 2 for “4 to 12” authors, which is $127.50 per title
$305 / 2 for “12 or more” authors, which is $152.50 per title

Thus, the low range for cost is between $105 and $150, the midrange of cost is $160 to $280 and the high range of cost is $290 and up. For our purposes, we’ll extrapolate the cost for $100, $200 and $300 of promotion.

Success Level Free Book: 7.

The Reading Club doesn't charge a different rate for free or paid books either. It's one-flat rate for all, and we loved that.

Like Bargain Reading and Fussy Reader, The Reading Club lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like this:

Book 1  Everyday Price: $5.99
June 1 - June 5: FREE
Jul 15 - Jul 30: $2.99
Aug 18 - Aug 20: FREE
Sep 23 - Sep 26: $.99
AMAZON, GOOGLE

They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or an unforeseen sale, they let you send them updates too, though you must give at least 14 days advance notice. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been free during the entire promotion:

On average the participants had 210 – 300 downloads per $10 of cost. Most other promotion companies we researched (except Bookbub) brought in about 100 – 200 downloads for each $10 of investment. By this metric The Reading Club did well.

Success Level .99, 1.99: 8.

The Reading Club also doesn't charge a different rate for the price of featured books. It's one-flat rate for all prices. The Reading Club accepts all price levels for deals, including boxed sets as high as 9.99. The participating authors tested the service with books priced .99 to 3.99.

NOTE: As stated earlier, The Reading Club lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like the one shown earlier. They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or a sudden sale, they let you send them updates too. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been paid at the price specified during the entire promotion.

Fewer than 190 @ .99 and 115 @ 1.99 sales on average for each $100 of cost. With these sales levels, authors didn’t earn enough to recoup the cost of the promotion. At .99, authors earned back $67 on average from royalties for each $100 paid on average. At $1.99, authors earned back $80 on average from royalties for each $100 paid on average. This is per title.

Success Level 2.99, 3.99: 8.

As stated earlier, The Reading Club lets you put titles on and off FREE status, various discount and paid statuses. You do this by giving them a price forecast like the one shown earlier. They then set up promotions around these various free and sale prices. If you have changes or a sudden sale, they let you send them updates too. With this in mind, the following results are extrapolated as if the titles had been paid at the price specified during the entire promotion.

Fewer than 38 @ 2.99 and 23 @ 3.99 sales on average for each $100 of cost. With these sales levels, authors didn’t earn enough to recoup the cost of the promotion. At 2.99, authors earned back $80 on average from royalties for each $100 paid on average. At $3.99, authors earned back $64 on average from royalties for each $100 paid on average. This is per title.

Putting This Together

The Reading Club also helps to promote other titles by the author, through websites, articles, and related promotions of the author and his/her works (the whole author approach they use). The Reading Club calls this secondary promotion and participating authors did see a good increase of sales of other titles throughout the promotion period. Every author gets a web page, articles, press coverage and more during the term of the promotion. Free press releases for some new and pre-order titles was a good perk, but required additional author input.

The 3 categories of authors The Reading Club uses really do have significant meaning. It’s much harder for them to gain traction for authors with 3 or less works than it is for authors with "4 to 12" works or "More than 12" works and this is reflected in the cost of the promotion.

Participating authors in the "3 or less" category saw on average 94 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.44, this meant about $138 in additional earnings. This is during the whole term of the promotion.

Participating authors in the "4 to 12" category saw on average 126 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.44, this meant about $184 in additional earnings.

Participating authors in the "More than 12" category saw on the biggest boost, an average 151 additional sales (sales above typical levels) of their other works during the promotion period. With the average price of these titles ~ $2.44, this meant about $221 in additional earnings.

To put this in perspective, we must look at the additional success per one million readers reached. On average, these numbers are based on about 1.5 million target readers. Genres with larger target audiences would need to be adjusted upward, while genres with lower target audiences would need to be adjusted downward.

As an example, the mystery/thriller authors saw results that were 165% better for additional sales on average because there are currently 2.5 million in the target audience. This meant the additional sales were 155 instead of 94, 207 instead of 126, and 249 instead of 151 on average. Thus, if the mystery/thriller authors spent $750 to promote two titles, the additional earnings were $729 - $965 calculated as follows:

$67 - $80 per $100 plus $227 ($138 * 165%) to $365 ($221 * 165%) = $729 - $965.

Meanwhile, the teen / young adult authors saw results that were 68% of the average for additional sales because there are currently 1.02 million in the target audience. This meant the additional sales were 64 instead of 94, 86 instead of 126 and 103 instead of 151 on average. Thus, if the teen / young adult authors spent $300 to promote two titles, the additional earnings were $295 - $390 calculated:

$67 - $80 per $100 plus $94 ($138 * 68%) to $150 ($221 * 68%) = $295 - $390.


Closing Thoughts

Over all, the participants felt Bargain Reading, Fussy Reader and The Reading Club did a good job of giving value. The participants were pleased that mailing lists were only one part of much larger offerings.

Although sometimes the promotions didn’t quite earn back their full cost, the value of a lengthy promotion window is hard to deny, especially as they continued providing value through multiple special sales and not just a one-time deal.

But if there were any services who hated our numeric ratings (and we mean vehemently) it was The Reading Club, Fussy Reader and Bargain Reading. They didn’t understand how services that performed as well as theirs did, got such low ratings. We explained that the scale was from 1 to 20 and no service has scored higher than 10.

Our ratings were one of the reasons they wanted to work with us to try to improve their services and make them better. Because of the 4- to 6-month promotion windows, it will be some time before we can rate the new enhanced services, but we are tracking results currently. Preliminarily, we do expect to see marginal improvements all around.


Overall, these are good values from services that value you and make it easier for you to be an author.

BOOKMARK AND CHECK BACK.
WILL TRY TO ADD MORE TIPS
FOR GETTING IN WITHIN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS


Tips for Success

When using these services, you’ll do best if you follow this advice:

If you put "ReadIndies" in the notes, they'll know a Tier 1 partner referred you and that should help your chances.

All three services are different. Create a Word document for each with all the information you are going to submit to each and save this. Use this Word document anytime you are going to resubmit. That way you’ll have most everything handy and just need to make a few changes.

Check and double-check your submission before you send it. Provide as much information as you can and as much detail as you can. Whenever they ask for a website address or a link by sure to use the full link, such as http://readindies.blogspot.com. The http:// is needed to pass the data check.

Each of these services has extensive documentation on how it all works read this before submitting. In the lower right corner of each page, you’ll see a link called FAQ or Frequent Questions. Read the FAQ after you read the documentation. It’ll answer any questions you might have (including those you never thought to ask). Each site is different so study each closely before submitting.

Currently, about 1 in 8 get into Bargain Reading, about 1 in 10 into Fussy Reader and about 1 in 20 into The Reading Club. They are highly selective, but the “not getting in” is more about space that anything else. They limit the number of promotions they run at any one time on a per genre basis. All I can say to that is hold queue, hold queue, hold queue. If you use the hold queue, your chances of getting in improve to about 1 in 3 across the board.

Increase your odds even further by drafting a 6-month price forecast for the book or books you are submitting that is TWO – THREEE MONTHS IN THE FUTURE and put this in the “notes/why I should be” section as a single line of text without tabs or line returns, such as:

Book 1 Everyday Price: $5.99. June 1 - June 5: FREE. Jul 15 - Jul 30: $2.99. Aug 18 - Aug 20: FREE. Sep 23 - Sep 26: $.99. AMAZON, GOOGLE.

This will let them know you’ve taken the time to learn about how their system works and are serious about getting a promotion. The 2-3 month in the future part is important because they typically are booked at least 3 months ahead of time. Thus, if it is April, give them a 6-month price forecast starting in June or better still, July. Be sure to specify where the sales will be. Simply state AMAZON, GOOGLE, KOBO, APPLE, NOOK or any appropriate combination, even if only: AMAZON.

If it says 25-word Bio or 25-word descriptions, they really mean 25 words, not 26 and not 30 or 50 or 100.

Make each listing unique, if possible. If you are asked to provide a summary of your book, try to make this unique each time.

Be sure to track the date you submit your promotions. You are allowed to submit once every 30 days to each service. Don’t submit more than once every 30 days to any of these.

Make sure you provide an email address that you check regularly. It will be used for all correspondence. If you are accepted, you’ll receive an emailed invoice through PayPal with a request for payment. Make sure you have a PayPal account set up beforehand.


If you value reports like this, please make a donation to ReadIndies, so we can afford to keep going. The donation button is in the left-hand column.

Thanks for reading!

2.16.2015

Facebook, Twitter, Blog Promotion Services for eBooks Rounded Up for Your Convenience

I’m Robert Stanek, a pro author since 1994 and an indie since 2001. Today, I have a special report in a continuing series of articles on book promotion services. Book promotion services are marketing services that help authors promote their books for a fee. As these services often charge a pretty penny for such work, the participating authors and I decided to research the low-cost book promotion services available at Fiverr. After all, we thought for $5 what did we have to lose? 

Our findings may shock you – they certainly shocked us.

For this study, 24 authors participated, using the services to promote 39 books from 8 different genres, including:

Mystery
Thriller
Romance
Scifi
Fantasy
Horror
Literary Fiction
Nonfiction

At least 12 of the 24 participants used each service discussed one or more times, as well as 44 similar services for a total of 53 services. What follows is a summary of results gathered between June 2014 and February 2015. In the interest of full disclosure, I gave each participant $20 of fun money to start them off.

Book promotion services at Fiverr are largely the kind that say:

“I’ll promote your book to 2,000,000 on social media!”
“I’ll tweet your book to 50,000 followers!”
“I’ll promote your book to 200,000 on Facebook!”
“I’ll promote your book to the Top 50 Facebook kindle groups!”
“I’ll pin your book, tweet your book, post your book on Facebook to thousands!”

That alone should have been our first clue that we might be wasting our time and money, but what the heck we thought because it’s only $5. Or is it?

Although the name of the website is Fiverr, you typically end up paying much more than $5 for each gig, and a gig is simply an offering from a seller in Fiverr vernacular. For example, Facebookprogig (https://www.fiverr.com/facebookprogig) offers a gig that says “I Will Promote Your Amazon Kindle Ebook to the Top 60 Groups, Twitter, Pinterest for $5” but the gig has up to $30 worth of extras you can add on.

The extras are where the sellers make their real money. Many of the participants fell for the extras big time, figuring if the gig costs $5 I must be getting some extreme value from this $10 or $20 add on. They were wrong. Wrong, as anyone could ever be.

The problem is the buyer really isn’t getting much—if any— additional value from each extra, even though the extras may cost $10, $20, $40, $50, or more each. As an example, with the gig from Facebookprogig mentioned earlier choosing $20 of extras was no more effective than simply choosing the $5 gig itself. 

But was the gig effective in the first place? From the hundreds of reviews, you’d think absolutely that it must be the bees knees of gigs—yes, a 60’s term to hint at our collective gullibility.

The problem we discovered quickly with gigs at Fiverr is that most have a tremendous flood of high praise, along with 100% positives, 98% positives, etc. However, there’s no way of knowing if any of it is legitimately earned or deserved.

Many of those with promotion services at Fiverr hail from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Russia or some other distant shore. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. However, their profile photos then typically show themselves as a beautiful blond woman, a fair-skinned brunette or something equally out of place.

Blog Promotion

Blog promotion is one several categories of book promotion services. (Our categorization, not Fiverr's) With blog promotion, the seller will post an article on his or her blog about your book.

Lincolnrocks (https://www.fiverr.com/lincolnrocks) promised to promote a book on a Kindle Book Club blog and also tweet about it. Now that seemed like a great idea. Why not have a book on a popular blog? The extras though added up quickly. $20 for extra fast service. $20 to post about your book on Facebook. $50 for side bar advertising on the blog. $10 for an Author Success guide. Meaning, you could quickly be out $105 and not $5. If you want a blog post about your book, spend the $5 and not a penny more, but you’ll be writing your own post.

DreamTheAnswer (https://www.fiverr.com/dreamtheanswer) offers to promote your book on two blogs for $5. You write the articles and they are posted (but quickly drowned in the sea of others following you).

The participants tried many other blog promotion services as well.

Results: The results of using blog promotions of this type from Fiverr were a mixed bag. We’re not sure of the actual value—or if there’s any value at all. Sometimes the articles didn’t even show up in search results.

Our advice: Lots of authors have used blog tours to help find success. Join a blog tour or start your own! The cost then is not $5 or $25, but nothing—and you’ll have a lot more fun.

If you’ve already tried blog tours and want to give blog promotions a try, send a message to any potential seller and ask them for the link to their blog before you buy. That way you can see what you’re getting yourself into.

Facebook Promotion


No shortage of promotion services promise to promote your book on Facebook pages and in popular Facebook groups. Here, by promote, they mean posting a description and buy link for your book.


BookKitty (https://www.fiverr.com/bookkitty) offers to promote your book on several Facebook pages, with a total following of about 15,000 for $5. Not a good value.

Jazzy7 (https://www.fiverr.com/jazzy7) offers to promote your book to 90,000 Facebook fans for $5. For $10 extra you can get 3 additional posting, for $20 you can pin your website URL to the top of her page, for $40 you can get 25 statuses (whatever that is), for $10 you can get social bookmarks. With 2000 reviews and a 96% positive rating, what could go wrong? Plenty. Not a good value.

Best Graphic 201 (https://www.fiverr.com/best_graphic201) will promote a book to 50 kindle reader groups for $5. Her 300+ reviewers seemed to love the service. But is it a good value? Uncertain.

Merlin George (https://www.fiverr.com/merlingeorge001) said she’d post a book to the Top 60 Kindle readers groups and best 20 ebook promotion groups for $5. Reaching 80 groups for $5 isn’t a bad value, and it could save time if you really wanted to post the same message to these groups.

fanni121 (https://www.fiverr.com/fanni121) promises to promote your business / product / ebook to 4 million Facebook fans and said a refund is guaranteed if unsatisfied. The problem is no one who used this service saw any results. Recently, in a follow up test of the service, we also saw no results and contacted fanni121 after he/she stated the gig was delivered. Our lengthy message explaining our test of the service for our research report, also suggesting ways the service could be improved, and making a request for an order modification was met with a rejection of the modification request and no follow up message whatsoever. We followed up again and stated that the gig was supposed to have a money back guarantee and that we were trying to help them give actual value. The response was a single word: Refund. And, we did get a refund.
However, Fb_dami (https://www.fiverr.com/fb_dami) says he can promote a book to over 5 million Facebook fans for $5 (the gig title says 2.5 million but the gig itself says 5 million). For $10 extra, he’ll add a picture or video. For $20 extra, he’ll promote for 3 days. For $50 extra, he’ll bring people to your website and raise your ranking. For $50 extra, he’ll do a huge promotion for 7 days. For $50 extra, he’ll give daily views for 30 days.
Fb_dami's 900+ reviewers seemed to love this service. While you can get everything including fast delivery for a whopping $180, why in the world would anyone ever spend more than $5, or perhaps $15 if you wanted to display a book cover or video? If the promotion works, you can simply run the promotion again.

But does the Fb_dami promotion work for surely it must if actually reaching 5 million? Do the extras work any better? Some limited results were seen for the $5 gig, but it’s a resounding no on the extras. For $20, $50 or $100 you are not getting 4X, 10X or 20X value or results. You’re getting less extra value than if you simply purchased the original $5 gig again at a different date.

UPDATE: 2/24/15. We tested Fb_dami's service again just recently. He now says if you agree to give him a good rating when you sign up for the gig, he'll throw in some free extras worth $30, including pictures with posts and twitter promotion. What you actually get though seems to be the $10 Silver package or part of it. At any rate, if you mention "ReadIndies" when you get the gig, you are supposed to get the same whether you give him a rating or not.

The participants tried many other facebook promotion services as well.

Results: We saw negligible results from BookKitty, Jazzy7 and similar offerings. With offerings that reached many groups or many Facebook users (through many groups), there were some results, especially click through, if few actual sales.

Our advice: Join any of the hundreds of book-related Facebook groups available, many of which are focused on sharing free and discounted books with readers. Where allowed, share posts about your books. You’ll quickly accomplish a few things. You’ll likely get better results than you would if someone made posts for you, and you’ll also get to meet other authors and readers. 

Post to 10 popular groups and you’ll reach 50,000 to 100,000 all by yourself and without spending anything. You’ll likely sell books too and with no cost at all. Want help reaching your first 25,000 or so? Join the GoIndie and FreeToday groups on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/groups/goindie/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/freetoday/. This'll cost you the grand sum of $0.

Twitter Promotion


With twitter promotions, the seller promises to tweet about your book a certain number of times, usually once or twice for $5.

Indie Book Value (https://www.fiverr.com/indiebookvalue) will tweet your book to his/her 75,000 followers for $5 and says he/she is a #1 bestselling Amazon author in his/her category. For $10 extra, you can get four tweets per day for a month. For $20 extra, you can get 12 tweets a day for a month. For $40 extra, you can get twelve tweets for two months. Not a good value, not even for $5.

Gsmolin (https://www.fiverr.com/gsmolin) says he is a "#1 bestselling Amazon author who will tweet your book to 665,000 ebook lovers and has the only twitter promotion service with proven results". For $10 extra you can get the Gold service -- one tweet a day for 5 days. For $20 extra you can get Platinum service – one tweet a day for 5 days with hash tags, which is the same strategy the author says he "uses to get his books into the Amazon Top 100".

Although George was friendly, very responsive to questions and helpful, his service doesn't have the following suggested. In fact, the tweets from his accounts have little actual following. For example, the account used for .99 books has only 150 or so followers. The 665,000 ebook lovers the tweets are supposed to reach is based on using hash tags in tweets, such as #kindle #ebook, etc.

George did craft great tweets, but were they worth $5 each? Not in our opinion. It's also worth noting that George is the only one who took me up on the second chance offer I discuss later under Disclosure and seemed to be one of the few who actually, genuinely wanted to help authors succeed.

The participants tried many other twitter promotion services as well.

Results: We saw negligible results with Indie Book Value and similar offerings from those with less than 100,000 followers. It was refreshing to find that some gigs in this category had a relatively few reviews as compared to the floods of gushing praise found elsewhere for gigs of highly questionable value or merit.

Our advice: Twitter’s free to use. Tweet with appropriate hash tags when talking about your books and you’ll reach beyond your followers to others who follow those hash tags. A hash tag is simply a keyword, such as book, preceded by the number sign (#), as in #book. Tweet with #GoIndie #ReadIndies or #FreeToday as your hash tags and I may retweet you to 30,000+ followers. My fee since forever for a retweet: $0. That's right, nothing.

Disclosure 

Though I tracked and compiled the results with the participating authors, I myself did not participate. Before writing this report, I tried to give every seller listed a second chance. I posted a private message to each explaining I was researching book promotion services. I explained the research and asked them to give a free test run of their service, the results of which I would also include in the report. There was only one taker, though plenty of complaints, and that should tell you everything you ever needed to know about these services from Fiverr. We will continue this research throughout 2015 hoping against the odds to find services of actual value.

Closing Thoughts

Working on this special report was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. To a one, we came away with a single, overriding thought. That thought was this: 

When you see a gig at Fiverr with hundreds or thousands of rave reviews, get the hell out of there. 

Increasingly, the same is true of Amazon.

Remember also that $5 in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia is an excellent hourly wage and that $50 can represent nearly a week's wages. Average monthly salary after taxes:


Sri Lanka $265
Indonesia $275
India $460

Therefore, it was extremely disappointing to find that nearly every one of these services treat your gig as if it has no value to them, often using automated means to perform the actual work required or simply copying and pasting something over and over -- and always doing as little as possible. Worse, the same remained true even when we bought gigs extras that added up to a lot of money.

The participants and I didn't expect a lot for $5 or even $20. However, we did expect that when we worked with parties in countries where this represents a good wage, we would actually get good, earnest efforts on our behalf -- and that rarely, if ever, happened.


Update


Wanted to update this special report based on feedback from Fiverr sellers. It's important to note that Fiverr takes a 20% commission on all monies received and also holds funds for at least two weeks (18 or more days typically). This lengthy payment process makes some sellers reluctant to give 100% efforts, especially with new members or those they haven't previously worked with. 

When working with international sellers, it's important to keep in mind that $5 can represent a lot of money and your cancellation of an order or request for a refund could cause serious harm. Rather than canceling an order or requesting a refund, try working with the seller to see if you can come to a mutually agreeable resolution.


Thanks for reading,


Robert Stanek