In this post I’m going to talk about how to keep consistent book sales over time. You might also want to look at my post, Sustaining Your Book Sales… and Yourself, as well as my latest episode about getting a Bookbub ad, which will tie into this information.
So … you’ve written a book. Congratulations! For real. It’s a big undertaking, and you should be proud of yourself.
Then you launch the book–time for more celebration! (And if you need a simple launch plan, check out my post on a Simple Launch Framework.) Launching really is hard work. Definitely something to feel good about.
And then comes the sales slump.
Or maybe your launch didn’t go BOOM. It just quietly happened … with a handful of sales to show for it.
How in the world do you sell books and then keep sustaining those book sales over time? Because the reality is this: if you don’t promote, your books will continue to fall in the rankings until they’re just lost in the Amazon (or whatever retailer) store. Let’s talk about how to combat that.
188 – HOW TO KEEP CONSISTENT BOOK SALES
HOW TO KEEP CONSISTENT BOOKS SALES
Over the past few years, I’ve seen and tried a lot of things to keep my books selling. There are two different ways to categorize promotions, paid or organic (aka: free), and two different kinds of promotions, ones that are limited-time bumps (which I’ll call BOOMS) and ones that are slower, long-term strategies (which I’ll call blooms).
What I’ve found is that I want to try and combine the BOOMS and the blooms for the most effective strategies.
WHAT IS A LIMITED-TIME BOOM PROMOTION?
Limited-time or time-sensitive promotions are those that you have less control over and which may have a big impact, but only for a short time.
Booms include: a BookBub Featured Deal, a book launch, any of the email promotional sites that send out your books to their email list.
Most of these are PAID. But a BOOM might also include something free like being featured in a larger author’s newsletter or doing a Facebook party. (These kinds of organic promos are more effective in some genres than others, so you’ll have to check yours.) Maybe you’re a podcast guest and they talk about your book.
Any kind of promotion with a shelf-life that trails off is a BOOM.
They can be really powerful, but they end. And your sales can plummet … unless you pair them with blooms.
WHAT ARE LONG-TERM BLOOM STRATEGIES?
Long-term bloom strategies might not move the needle as much or in such a big way like the BOOMS, but they’ll keep the needle moving. Bloom strategies keep sales going over time.
Blooms include: Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads, your email welcome series, blog posts optimized for SEO (Google search and Pinterest), making sure your back matter in books links to other books to sell.
These strategies take place over time and may have a trickle of sales. I am usually running a handful of $5 Facebook ads on several books. They don’t keep my books super high in the rankings, but I get daily sales, keeping my books alive and moving. (There are other kinds of Facebook ads that would be more of a BOOM, like doing an Accelerated ad, but I’m not talking about those. That’s more high-level stuff.)
I also have some fairly cheap Amazon ads running at all times, maybe $12-15 total per day. All in all, my advertising costs per day are around $50/day. While that might seem high to you, realize that I’ve been doing this a few years, which means I have several profitable series and have learned a lot about effective ads. I’m making between $150-200+ per day on those $50 or less ads.
Organic blooms are a bit harder to come by. If you have a signup to your email in the back of your book, you could create a welcome series that serves up different books to the readers receiving your emails. That’s a pretty set-and-forget-it strategy, but you’ll want to update a few times a year.
I’ve also seen authors who have a big list of Facebook groups for readers (there are hundreds, if not thousands) and they post their book links in 3-5 per day. I don’t find these particularly effective, but they likely sell a handful of books here and there.
HOW TO COMBINE BOOMS AND BLOOMS
Whenever your book starts moving, it can be less work to keep it higher in the rankings and more visible than it can be to move your book from a bad ranking to a really great one. Sure, 1-2 book sales can take you from 3 million in the store down to 100,000. But once you’re getting to 50,000 and under, it takes a LOT of sales.
When I had my BookBub Featured Deal, my book was already ranked low. I stacked another BOOM the day before, so my rank shot down from 40k to 2-3k in the Amazon store. With the BookBub Featured Deal, it dropped to 121 in the store. That took 1200 book sales that DAY.
But the next day… my book hovered in the 200-500s in the total store. Even though it only (ha! “only”) sold 102 copies. It CAN be expensive to hold that rank over time. But it’s a lot cheaper to sustain those lower ranks once you’re down there.
I wasn’t trying to hit a bestseller list or anything, so I paid for two other BOOM promotions that happened the day before the BookBub Featured Deal. That’s three BOOM promos. Then I upped my daily spend on Facebook ads for a few days (my blooms), which kept my rank hanging in there. I brought the daily spend back down when I saw that I wasn’t holding ranking or making the ratio of profit I wanted with the ads.
Ranking is a fun thing to have. It looks nice. It can keep your book visible.
But I’m all for profit OVER rank. Which means that I’m looking more at my profit and spend per day than where that makes my book land on the charts. I’m not convinced readers look for books using Amazon categories, but if they do look at those bestselling lists, it’s great to be on there. That’s visibility. It can keep your book selling to be seen.
But it’s not worth it to pay for your book to be SEEN if that’s not keeping your book PROFITABLE. Don’t get rank FOMO just because someone else has awesome rank.
When I’m planning out my promotional strategies, I try to plan one BOOM a month. Sometimes that’s one free day on a book, where I pay for email promos. That usually sells a LOT of books and gets me a LOT of Kindle Unlimited pagereads over the following days.
Some months, that BOOM is a launch. I typically have some ads or email promos, but then I’ll also set up newsletter swaps for a few weeks. BOOM + bloom. I also have Amazon ads going, and depending on if the book is a first or middle in series, I might run an ad on it, or I might run an ad for book 1 in the series instead.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR PROMOTIONS
This can totally depend on your books and your launch strategy. I have friends who publish once or twice a year. They have a handful of books, so they have to get creative. They might have a giant launch, then set up Facebook and Amazon ads to sustain sales over time. Maybe every few months, they’ll have a sale on ONE book, or a free day.
If you have several series, you could set up blooms for your first in series. Those could have constant Facebook and Amazon ads, then every month or every other, you could have a big sale or a free day or launch a book.
An example of how this looks:
- JANUARY – book launch (BOOM, paid email promos), FB ads (paid bloom), newsletter swaps over the month (bloom)
- FEBRUARY – free day on one book (BOOM, paid email promos), FB ads + Amazon ads (paid bloom)
- MARCH – box set launch (BOOM, paid email promos), FB ads + Amazon ads
- APRIL – 99-cent sale on first three in series (BOOM, paid email promos), FB ADS + Amazon ads (paid bloom), newsletter swaps for that week of sales (BOOM/bloom)
- MAY – book launch (BOOM, paid email promos), FB ads + Amazon ads (paid bloom), podcast guest on relevant podcast (free BOOM), newsletter swaps over the month (free bloom)
… and so on. I have a big calendar on the wall in my office, and I try to plan one big thing per month that I put some funds towards, combined with the daily lower-spend ads I’m usually running in the background.
WHAT IF I DON’T DO ANYTHING TO PROMOTE MY BOOKS?
I mean, it’s totally a choice to put your book out there and hope people find and read it. Maybe they will. Maybe your book will have JUST the right keywords and somehow word of mouth gets things moving and it seems to sell on its own. I do know authors who put out a book and … that’s about it.
But they’re unicorns. That’s not the norm. And usually it means they’ve built a reputation and a readership that shows up.
Without some kind of promotional plan over time, your books won’t continue to sell.
It’s also harder when you have fewer books. Those books may need a stronger, harder launch push. Or you might really need to figure out and test ads to keep effective ads on them because you won’t have the option for BOOMS with other books if you don’t have all that many books.
Getting one BookBub Featured Deal won’t make your sales last forever. It will have an impact. But it will die down if you don’t continue to take actions that create consistent book sales over time. Those sales every day add up.
Continue to grow your readership, because those people will buy your books. Not one book, but ALL YOUR BOOKS. So, while you’re investing in your BOOMS and blooms, also invest time and money into your reader base, whether you’re doing that via email (my big focus) or in a Facebook group or somewhere else.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO BUDGET?
I hear this a lot and I really, really get it. If that’s you, I know this is frustrating. I will say that when I started out, I didn’t have much budget. I was making other money in other ways (primarily through this podcast, affiliate sales, and courses), so I put ALL that money toward my fiction. I also put all the money I made BACK into the business.
I bootstrapped and got the best cheapest covers I could and spend maybe $100-200 on paid email promos, which are the best bang for your buck if you don’t know how to run Facebook or Amazon ads. That money MORE than came back to me, by the way. It got my new books visible as a new author. That DOES matter. I did newsletter swaps and Facebook group things and whatever free things I could.
The money started to grow over time, and over time, I increased my budget. I also lost money as I figured out what worked for me and what was a waste of time.
Start small. Start where you can. Do what you need to in order to have SOME money to invest in your books. It’s really going to be hard to make any money if you have none to invest. But take heart, you can start small.
Want to start small with FB ads?
You can snag my FB ads minicourse for $75. It’s got a two-hour intro workshop, plus multiple tutorials on how to set up Facebook ads on a budget, and a case study watching an ad over the course of a week to see how the ranking and sales went.