Author Topic: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?  (Read 5886 times)  

Online Wayne Stinnett

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What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« on: January 29, 2015, 10:44:37 AM »
I've mentioned this idea a few times on here and discussed it in PM with several authors here. Nobody knows what Amazon's algorithm looks like. There's a lot of speculation as to how much and how long historical sales contribute to ranking. That aside, we know one thing with absolute clarity. It's mathematical. It's numbers. Regardless of how much weight a two day old book sale carries or how long it will still matter, a perfect promotion can still be easily described.

Since ranking is updated every hour, nearly everyone agrees the algorithm is hourly based. The primary contributor obviously would be the most recent hour's sales and each previous hour is weighted as some percentage of that multiplier. Whatever the length, in hours, days, weeks, or anytime period, each previous block of time in this constantly moving block of time is recalculated hourly, compared to every other book on Amazon and given a rank based on that comparison.

Being a numbers guy, it was obvious right from the start how a perfect promo would look. Regardless of how many books I'm currently selling, the promo will achieve the highest possible ranking, if every single hour of the five day period had a higher sale. Actually, perfect would be a higher number of sales by the same amount. In other words, when the promo starts and my book sold 2 copies in the last hour, I would want the next hour to have 3 sales, then 4, then 5, and so on, culminating with 122 sales in the last hour after 5 days ((5x24))+2. That would create a perfect 45* incline when charted.

It's simply not possible to set up a promo that will do that. There's no way of predicting the main variable, which is the reader. Some days book sales just stink on ice and subscribers don't open emails. Therefore the perfect promotion isn't achievable. But, the closest you can get to that perfect 45* incline, the better your peak ranking will be.

Getting your book higher in rank is the ultimate promotion. At a certain point in the promotion, your book is likely to be #1 in several sub-genres. The higher it climbs the less control you have with advertising, which creates a whole new uncontrollable variable.

The best promo you can set up for a discounted book, whether it's in Select or not, would be to maximize the affects of the ads you buy. You want to set your ads up in as close to a perfect incline as you can intelligently guess they'll create. Putting a lot of ads on the first day, that all post or email early in the day, then having only one ad in the afternoon of the second day, will cause a steep rise, and precipitous fall.

I subscribe to dozens of advertisers, getting recommendations emailed to me every day for books in my genre. Have you noticed that you get them about the same time each day? Oh, sometimes one will be twenty minutes later, or an hour earlier each day, but they're pretty much in the same two or three hour block each day.

First, choose your anchor ad. If that's BookBub, they send their emails between 11am and 12 Eastern time. To maximize the ranking of the sales from BookBub, you should have another big ad, or several smaller ones earlier in the day, between 6 and 10. To maximize the affect of that one, a slightly smaller one in the four hour block before that. It gets difficult in the overnight hours to find an advertiser that emails at 2 am. But then, sales are slower overnight. But, think outside the box. If it's midnight on the east coast of the US, it's early morning in the UK and afternoon in AU.

By setting up your ads so that each block of time has enough ads to surpass the previous block of time, you can straighten that line out a little and get it closer the the unachievable perfect line.

Recently, Readers in the Know announced a new marketing tool (www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promo-sites), with literally dozens of advertisers that you can sort by all types of criteria. Simon reached out to me and asked my opinion. I'd already seen it a few days earlier on Jan Hurst-Nicholson's thread and liked how it worked. I explained my idea of a perfect promo to Simon and he liked it, adding another column to the tool that you can sort by email time and change to your own time zone. I gave him the list I'd compiled of advertisers I use and he added those times and is now contacting each advertiser on the tool, to get their email times.

That can help a lot in picking the right advertisers for a particular time of day. But, you should still do your own research by subscribing to them. Some may email different genres at different times of day.

*Edited to fix the link.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 11:17:04 AM by Wayne Stinnett »
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Offline cinisajoy

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 10:53:40 AM »
Your post reminds me of some advertising I saw a while back.   There was one book that spent the day following me around.  It seemed like everywhere I looked the book was there.   
Yes, I did finally grab it.   It reminded me of a stray.  So I gave it a loving home.
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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2015, 11:08:56 AM »
Your post reminds me of some advertising I saw a while back.   There was one book that spent the day following me around.  It seemed like everywhere I looked the book was there.   
Yes, I did finally grab it.   It reminded me of a stray.  So I gave it a loving home.

Product recognition plays a HUGE part in advertising. And it doesn't have to be a product you know anything about. When the subliminal mind sees a product enough times it becomes a familiar and identifiable thing. Each time the prospective customer sees it, increases the chances of a sale.

These product logos haven't changed in decades. For good reason.


NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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Offline Julz

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2015, 11:20:20 AM »
This is some incredible information! Thanks for sharing what must have been at least hours of research for you. The boards are lucky to have you :) I can't wait to try to put it into practice.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2015, 11:32:48 AM »
As always - great information. I study your posts like I would a college course. In fact, I have a big promo week coming up and I tried my best to model what you did for your most recent BookBub promo. I'm not nearly as meticulous as you are with the time slots, but I did spread out the ad buys over the course of the promotions. So we shall see. I'll be sure to report back to you either way, Professor. :)

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 11:36:33 AM »
A lot of info to take in! But really good stuff. And the link as well. Thanks Wayne.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 11:41:14 AM »
Product recognition plays a HUGE part in advertising. And it doesn't have to be a product you know anything about. When the subliminal mind sees a product enough times it becomes a familiar and identifiable thing. Each time the prospective customer sees it, increases the chances of a sale.

These product logos haven't changed in decades. For good reason.



First on race day.
The Vega anyone.
Let's haul some hay.
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Offline DawnLee

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 12:15:27 PM »
Thanks, Wayne. I just got the email from RITK and clicked over to check out your thread.

I'll need to wrestle with this a little bit to fully (mostly, functionally) get it, but I expect it to be a huge help with my next two promos.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 01:46:01 PM »
This is some incredible information! Thanks for sharing what must have been at least hours of research for you. The boards are lucky to have you :) I can't wait to try to put it into practice.

Just things I picked up this past year. Like I said, I'm a numbers guy. My mind always seems to be crunching numbers about something. I'll hear something on the news, some statistical thing that makes red flags go up. When I grab a calculator, and look at what was said, it confirms it every time.

Which is why I'm more surprised than anyone that I'm making a living writing stories. Numbers people aren't usually very creative. Or so I'd always been led to believe.
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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2015, 01:47:20 PM »
Just things I picked up this past year. Like I said, I'm a numbers guy. My mind always seems to be crunching numbers about something. I'll hear something on the news, some statistical thing that makes red flags go up. When I grab a calculator, and look at what was said, it confirms it every time.

Which is why I'm more surprised than anyone that I'm making a living writing stories. Numbers people aren't usually very creative. Or so I'd always been led to believe.
Check your messages here.   ;)     
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Offline CaraS.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 02:11:21 PM »
Great info. Thanks. Recently, as an almost exclusive ebook reader (eyes can't read tiny paperback/print books), I seem to be seeing the same ebooks over and over in my chosen genres on Bookbub, Freebooksy, etc. I subscribe to so many of those, I've lost track. But  like I said, just recently I'm seeing the same ebooks over and over. If I've already downloaded a particular free ebook, just seeing it over and over only makes me pass over it. As an author, I began to wonder if this wasn't a waste of money for promotion and I should, instead, put several weeks timing into promos. Anyone else seeing the same ebooks over and over. I won't name names, but some of those on BookBub are getting repetitious.


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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2015, 02:16:51 PM »
Great info. Thanks. Recently, as an almost exclusive ebook reader (eyes can't read tiny paperback/print books), I seem to be seeing the same ebooks over and over in my chosen genres on Bookbub, Freebooksy, etc. I subscribe to so many of those, I've lost track. But  like I said, just recently I'm seeing the same ebooks over and over. If I've already downloaded a particular free ebook, just seeing it over and over only makes me pass over it. As an author, I began to wonder if this wasn't a waste of money for promotion and I should, instead, put several weeks timing into promos. Anyone else seeing the same ebooks over and over. I won't name names, but some of those on BookBub are getting repetitious.
You can also set your calendar by some of the freebies at ereaderiq.   
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Offline Claire Frank

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2015, 02:27:19 PM »
This is amazing - thanks for sharing, as always!!

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2015, 02:40:57 PM »
Great info. Thanks. Recently, as an almost exclusive ebook reader (eyes can't read tiny paperback/print books), I seem to be seeing the same ebooks over and over in my chosen genres on Bookbub, Freebooksy, etc. I subscribe to so many of those, I've lost track. But  like I said, just recently I'm seeing the same ebooks over and over. If I've already downloaded a particular free ebook, just seeing it over and over only makes me pass over it. As an author, I began to wonder if this wasn't a waste of money for promotion and I should, instead, put several weeks timing into promos. Anyone else seeing the same ebooks over and over. I won't name names, but some of those on BookBub are getting repetitious.

BookBub won't promote the same book within six months, nor the same author more than once a month. Subscribing to a lot of different advertisers, you're probably seeing the same book on a lot of emails.
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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Offline Vinny OHare

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2015, 03:40:05 PM »
Good stuff Wayne

I like the tool! Guess I need to sign up in order to change the time in the email sent section. Think it says 17:00 for me and I can't change it. I will be sending over some more info about AwesomeGang as it says we don't accept erotica. I am a little confused by what the permanent column is suppose to be used for. 

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2015, 03:48:07 PM »
Good stuff Wayne

I like the tool! Guess I need to sign up in order to change the time in the email sent section. Think it says 17:00 for me and I can't change it. I will be sending over some more info about AwesomeGang as it says we don't accept erotica. I am a little confused by what the permanent column is suppose to be used for.

You can change the time zone just above the "Save Changes" button at the top of the listings. The default is GMT, so the 1700 time would be noon Eastern, roughly equal to your average email blast. The "Permanent Listing" refers to a website where the ad is permanent in the archives.

Simon says (yeah, I went there) it's still a work in progress, as he's constantly updating information on it as he receives it. Nice guy, easy to work with.
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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Offline Vinny OHare

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2015, 04:34:31 PM »
I look forward to working with him.

For the record our email is set to go out around 1130 est. The reason for this is it hits the people working on the East Coast before they go to lunch and is in the inbox early morning for when people wake up on the West coast. I did a ton of testing with this and this seems to be the best open rate.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2015, 06:52:17 PM »
A lot of well-thought out wisdom here!  I'm starting to think it might also be wise to begin sending out newsletters in segments, too, so that there isn't that big "blast" of sales at one time.  I know MailChimp has that option to send it to segments according to time zones, and I think that might be a worthy investment to avoid spikes.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2015, 07:03:57 PM »
A lot of well-thought out wisdom here!  I'm starting to think it might also be wise to begin sending out newsletters in segments, too, so that there isn't that big "blast" of sales at one time.  I know MailChimp has that option to send it to segments according to time zones, and I think that might be a worthy investment to avoid spikes.

Thinking the same thing. I hope to have a list long enough to require a paid account and you're right, it would spread some of the clicks and buys throughout the day. That's always better for ranking than a sudden spike.
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2015, 09:24:44 PM »
Awesome info, Wayne, thank you for sharing your insights! This is a whole other level of planning. Man I feel dumb

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2015, 10:43:23 PM »
Wayne, you are genius. I'm a numbers person too and I've started setting up spreadsheets to track my performance based on ads. But this is seriously awesome. I can't wait to hear more.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2015, 01:27:59 AM »
Good stuff Wayne

I like the tool! Guess I need to sign up in order to change the time in the email sent section. Think it says 17:00 for me and I can't change it. I will be sending over some more info about AwesomeGang as it says we don't accept erotica. I am a little confused by what the permanent column is suppose to be used for.

Thanks Vinny,

I just updated the Awesome Gang data to show you do allow Erotica. Sorry about that. Let me know if I got anything else wrong.

For an explanation of any column, just hover (or tap for a touch screen) the blue query circle above the column heading.

Also, you don't need an account to change the time zone - just select one, click 'Save changes' and it'll be remembered for the rest of your session. However, if you want to create a favourites list or keep a permanent record of which sites you've submitted to on what date, then you'll need to register and log in.

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2015, 01:55:53 AM »

But, think outside the box. If it's midnight on the east coast of the US, it's early morning in the UK and afternoon in AU.

*Edited to fix the link.

This sentence got me thinking. Have you noticed any cross-marketplace effect in Amazon's algorithms?
By this what I mean is, does a high sales rank on Amazon.com have any effect at all on sales in the UK for example?

I used to think there was no correlation at all, but once or twice, particularly after a Bookbub feature in the US (before they added UK coverage) I found that post-promo UK sales overtook those in the US within a day or two of the promo ending - even though promo downloads had been approximately 10x higher in the US.

I realise that what you were referring to above is the sending of an email blast to US subscribers from the UK. But in the case of Readers in the Know, more than half of our subscribers live outside the US, with nearly 40% in the UK. You can see the exact split here: http://www.readersintheknow.com/stats

The reason we send our mail out at about 10 am GMT (2am Amazon Seattle time), is  partly so that European subscribers then have a full day to buy the books and partly because even if Amazon's servers are dragging their heels, any KDP select free promos should definitely have kicked in by then.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 01:57:24 AM by Simon Denman »

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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2015, 04:22:21 AM »
I can already hear the consternation at Amazon HQ:

"Hey! That Stinnet guy just cracked our algos! Call an emergency meeting with the engineers! We've got to rejigger! Reconfigure! Reanalyze! Derationalize! Contraobfuscate and discombobulate!

If that doesn't work somebody hire the guy. And make damn sure his contract has an ironclad non-compete clause...."
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 07:46:46 AM by m p »


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Re: What would a perfect five day discount promo look like?
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2015, 04:30:18 AM »
No, Simon, the ranking is completely independent of one another. But, like you said, if people in the UK or AU or DE, see a book in an ad, they can buy it in their own store. I'm hoping that KDP will catch up with BookBub and give us the ability to do Countdown Deals in other countries as well as the US and UK. BookBub just announced they're separating CA into a separate email. It came after I was approved for a CD on 2/15. I usually lower the price manually for CA, AU, and IN. But, it'd sure be nice to be able to set it up ahead of time and get that 70%. That's a lot of money we're leaving on the table.
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, ten-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
Semper Fi,
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