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Discussion Starter #1
Hey, guys!
A week ago I had my first ever promo stack. I did 12 (10 paid, 2 free) promo sites, divided between 3 days, February 14, 15, and 16. I have my own thoughts about the results, but the problem is that I cannot judge them accurately, because I've never done this before, so my results might be average or good (or bad), and I just can't tell.
Here is where my numbers are:

BOOKS OUT:
1 book (0.99 KU - the one in the promo) and 2 pre-orders (2.99 and 3.99)
PROMO SITES:
Book Barbarian
Fantasy Book Deals
Ereader News Today (ENT)
The Fussy Librarian
The Book Cave
Bargain Booksy
Book Doggy
eReader IQ
BKnights
Free Kindle Books and Tips
Choosy Bookworm
Awesome Gang
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $273.50
TOTAL DOWNLOADS OVER THE 3 DAYS: 74 (24, 23, 27)
PRE-ORDERS SOLD: 7
KENP Reads: 0
BEST OVERALL RANK: 15,000
4 DAY-TAIL (? Not certain since I had NL swaps for the 18 as well): 8 books, 0 pre-orders
TOTAL ROYALTIES EARNED: $25.52

Ok so, here's my dilemma. Just from an ROI point of view, I am more than dissapointed, but then again, I don't know if I SHOULD be. My book is a YA Coming of Age High Fantasy, PG-13, 70k words. Both the cover and blurb have received good feedback and it's been profesionally edited. I also have 11 reviews of 4.5 stars average. My question is, are results like this for this kind of book expected? I guess the issue is that I'm just looking at ROI as my only guideline and I don't know if 74 downloads is a good number or not. KENPs also have not appeared anywhere (I gave it the entire week just to see if they started to trickle in, but nothing). Maybe I did somethign wrong, or chose a wrong day? Or there's nothing wrong and these are just the results I should expect for $300.00 worth of promotion?
Please help.

Here are my cover and blurb in case you want to evaluate them:
Front-kindle-size.jpg
Before...
As the Fairest One of Vallenthar, Aelwyd commands formidable power. Years of battle honed her into a fearsome warrior who never falters in front of an enemy.
However, there are shadows that when they come, they can swallow you whole.
After a hundred years of praying against it, the minute she walks into the chilling scene of death in front of her, she knows her personal nightmare is back.
He nearly destroyed her once, but she isn’t a victim anymore. This time, she will stop him, or she will die trying.

Now...
Dalbran knows nothing of friends, joy, or mischief. The orphaned ward of a ruthless warrior woman, his days are filled with battle, pain and exhaustion; savage teachings of how to survive in their harsh world. Nights used to be his only solace. But now something lurks in the shadows of sleep, clawing at him the moment his eyes close. He tells himself it’s okay, that he can handle it. However daunting the voices may be, however cold the hand that chokes him in the darkness, as long as it stays within the nightmare, everything will be all right.

As long as it stays within the nightmare…
 

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I don't think those results are at all bad for a book by an unknown with a modest number of reviews. It's hard to get going, end of story. I've done three major promos of my books without them getting natural traction; it's basically like pulling a lead brick through sand. Don't be discouraged. My one comment would be that I don't think it's a good idea to sink too much money into promotion to begin with. Getting off Ground Zero is a bit like getting a car moving in top gear, you need to feed the clutch in bit by bit to build up speed, too much power too soon just burns the clutch out.

You might get better ROI by using only (say) three promo sites at a time, but running a promo every month. In this way your book would gradually become familiar and people would be more inclimed to take a punt on it. Running a free promo is also useful in that it gives your Book 1 some exposure in the Free store and you should get some sell-through.

Personally I'm becoming disenchanted with KU, at least for my first book, due to lack of KENP, and so I'm considering making Book 1 permafree and Book 2 $0.99.

The 6FigureAuthor podcast has excellent advice on book marketing, by people who have been there and know what it's like to be frustrated and disappointed.
 

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Are those figures your additional sales, over and above your normal sales for that period, or total sales?

I will admit that I rarely stack these days, at least not on the same day. It can be useful to stack across a week or so leading up to a big promo or just after to help keep the tail up. I also only really use Book Barbarian and Bookbub for paid features now as the others, while useful to get things moving above zero, don't really offer a return for me.

Now, newsletter swaps are brilliant. I assume you have a mailing list (even if only a couple of people on it)? Start reaching out and arranging swaps with other authors in your genre. It's free, so infinite ROI!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Are those figures your additional sales, over and above your normal sales for that period, or total sales?

I will admit that I rarely stack these days, at least not on the same day. It can be useful to stack across a week or so leading up to a big promo or just after to help keep the tail up. I also only really use Book Barbarian and Bookbub for paid features now as the others, while useful to get things moving above zero, don't really offer a return for me.

Now, newsletter swaps are brilliant. I assume you have a mailing list (even if only a couple of people on it)? Start reaching out and arranging swaps with other authors in your genre. It's free, so infinite ROI!
The figure are total sales. I did a relaunch campaign for the book so I didn't have any sales initially. I am working on the mailing list right now and have several swaps lined up for the coming weeks but I needed to find out just how successful this campaign was, because I have two more releases lined up for the next two months, and I want to plan their promo's accordingly.
 

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I don't know a lot about promo stacking, other than in theory, but I do know about covers. And your cover is really nice - I like it a lot - but I'm not sure if it's quite hitting the fantasy cover conventions as squarely as it maybe should? That might not be the reason, but it might be a contributing factor, so I just wanted to put that out there.
 

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It's hard to judge after only a week. Your launch promos certainly gave the book a kick up the stairs, but yes, the initial ROI, considering the investment, looks a little eye watering. However, with that initial kick, you then need to monitor how it does after a month. Will it plunge down the ratings quick, or slow? If slow, you can consider the month's royalties into the ROI calculations, because if you hadn't launched it and it had sunk out of sight, you'd make nothing.

Personally speaking (and only personally), I wouldn't spend so much up front. Not all of the promoters you listed are great value, but stacking means you won't know how each one did (unless you've used them before and know how they work for your genre, which I'm not familiar with). I would have spent much less and kept some fuel in the tank to see how the book fared and give it the occasional bump. Every review you get on your book makes each promo more value, so early promos will lose money. Amazon used to boost new releases. I don't think they do so much now, but they still do a little. So launch with 1-2 sites (plus mailing list and shout-outs) and ride the Amazon train a while, watching how it goes and adding extra strategic promos as you go. That's my approach if the objective is to not throw too much money down the drain initially. Once you have a big reader base (and you may have one, I don't know), it will be a different ball game, but I'm not qualified to report on how that goes. I try to manage cost versus reward.
 

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I'd personally be very upset with that ROI just looking at the money. But perhaps it had other pay offs you haven't mentioned. Social proof is so important - hopefully some of those buyers will leave good reviews or post about the book.
My advice would be to cut back on the paid advertising until you've recouped this loss. Then I've always approached writing as a bootstrapping project - I've never spent anything on it that I hadn't already earned from it.
 

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I can only speak from my own experiences. If I had spent $250 on a stack of promos I would hope to see 10x the sales, so I would be disappointed. The last stack I did was about $95 for six (several in your group) promos, and my sales were just over cost, so not a real return, but it paid for itself and got me to 10 reviews. I sold a total of 350 books over a few months (99-cents to $2.95) of a recovered two-year-old book. It hasn't exactly caught fire since, but there's still a flicker of candle flame.

Unfortunately, you are in a very tough genre, with the top 50 books selling a minimum of about what you managed to get to (15k vs 19K sales). With those results, I do a smaller promo when book 2 was out, and then the same with book three. Buyers really want to know there are more books in a series - guaranteed.
 

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I can understand the thinking behind stack promos to get an immediate high cat rank, but it is not something I would choose. Promos tend not to have tails, so rank quickly slips. As someone has said, it might be better in future to spread them out, as for one, you get a better idea if a certain promo site works for your book, and secondly, though that would result in a lower rank, it would be fairly consistant over a longer period and therefore more likely to be visible for ongoing salesoutside of any promo.
 

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I can understand the thinking behind stack promos to get an immediate high cat rank, but it is not something I would choose. Promos tend not to have tails, so rank quickly slips. As someone has said, it might be better in future to spread them out, as for one, you get a better idea if a certain promo site works for your book, and secondly, though that would result in a lower rank, it would be fairly consistant over a longer period and therefore more likely to be visible for ongoing salesoutside of any promo.
I agree - check out my results (promo stacking)

I only used one promo site a day so that I could track results. I spent around the same amount of money. I did have more downloads, but no where near making back my money. The book topped at 10k overall on Amazon and #1 in 2 categories. That lasted another week. After 2 weeks, the book is hovering around 300k overall now. However, I have picked up 3 new reviews.

Next time I will spend less and not drop down to .99 cents. Maybe 1.99 or 2.99.

Look at your first stacking promo as a learning experience.
 

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Uggh, I hate to suggest this because it might be too much work, but what do you think about changing either the title or the series name? Having two instances of Ravzak gives me a feeling of, I don't really know what the book is about, at a glance. This might totally just be me though.

From your blurb maybe it could be something like:
The Nightmare Hunter: Ravzak Series Book 1
Ravzak Hunter: The Ward Series Book 1
Ravzak Hunter: The Woman and Ward Book 1
The Ravzak Hunter: A Mentor's Nightmare Book 1

And, don't get me wrong, I really dig what you've got. I'm just trying to put my nit-pickey eyes on and look at it like I judge my stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Uggh, I hate to suggest this because it might be too much work, but what do you think about changing either the title or the series name? Having two instances of Ravzak gives me a feeling of, I don't really know what the book is about, at a glance. This might totally just be me though.

From your blurb maybe it could be something like:
The Nightmare Hunter: Ravzak Series Book 1
Ravzak Hunter: The Ward Series Book 1
Ravzak Hunter: The Woman and Ward Book 1
The Ravzak Hunter: A Mentor's Nightmare Book 1

And, don't get me wrong, I really dig what you've got. I'm just trying to put my nit-pickey eyes on and look at it like I judge my stuff.
Hmmm, I understand where your suggestion is coming from, but if possible I'd like not to change the title, since it gives me very good search engine placement. The rest of the titles are fairly normal, but I included the weird word in the title of book 1 on purpose so it would link to the rest of the series anytime somebody looked for it, since the series name will not always be included with it.

And about the rest of it, the comments make me feel a bit better, because even though I was fully expecting to lose money and not make my ROI back, making less than 10% of the investment really rubbed me the wrong way. Also the absolute lack of KENP baffled me. I had like 8 reported yesterday and thought that meant they would start trickling in, but they died back down after those 8 and nothing. Thank you all who answered, for next month's promo I'll probably go lighter on the promo sites and just book 3 or 4, and try to ramp up NLs instead.
 

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Got you. That makes perfect sense and it's super clever. Good luck with the books and the promos and everything else too!
 

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I never make ROI. Ever. Except sometimes with BookBub. If you're looking for ROI, don't do promos under BookBub. Some writers don't believe in the value of promos for this reason. I still think an occasional promo, non-BB, is helpful.

In 2021 I think a rule of 10 average sales is pretty good for the good promo sites. All the ones you paid for are top notch. In other words, you're gonna garner around 10 sales on a 99c promo with each of the promos you use (and you chose the best ones, imo). For the absolute top notch promo sites--ENT, Robin Reads--this doubles to 20. For a good selling book, this is what to expect. For a top selling one, maybe even double this.

Then you have to consider that when you're stacking, a lot of readers have overlapping promo newsletters. So your numbers will be lowered a bit if you stack many sites because the readers have already seen the deal (newsletter fatigue). The counter weight is rank. If you can rank high from the promotion, you get additional sales from that.

Love your cover. That's the first thing that crossed my mind when I looked at this post. And you have >10 great reviews. So everything looks great with your book. That should have garnered sales. You're a little on the lower side than I'd expect. Good sell through should be 100 from 10 sites. Why lower? Probably covid, maybe genre? Maybe it's because you stacked a lot together in 3 days leading to newsletter fatigue. I dunno.

These are my theories, anyway. Good luck and hopefully you get a tail of more sales to come!

edit} and thanks for sharing!
 
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