This Week in Self-Publishing: The BargainBooksy Promo Worked

Money earned (total): $7,696.76

Money spent (total): $4,115.13

Book sales (June): $304.65

Money spent (this week): $0

I’ve had a request to reshape my starting metrics, because they aren’t immediately clear to new readers and because they don’t include a “total books sold” metric or anything like that.

A better set of metrics might look something like this:

Patreon revenue: $6,909

Book revenue: $806.69

Book sales: 168 ebooks, 118 paperbacks

Book expenses: $4,115.13

Money spent this week: $0

It’s still not immediately clear to new readers that I funded The Biographies of Ordinary People through Patreon support, or that “book expenses” represents everything I’ve spent on publication and promotion so far, but… hey, this list of metrics has more numbers in it! Plus it has the sales number, which is the one y’all want.

And, on the subject of sales… it’s time to for me to rave about BargainBooksy.


There are a number of “pay us to send your book to our email list” sites: FreebooksyBargainBooksyThe Fussy LibrarianBookBubBookSendsReadingDeals, etc. etc. etc.

Some of these sites are obviously more reputable than others, and if you want an overview and a review of the top contenders, I’d start with Dave Chesson’s list (and yes, dump your email into his form to get the special ROI PDF, it’s worth it).

Many of these sites have some kind of gatekeeping mechanism: you need at least five Amazon reviews and an average 4-star ranking, you need at least 10 Amazon reviews and an average 4-star ranking, you need some kind of media attention or social proof, etc. Others require you to discount your book by a certain percentage or price point.

BargainBooksy just requires your book to be priced under $5, so I started there.

Before I gave BargainBooksy any money, I signed up for their literary fiction email list and tracked the Amazon sales rankings of the books they sent me in my daily email. A few hours after the email went out, the books on the list would be ranking in the 20,000s or 10,000s (or higher) on Amazon, and at #200–100 (or higher) in their individual category.

(Wait, do I mean “higher” or “lower?” You know what I mean here. Most books were ranking at #200–100 in their category, and a few were ranking at #50 or #4.)

So I paid BargainBooksy $35 to send Biographies to its list of 97,000 literary fiction fans, knowing full well that at least some of those “fans” were writers like me who had only signed up with the list to test it.

When the email went out, I watched my book climb the rankings. It stayed in the 100s for two days, topping out at #120 in Literary Sagas and #16,507 overall:

In fact, when Pronoun sent me an email announcing that I was in the top 6 percent of my category, their information was already out of date:

This was the highest my book had ever ranked since the day I announced the pre-order. The sales bump stuck around for three days; I was #16,507 on Sunday, #19,085 on Monday, and #34,947 on Tuesday. (After that I dropped back to “nobody is buying your book” numbers.)

But here’s what those rankings actually meant:

  • I sold 19 Kindle books (and 1 iBook) on Sunday.
  • I sold 5 Kindle books (and 1 Nook book) on Monday.
  • I sold 2 Kindle books (and 1 Kobo book) on Tuesday.

You only have to sell 19 books to rank in the 10,000s on Amazon. (Or, technically, the 16,000s.)

When I was trying to estimate preorder sales, I kept dumping my sales ranking into these “convert Amazon sales rankings to sales” calculators and got numbers that were much higher than my actual preorders. It seems like the more books are added to Amazon, the fewer any book has to sell to reach a certain ranking.

The math is actually very interesting on this, because of course you still need to sell a very large number of books to hit #1, but at a certain point—and I’d love to see some data on exactly where that point is—you only need to sell a very few books to be the 16,507th most popular book on Amazon.

And of course subcategories inflate the idea of bestselleredness even more, I mean, it only took 19 books to hit #120 in Literary Sagas.

But there’s one more thing you need to know about BargainBooksy: it’s the first promotional tool I’ve used that has actually delivered a return on investment. I put $35 in and got $75.18 out, for a gross profit of $40.18.

Which means I want to do more of these email promos, and as soon as I get enough Amazon reviews I’m going to sign up for some of the more gatekept ones.

Not to give you a call to action, but if you’ve read The Biographies of Ordinary People and you’d like to leave a review, it would be very much appreciated. ❤

 

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