Book Promos Inside Out


If the responses from my recent Survey Monkey told me anything, it was that most of you (my respondents, anyway) will read it regardless of what I write.


Aww.  That’s really nice.  Thanks.


So, today I’m veering off into the exciting new world of book promotion.  


Really. Don’t laugh. Half the job is in the attitude, you know.


To start us off, I’ll bring in Jackie Chan.  Yes, I know he’s a movie actor, not an author. But let’s stretch our minds a bit. Here’s what Jackie Chan has to say about promotion:

After all those years in Asia, I don’t have to do promotion anymore.
We just release a Jackie Chan movie and – Boom! – people go.


Right. If I were Jackie Chan, I’d just publish my book and — Boom! — people would buy it.


The reality, however, is more like this quote from Chuck Palahniuk, an American novelist and freelance journalist, who describes his work as transgressional fiction. He is the author of Fight Club. (I got that off his very own Wiki page.  THAT’s impressive. That he has a Wiki page; not that I copy and pasted an excerpt from it.)


Anyway, here’s what he has to say about book promotion:

I dread the promotion part of my job. It’s agony, especially
compared to the private, at-home joy of writing.
But being a grown-up means doing every part of the larger task.

I couldn’t agree more with each part of this quote, but I especially love that “being a grown-up” part.


I’m a grown-up. It’s a role I take on willingly, eagerly. And as such, I’m tackling these different promotional challenges as they arise.


I’ve already tackled the basics:

*  my website is now in its third year
*  I have an active social media life with Facebook as my “happy place”
*  I never say “no” to an opportunity to speak at libraries, bookstores, or organizations that are interested in my Peace Corps years, my life in Kazakhstan, or my process in writing and publishing a memoir.


These take time, but they all continue to be fun.  Yes. Fun.


In addition to attending to those parts of the “larger task,” I’ve determined that during each step of this marketing (promotional) phase I will keep my eye on my need that:

*  it remains fun; life’s too short to not be having a good time at what I now choose to do.

*  I’m not getting stressed over any of it; it’s not worth my sanity (or my serenity).

*  while I’m not going to get rich from having one memoir out there, I’ll not throw money into this book as though it were a bottomless pit.

A few weeks ago, shortly after my “month of living stressfully” while learning the formating for all the different venues, I noticed that my sales had slipped.  Well, to be honest, I didn’t really notice my sales; I haven’t learned how to do that yet. I noticed my royalty checks were coming in slimmer. In April, they were nil.


How to get my book in front of new readers? That was my challenge. I met that challenge by deciding to discount my book for a weekend (the initial plan) that turned into a week.  What that means is that on May 29 (through June 5), I’ll reduce the price of my eBook from $4.99 to $.99 and I’ll advertise that fact on a series of book promotional sites that readers (in the hundreds of thousands, allegedly) have subscribed to. The theory is that the more you can get your book out there, the greater the buzz; the greater the buzz, the more books you’ll eventually sell. Remember, theory.


Here then, is my list, with the price I paid to be included on the date indicated and other notes that set that site apart from the others.


May 30  — Ereader News Today (also known as ENT) — $35

They take a full seven days to let you know if you’re accepted or not.


May 31 — The Fussy Librarian — $13


This one has no approval system. You pay your $13 and you’re in.


May 31 — Free Kindle Books and Tips (also know as fkbt) — $25 


Their prices differ depending on the level of my discount.


May 31 — BookSends — $30




May 31, June 1. and June 2  — BooksButterfly — $75 (three days)


Subscribers must go to to subscribe, which makes it a bit confusing.


May 31 to June 13  —  PeopleReads — $19.99


They are giving me a “Special Feature” and will continue to list my book past June 6, when the price returns to $4.99.  Curious.


June 5  —  Ebook Soda — $10


For some reason, they asked for my book cover in jpg, not jpeg, which they insisted are not the same. This made it more challenging to apply. They finally agreed to take it from the Amazon page, which is where most of the others had gotten it. A few had asked for it in jpeg.


There are at least another half dozen sites. Among them, BookBub is the leader by far in both cost and quality (compare my costs above to BookBub’s $600+ for a $.99 discount). But check out BookGorilla, Buck Books, Book Bassett too.  I hear of new ones nearly every day.


In hindsight, I would have subscribed to each of these for a week or two before handing over the cash. If you have any interest in following this discount/promotion route, I recommend this as the first step.


I saw these sites from a potential reader’s point of view once I finally subscribed (the day I PayPaled them my money). A few make it easy to navigate; not all. Most do not differentiate among genres; so, although I signed up for “biographies and memoirs” whenever possible, I still waded through a long collection of Fantasy, Romance, YA, and Mystery before I found the day’s Memoir.  If I were a reader (and not a hungry author looking for new readers) I’d unsubscribe quickly.


As with most things determined by hindsight, I discovered this “after the fact.” Where’s hindsight when you really need it? Lolling around in the grass under a nice big oak tree, no doubt.


Thanks to
Thanks to …………Here’s where my hindsight hangs out. See it there, under the tree?



There’s a second downside to these promotions. It has to do with timing.

Within one week of signing up for these seven promotional ads, I learned that my book had won the respected and (in some circles) coveted Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Memoir Award. It will be officially announced in Berkeley, CA on June 6, but here’s the gist:

THE PEACE CORPS EXPERIENCE AWARD was initiated in 1992. It is presented annually to a Peace Corps Volunteer or staff member, past or present, for the best depiction of life in the Peace Corps. It can be a personal essay, story, novella, poem, letter, cartoon, song or memoir. The subject matter can be any aspect of the Peace Corps experience — daily life, assignment, travel, host country nationals, other Volunteers, readjustment.

In 1997, this award was renamed to honor Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965–67) whose Living Poor has been widely cited as an outstanding telling of the essence of the Peace Corps experience.

This means that if I see a surge in book sales in the weeks days after June 6, I won’t know whether it’s a direct result of the $208 I  pumped (Or is that dumped?) into these various promo advertising sites or the result of the renewed publicity around the award.


All in all, not a bad problem to have.  Next, I may just learn how to check my sales.


How about you? How much does the cost of a book affect your decision to buy it? Have you used one of these  promotion sites before, either as an author or as a reader? What’s your take on this step of book promotion? 

12 Responses

  1. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    First of all–congratulations on your award! I just learned last night that one of my daughters won a major award–two people in two days!

    If there is a book I really “need” for research, I usually pay whatever it costs, within reason. For my last project when I was under a deadline and researching and writing, I purchased some Google books because I needed them immediately. For fun reading, I won’t pay as much, unless I have a gift card or it’s something I really, really want to read. Often I’ll check the library first.

    The books I’ve written/edited recently are all so expensive, and I know most people won’t buy them. It’s a consideration for a project that a friend and I are starting on because we want the book to be accessible to a wide range of people.

    My hindsight might be hanging out with yours in that forest. 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Merril. Always good to have you stop by. Congrats to your daughter, too.

  2. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Hi Janet, First of all, congratulations on your prestigious Peace Corp award! That may very well be your best promotion tool and I’ll bet it will enhance your paid promotion deals. Thanks for listing all the promotion sites. My thoughts: One could pour a lot of money into these sites..endlessly. But I do think a promotion blast as you are doing is worth a shot at it. It’s all about timing. I think the most important thing you said here is to enjoy the process. Life IS too short to drive ourselves crazy trying to promote our books. I wish you the best on your well-planned promotions!


    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Kathy, Thank you. I think the best part of it is that it was so unexpected. A real surprise. And you are so right — one can pour so much money into this endeavor. Most sites will not let you advertise if your book has been discounted within the last three – four months. So, that helps. I think twice a year is my goal. And having the award now makes BookBub more likely, though I hear that every author who’s listed on their site has been rejected by them about four times. I want to try BookGorilla too. When I was lining these up and the May 30 to June 5 dates were working on each of them, Book Gorilla was only scheduling for July through December. I thought that of interest.

  3. Joan Z Rough
    | Reply

    Wow, Janet. Your post gives me a lot to think about as I wind my way through the final? Revisions of my book. I’ll be interested to see how this all works out for you.

    Congrats on your award. I’m sure that alone will boost your sales.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Joan, and thanks. I’m hoping I”ll see a boost in sales. I’ve sold all of four eBooks in the month of May so far. Good luck on those final revisions. In hindsight (there she is again, woken up from her nap), I think that was my favorite time of writing. When I know I have a book; I know what the story line is; and I can FEEL the difference the words make. Rearranging sentences, adding an extra word here, removing a word there, … what power that is. Do you feel that? I’m feeling much affection towards my inner-OCD at the moment.

  4. Congrats on the Peace Corps award, Janet. That’s a wonderful tribute to your great memoir.

    And these kinds of posts, similar to the one Carol Bodensteiner did for BookBub, are very helpful to other authors.

    I’ll be happy to share the good news of your reduced price on my own author page. I hope that brings you a reader or three.

  5. […] kept hearing about those short-term EBook promotions where you reduce the price of your book. (See my blog post on doing this last week). This didn’t take too much energy, but it did take $208, which came directly from my book’s […]

  6. Sine
    | Reply

    Janet – thanks so much for this post, great info. I will now use your hindsight and subscribe to these sites. See, it wasn’t wasted:-) I was wondering the same thing, looking at ENT for the first time today and not really finding the free or reduced deals very easily. It has a memoir link but then it still took some digging to get to them. I’m still not so sure how it works. Will keep looking at them and gathering advice before I do my own promo.

  7. […] a follow-up to my blog of May 27, Book Promos Inside Out, I hearby disclose the results, such as they […]

  8. Susan Joyce
    | Reply

    Thanks for your update on promo results. I want to know where I can apply for more hours in my day. So much to do, so little time.

  9. […] Book Promos Inside Out The Besik […]

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