Why You Should Do a 99 Cent Promo for Your Book

I was curious as to why even seasoned authors discount their books.

As a two-time self-published author, I tell people writing the book is the easy part. Marketing it, that’s the hard part. There seems to be no right or wrong answer on which route to take.

Before I published my first book, I looked into all kind of expert advice. Some claimed giving away your book for free for a few days was key to success. Then I talked to others who told me not to do give it away but to price it high. Some suggested to price it at 99 cents. Plus, of course, there’s the matter of trying to decide between Amazon KDP Select or just Amazon KDP.

We all want our books to be successful. We want to help and inspire people. And, of course, we want to claim that bestseller spot while making a decent income in the process.

Trying to decide which route to take was difficult but in the end I choose to launch my book on Amazon KDP and on my own site for $4.99.

For the first month sales were okay. My launch team helped share the book on social media and leave reviews on Amazon. But then it started to flat line way too often. After not selling a single book for a week, I started to feel a bit discouraged. Had I picked the wrong strategy? Should I have given my book away? Maybe I should have opted to go with KDP Select.

I was curious as to why even seasoned authors put their books on 99 cent promos. Why would bestselling authors discount their books?

Testing the 99 cent Theory

Camilla Kragius' latest book, "37 Days of Different"

Camilla Kragius’ latest book, 37 Days of Different

I’m a big believer in testing things. Two months after the initial launch, I put my book on a 99 cent promo for five days. I blasted it everywhere. The second day I hit No. 1 in the Personal Budgeting category. I was screaming of joy! My book—a bestseller! A few days later my book was featured on Buck Books and that pushed me into No. 1 in another category. Things were happening.

The 99 cent promo gave my book huge exposure, which lead to amazing reviews and continued sales. People recommended my book to others. They picked it up simply because they felt they had nothing to lose with 99 cents. I’m not sure why, considering Amazon will refund you, people are so hesitant to buy a book priced at $4.99, but they are. Personally, I do the same thing. I’m more likely to try a book I have never heard of at 99 cents than $4.99.

After the promo, I lowered the regular price from $4.99 to $3.99 to again, test pricing. I kept selling. Week after week after week. I had good sales every single day for almost three months before I hit a day of no sales. Now my book continues to sell but have started to do more of a roller coaster ride. Some days are great, followed by no sales or low sales, followed by good sales.

Should you price your book right out the gate at 99 cents or wait a while and then do a 99 cent promo? I don’t have a perfect answer for that, but I know now why even seasoned authors do 99 cent promos for their books. It gives the book a boost, exposes it to more people and allows people to try it for almost free. In turn, if you have a good book, the promotion helps you with the best marketing tool of all: your readers recommending your book to their friends.

Comment and share! What marketing strategies have you tested? What has helped drive sales for your book?

 

Avatar new photoCamilla Kragius lives in Utah where she spends her time playing in the outdoors. She is a challenger of the status quo and wants others to leave their comfort zones and start living! She loves to travel, go on adventures, and inspire others towards their goals and dreams. She is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller How To Get Out of Debt Living Paycheck to Paycheck: 9 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom and recently launched her second book 37 Days of Different.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “Why You Should Do a 99 Cent Promo for Your Book

  1. I really like the strategic thinking here. Congratulations, Camilla, on jump-starting your book. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Tim! I follow the strategy “If you don’t toss the spaghetti on the wall you don’t know what will stick.” 🙂

  2. I know I buy a lot more 99 cent books because it’s a much more affordable risk. It’s not such a hassle to return a book, but it’s not something I would want to do. I don’t ask for a refund for a meal that wasn’t my taste at a restaurant.

    • I agree. 99 cents is an easier entry into something than 4.99 unless I have heard of it or looks like a great book based on reviews. I like you have never returned a book, not even a few that were really bad!

    • I think that is an individual level as each have their own set goals on how many books they want to sell per month or year but for me personally low sales is anything 6 books or less and good sales is above that.

  3. Thanks Camilla! I really enjoyed this post. I’m getting ready to launch my first book and I will definitely apply what you have learned. Congratulations!

  4. Really great strategy here. It’s so true. The book itself is such a small part of helping people that getting it in their hands is key to a long-term impact. Great stuff!

    • Thanks Nick! And yes, when you have a book (usually a non-fiction one) that can help someone key is to get it into their hands so they can recommend it to someone else that needs help. Excited to see your book launch here shortly! It’s going to help a ton of marriages.

  5. Well Camilla as you know I haven’t written my first book yet…(but you had great suggestions on that topic too.) When I do I’m certainly going to do a promo like this as well. I know you’ve pushed it and hustled and really done a great job marketing the book so this is great advice.

    • Thanks Scott! That book of yours is being shaped and will be amazing once it’s finished. And I have a great launch team 😉 Can’t wait to share yours with the world!

  6. Congrats, Camilla! Really appreciate you sharing this. I’m all about testing, and the reasoning behind the $.99 strategy makes perfect sense, and definitely worth implementing. I’m sure I’ll be applying what you’ve learned here.

    • Thanks Robert! It’s always worth a try. I think if we do it too often it lose it’s value. It’s like if the cereal we eat is on sale too often, we stock up and then never buy at regular price. But with the right strategy behind it, traffic will come.

  7. Camilla,

    Thanks for your transparency in this post and in your comments!

    Best,
    Erin

    • Thanks Erin for asking me to guest post. And we all learn from each other so love reading all the other posts. Keep up the awesome work on this site 🙂

  8. I’m always looking for new strategies to sell more of my own books and to help clients sell theirs. The 99-cent promo option has had its detractors since the self-publishing landscape became more crowded. But I’m going to give it another run based on your experience. Thanks!

    • It’s definitely becoming more crowded and now we see so many 99 cents books being regular price it’s devalued books in general but with the right marketing strategy it can be successful. Like I mentioned to Robert in a comment above it needs to be done seldom and for a reason. Build up anticipation for the promo and then go gangbusters and let the audience know this is a rare occurrence. Good luck!