Best Book Promotion Sites in 2023

These are the very best book promotion services in 2023 for boosting your sales, launches, free promotions, series deals, and mailing list sign-ups. Something for all budgets and experience levels with self-publishing – including a few options which are completely free!

This list of book promo sites is curated by me personally. All sites here have been vetted and tested extensively, and are here because of the results they generate.

You can skip to the section you are looking for below but make sure to check the end for a free course on how to build a marketing campaign. Yes, that’s right, a completely free course on how to promote a book. Read on, pilgrim!

Promo Sites Explained

There’s a whole section at the end on how to use what you might call promo sites, deal sites, ad sites, or readers sites, depending – you would think a community of writers might have nailed down the nomenclature around book promotions after ten years, but there you go.

Promo sites are basically like Groupon for ebooks: authors pay a fee to have their book listed in the daily offers – usually sent out by email – and they get lots of sales or downloads in return. Readers get freebies and discounts, and the author’s book jumps into the charts; everyone wins.

There’s a lot more to using these sites effectively in terms of strategy, and see the Build A Marketing Campaign section at the end for free resources to help you there, but those are the basics of book promotion for self-published authors. We focus a lot on price promotions – i.e. running discounts on books to get sales moving.

Boost Sales With Promo Stacking

The very best way to use promo sites is to “stack” your promos, as experienced self-publishers say – which just means running several at once. However, don’t make the mistake of running them all on the same day.

The best way to stack promos is one after the other. Here’s a short video explaining the technique:

BookBub

The Big Daddy of book promo sites deserves a category of its own as it is a different beast. A much larger beast.

BookBub arrived on the scene several years ago and utterly transformed book promotion. It now has way more juice than everything else here combined. Which is no surprise when you discover they have over ten million voracious readers subscribed to its lists.

Sign up as reader to the BookBub Featured Deals email and select your favorite genres from 42 categories. You will get daily emails with a range of books. Household names, undiscovered gems, traditionally published, small press, and self-published. A real mix of free books, 99¢ deals, and a few $1.99/$2.99 books – but even those are usually heavily discounted. Reader-me checks it daily.

BookBub Featured Deals

Getting your book into BookBub’s Featured Deals email is expensive. You can check the full price list here. What you will see is that a 99¢ Featured Deal will cost anything from $152 to $1,000+ depending on category size. Your book will go out to 2m-4m readers in the case of the more expensive categories, and you could sell thousands of books. Authors typically report making their money back in twenty-four hours, and enjoying sustained sales for a period afterwards also. Also keep in mind there are much cheaper sites below, if that up-front cost is too high a barrier.

It’s a little cheaper to get a freebie featured, and more expensive for higher-priced books. (I don’t recommend doing the latter.) My last free run generated over 37,000 downloads – to give you an idea how powerful this option can be.

The biggest stumbling block with BookBub isn’t the cost. It’s the difficulty of getting picked. You must apply, and BookBub says it only accepts 20% of applicants. (I’m guessing Dan Brown has a slightly better chance than most, so you and me probably face tighter odds.) If you are exclusive to Amazon, or don’t have very many reviews on your book, or your presentation isn’t excellent, your chances of getting picked are very slim indeed. But if you want to apply, your first step is to sign up for BookBub Partners account – which I recommend doing anyway, and populating your books on the platform so readers can discover them.

BookBub Ads

There is another way to reach this passionate audience of 10m readers – one which I’ve written a guide to called BookBub Ads Expert – and I also have some other resources like this video guide below. Generally speaking though, the BookBub Ads platform is not for beginners; I recommend perusing the options below instead.

Free Book Promotions

Free book promotions refer to promoting a book which is free, rather than promotions which cost nothing (see below for some of the latter). These free promos are often the easiest and cheapest to put together, giving the best return in terms of simply getting your books into readers’ hands. Here are my preferred sites in (rough) order of relative power.

Those in bold are strong recommendations for free book promos. The rest are for more aggressive pushes. Only need one? Pick Freebooksy… but Fussy Librarian is hot on its heels and could overtake it in 2023.

Discounts

Some sites are better value with freebies, other with discounts. Most only accept 99¢ deals but that’s almost always the best way to run a discount anyway. Those in bold are strong recommendations. The rest are for more aggressive pushes. Only need one? Pick Robin Reads.

Also check the genre-specific deal sites below for further options.

Genre Specialists

These sites are recommended for both freebies and discounts, as long as your book is the right genre, of course.

Your genre isn’t listed? Hey, I feel you. But these sites are among the newer of those featured, so hopefully things will continue to develop in that manner. Some of the above are innovating in other useful ways, like allowing you to feature more than one book. Speaking of…

Series Promotions

Some book promo sites are finally offering options to push several books at once – ideal for a series. As always, bolded items are stronger recommendations.

  • Freebooksy ($65-$245) – the gold standard of series promotions. Results continue to be stellar from this fresh approach to series promotion which launched in beta in late 2021. Moves the needle in multiple genres: thrillers, romance, horror, SF/F, paranormal, YA, and non-fiction. Strongly recommended. More on how it works.
  • EreaderIQ ($10-$25+… depending on your series length) – a regular free/discounted promo but they let you add mention of more books/formats for a nominal fee. Note: the other titles featured don’t strictly have to be in the same series.
  • BookBasset ($21.99) – a featured author promo where they will also let you add up to four more books of yours (included in the price), as long as they are $2.99 or less; they strongly advise at least one book is free.
  • BookDoggy ($18-$20) – this is also more of a regular free/discounted promo but where they let you add a mention of your series page. A cool add-on I wish was universal.
  • BookAdrenaline/BookBarbarian/Red Roses Romance – this family of genre specialists (detailed in the above section) let’s you add a second book to a Standard Listing for a small additional fee.

Site owners: please add more series promotion options like the above! I especially like the Freebooksy approach, but even just adding a link to a series page for regular promos would be so valuable.

List Builders

A warning: list builders are best used to augment your organic list-building efforts, not to replace them. If your mailing list needs a quick injection of fresh blood, list builders can be very useful. Just remember to use this tactic sparingly.

This is not a replacement for getting subscribers organically, or a short-cut to getting a big and healthy mailing list.

If your mailing list is solely garnered from from list-builders and competitions and the like, then you might have an issue.

That said, they have their place, and I like using them strategically. BookSweeps is the best around – in my experience it drives quality sign-ups.

Follow Promos

Both BookSweeps and LitRing do BookBub Follow promos (and LitRing does occasional Amazon Follow promos. The reason I’m separating them out is you need to take the caveat from the list-builder section above and triple it here. At least with email, you know if you are carrying deadweight, and can re-engage (or cull) persistent non-openers.

There is no way to even identify deadweight in your Amazon or BookBub Follows, let alone do anything about it.

Use sparingly – I especially want to stress that here – but I think they are fine for getting your first few followers if you are stuck. Just don’t lean on these things too heavily or you’ll build your house on shaky foundations.

Money Savers

Times are tight! If you have a restricted budget, and can’t just jump on everything here, these are my top value, lower cost picks from everything available – including some freebies for you too.

Fussy Librarian – first-time users can use the code 10OFF on checkout to receive $10 off their first free book promo (making what was already good value even cheaper).

OHFB – a nice site but I don’t think the $75/$100 promos are worth the cost. However, this option is free (but there’s no guarantee of being picked).

Digital Book Today – I must try the $20 free book promo here again soon as it has been a while, but this promo is free.

And then out of the sites previously mentioned, Freebooksy is the best value for freebies if you can afford (go with ENT or Fussy Librarian if you can’t). Robin Reads and ENT vie for top spot for discounts, but BookBarbarian gives them a run for their money if you write SF/F.

The Freebooksy series promo is stellar, but it’s not that cheap. EreaderIQ has far less juice, but it’s a nice option if money is very tight, or a nice augment to Freebooksy if you have money to spread around.

Keep this in mind: I’m firmly of the opinion that it’s better to let your books slide for a while and organize a really good promotion every so often, than to be promoting all the time and using lesser value sites.

Create A Marketing Campaign

Booking a promotion above is a good first step when it comes to marketing, but if you want to build a real marketing campaign, if you want to come up with a killer launch plan for your next release, then you must check out my FREE course Starting From Zero.

Join 15,000+ authors and learn everything about how to promote your books, from branding, packaging, and positioning, to building your list and platform, to handling a book launch or other type of promotion.

Best part? It won’t cost you a penny.

Book Promo sites are most effective when part of a marketing plan. Learn how to build your own with this Free Marketing and Self-Publishing Course - Starting From Zero with David Gaughran

Questions

Pop your questions on book promotions in the box below. I’ll get a ping right away, and answer you once I’m finished alphabetizing my collection of fine hams.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.


200 Replies to “Best Book Promotion Sites in 2023”

  1. Discovered your site a few days ago and I’m hooked. You don’t try to sell me anything, you show me how it’s done and that’s what I’ve been searching for. I’ve got two novels out and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to marketing. Now I have a better understanding. Huge thanks. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

  2. Hi, David. Do you know anything at all about a list called Historical Reads? It is a 99¢ only list. Considering that there are no other HF only lists, I am going to give it a try with a novel I’m not promoting anywhere else. At its $15-20 price, I thought it couldn’t hurt much to check it out.

  3. How long should I wait between promos with the same site? I did a promo with KND/BookGorilla and had good results, then did another promo with them a little over 2 months later. I got pitifully flaccid results the second time. Is that because it was too soon after the first?

  4. David, your list of series promotions is fantastic! A few months ago, I switched to running series promotions with only one exception. I wish Fussy Librarian would offer series promotions, but they are good enough and cost-effective so that is the only non-series that I am still running. For me Bookbub ads are no longer working as well as they used to, so I have dropped them – although they do allow you to use your series pages for links so they should work for series promotions.

  5. What would you recommend for promoting a free reader magnet book (with a bookfunnel link)? Are there promo sites that accept that?

    1. Off the top of my head, the only one I can remember with that as a potential option was BookDoggy (above). Besides, you might get better results from making your Book 1 free or 99c instead and making sure you have a really strong CTA at the front and back pushing that reader magnet.

  6. Excellent advice, as usual, Dave. But if I have my book on Amazon it’s not clear how I can discount my book to .99p on other paid sites. Surely Amazon is going to be pretty miffed if I do that. Or must I ask Amazon to do the same, so that they can price-match?

    1. Go to the KDP help page and under prices there is a choice to request price matching which they will almost always do.

  7. Hi David and thanks for this list,

    What do you think about the Goodreads giveaway option? Amazon prices it at about 117$ – is this an effective marketing strategy and does it do much -? they give away about 100 copies they say and run a promotion

    1. Tried a Goodreads giveaway and gave six free books of my first publication. I have 1,574 entries; however, I received the emails of the winners only. So for $117, I think this was a poor choice. I have added the six names to my subscriber’s list and we will see how real they are. I was told by another author that many people who sign up have multiple fake email addresses to increase the likeliness they will win.

      Another thing I did was try a giveaway on my website for an Audible. This concludes on Monday; however, results have been minimal. So I am still looking for the best way to use a giveaway to generate subscribers.

      Matthew Harrison

  8. Thanks for this great resource on promo sites! I know my chances of getting picked by BookBub are about as slim as getting picked to be an astronaut for the Mars mission. But I’m going to try anyway. Here’s my one question: For a novel that is currently a stand-alone but will eventually be the first book in a series, would it be a smarter choice for me to do a free promo or discount promo on BookBub? The free one is cheaper but, well… I can be pretty sure it won’t return on investment… :-l

    1. You might get a range of opinions here but I think it’s better to do a discount promo at this point – you can always go more aggressive, and use Free, later on when you have more things that readers can buy, more books that you can help boost by doing promotions like this.

  9. Hi David, I’ve just got a Bookbub Featured deal for just UK, CA and AU. Do you recommend any other promo sites I can ‘stack’ it with? Fussy Librarian, Bargain Booksy etc seem to be focused on the US market. Thanks, Steve

    1. Hi Steve. Unfortunately there are very few sites outside the US, or dedicated to increasing sales in non-US markets. The US is the biggest market so it attracts all the attention from site owners – understandably. The way I look at it is like this: if I’m running a sale anyway, I might as well run it in all markets, even if the BB deal is international only. If it was me, I’d grab slots for the recommended sites that suit, and use those to push the deal in America, and let BookBub do the trickier work of flogging it internationally, and then you also have the option of pushing it yourself on social media, letting your list know about the deal, and then perhaps following in afterward the BB deal yourself with ads on their platform in those markets (BB Ads are good in international markets) and then there’s the possibility of Facebook/Amazon ads as well to boost things further. I tend to throw the kitchen sink at these things and push it wherever I can – doubling down on whatever is showing the best return.

  10. On the subject of book descriptions in promo mail shots. Book descriptions are essentially advertising copy and a chance to indicate that an author has something interesting to say and some skill in saying it – to allure the reader to explore further. Fussy Librarian can charge up to $76 for their FREE download genres – given the rate of exchange for non US citizens and Paypal’s rake off – that’s a hefty amount. In their purchase Form they offer 900 characters (max) Book description space – c 150 words. However in their targetted (by genre / free) mail outs Fussy Librarian arbitrarily slash the book descriptions to as little as a dozen words (they seem to vary randomly from 10 – 50 words). Was very baffled by the perfuctory Book descriptions in their mail outs – surely no writer paying $76 would under-sell themselves to that extent. Its definitely FL who are pruning the 900 character Sales Copy down to next to nothing not the submitters. Why on earth do they think they have a right do that and why on earth would they undercut their customers like that? What’s going on? A case of Buyers beware !

    1. Notice Fussy Librarian have since updated their Free Promo details on their site – clearly to include line ( “One-sentence description” )
      However $76 seems an extraordinary amount to charge for one sentence of Sales Copy ( + a small cover image & a link to Amazon etc) for 1 day in a mailing list. How could a $76 mailshot attract enough downloads for unknown books in one sentence, to be worth the money? Seems to be a case of spoiling a ship for a ha’p’orth of tar.

    2. Hi Chris, book promo sites typically use the submitted information in different ways – on their websites, newsletters, social media channels, etc. It’s safe to assume that they have tested a variety of approaches in their newsletter in particular and go with what attracts the most clicks/downloads. It might surprise you to hear, but generally I find that the book cover does most of the heavy lifting here, rather than book descriptions (of any length).

      As for Fussy Librarian specifically, they are one of the savviest around so I’d suggest extending a bit of faith here. Most importantly, they get results – probably the best site for free downloads now outside of BookBub (and considerably cheaper). The proof is in the pud!

  11. David, I know you are a big fan of Bookbub promotions and ads. But do you have any opinion on their New Releases for Less promotions? They are definitely not cheap and I’ve heard some very mixed reactions.

    1. I haven’t heard great reports. The odd positive one perhaps, and usually from someone launching at an aggressive price like 99c, but mostly people unhappy at the return. I’m not hugely surprised, they cultivated a deals audience and these books generally aren’t that cheap, and this isn’t a list people explicitly signed up for either – so naturally engagement probably isn’t as good and then the response also is considerably less favorable.

      IIRC they don’t put the prices in the email either – unlike the deals email – so I’d say the conversion rate is substantially less as well.

      I didn’t get the impression from speaking with BookBub that they plan to make any radical changes to that offering either, so it isn’t something I’ve been keeping track of – just in the No pile for me.

      1. I decided as an experiment – knowing that it was risky – to try it out. In spite of reducing the price to $2.99 which is FAR below my usual price, the results were terrible. So now I know. It is a resounding NO on my list.

  12. David,

    Do you know of any promo sites that allow an author to promote strictly to their website (direct sales)? The only site I’ve encountered so far is AuthorXP. Options for strictly wide authors would be a nice section to add.

    With thanks,
    Lee

  13. David’s techniques are solid gold. I tried stacking as suggested and it worked like a charm for my 4-book series.

    The OHFB paid options are a complete waste of money.

  14. I’d like to unlock the “pre-order” email option on Bookbub, but 1k followers are needed first.

    Before I try BookSweeps, I’d like to know why it matters if you are carrying “dead weight” on Bookbub or Amazon?

    Thanks

  15. This article has been so useful. Thank you. FYI, I’ve used BookDoggy on several occasions for list building. They support BookFunnel and Storyorigin, and I’ve found an ad yields 150-180 sign ups. You can run one every six months. That’s in horror so not the biggest genre, but cost per sign up is low 10-18p.

  16. It took me seven days to go through the resources. it was an amazing learning process. thank you very much. even though some of them were an absolute waste of time, most of them were really great resources to promote my first book. I am a new author and I have mush to learn thank you

  17. Thanks for the information. I’m just curious to know why nearly all these promo sites are US based. I would really like to hit the UK market but apart from BookBub (for which I have yet to be accepted) are there any UK deal sites in existence? I have done some searches on Google.

    1. Hello Helen,

      Have you heard of Orna Ross? Selfpublishingadvice.org is all about helping self-published authors get up and running. They have programs for those who are unpublished as well as published. Check this site out if you haven’t heard about them.
      Have a good day.
      Arlene

    2. As an author promoting my books over the past three years, I have found the largest audience for purchasing my books in the US. By far, the US is the biggest market for books. Personally, I would place your advertising $$$ in the US market.

      I have spent $$$ in the UK with dismal results.
      And it also depends on the genre that you’re writing in. Some genres might find success while others don’t.

    3. Hi Helen,
      eReaderIQ from the list above has the option to change US to UK. Perhaps some of the others might too – I haven’t checked out all the ones from the genre specific lists.
      I also disagree with Michael’s comment below in terms of putting all your money in the US market. I have found the US market the hardest to get a good return on investment from because it’s oversaturated. That could be genre dependent (I write fantasy), however, I’ve found the best ROI from advertising campaigns for the UK and Canada.
      In any case, good luck.

  18. David, thanks again for providing such great advice! I just did my first Double Feature promo with Book Barbarian and it was a hit! Best sales day since I launched my new series.

    Question about Box Sets: In addition to promo stacking, do you have any other recommendations or insights that are specific to marketing fiction box sets? I know you’ve mentioned in previous YouTube videos that they can market toward a different kind of reader.

    Interested to know in your personal experience/case studies if there are some nuances here we should be aware of?

    Thanks in Advance!

  19. Hi David,
    Thank you so much for all the help you provide. My question is, what are the best sites for promoting a new release? It seems most of these sites require lots of reviews, but that is not always possible.
    Thanks, Rob.

  20. I’m releasing book 1 in a series September, horror. Planning on doing a 5-day stacked launch, I just noticed that RobinReads and ENT don’t allow erotica scenes which mine has in 2 instances. So aside from the mailing list, facebook, and Bargainbooksy, how else can I spread the love over 5 days?
    Thanks!

  21. David – thank you for providing incredibly valuable resources to indie authors. FYI – I promoted a free book with BOOK Raid today, and they have increased their price for free-book promotions to 15 cents per click. Still seems a pretty good deal to me.

  22. Hi David
    Firstly, I’d like to say you are my go-to guy when it comes to learning about how Amazon and Bookbub really works. I have benefited hugely from your platform mastery, strategies and advanced marketing techniques in Strangers To Superfans, Amazon Decoded, Bookbub Ads Expert, and also Newsletter Ninja, which I got based on your recommendations. (All are superb PAPERBACK books that I have dissected, read twice and acted upon the advice, which I consider to be the best I have ever read.

    There are a lot of BS merchants out there online charging authors thousands for bogus courses that contain less than a quarter of this gold, and sadly, a lot of these con-men really don’t know how to teach their clients how to sell books. The majority of which can be learned from you for a fraction of the price! I have recommended all the aforementioned to several authors, and they are also are beginning to benefit from your SUPERB info (The stuff about Amazon’s recommendation algo blew me away at first). Ever likely so many authors are struggling!!

    These books are also very entertaining as well. I’ve laughed my preverbal’s off many times whilst reading them. Today, I’d like to mention something regarding BargainBooksy, hope you don’t mind? I followed one of your launch strategies in Amazon Decoded for my last two police procedurals and the first one was awesome.

    I emailed my lists, did a cross promo’s with two in genre authors got 8000 downloads; ranking said book number 1 in several FREE Amazon categories (and as you describe in Amazon Decoded, I spread the launch over 5-7 days, it really does give much better longevity). The Kindle Unlimited page reads throughs, and series sales kept coming in for about 9 weeks. Simply genius!!!! So I tried a repeat dose for the launch of another book in the series. This is when it dawned on me that BargainBooksy has a HUGE engagement issue on 99c book DEALS.

    How does a MYSTERY subs list of supposedly 268,000 can only produce 17 sales of a 99c book?

    The cover was created by a pro-cover artist who has designed many Amazon top 100 books. The blurb/sales pitch was written by a successful industry book copywriter I know. The book’s audience appeal is large (It ranked in the top 100 on Amazon in 3 crime categories in just 9 days – PRIOR TO THE BARGAIN BOOKSY, and was ranked at 4,467 in the entire Amazon store in the UK higher on .com, but still?

    I know this ain’t an exact science, and I have been doing mailout for over 13 years in various niches, but…that’s around 1 sale in every 15,500 reader views (an industry all-time low based on the email CTRs I have) over the last 10 years with my other published books.

    The maths…based on industry figures should be close too…

    at 0.1% is = 268 book sales
    at a measly 0.5% = 134 book sales
    at an absurdly low 0.2% = 53 book sales
    at a abysmal 0.01% = 26 book sales

    So worst-case scenario 0.01 = 26 book sales

    I’m absolutely astounded at BBs appalling conversions on a BargainBooksy deal for 99c!

    Given the number of subscribers, it’s the worst I’ve ever had online, in 13 years. In fact, it’s absolutely awful!

    Summary…

    This leads me to conclude BargainBooksy have a major issue with your engagement e.g. “They have created a very bad FREEBIE culture and their subscribers don’t buy even 99c books in any great numbers.”
    Again 268,000 at 0.015 sales rate beggars belief.

    My list of crime fans is around 4000 and I can get around 270-300 sales, and thousands of KU page reads over a launch week. I know an author should expect more sales from their own fans, but jeez – 17 sales from a list of 268,000 on BargainBooksy is appalling!

    FREEBOOKSY is good… BUT BargainBooksy (Something really not right there!)

    Just wanted to warn other authors before they consider taking one out! Hope this helps save people a few quid.
    Still learning tons from your books fella now on my 3rd read/dissection of Strangers To Superfans! Awesome site and books. I hope you feel you can publish this fella?

    Very best wishes Jon.

    PS Huge thanks for the heads up on Apple’s plans to derail email opens and assessment metrics in September. It’s hard enough as it is. God, they are so greedy! This is my beef with the big 5 online platforms. Not only are building bigger walls but they seem to be constantly attacking e-commerce at its very heart – EMAIL MARKETING! Us little guys aren’t greedy. We are happy to make an okay-ish living doing what we love. Let’s hope the Getresponse, MailChimp, Mailerlight and the others come up with something soon, else it gonna get much tougher!

    1. I have to agree with Job B. What has happened to BargainBookSy for book you promote at $0.99!!! Here are my results from this year so far:
      – Jan 15, l ran BargainBookSy $0.99 promotion for thriller/mystery novel
      Result: 10 sales only, and highest Amazon Sales Rank: 46,624

      – March 23, l ran BargainBookSy for another mystery/espionage novel
      Result: 19 sales only over 3 days; highest Amazon Sales Rank: about 40,000

      Something is not right given the volume of their subscribers. The only site I am finding decent to good sales results is with BooksGoSocial (Amazon Ads) and Kbookpromotions for ebooks offered between $0.99 to $2.99.

      Are we the only ones getting poor results on BargainBookSy (which, some years back, use to be quite good).

  23. I have seen that there are many Facebook groups that highlight giveaways and promotions and some of them have quite a lot of members. I also noticed that you didn’t mention any in your list. So, I am wondering what your opinion of them is?

    1. That has been a thing since I started self-publishing in 2011 and, unless I have missed something, I’m not aware of any which deliver meaningful sales and are worth the time and effort. Any such groups that I’m aware of are usually just groups with lots of members who don’t engage and don’t see the posts and are mostly just authors engaging in drive-by posting of their sales anyway. If you are aware of a group which does actually have reader engagement and can actually deliver sales, please feel free to recommend it and I’ll take a look. Generally speaking though, it’s not a good use of your time.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I suspected that might be the case but wasn’t sure. I may try a few just for the heck of it and see what happens. If I get any good results I will report back.

      2. Spot on, fellas! Same initials JB? I see so many authors doing this. It’s futile. Engagement in these FB groups is just awful. It’s so random and really doesn’t produce any ebook sales. I did it for a while myself. Groups with like 18,000 members produced two sales. FB and Twitter are both utterly useless when it comes to selling books in my experience. Twitter is half decent for networking and meeting new authors for cross-promos to their newsletters, but anything else these SM platforms produce terrible sales stats. As
        David says, time better spent elsewhere!

  24. Hi David,

    This is a superb resource which I used to do promotion stacking for a launch last week How do you go about tracking downloads – and is it even possible with these promotion sites? An article I read brought it to mind and I asked a couple of the sites but they don’t have any way of doing that. What do you do yourself?

    Thanks for all your fantastic articles and videos – you’re one of my ‘go to’ trusted sources.

  25. Hi David, Thanks for sharing your experience and expertise—and for the chuckles!

    Question about running a full BookBub Featured Deal for a free book (Kindle only). I got super lucky this week and got the deal! (Making me a “unicorn”??)

    I’m thinking about the bell curve you mentioned in your book, so should I promo stack around the BB deal so that BB deal is on Day #3 (of 5 total promo days) and promo stack around it? If so, I’d probably need more help with the bell *before* the BB deal and maybe should stack promos leading up to it instead of *after* the BB deal, but I’m all ears!

    If I had to choose between advertising around the BB deal, or promo stacking, which would you choose? (btw, I don’t have my “golden” ads yet) you know, the darn *budget* 😉

    I have one other book which is wide (my first book–a NYT bestseller thanks in part to BB!) in the same genre (psych thriller) which is a standalone. I plan to keep that full price. Agree?

    Thanks so much in advance! Much continued success to you! Eva

  26. Book Sirens has been recommended in some of the wide Facebook groups. Thoughts?
    Also, I’m half way through your course and absorbing as much as I can to launch my mystery series starting in the fall. Thanks for all the great material.

  27. Do have an opinion about BookBuzz.net. It sounds too good to be true, and it bothers me that they use ‘Book Buzz’ which is also used by Susannah Greenberg Marketing Services.

  28. ‘…once I’m finished alphabetizing my collection of fine hams.’
    Snort.
    This gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had in ages!

  29. Just dropping in to say a huge THANK YOU, DAVID!
    Followed your aggressive launch plan, and getting a massive return. Life changing! And all thanks to your free course and resources. You have a new die hard fan!

  30. This is a bit off topic but what platform would you say, as someone with a great deal of marketing experience, gives the best return if you’re willing to buckle down and learn the ropes? You’ve said AMS is still a bit of a mess…

  31. Sláinte David!

    I have a second book coming out soon. I’m following your Book Two Launch Plan.
    Should I publish the second book as an Ebook, a paperback and audio book all at the same time on Amazon (and other sites–I’m going wide) and then request reviews?

    Or, should I publish the book as an Ebook, paperback and audio book a week or two apart and then wait a week or longer and then request reviews?

    Thanks for all you do.

    Tabhair aire.

    Marjan

  32. Just followed David’s aggressive launch plan outline in Starting from Zero, and was mostly pleased with results from the sites on this page. Freebooksy was a huge disappointment though, and I doubt I’ll do the series option with that again. Best for my release (traditional mystery) were Fussy Librarian and ENT free, and Robin Reads paid. I probably won’t use BookDoggy again, either. YMMV

  33. Hi David,

    Have you looked into HelloBooks.com yet? They’ a new promo site started up by Self Publishing Formula.

      1. Hi David 🙂

        Thanks for the promo list. It’s amazing!

        I think it’s worth you revisiting Hello Books now. They’ve been going for a while and are getting great results for people. And they’re run by Mark Dawson from Self Publishing Formula and Craig Martelle from 20Booksto50K. You don’t get much better than that for brilliant people who know what they’re doing and really want to help other authors succeed.

      2. Hi Liv, inclusion here is purely performance based. I wasn’t that impressed with Hello Books myself tbh and didn’t see books featured performing well at all – think the emails were going to Spam too. I do periodically recheck the sites on this list, often several times a year, to ensure the recommendations are up to date so you can be sure I’ll look at it again – thanks.

  34. Thanks for maintaining this excellent resource, David!
    I just tried the Freebooksy series promo. One odd thing I noticed was that I couldn’t find the series option from my dashboard but if I left that page signed in, came back here and followed your link, I was able to set it up and then it showed up in my dashboard at Written Word (freebooksy).
    I suppose they still have a bit of coding to finish.

    1. I’m a week and a bit after running the promo and I’ve just gone into positive territory on the boost in sales plus pages read. That was on a SciFi, 4-book series with only the first title set to free and the rest at full price.
      I’m setting up another promo on a 5-book series with the first at free, the second set to .99 and the third at 1.99 using kindle countdown.
      When I have the data sorted out, I’ll post results here in better detail.
      I might set the first title to 0.99 now and set up a running bookbub ad focusing on KU reads as a lead in.

  35. Hi David,
    I have a few novels self-published through Amazon. I’m thinking about publishing a book of short stories in an attempt to ‘signpost’ people to my other work. Do you think a short story book is a good idea, and if so should I be concentrating on promoting that or my latest novel?
    I’m in the UK and would like to know what other sites I can publish on so that I can get Amazon to make my short story book free (assuming a permanent freebie is a good idea) because I believe Amazon won’t set a book to permafree unless it’s that way on another site in the same country. Do you have any suggestions for that, please?
    Also, the novels I have published are stand-alones (not part of a series). Promoting those is more challenging because making a stand-alone part of a deal won’t lead to those follow-on sales in the same way. Do you have any tips for marketing specific to this situation (please don’t say write a series).
    Thank you for your time and for the eye-opening ‘Starting from Zero’ course.

    1. Hi Sian – regarding making your book perma-free on Amazon I had the same situation. I set mine up on Draft2Digital and they distributed it to Apple, B&N, Kobo, Vivlio, Scribd, Tolino – all priced at free. Then I told Amazon and they made it free on Amazon worldwide. Hope that helps.

  36. I’ve just made a deal with bargainbooksy for the historical romance genre.
    I liked the fact you don’t need to have reviews and also because you recommended it made me took the decision. A bit expensive in comparison to others though
    The book will be at 1,99$ and their list is really big (about 160.000 mails). Wish me luck!!

  37. David – you are amazing! Thank you so much for all the great info (and the laughs I get from your books – you crack me up :).
    Curious if you recommend certain days of the week for doing the promo stacking launch you describe. For a five-day, I’m thinking Wed-Sun would be best, assuming folks have more time on the weekend to browse and buy, but that’s a big guess. Mon-Sun for a seven-dayer? Any recommendations?
    Thanks

      1. Hello. I am a newly published author and new follower of yours and am enjoying reading your posts. I currently make a small profit by advertising my only book on Amazon. I am struggling to increase sales and of course profits. One thing I am trying to understand is advertising a free book. Why should I spend money to give away my product?

  38. Hi David
    Thanks for the great course – I’ve been working my way through it (several times!). I have a three-book series – first one published in 2017 and the last one in 2019. Not many reviews and not very many sales – although the feedback I get is that the books are “Wow!” So – I guess I just don’t have a “feel” for marketing (my bad). That all being said, I’ve bundled the trilogy into a boxset and would like to “try” to market it correctly this time. I’d love to hear your views on whether I should promote the boxset as if it is a single book (i.e. the way you describe how to promote a single book in your course) – or whether I should be thinking of other things in terms of the boxset. I do have another book in the same world (different main protagonist but many of the same characters) that I’m working towards having ready towards the end of this year – and I have short stories that I give to my subscriber list (list organically growing – at about 400 now – but with only about a 20% open rate : ( – I’m working on it!).

  39. Thank you, David, for such a wealth of information!
    I’ve spent three days combing through your course, and have decided to implement many more of your tactics (some I already have in place!)
    I have a series finale releasing soon (7th book in the series), and have been planning to extend my release promo “skeleton”, if you will. The question I can’t seem to find an answer for: If I’m scheduling deal sites for a free first-in-series AND a 99c second-in-series, should I be using the same genres on the deal sites, or swapping which ones I share them to? (My series is a mash up- it qualifies for many romance sub-genres).

    When you mentioned using the same target audiences on Facebook Ads (2-3 days on the freebie, then 2-3 days on the 99c), it made me think I should stick with the same newsletter genres, but then I thought ‘casting a wider net’ might be the better way to go.

    Thank you so much for your time, knowledge, and patience. I’m a forever fan.

  40. Hi David, your article is great I ever read but my question is these all websites and tactics still work for “Paperback” books?

    Please could you explain what is best for paperback books?

  41. Hi David thanks for great information

    I noticed that all of the promotion sites are either free or heavily discounted books. What options are there for books at regular retail prices? My book is with Random House and I cant offer deals without the publisher doing it. I am just trying to gain visibility in the USA market (i am from canada) by promoting my book

    1. I’ll tell you straight: you are in a tricky position. Aside from most of the deal sites not wanting to feature books which aren’t, well, deals, you face a similar-ish problem with Facebook Ads and BookBub Ads in that it’s much harder to move a book which isn’t a deal – BookBub Ads especially. You might have better luck with Facebook Ads, but there’s a more fundamental issue here.

      We have trouble making the ad-math work with 70% royalties and I think it’s near impossible for traditionally published authors. Some have had success convincing their publisher to run a discount for a weekend, and then either agreeing a co-pay on a BookBub Featured Deal, or covering all the cost themselves – but it tends to be smaller, more flexible publishing houses who might be interested, and not many of them, quite frankly.

      So where does that leave you and all the other traditionally published authors who wish to actively market themselves, and perhaps take some cues from the marketing trails which self-publishers are blazing.

      Well, you’re not totally bunched. And as a non-fiction author in particular, there are some very fruitful avenues you can explore. Warning: these are a slower burn than the quick hit of ads, but can be super effective over the long term/

      Instead of building up your book, you should look at building up YOU. Your platorm, your website traffic, your Facebook Page, and, especially, your mailing list.

      I have a bunch of resources on all that stuff and content marketing generally if you nose around this here site, most of which could be adapted to the needs of a traditionally published author – this is a decent starting point: https://davidgaughran.com/how-to-sell-books-in-2020-pandemic-edition/

  42. David,
    Thank you for your always-helpful, honest advice.
    When one submits to EReader News Today, which you recommend and has a good reputation, they give a ‘chain-marketing’ link to Booksends, which itself then recommends Bookrunes. Do you have a view on either of them?
    Thanks,
    Peter

    1. Hey, I don’t recommend BookRunes at all. BookSends… I used to recommend that site, but I think it has gotten a little pricey for the results it delivers, to be honest. They also tend to recommend some questionable courses and services, which is another reason I don’t have them on this list.

  43. Hi David, I hit the youtube subscribe button! Haha! A couple of people in the above comments have asked about poetry promotions with no response. I too wish to know about businesses that promote poetry. Are we poets such pariahs? Love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Hi David, I feel like I’m missing something. I’m about to launch my book (about 1 month out) and I’m looking at the promo sites and they seem to all have requirements that the book is already up and published so they can check out what you have before they approve you. So, how do you get a promo set up if your book isn’t live/published yet?

      Thanks!

      1. Hi Brian, I cover this extensively in my free course but the short answer is that promo sites – for the most part – aren’t that suitable for new release. Most of them require your book to be live, to have a certain number of reviews, and for it to be discounted. Where promo sites can help is when you launch Book 2 – and I’d recommend running a sale on Book 1 during launch week. Video here breaking down that approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph-jIE4A1wk

      2. Thanks for your reply. I contacted several of those promo sites and some of them offer ways to get around the requirements so that you could have a promo running during your launch and even from day 1.

        Do you think that’s a good idea?

      3. I don’t mean to palm you off by again saying that I cover this in depth in the course, but I do spend a lot of time covering it because it’s not so straightforward, and newer authors especially need quite a bit of explanation as to why they should probably go against their natural inclinations to run around and make as much noise as possible when their book launches.

        I do get that, we’ve all been there, but sometimes the strategically smart option is to do something else.

        But before I go too far down that road, can you tell me (a) what price you plan to launch at, and (b) if you have any idea when Book 2 might come out? Because those two pieces of information could change my advice considerably.

      4. Hi David, Thank you for reminding me of your course. I actually went through it. It’s great. I recall you saying that it’s best to wait until book 2 is ready before you start advertising. I plan on launching at $.99. Book 2 won’t be ready for at least 3-4 months.

        I appreciate you spending time to answer my questions.

        Brian

  44. I am a big BookDoggy fan. I have used them 5-6 times for different Reader Magnets.

    BD will allow you to give a link to just your RM download page. I use StoryOrigin and BookFunnel.

    I will see 100-200 new download (fiction vs non-fiction = I have both) and the quality is good – after running them thru an automation welcome sequence.

    BD will also allow me to add a link to my series page and a YT intro video.

    In short – $20-ish and I can get 100-200 new subscribers with BD. Can’t beat that with a stick. I highly recommend them, as do my numbers.

  45. Thanks for a very complete list, hadn’t heard of some of those. It would be nice if a specialist Children’s promo site would emerge. It’s such a difficult genre!

  46. I heard of you through a FB chat and have just started the course, and read half of Lets get Digital.
    I have finished my first book in a series (didn’t realise it was one until I finished it) and I’m midway through book 2. As a complete newbie debut author I am starting from Zero, and while I love the idea of controlling the cogs, I had no idea (expletive removed) how much needs to be in place before publishing. I am working through the essentials, and ticking things off, but I’m concerned that as my series is historical fiction/folklore/magical realism (according to my writing groups who drink a lot) I may struggle to find the best fit to market successfully. I even struggle to find reader/author groups etc as it seems the whole world writes and reads romance, which the Bridgertons have just exacerbated. Regardless, I like having a clear system and your resources list is fekking amazing, I nearly jumped in on Hootsuite and a SM planner today but decided on your 4 book package instead (I like paperbacks). I will wade through and as I am an ok techie, love post-its, hilighters and don’t sleep much, I still hope to publish in April. Thankyou for being so magnanimous with your expertise, and kind to newbies. I will bulk buy the chardonnay and coffee in preparation for alphabetising my own hams. I will also pray to the faeries to get more people reading historical fiction!

  47. Hi David,

    Thanks for such a simple yet excellent course. I was wondering if the course and release plan would work with a complete three-book series that was already released and out on Amazon. It’s got reviews etc but unfortunately, I just uploaded it to Amazon without much of a thought. Once again thanks for such great content.

  48. Thank you for this. I have a quick question, though. If there is a choice of genre between LGBTQ and Steamy Contemporary Romance, and my book is both, what would you recommend choosing?

    1. I always try and look at questions like this from the perspective of the reader rather than the author – and try and fit with their expectations. It’s often best to sign up to the list of the promo site yourself/check their online listings to see what kind of books they feature in both categories you are considering, and then see where you fit best. I learned this the hard way after taking an Action/Adventure slot on BookBub for one of mine, which was really historical fiction but I figured it might work. But if I had checked out the kind of books they regularly feature on that particular list, I would have seen it was unsuitable for me.

    2. I write steamy M/M, and when I emailed BargainBooksy to ask which category I should submit my books to, they said the LGBTQ list would be a better fit than the contemporary romance list. So I’d say ‘assume gay romance goes to the gay list rather than a romance list, but when in doubt, e-mail them to check’. And David makes a very sensible point about looking at the kind of books promoted to each list yourself, if you can.

  49. I’m looking into all these sites and putting everything into a yearly planner, I’ve recently discovered that my books fall into the Grimdark genre, I didn’t even know there was one, so I’ll be looking into sites on that as well and get back to you, thank you for the information you’ve provided.

  50. Hi David,
    Any good promotion sites for poetry? I see that Bargain Booksy and The Fussy Librarian don’t have a specific section for poetry. Would an alternative be Memoire? Do you know any promotion sites that do memoire?

  51. Hi David, good roundup! It’s worth mentioning that BingeBooks has launched as a new platform for authors and readers. We’ve already created more than 40,000 author pages and have a wide assortment of traditional and indie books on the site.

    We’re not a promo site, we’re a hub for book lovers. But the result is the same: Authors are discovering us as a way to get more visibility for their books.

    By late this month we’ll be opening up the site to all authors. It’s entirely free.

    Check it out at https://bingebooks.com

    And sign up for the author wait list (now approaching 1,000) at:

    https://bingebooks.com/pages/for-authors

    Thanks!
    JD Lasica, Co-founder

  52. Hi Dave,

    Thanks so much for the awesome timing on this one! Gonna pile back into the marketing plan asap, but I tend to suffer from panic & flap about when presented with the enormousness of it all. I know I need to work out what my sales were for last year now I’ve got a whole years data, but my question is…
    In the SFF genre, with 2 series books (number 3 written & on it’s way to betas) a ML of just under 2000 and a sales of about $20 month from using book 1 as a freebie magnet. Where do I start to make it all betterer?

    All the best,
    thanks heaps for being a still voice of calm in the insanity that is Indie Publishing C21st.

    Paul Arvo

  53. For List Builders my favorite are from Courtney Cannon – https://www.facebook.com/groups/fabuildandpromo/ Her builders are well worth the money and no matter how many I do I always get a good amount of active subscribers. Her pricing is around $25 per builder. She does mostly Fantasy sub-genres, and her sister does Romance. She has list building down to a science, and I believe it’s because she is an author herself. So it’s not that she is trying to profit off the writing community, but that she wants to learn and master it for her own writing as well. It makes all the difference when the marketer is also in the trenches and understands it from the author side. If I were to recommend a small bump that could help a just starting out author it would be to buy into one of her builders.

    1. I’ll toss my vote for C. L. Cannon and Fiction-Atlas Author Builders. The ROI is very good. The builders are smaller, but I’ve noticed I get a lot more engaged subscribers from these builders than from others I’ve done. Engagement is so critical and I’ve had people from Courtney’s builders join up to the VIP list as soon as they get my onboarding welcome email. This service definitely deserves a mention on your list.

      1. I’ve been doing promos and builders with Courtney for a year and I can’t say enough great things about her! She is super professional and always timely, and the builders always yield great , genre targeted results. She really should be on this list, sad to see she isn’t!

  54. I love your starting from Zero course David, and I really have to bow down as far as I get (not that far, really) and say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have saved me time and money!

    I have just released my book one, and I am entering full-on panic mode 🙂 It doesn’t sell. That’s not weird, since I don’t market it. But you told me not to market, maybe do a list promo, and I will, but no one is available yet.

    I am planning to release my book two in march, but with this “momentum” I will get my first review in April. April 2043 that is 🙂

    To be able to run deal sites I need reviews, and if I don’t get them I don’t know how to market book two. Is it viable to do some ads to get buyers so I can get some reviews?

    The review thing is really stressing me 😀

    Thanks!

    1. I need this sort of advice too. I have book #1 out, and really, really, need reviews and/or sales. I’m wary of ads, as I can’t afford to toss money away. My book is with KDP/KU and I’m wondering about doing a free promo. Advice, anyone?

      1. Do you have a “Please consider reviewing” link at the end of the story? I did this for my freebie Regency book 1 in series of 6. It came out Feb 2021. I have over 700 AMZ ratings and the rank has never gone above 1200 in AMZ overall. Right now it is sitting at #400. It also has a first chapter of each of the next book. That has been the best advertising. But, that being said, I was able to secure a BB featured deal 1/3/22 and the latest release, book 6, came out 1/4/22. I’m still hitting #1 in some categories for that book. The backmatter should be a top priority. That is prime real estate for an author.

    1. I’m in the same boat with my historical stuff – which is a shame as they used to do great at Robin Reads before they started splitting things up by genre. You could try the Premium promotion as that is all genres, but it’s more expensive and a bit more of a risk if you are coloring outside their lines genre-wise. As for BookSends, I stopped recommending them because the prices kept going up (esp. for freebies) but results seemed flat or deteriorating. And then they were doing things like charging extra for a Facebook mention – which many deal sites do for free – and those Facebook posts have virtually no interaction, so that seemed off to me. I was also unhappy with some of the questionable crap they were promoting to authors via their mailing list – questionable course sellers and the like. I tried to raise it with them, but they didn’t see the issue. So I just stopped recommending them. YMMV.

  55. Hello and thank you, as always!

    I am pretty lost, since I have a new ebook of Mathematical riddles (non-fiction) to have fun, but I dont know where can I find a promo site that matchs with my book! :/

  56. I’m so grateful for all of the resources you have and I wish I’d found them sooner. I have a series that has pretty good read-through (About 80% from book 1 to 3), but since it is erotic romance it’s tricky to promote it. Amazon dumped the first book into erotica and no matter how I’ve argued they refuse to remove it though the rest of the series has avoided that fate.
    I’ve been reading everything you have out and decided to apply some (Most) of the tactics since I’m releasing book 4 on Sep 27th. I revamped the blurbs about two weeks ago and have already seen a slight uptick in sales and page reads. I have new covers to upload that fit the genre/market better. I have book 1 scheduled for a free run starting 3 days before the release of the 4th. I also discounted book 2 to .99, and book 3 to 1.99. The new release will go live at a discounted 2.99 since they’re all usually 3.99.
    I have 13 paid promos scheduled over the 5 days book 1 will be free, plus newsletter swaps with similar-genre authors. I’m really hoping to get more eyes on the series to make it stick higher, but I’m prepared to take an initial loss since reach is the goal. I am blocked from running Facebook and (usually) Amazon Ads due to the content of the books, but I plan to give BookBub a spin. I did the research into comp authors after reading Bookbub Ads Expert, but I haven’t been able to test any since this is all happening so soon.
    I’m really hoping all of this works out. I even took the plunge and finally set up a website which I swore never to do, and that tutorial you have a link to in the Following resources is amazing! I’m planning to do the same revamp/sale blast with another series in Feb if it does.
    If there’s anything you think I missed, I’d be grateful for the help! I’ll try to update once everything runs!

  57. Surprised not to see Evan Gow’s StoryOriginApp on your list for listbuilding or even swaps. Evan is the real deal, super nice guy, helping indie authors. Hey, wait, he reminds me of you except he has no killer beard. Right now, his site and all services are free, but it’s been in beta for a couple years and eventually he will charge $. He is very responsive, keeps adding new features, etc. Highly recommend his app. I saw a few people mentioned it in their comments, and he deserves their praise. Easy to handle reviewers, too, even prompts them on release date to leave their promised review. And you can let folks directly download without putting in an email. Handy if they’re already on your email list and you want to give them something. Anyway, just wanted you to know about all the great stuff there. Thanks, David, for all you do. Best wishes!

    1. It was more about sites like StoryOrigin (and BookFunnel) being slightly outside the bailiwick of this here page. But there is a case for adding these types of promos and perhaps I’ll do that in the next update – thanks!

  58. David,
    I just have to say you are such a valuable component to the self-pub/indie world. Thank you for all you do.
    And your humor? Among the very best. Your line (above) about alphabetizing your hams? I nearly spat my morning coffee. Keep up the great work.
    Just wanted to heap some praise on someone I find genuinely interested (read: invested) in our success, and not just selling sh!t. Which I get, and endorse (we all gotta eat. Ham), but you do it in a non-cheesy (gruyere, if you must, please) sort of way.
    Cheers!

  59. Stumbled onto your site today, and found most of your information very helpful. Thank you for sharing. Just ordered your book on Amazon, and can`t wait to read it.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve emailed them to see if there is a new coupon/new promotion and I’ll update the above when I hear back.

  60. Hi, David. I am so new to the marketing end of things. Excuse my ignorance. How do I “make a book free” for freebooksy? Does that mean make it free on Amazon? Are we talking about eBooks and paperbacks. I have one book I would like to try it with, and its published on both platforms. Thanks.

  61. I can’t find any mention of Kindle Nation Daily and its Book Gorilla email service anywhere here, which comes as a bit of a surprise. I’ve been a user for many years, both as a reader and a writer, and I like it a lot. Crisp, well-presented, and professional. It’s not BookBub, of course, but it has always seemed to me to be among the better services out there and claims to have a list of 250,000+.

    Is there some specific reason you omitted it?

    1. The selection is results-driven, mostly on a cost-per-sale/cost-per-download basis. KND used to be the biggest promo site around but it has slid quite a lot since the heady days of 2011 or so. The cost it charges for the results it delivers don’t make a great deal versus those sites featured above, in my experience and that of other authors I’ve compared notes with. BookGorilla doesn’t seem much better.

      The only promo on either site which would be close to making the cut is KND’s Free Book Highlighter – which is just $29.99 and can include a free “slideover promo” on BookGorilla if you fill out the form. I used to run that one when doing more aggressive pushes, but lately I’m not sure if it’s delivering that many downloads anymore.

      I do periodically retest (and continue to compare notes with authors in other genres too), and do make changes to my list when warranted.

      1. Interesting. Thanks. Speaking personally, Book Gorilla always delivered for me, although it’s true I haven’t used it for a promo since early last year. And as a reader, I buy stuff through it more often than I do through BB, but maybe that’s just me.

  62. Hi, David. I was wondering if you have ever tired My Book Cave. I didn’t see it in the lists above and am just curious if it is because you haven’t used it or if it is one you used and didn’t get good results on. I’ve just started dipping my toes in the promo site waters over the past year — slowly and cautiously 😉 — and that is one which I have tried.

    Thanks,
    Leenie

    1. I don’t know if anything has changed more recently but I was very unhappy with how they treated and classified LGBT content in the past, and that the very existence of gay people in a novel needed to carry some kind of content warning label like rape or incest or extreme violence. It’s an issue the community attempted to raise with MyBookCave on multiple occasions – and got nowhere. After a period had passed and no changes had been made, I emailed them directly to raise my concerns and they chose not to engage with me on the issue. So I chose to stop using and recommending them.

      1. I am saddened to see that you have categorized Book Cave so negatively because of the way we address LGTB+ books. From the very beginning, we tried to include LGTB books with REGULAR categories with a note about it “also containing” instead of forcing those books into an LGTB+ category like all the other sites. And at the same time we wanted to allow people who might not be interested in that theme to know the contents. For instance, at that time you could definitely have marketed a romance rated Mild for kissing that also contained LGTB+ elements. Implying that all LGTB+ appeared as an Adult-type warning at that time is in accurate. It all depended upon the CONTENTS (intimacy, violence, language), and not at all on the LGTB+ aspect.

        Then, because people who wanted LGTB+ books couldn’t find books that ONLY contained that content, we added an LGTB+ category. Mostly that did what we expected, and books with LGTB+ content got a lot fewer eyes on them, whereas before they had ALL the eyes from a regular genre on them. But we left the category (and still have it) because readers wanted it, and they are our primary concern. The fact that authors wanted it because all the other sites have that category was interesting since we felt it made things worse for their books.

        Before long, we noticed that authors writing LGTB+ content seem to avoid putting their books in the LGTB+ category. I’m not sure why, but perhaps like most authors of ANY subject or theme, they feel their books would do better with a wider audience. But that means they make the conscious decision to ignore those actively searching for LGTB+. It’s not surprising, really. We all want everyone to read our books and there are more readers signed up for the other categories. But we found many readers weren’t pleased that they were getting recommendations for books that weren’t (in their opinion) in the right genres, even though technically the genres weren’t wrong, they just weren’t fully decribed since we no longer had the “also contains” notes. (And those weren’t limited to books with LGTB+ content.)

        So in yet another effort to get more reader eyes on books they might like, last year we added elements and themes so that authors could put them on their books, and readers could choose to look them up by either themes or genres on our permanent rated book database. Romance in a non-romance book? It’s now a theme. Christian elements in a book that isn’t run in the Christian category? Another theme. LGTB+ content that is also primarily another genre? Also a theme. Plus, the books get to choose a regular category. At the same time, we followed the example of some other sites and added a few subjects authors can choose that might cause readers a negative experience.

        Our entire goal has always been to DESCRIBE what is in a book so it will reach the RIGHT readers. It’s not political or targeted against any group. We only want to match readers with books so reviews will be good and readers will keep coming back to us. And it’s working! Readers are loving the new themes/elements because it gives them more choices.

        As authors, we should be proud of our book’s content, whatever it is, and market it correctly. Readers are smart, and the minute they open our books, they’re going to figure out our genres, themes, tone, and content, no matter how we choose to market it. We feel it’s better for readers to have a valid expectation rather than be surprised with book they really didn’t want (and may review poorly). This mean readers need to be able to request book content, themes, genres, and elements they prefer even if some authors would rather not allow them that choice (and may be offended at the idea of themes, even if it ultimately finds them more interested readers). Keep in mind that readers choose our service instead of other services because they care about content and ratings, and ultimately, it’s all about the reader.

        Book Cave is doing great things for authors and books, and not including them in your list while including sites with far lower results does a disfavor to authors. But hey, it is your site, and you can choose what you want. Just like our readers.:) Best to you, Shawn

  63. David,
    I’ve written 20 plus thrillers and mysteries, mostly in three series. Great reviews, mostly from people I don’t know. Averaging about $300 a month from KDP exclusively. Pulitzer nominated at The New York Times, occasionally do promos (BookBub a couple of times; Fussy a lot). But looking to break out. Suggestions?
    Larry De Maria

    1. Hi Larry, you have a lot of marketing options here and being able to rotate three series and push one hard each month is a real boon. I recommend checking out my Starting From Zero course – which is free – and following the series marketing plan in there, which will take all the recommended sites above, and a few other tricks, and show you how to approach the marketing of those series in a more strategic way – without breaking the bank – and should start to bring in a better return for you (which you can then start reinvesting in something like Facebook or BookBub Ads and take another step up again). https://davidgaughran.com/startingfromzero

  64. Hello David, and thanks for the comprehensive breakdown. Learned a lot.
    I have a two part dilemma.
    1) Which list to list on. My novel, Plague, has been selling quite well, with little promo, the odd Kindle countdown and some lower end Amazon Ads. (By well, I mean about 1500 copies in three months, about a 1200 at .99 and the rest at $4.99 and lots of KU reads)
    Plague was traditionally published by PRH in Canada and the UK but I hold US rights.
    It won the ‘Arthur Ellis’ Best Crime Novel in Canada in 2015.
    Here’s the dilemma – it is a religious fundamentalist serial killer mystery set during the Great Plague of London 1665. So should I list it as Thriller, Mystery, or Historical Fiction.
    Dilemma 2) It is the first book in a two book series, with Fire following. I have them in a box set. Should I be promo-ing that instead?
    Didn’t get a BookBub deal.
    Any advice gratefully received. I have been studying a lot and feel I am flailing (and failing, nice near anagram) quite a lot in Indie World. Thanks, Chris (CC) Humphreys

  65. Hi David, do you think free promos are worth doing for a new release / first-time author, with no series for sell-through? I’m releasing a non-fiction travelogue, and was planning to combine some free promos in the first week (stacking them as you suggest), combined with Amazon Ads. Most of the promo sites only run promos for a broad non-fiction category (not travel), so I am concerned if I do get a load of downloads, it will skew my ‘Also Boughts’. I was also wondering if getting downloads during the KDP Free Promotion period will help my book when it returns to paid, as from what I understand the free downloads won’t count towards the paid bestseller charts? One benefit I felt the free promos might provide would be to gain reviews, and I also have a reader magnet in my new release, so hopefully it will generate some organic sign-ups to my newsletter. Thanks!

  66. For a Bookbub Feature promo, do you promo up until the Bookbub? Or after the Bookbub? Or both?

    Also with Bookbub can you discount your book before the Feature date?

    1. Hey CA – my apologies, I just rescued you from Der Spam Bucket…

      Like a lot of things, it really depends. And often the decision is taken out of your hands by site availability anyway. I’ve seen people make the case for both ways: letting BookBub do the heavy lifting and using the other sites to maintain rank, or letting the other sites warm things up and getting BookBub to help stick the landing.

      In pure algorithmic terms, you could probably make a stronger case for the latter, but then BookBub in particular often has stragglers coming to deals a little after the day of your feature, and they will keep your deal on the site until it expires, so that’s a point in the other column for running BB first.

      Realistically though, a BookBub Featured Deal is going to be an outsized spike that you simply won’t be able to match on any of your other promo days, no matter what way you arrange it, so I don’t stress about too much and just decide based on whatever suits me. Always stack promos around a BB but also be aware that there is no smoothing out that spike! You just have to do your best to string some consistent sales days around it/before it/ahead of it as best you can, and accept that the stellar rank that BB delivers will inevitably slip, no matter what you throw at this.

      When it comes to ad platforms specifically, I can be clearer on one point: save your BookBub Ads spend for after your Featured Deal. And perhaps consider running a series page ad on the day of the deal itself, targeting yourself.

    1. Not doing them! Seriously though, I’m probably not the person to ask as I’m not that keen on pre-orders generally – to the extent that I’m not even aware of any promo options that exist for pre-orders. Pushing a pre-order with ads is a tough sell too. It’s hard enough to convince someone to buy now when they can actually buy now, to the extent that it will mostly be existing fans who will jump on a pre-order anyway, in my experience, so the biggest drivers of those sales are going to be your own platform: your list, your Facebook Page, maybe a Bookbub Pre-order Alert (I got decent results the one or two times I tried it), and then the end-matter of your books. And you should probably be quite strategic so that you don’t step on your lines for your launch, and tap out any audience before it is most needed – during launch week.

  67. Hi David, I used your suggestions above for a successful series of promos in the States last month. However, I am in desperate need of bumping up rank in the UK. Do you have any recommendations for the UK?

    1. There are surprisingly few UK-specific promo sites, and very few of the US-centric ones seem to have any meaningful UK audience, BookBub aside, of course. I find the best tool for reaching UK readers is BookBub Ads, because of that, with Facebook Ads a pretty solid option in many genres too.

      I’m not sure why this is, exactly, but my guess is that the smaller market makes deal sites less viable – if you were going to start one, would you rather do it in the US or the UK? – and then Amazon’s own deal offerings seem more popular in relatives terms in the UK also. A Kindle Daily Deal can still put you in the Top 10 over there, so maybe Amazon didn’t leave quite the gap in the market that they did in the US. And maybe BookBub moved in earlier too.

      There are a couple – like ebooksoda http://www.ebooksoda.com/ – but I don’t think you are going to find any real needle movers (and I find it hard to get a read on that site myself, so haven’t yet included it above).

  68. I’ve been using promotional sites for longer than I can remember.

    For authors, BookBub is top tier, even though I wouldn’t say it’s the same for readers.

    ENT is second only to BookBub. It produces concise newsletters that are excellent for authors and readers alike.

    BookRaid (inexpensive), FKBT, ereader cafe, ereader IQ, Book Cave, ManyBooks, and Book Adrenalin are worthwhile while any promo costing $60 or more is not. If you’re spending $60 or more it should be on FB or Amazon Advertising. BookBub ads are problematic for KDP authors.

    1. By what metric is BookBub not top tier? It has over 10 million subscribers to its lists, easily surpassing all the other sites by several factors.

      And I don’t know why you state BookBub Ads are problematic for KDP authors. I’ve run huge marketing campaigns for exclusive books which were incredibly successful, at huge scale, delivering cheap clicks and excellent conversions. I think you should be careful making such blanket statements.

      There are lots of exclusive authors who have had great success with BookBub Ads. It’s dangerous to extrapolate too much from our own experiences and prejudices. For example, I’m quite good with Facebook Ads and BookBub Ads. I’m not so good with Amazon Ads, and – as a former digital advertising professional – I’m confused at some of the ways they seem to have structured the whole system, and could rant about that for hours if you get me going.

      But it would be a huge mistake for me to assume that no one else has had success with Amazon Ads, just because I find them tricky or don’t personally like the system.

  69. Greetings David,

    Thanks for your well-rounded article. I’ve never used Robin Reads before, but it appears that the site targets only Amazon and B&N Nook. As a wide author, it makes sense to ensure that advertising dollars target all the major storefronts. I understand that they “are looking to expand to different retailers in the future.” Being much more connected than myself, have you heard anything about this?

    With thanks,
    Lee

    1. I don’t know what their plans are specifically, but I have noticed most of the sites adding more and more links to other retailers and looking like they are trying to cultivate that audience, whereas a few years ago most of them just linked to Amazon.

      1. Thank you very much for this information. I have used most of the promotion sites you mentioned and agree with you about their success but I struggle a lot with Bookbub ads. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Any suggestions?

    1. Oh that’s a great question – I will add a section to the above. Just off the top of my head, Chirp is definitely something to look at – which is BookBub Featured Deals for audiobooks, basically, but also an audiobook retailer, which makes it really interesting: https://www.chirpbooks.com/

      You get distribution there via Findaway – so non-exclusive folk only. And you can run BookBub Ads for audiobooks now too.

      Aside from those two options, you can submit a price promotion via Findaway, if you are using them for distribution, and I think that puts your audiobook on sale for a month, and they highlight that deal to retailers who may pick it up themselves.

      There are a couple more options, and I’ll update once I remember! But I imagine the options will grow further, especially with the increasing number of authors looking at non-exclusivity.

      Those exclusive with ACX are very limited on this front, of course, especially because they have zero control over price.

  70. I launched my second novel last month. It is getting very little traction. I know that this is a hard time to sell books right now. I’ve tried to learn Amazon ads but am reluctant to invest in it. My second book is women’s fiction and I am thinking maybe I am just not a talented enough writer to try to sell my book in the already over-crowded book market. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you for all the help and advice you give to writers. This has always been an extremely difficult profession.

    1. Soon! Just need to record and upload the last few videos, the rest is all done and in place. Right now, the platform is getting slammed so everything is slowed down: video processing times, support, etc. I expect to open up in the next couple of weeks – a lot sooner, hopefully.

      As for BookFunnel promos, they can be great and I’ve used them for fiction. But, two things: 1) Your primary focus, IMO, should always be on organic growth because organic sign-ups will always be far stronger and your list can really start to teeter if there are too many inorganics in the mix. 2) Some people are way too indiscriminate about the promos they join. Remember, these are books you will be pushing to your list. Are they good enough? Really? And how often are you doing these promos?

      Some people are just pushing these promos to their list constantly, meaning their subscribers are just getting an endless parade of sub-par books, sometimes off genre books too. You are quickly going to turn off readers unless you are providing them genuine value in each email.

      I think both scenarios are indicative of number-chasing. All this effort trying to get new sign-ups is pointless if you don’t look after them and convince them to stick around – you’re just pouring more and more water into a leaky bucket.

      1. I agree. I backed off of using BookFunnel newsletter swaps. I took a break for 2 months, and will do one a month occasionally in 2021. But they are fun to do especially in the beginning when you are trying to find readers and don’t have many books out yet.

  71. Hi David. I write free verse poetry storytelling, with collections of memoir and from life, as well as a series that is a love poetry Trilogy.

    Readers like them, but working out an approach to promotion is very tricky.

    I’d love to have your thoughts on a way forward.

    1. Hi Frank, I’m not going to pretend I know anything about poetry, or how to sell it, or that this is an easy path (but I’m sure you are aware of that already). There will be elements of the course that will be completely irrelevant to you, but there will be other aspects of it that should prove useful – so once you go into it with that mindset you should be fine. You might also be interested in this podcast from a very successful self-published poet – again, might be some bits here you can pick out: https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-228/

  72. Book Doggy and free books: My books are in KU, so I tend to run a free promo each month for one of my Book 1 in a series. I measure the promos by my promocost$ by freebookordered. Book Doggy consistently comes in at 0.02 – 0.03 per book. I consider 0.04-0.05 “caution” and 0.06 and above as a red flag and don’t use that promo site anymore. Two of my series are mystery and one series is apocalyptic Scifi. In my experience, some promos don’t do well with the Scifi. I think they don’t target readers as well as other promos, but I’m a single data point in a huge population.

  73. ” list builders are best used to augment your organic list-building efforts, not to replace them”

    Oh dear! I had/have an ‘organic’ list of around 300, but used Storyoriginapp.com to build it up to somewhere in the region of 700 over the last eight weeks with the aid of a reader magnet short story and committing to a monthly newsletter. Now I’m wondering what else I should be doing instead or as well as to find those ‘organic’ followers.

    That said, I’ve found storyoriginsapp at least reasonably useful for getting reviews as well, with the added benefit of it being free.

    1. I’d be a lot more concerned if you had 300 organics and 3000 from promotions or giveaways. Also, to be clear, if it is the kind of listbuilder promotion where you are just pushing your existing magnet, then that’s probably fine anyway. I’m more concerned about those which come from things like competitions and giveaways – which can attract readers who have little interest in your work. Having some of those in the mix is fine, but if your list starts being overwhelmingly compromised of those that signed up to win a gift card or a new iPad or something, then that’s a problem.

      1. Oh, okay I understand this better. I use BF to promote a book or a reader magnet, not prizes. I always think those are rather hokey. Thanks for the clarification. On organic traffic, I’m assuming you mean visitors to your website, and links from the back of your books that take the reader to a BF magnet or email sign up? Do you have (or is there somewhere else on the site) that goes into more detail about building organic traffic?

  74. This comes at the end of a week where I did a countdown deal on a three book bundle for 99c. Promos I used were Bargain Booksy, Fussy Librarian, eReaderIQ, Ebook Discovery, And Book Barbarian. Total sales including the first discounted day with no promo running was 139 copies. Not at all what these sites used to do.

    1. I don’t know much about ebookdiscovery but the site doesn’t inspire confidence. BookBarbarian has always generated good results for me, especially for the price, Fussy is better for freebies than 99c books, in my experience, but the price of the 99c promos mean I will throw it into the mix on a more aggressive push, perhaps. There is genre variance too with every service, of course. I personally find that Fussy does great for historical fiction, which can be a weaker genre on other sites, whereas BargainBooksy doesn’t even have a HF category, and LF doesn’t deliver either. (Freebooksy is several factors better, in my opinion.)

      This is the landscape in 2020 – a handful of good sites, a handful more of okay sites you might loop in on a bigger push, a horde of terrible, scammy, or non-effective sites, and then one giant monster slowly cannibalizing the audiences of all of them.

      That said, there is still value to be found here, and it’s the easiest way for newer authors to get any kind of sales going. Deal sites are still the cheapest clicks available, for the most part, the main problem being that the audiences are limited. But they can provide a solid foundation for a price promotion or a free promotion or a series push, which then needs to be augmented with other traffic sources (email list, swaps, group promo, ads on Facebook/Amazon/BookBub).

  75. Dave, I always love getting your opinion on all things author related! I wanted to mention that I also use Love Kissed Book Bargains. I’m a romance author who always gets great results when I run a freebie promotion for $15 (https://lovekissedbookbargains.com/author-sign-up/). Same with Book Rebel ([LINK REMOVED BY ME, SEE MY COMMENT BELOW – DAVE), although it’s $31. I always include these sites when I run promos as well, and I’d say their effectiveness is somewhere between Freebooksy and BKNights.

    Anyway, as always, thanks for this compilation. I’ve been planning to try Freebooksy’s series promo ever since you first wrote about it–and I will be next month. Can’t wait to read Amazon Decoded!!!

    1. Hi Jade, Thank for the link to Love Kissed – I’m not aware of them personally but I’ll check them out. I have removed the link to Book Rebel though – that’s one of Rebecca Hamilton’s businesses, AFAIK, and I don’t want to give her the link juice or the business. In fact, I think a giant warning sign is needed there instead.

      1. Hi David,
        I’m launching my first book in October and I’ve been going through the sites and thought Book Rebel seemed good. Without getting into legal trouble (too much detail) can you say why I shouldn’t put an ad with them?
        Best regards
        Rosalind

      2. My post on it is here: https://davidgaughran.com/2018/04/11/please-help-an-author-fight-this-crazy-court-case/

        And if I don’t go into further details, the quoted tweet at the end should explain why. But the short version is that Rebecca Hamilton runs a number of promotional services by authors, and has been an extremely problematic person in the indie space for a long time – and has been banned from KDP by Amazon for various “promo tactics” – and was then sued by an indie author for breach of contract and fraud, and a huge chunk of the author community, including myself, contributed funds to help this indie author in her court case. Rebecca Hamilton then sued about a dozen of the most prominent contributors to this legal fund in an attempt to silence them.

        It was quite the episode, and completely unsavory, and I’ve no hestitation in saying that you shouldn’t do business with Rebecca Hamilton or any of her many author service companies – like Book Rebel, Author Grow, Genre Crave, 6-Figure Author Coach – under any circumstances.

        Is that clear enough? If you want to go through all the legals, those are here: https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=252500.0

      3. How is it that all of these book promotion websites all belong to the same network. I don’t feel that this is an genuine article or list of good book promotion sites. It is to promote these websotes that are all part of a network of sites that work togther to promote one another. Maybe they are all owned b the same person of group.

        I have used some other book review and marketing websotes and compaies that are the read deal, and I have used many of these on this list, and the others gave me much better results. And book promo sites that are newer, I don’t trust, They need to be established for years and have many great author testimonials that don’t just say, “oh these guys were great to work with, great supposrt”. That tells me nothing about results. I want to hear, “I sold books and got a lot of expsoure.”

  76. Hi Dave, Book bundling used to be a good promo option. BookBundle was one, which doesn’t seem to available anymore. And there’s BundleRabbit which the manager of our recent collaboration rejected for some reason. Are there others? Maybe some about to launch? Obrigado JJ

    1. I don’t know – I think some of the Amazon restrictions around box sets, and some of the shady tactics used to promote them which triggered those restrictions – have probably cooled the ardor for those kind of services. I’ve always preferred handling those kind of collaborations personally, or have it managed directly by someone I trust. Otherwise I end up in a promotion with someone that I really, really don’t want my name beside.

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