Monday, August 3, 2015

Free Books Not a Viable Marketing Option



Years ago, advertising on BookBub (for hundreds of dollars) was an insider tip among self-publishing authors, at times when giving your book away for free was a viable marketing option, and ten-thousand of books were "purchased" for free. But much has changed since then: Amazon invented Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited, and readers who signed up with these subscriptions get already free books. The number of free book downloads has decreased tremendously and advertising companies such as BookBub got "picky", authors are shocked to learn their books were rejected. 
Why Do Ad Companies Reject Books?  
Very easy:  with new books, even if they have several 5-star reviews these advertising companies cannot make enough money through their affiliate program with Amazon. Only books that are already bestsellers are accepted by their “editorial staff” (whoever this might be and whoever their "qualifications" are...).  
Maybe not a loss, as we hear from so many writers that the success with them is dwindling rapidly...

During a research of book advertising companies I came over their website, studied it very carefully and read several press releases that they had blasted out. 

As a trained marketing professional, I asked them several questions, e.g.:
1. What are your Nielsen numbers?
2. Are your email lists acquired or genuine through many years of reader contacts obtained?
3. How can you proof the subscriber numbers?
4. Are you belonging to an affiliate program with Amazon or other online retailers 

Answer for question 1:

Only through persistence and several emails later, I got half-answers:
No, the amount of advertisers is not confirmed by Nielsen or any other organization. 

I also was wondering about their relatively low number of followers on Social Media and very few tweets to promote their customers, considered what these writers pay for.
With the right platform and lots of followers on all Social Media sites, author interviews, blogs about their book, choosing the right genre, and professional promotional help etc. every writer/book can get into #1 in their books genre. 

Number 2: no comment from them, despite several emails.

Number 3: See number 1:  The amount of subscribers can and will not be verified.
Their subscriber forms contains a dozen or more categories / genres that people can choose - and if someone is interested in several (or all genres) they get newsletters for all of them.  Which means in turn, they might be "counted"  as not only one subscriber, but as many as they choose genres.  So much about inflating subscriber numbers... And they don't work with independent analyzing companies, that would rate the amount of advertising / subscribers.  As always Writer Beware!

Number 4:  It took three emails with inquisitive questions, til they submitted to work with an affiliate program. Until this spring, advertisers who were enrolled in Amazon's affiliate programs, earned up to 7% for each downloaded book in the KDP Select free book campaigns, now it is only 4%.  These commissions are only paid for books that are at least 99cents - not for free books.

Affiliate Members are obliged by FTC rules to let each customer and advertiser know that they make additional commissions, aside from the advertising fees.   NO, THEY ARE NOT DISCLOSING THIS!  In March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated its guidance for advertising disclosures in a guide called .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.


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