Posted in Book Marketing | Posted on 22-04-2011|
A few days ago, I argued that it was worth publishing your ebook through Smashwords, even if you’re using PubIt (Barnes & Noble) and Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) to handle distribution to those stores on your own. One of the benefits of listing ebooks on Smashwords is that you can generate coupons for your titles.
Sure, you can change your ebook’s price in the Kindle or B&N store any time, but with a coupon the buyer is aware they’re being offered a deal. This can be a helpful promotional tool.
As you probably know from your own grocery shopping experiences, a coupon can entice you to try something you might not buy at full price. Too, coupons with expiration dates or “limited time offers” encourage us check things out sooner rather than later (or never).
How I’ve Used Coupons for My Ebooks
I noticed the Smashwords coupon generator right away and started using coupons to give away review copies of my ebooks. While not everyone has a Smashwords account, many of the bloggers who run review sites that accept indie ebooks do.
I’ve also used 100%-off coupons to offer people free books as prizes in contests or giveaways (if you do blog book tours, you’ll have lots of opportunities to do this on other people’s sites). Unlike with an email, where you send the epub or mobi file, you can track whether or not the coupon is actually redeemed.
When I released Flash Gold earlier this month, I didn’t do a lot of promotion since it was just a side project (and, okay, I’m lazy at times). I did decide to create a 100%-off coupon that first weekend in hopes that a couple of folks might read it and leave reviews at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords (there are reviews in all of those places so thank you readers!). I headed over to the MobileRead forum and posted the blurb, cover art, and coupon code in the “Author Self-Promotion.” I also made it clear the coupon was only good through Sunday.
Several folks there downloaded the ebook, and then, Sunday morning, I received an unexpected bonus. A hundred-odd downloads had showed up on my Smashwords dashboard since the night before. After scratching my head and hunting around the internet, I discovered the reason. Thanks to the MobileRead post, Flash Gold had been mentioned on a popular blog that lists ebook bargains. By the end of the day, the coupon had been “cashed in” more than 300 times.
Sales of my other ebooks have been good thus far in April, and I believe some of those buyers might be people who first found my work because of that blog post and that coupon.
Generating a Coupon for Your Ebook
At Smashwords, you can type in any “percentage off” for your coupon. I’m a fan of free, but you can do anything you want. If you’re selling your ebook for $5, then a “half off” coupon might be perceived as a good deal.
To generate a coupon, head over to your book’s page on Smashwords, and click “Manage this book’s coupon” on the right-hand menu. On the next page, you’ll choose a percentage and an expiration date, and that’s all there is to it. Once you’ve created the coupon, you can also access the information from your dashboard (under “operations”).
Promoting Your Coupon
A coupon is no good if people don’t know it exists, so now it’s time to get the word out. The minimum you need to give people is the link to the book’s Smashwords page and the coupon code itself, but you may get more takers if you also include the cover art and blurb with your announcement. Even when an ebook is free, time is still money, so you have to convince people your ebook is worth checking out.
As far as places to promote go, I already mentioned the MobileRead forum, but you can doubtlessly think of lots of other venues. Try forums full of ebook-reading people (Kindleboards, Nookboards, etc.), Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. One of the perks with Smashwords is that they list your ebook in all formats, so anyone will be able to use the coupon, no matter which e-reader they prefer.
If you have questions or suggestions for people (maybe you’re already a coupon-using pro!), feel free to comment below. Thanks!