X

Promo Stacking: Effective Strategies For Every Author

What is promo stacking?

Promo stacking refers to the marketing practice of running multiple coordinated marketing campaigns within a set time frame with the goal of increasing the sales and rank of a specific title or series. The timeframe for a promo stack is typically short, with the burst of promotional activity spanning 4 -7 days.

Traditionally, promo stacking referred to the practice of booking or “stacking” promotions on multiple book promotion services. However, in in the past 12-24 months, the definition of promo stacking has broadened to include stacking other marketing techniques like Amazon Ads, Facebook ads and others that we discuss below.

When do I use promo stacking?

Promo stacking is used whenever you want to give a book or a series a boost. This may be when you see sales or rank falling or when you have a new title that needs to be launched. Most authors will promo stack in conjunction with a price promotion. The key to promo stacking is that you pick a specific 4-7 day window of time in which you coordinate marketing around a title to drive significant sales, downloads or/and KENP reads.

What’s the difference between a price promotion and promo stacking?

A price promotion refers to the practice of dropping the price on a title for a limited period of time. For authors who are enrolled in KDP Select, price promotions take the form of free days or kindle countdown deals. For authors not enrolled in KDP Select, a price promotion is when you manually drop the price on a title for a short period of time. Promo stacking is how you get the word out about your price promotion. Dropping the price of a title or running free days will usually not result in meaningful sales and activity around your book UNLESS you market the price promotion with promo stacking.

It is possible to promo stack without running a price promotion, however the higher the price of your book, the more difficult it will be to get results. If your book is regularly priced at $0.99 or $1.99 you can easily promo stack without lowering the price.

Promo Stacking Tools

When promo stacking, you have multiple tools at your disposal. Some authors will have access to all the tools, while others may only have access to some. That’s okay. Use what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have. Here’s a list of the possible tools at your disposal:

  1. Author Mailing List (your list of readers who you email regularly)
  2. Your Social Media Presence (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
  3. Newsletter swaps with other authors
  4. Book Promotion Sites (Bookbub, Bargain Booksy, Freebooksy etc)
  5. Amazon Ads (AMS)
  6. Bookbub Ads
  7. Facebook Ads

The first three tools on this list are free in that you won’t have to outlay any money to reach these audiences. They will cost you time – it will take time to create an email to your list, to post to your social media accounts and to coordinate a swap with other authors.

The fourth tool on the list, book promotion sites, will cost you money but the time investment should be low if you pick the best sites. The best sites will have a quick and seamless booking process so you can set it and forget it. For example, on most Written Word Media run sites you can book a promo and get a confirmation email in less than 3 minutes.

The last 3 tools on the list, Amazon, Bookbub and Facebook ads will cost both money AND time. We have listed them in order of how time intensive they can be, with Amazon ads being the quickest to set up and Facebook ads being the most time-intensive to set up.

Here are your tools with their associated time and money cost:

Tool Dollar Cost Time Cost
Author Mailing List Free Medium
Your Social Media Presence (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc..) Free Medium
Newsletter Swaps Free Medium
Book Promo Sites (Freebooksy, BookBub, Bargain Booksy, etc..) Variable Low
Amazon Ads Variable Medium
Bookbub Ads Variable High
Facebook Ads Variable High

Promo Stacking Strategies

Okay, so now that we know what tools are at our disposal, the next step is to decide on a promo stacking strategy. Your strategy will be highly dependent on both the number of books you have and the review ratings of your books. Your review rating is important as many book promotion sites have minimum review requirements. This means that you may be limited in how many book promotion sites you can use if your book has no reviews. However, some book promotion sites, like Freebooksy, can actually help you get the reviews you need.

Below we outline four promo stacking strategies. These are strategies that have been effective for many of the authors we have worked with. Read through them all and then pick the one that you think will work best for you.

Stacking Strategy 1: If you have only ONE book and NO reviews:

Run a free day on the book followed by 3-4 days at $0.99

Day Pricing Tactic
Day 1 Book is Free Freebooksy + Amazon Ads
Day 2 Book is $0.99 Email to Author Mailing List + Social Media + Amazon Ads
Day 3 Book is $0.99 Bargain Booksy (or other promo site that does not have minimum review requirements)  + Amazon Ads
Day 4 Book is $0.99 Newsletter Swap + Amazon Ads

Your options for promo stacking are most limited in this scenario because you only have one book with few or no review. The strategy above has you using all the tools available to you given this limitation. Freebooksy does not have review requirements and setting the book to free on day one will spur downloads by readers, which will result in verified reviews. On day two, the book will receive halo sales at 99c from the Freebooksy promo, kickstarting sales at 99c. On day 2 you will also send an email to your reader base and post the 99c deal on your social media channels. On day 3  you will run a Bargain Booksy on the 99c book to keep the sales going. On day 3 your book is featured in another author’s email newsletter for a final sales push. We also recommend running an Amazon auto targeting ad for the full 4 days to provide additional sales support. Amazon will automatically adjust the price on your book so you can set the ad up once and let it run uninterrupted.

Stacking Strategy 2: If you have only ONE book with at least 20-25 reviews

Set the book to 99c for 3-5 days

 Day Pricing Tactics Time Cost
Day 1 Book is $0.99 2-3 Small Promo Sites Medium
Amazon Ads Medium
Bookbub Ads High
Day 2 Book is $0.99 Promo Site Low
Social Media Medium
Amazon Ads Medium
Bookbub Ads High
 Day 3  Book is $0.99 Promo Site Low
Newsletter Swap Medium
Amazon Ads Medium
Bookbub Ads High
 Day 4  Book is $0.99 Bargain Booksy Promo Low
Email to Author Mailing List Medium
Amazon Ads Medium
Bookbub Ads High

The primary strategy here is to get as many sales as possible on the 99c book by featuring it on multiple book promotion sites. Most book promotion sites require titles to have reviews which is why this approach is different from stacking strategy one. For a list of recommended book promo sites check out Nickolas Erik’s document or the Tier I and II sites in Reedsy’s directory.  At the very least you’ll want to deploy all the bolded tactics to get enough volume of sales. If you have additional time and resources you’ll layer on the Amazon and Bookbub ads.

Stacking Strategy 3: If you write into a series and have at least 3 books in the series

Set book 1 free, set book 2 to 99c, set book 3 to $1.99

Day Pricing Tactics Time Cost
Day 1
  • Book 1 is free
  • Book 2 is $0.99
  • Book 3 is $1.99
Freebooksy on book 1 Low
Email to Author Mailing List (highlighting all 3 books) Medium
AMS Ads Medium
Bookbub Ads High
Facebook Carousel Ads (highlighting all 3 books) High
Day 2
  • Book 1 is free
  • Book 2 is $0.99
  • Book 3 is $1.99
Promo site on book 2 Low
Social Media Medium
AMS Ads High
Bookbub Ads High
Facebook Carousel Ads (highlighting all 3 books) High
 Day 3
  • Book 1 is free
  • Book 2 is $0.99
  • Book 3 is $1.99
Promo site on book 2 Low
Newsletter swap Medium
AMS Ads High
Bookbub Ads High
Facebook Carousel Ads (highlighting all 3 books) High
 Day 4
  • Book 1 is free
  • Book 2 is $0.99
  • Book 3 is $1.99
Bargain Booksy promo on book 2 Low
AMS Ads High
Bookbub Ads High
Facebook Carousel Ads (highlighting all 3 books) High

The strategy here is to drive read-through on the series by providing book one for free AND enticing readers to grab books 2 and 3 while they are discounted. The Freebooksy on day one will drive free downloads on book 1 and sales of book 2 and book 3. Running book 2 on multiple promo sites will drive sales of book 2 and book 3 and free downloads of book 1. Bookending your promo with Bargain Booksy will give you a strong finish. The bolded tactics give you critical mass with the option of layering on additional ads on Amazon, Facebook or Bookbub.

Stacking Strategy 4: If you don’t write into a series but have other books in a similar genre

Set new release to 99c or $1.99, set best-reviewed book in your catalog to 99c

Day Pricing Tactics Time cost
Day 1 Newest release is $0.99, best reviewed book is $0.99 NewInbooks promo on newest release Low
Promo site on best reviewed book Low
Email to Author Mailing List (highlighting both books) Medium
Amazon Ads High
Bookbub Ads High
Day 2 Newest release is $0.99, best-reviewed book is $0.99 Promo Site on Newest Release Low
Social Media Medium
Amazon Ads High
Bookbub Ads High
Day 3 Newest release is $0.99, best-reviewed book is $0.99  Promo site on newest release  Low
 Promo site on best-reviewed book  Low
 Newsletter swap Medium
 Amazon Ads High
Bookbub Ads High
Day 4 Newest release is $0.99, best-reviewed book is $0.99  Promo site on newest release  Low
 Promo site on best-reviewed book  Low
 Amazon Ads High
 Bookbub Ads High

The strategy here is to use a new release to push sales across your catalog. New releases have some extra oomph when it comes to promotion (a new release will automatically have a higher rank on Amazon upon release) so it’s ideal to use that advantage to drive sales of the new release and your backlist titles. The NewInBooks promo on day one will get your new release in as many as 3 promo sites (NewInBooks, Bargain Booksy, and Red Feather Romance) without you having to do the coordination. Running your best-reviewed book on multiple other promo sites will drive sales of that book and the new release. Again, the tactics in bold are the bare minimum activities you will deploy. You can supercharge your promotion in this scenario by layering on Amazon and Bookbub ads.

In Summary

Promo stacking is an effective way for you to sell more books and need not be overwhelming.  Let’s break down what we’ve covered:

  • Promo stacking is when you run multiple promotions, over multiple days, to drive sales and downloads of your books.
  • Promo stacking is a great way to get the word out about your price promotion, but they don’t necessarily have to go together.
  • Promo stacking tools include: mailing lists, newsletter swaps, social media, book promo sites, Amazon Ads, BookBub Ads, and Facebook Ads.
  • Which promo stacking strategy you use depends on your books, how many reviews you have, and how recently your books have been published.
  • Deploying a successful promo stacking campaign will cost time and money. The number of marketing tactics you stack will depend on your budget and resources.

Still have questions? Ask us in the comments!

View Comments

  • Hi, Please give me an indication of cost for the promotion of a Kindle e book ,priced at $4.99 The book is also available on Amazon as a soft cover . My aim is to get several reviews on Amazon and Kindle

    • Hi Maarten - The cost of a promotion is dependent on the genre of your book. You can see pricing by genre here. I'd recommend you drop your price to 99c or $1.99 when you run the Bargain Booksy promotion so you can achieve your goals.

  • This is an excellent launch strategy/book boost article, very well laid out. I've stumbled upon a lot of this myself for launching but it's interesting to see how it differs for one/multiple books and for new launch/boost an old book. The only thing I'd like to have also seen would be how these strategies differ if you are either in broad sales or Amazon exclusive. Thanks for this info.

  • I have done this strategy multiple times with freebooksy and bargainbooksy and I can say it works great. Moreso, depending on genre, it's easy to experiment so that the downloads are consistent and predictable. I would change the timing of when to use Freebooksy though. If an author wants to put the Amazon algorithms to work for them, the number of downloads needs to grow by each day of the promotion. In my experience, Freebooksy is a big download day (genres are Science Fiction, Post Apoc and Thriller) and should be the last or second to last day of the promotion. I use it as my "big" promo tool, and stack it last to bump the trending download numbers. I haven't had the luck of a larger service yet, so Freebooksy is my last day promotion choice, but authors should try to experiment with it, and pay attention to the numbers. The right combination of newsletters and promotion sites can yield numbers as high as or close to the "holy grail promo" everyone is looking to land. There are two elements that are KEY in increasing downloads and both are in complete control of the author. They also happen to be the number one and number two rule of book marketing. Get a great cover. What catches the reader's eye? What draws them in from a list of ten other titles in an email? It doesn't have to be uber-expensive, but it needs to be awesome. Number 2 is BLURB. Read a book on copywriting, or a dozen articles at least. Then practice. On a promo site, it has to be short due to space limitations, but the cover combined with blurb should drive a reader to your download page (on Amazon or other sites) where they can read a longer blurb. I've tried different variations, including straight up sales copy: (DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY AND GET FREE BONUS CONTENT INSIDE) which works well, but not great. The best blurb is describe your book in one sentence, or an elevator pitch. That's what will fit in most promo sites. Let me wrap this up by saying great article. Promo stacking is effective and affordable marketing that can work and as an author with over 30 titles on Amazon in 3 different series, I use Freebooksy and Bargainbooksy in all of my big promotions. It works. It works well in a predictable and consistent manner helping me find new readers and getting books into the hands of those I want to make fans. Chris Lowry Author The Invasion Earth Series The Battlefield Z Series The Shadowboxer Series

    • Thanks Chris for the additional tips! And thanks for the endorsement of our sites, it makes our day to know we are playing a small part in your publishing success.

  • Ricci, I have done this for fiction, but now I'm launching a memoir. Are there any particular tips or sites you'd recommend to launch a memoir?