As an indie author, book marketing can be a daunting task.
Book marketing isn’t easy, but over the years indies have leveraged two of their advantages – price control and insight into sales data – to develop a tried and true marketing strategy. This book marketing strategy is known as promo stacking.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of promo stacking, explain how it works, how authors can build their own promo stacks to sell books, and how we at Written Word Media are ushering in the new era of promo stacking with ready-made stacks. Let’s dig in!
What is promo stacking?
At its core, promo stacking is the practice of combining multiple book marketing tactics over a short period of time to increase the impact of each tactic. These tactics are often paired with a decrease in a book’s price to compound their effectiveness.Promo stacking goes beyond one single book marketing push and instead focuses on a coordinated approach that increases the visibility of your book across various platforms and audiences.
How does promo stacking work?
Promo stacking is the top book marketing strategy for a reason: it works. Every major online book retailer uses an algorithm to determine where a book is ranked in its genre, or overall on the site. Books higher in the rankings are shown to more readers and garner more sales, downloads and attention. By running a promo stack, authors can leverage the retailer algorithms to their advantage.
When you execute a single marketing tactic, you ideally see some benefit from it with some sales or downloads of your title. This is valuable.
But when you execute multiple book marketing tactics in a short period of time, three things happen:
- Sales and downloads from the tactics are packed into a narrow window.
- By creating so much attention for your book in a short period of time, the retailer algorithms are more likely to see the popularity of your book and increase its rank.
- This rank increase leads to even more attention, sales, and downloads. We call these “halo sales.”
You could do the same number of book marketing tactics spread out with weeks between each one and you will still see benefits. However, you will likely miss out on the prolonged rankings increase and halo sales that follow an effective promo stack.
The true genius of promo stacking is that it can make 1 + 1 = 3 (2 marketing tactics + halo sales). When you run a promo stack, you are making the algorithms of retailers work for you.
To execute a promo stack effectively, however, it’s important to prepare in the right way.
Preparing for your promo stack
Before diving into promo stacking, ensure that you have a solid foundation in place to support your marketing efforts.
Quality Book Cover Design and Professional Editing
This is all about making sure your book signals ‘quality’ to readers. Invest in a professionally designed book cover that has good genre fit and grabs the attention of readers. A compelling cover can significantly impact a reader’s decision to explore your book further.
Additionally, professional editing is crucial to ensure your book is refined and free of errors, enhancing the reader’s experience.
Polished and Compelling Book Description
Craft a captivating book description that entices readers and accurately conveys the essence of your story. This description will play a big role when readers are on your book page and deciding whether or not to hit that buy button. So, before you put effort into getting readers to your book’s page, it makes sense to make sure the page is as good as it can be.
Captivating Author Bio and Engaging Author Website
Write an intriguing author bio that reflects your unique voice and resonates with your target audience. Your author website, if you have one, should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and provide a clear representation of your brand and books. Include links to your social media profiles, blog, and email list signup to foster engagement and connect with readers.
Optimize your back matter
Your book’s back matter is one of the best places to advertise your email signup, social media profiles, or other books if you have them. Make sure to include a simple ask at the end of your books, and many readers will be happy to buy another book, or sign up for your email list. This is free and effective marketing to your ideal readers. It’s too good to pass up!
Now that you’ve completed your prep work, it’s time to run your promo stack.
How to run a book marketing promo stack
So, you’ve done your prep work. Your back matter is optimized and your description is aligned with your ideal reader. Now it’s time to plan and run your promo stack. To begin, you need to decide the price of your book during your promo stack.
Decide on your book price during your promo stack
Promo stacks fall into two broad categories based on book price:
- Free: where the book is made free for a limited time, or a book, usually a first in series, is kept as free in perpetuity.
- $4.99 or less: when a book’s price is decreased to $4.99 or less for a limited time, or a book’s price is kept at $4.99 or less in perpetuity.
The choice between running a free promo stack or a paid one comes down to each author’s situation. Typically, a free promo stack will lead to more attention and downloads. However, the author will earn less immediate revenue. If you have a series, or need reviews and ratings, a free promo stack could be a great choice for you.
A paid promo stack will typically have better results the lower the book is priced. Many authors will choose to make their title $0.99 for a promo stack or $2.99 at the highest. These stacks will result in less overall attention and a smaller increase in rankings than a free promo stack, but the author will see actual revenue from the book sales. If you’re looking for immediate return or are opposed to free promos, a paid promo stack could be a great choice for you.
Trying both out is likely the best way to see which one results in the best outcome for you. Some authors swear by paid promo stacks, some only do free, and some trade off between them.
Whichever you decide, it’s critical that your book is the correct price when your promos run. If you schedule a Freebooksy promotion, your book must be free the entire day of the promo or it won’t run. Read this post to learn how to make your book free.
Now that you’ve decided on your book price, you need to choose the book marketing tactics that will comprise your stack.
Identify the book marketing tactics you’ll combine in your stack
But, that’s not all. It’s also a great idea to make a list of all the ways to market your book, and then, from that list, decide which tactics will make up your promo stack.
Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
- Run a Freebooksy Promo
- Run Facebook or Amazon ads as part of your promo stack. Or, have us run a campaign for you with Reader Reach Ads
- Schedule an email list swap with another author
- Post on social media about your book
Look for platforms that have a track record of reaching your desired readership and have a solid reputation within the indie author community.
There are also many free ways to market your book, like social media posts and newsletter swaps, and these can be a great addition to your promo stack. Include these in your list as well.
Once you have your list of tactics, it’s time to decide which ones you will actually do, and when you will do them.
Timing and coordination of book marketing promotions
Creating a promotional calendar is essential for successful promo stacking. Remember, this book marketing strategy works because of how the promotions are timed, so stagger your promotions across different platforms to optimize exposure and maintain consistent buzz around your book.
This can often be the most challenging part of running a successful promo stack. Some marketing tactics, like social media posts or sending to your own newsletter, are easy to control. If you want to do them on a given day, that’s what you do.
Other tactics, and often some of the more effective ones, can be less easy to get into a tight schedule. So, it’s often a good idea to begin by scheduling those tactics first.
Schedule your book marketing
Take your top 3-6 book marketing tactics from your list, and decide on your time-frame. Many promo stacks work well over a 3-day period, but if you can stretch it out to 5, it could have even better results.
Now, it’s time to schedule your book marketing. Historically, this was one of the biggest pain points of running a promo stack. Finding promo sites and lining up dates can be difficult, especially when you don’t know if you will be accepted.
Thankfully, we at Written Word Media and our promo partners have come together to solve this issue. We have created ready-made promo stacks which make it possible to schedule your entire stack in as little as 5 minutes. No juggling dates in different tabs, and no worrying if your promos will run on the right days.
To schedule your ready-made promo stack:
- Visit our promo stacks list
- Use the filters to narrow stacks to your genre and duration
- Pick your ready-made stack from the options listed
- Select your start date and the dates of each individual promo will appear below
- Continue to enter your book information and checkout
Once you’ve scheduled your promo stack, you can add other marketing tactics from your list like social media posts or newsletter swaps with other authors, to your schedule.
If a ready-made promo stack isn’t for you, you can still schedule your promos individually over your promo stacking period.
If you can’t get the promos you want in the date range you want, consider changing your date range, or choosing a different promo from your list.
Write down your book marketing plan
After you have scheduled your promos, make sure you fill them in on your calendar or document when you’ll be doing your free marketing (like social media posts), in conjunction with your promos. You can also list when you will be changing your book price, if that’s part of your plan.
Execute on your book marketing plan
You’ve scheduled your promos and created your promo stack plan – now it’s time to execute. Preparing social posts in advance can help save time and reduce stress during your promo stack.
During this stage, the hard work is done! Now you are just checking items off your plan and watching your sales charts.
How to measure the effectiveness of a promo stack
During and after your promo stack it’s important to monitor the results of your efforts. Looking at your rankings, sales, and downloads each day of your stack and recording them will help you understand how your marketing impacted your book’s reach, and help you improve your stack the next time you run one.
If you are enrolled in KDP Select, watch your KENP page reads to see if there’s an increase after your stack.
It can also be interesting to see, if you have a series, how your promo stack drives sales of later books in the series. Do you see an increase in book two sales a month or two after your book one promo stack? That’s likely a trailing positive impact from your promo stack!
Other potential impacts a stack could have are an increase in ratings and reviews, more email signups to your mailing list, or an increase in followers on social media.
Especially when beginning to market your books with promo stacks, try to look at all of these areas to see if you notice a change.
Promo stacking is a powerful book marketing strategy that can unlock a world of opportunities for indie authors. By strategically coordinating promotions, leveraging various promotional platforms, and nurturing an engaged author platform, you can amplify your book’s visibility, increase sales, and expand your readership.
We’re so excited to offer ready-made promo stacks to help authors take advantage of this strategy without the prior hassle and time commitment.
Go here to schedule your ready-made promo stack today. And remember, Gold and Platinum members save 10% on the cost of their stacks. Become a member before scheduling your promo stack to start saving today!