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The Impact of eBook Price Promotion on Your Books [Based on Data!]

More than 1.6 million books were published in 2019. It has never been more important to find the right book marketing tools for your self-published titles. Most New York Times bestseller authors find success using price promotions as one of their sales strategies. Debut authors are also doing the same.

In this article, we go over the top 5 reasons why you should run a price promotion today, based on real data from PublishDrive.

How we analyzed the data

PublishDrive is a self-publishing platform with tools that help authors with ebook distribution, marketing, and more. PublishDrive released a price promotion tool on Feb 10th that allows authors to quickly and easily set a price drop on a title. The results so far have been pretty amazing for our indie authors. 

We reviewed sales promotions data for 172 English language ebooks from December 1st, 2019, to February 16th, 2020. Our main goal was to measure the effectiveness of Holiday campaigns for 13,335 entries.

When we looked at our data, we’ve found that the three most often used price tiers for discounts were: free, $2.99, and $3.99. We then asked which was the most effective in terms of return on investment (ROI) for authors. In this case, we defined the ROI as the amount of sales revenue generated from running discounts.

The main findings of our research are:

  1. Discounting from a higher price gives a higher return on investment.
  2. The impact of price promotion might differ based on retailers.
  3. Price promotions can boost sales of your whole catalog.
  4. Price promotions can increase sales from your original price. 
  5. Less frequent price promotions have better results. 

1) Discounting from a higher price gives more return on investment. 

Readers love a good bargain and they tend to respect discounts more if they see a usually higher priced book for sale. Also, if there’s an undeniable deal with 70% off, it’s harder to resist! 🙂 

The usual price points for ebooks are $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, $4.99, $5.99, $6.99, and $7.99. Some non-fiction titles are priced higher at $9.99. 

Our research shows that the most effective result comes from discounting: 

  1. from $2.99 to $0.99.
  2. from a higher price tier, like $7.99, $6.99, $8.99. 

People tend to enjoy buying higher-priced books for a bargain. We recommend authors and publishers target 70% off from the original price, for example from $2.99 to $0.99.


2) The impact of price promotions might differ based on retailers.

We analyzed if there’s any difference between stores with a discount pricing strategy. We found that price elasticity differs based on the retailer’s audiences. 

In the case of Apple Books (especially with non-fiction books) readers did not react as much to price discounts. In some cases, they bought fewer books at the discounted price than at the full price. Apple devices have the Apple Books store pre-installed, and usually, books are priced on the higher end. That might be the reason why Apple readers did not react significantly to discounts.

Google and Amazon audiences had the same reaction to price promotions: they loved them! 🙂 With Google, books originally priced above $5.99 worked the best for price promos. Meanwhile on Amazon, pricing down from $2.99 to $0.99 was the winner.

3) Price promotions can boost sales of your whole catalog.

One of the reasons publishers run book promotions for one book is to increase sales for other titles in tan author’s catalog. This is especially the case for books in series.

Monthly, we saw a 10% hike in sales for the entire catalog when running a price promotion on at least one title in the catalog. Over 6 months, that can result in a nice jump in sales.

4) Price promotions can increase sales from your original price. 

Retail promotion is a common tactic for achieving short term results. But it goes beyond that as it can also impact the sales value from originally priced books.

What does this mean? We’ve seen that after a book’s first promo run, there was a 123% growth in sales the next month. Even better, when the second price promo ended, there was more than 2x growth in the value of sales on original prices. 

That can happen because when you support promotions with other tactics like featured deals, you can double your reach in new readers. Also, search engines will favor your book with a spike in sales. Algorithms will react to sales to trends if they see your book was interesting to more people than before. The algorithms will have a better understanding of your target reader and will make recommendations that are more relevant to their customers.

5) Less frequent price promotions have better results. 

We’ve additionally looked at books where multiple price promotions were scheduled during the timeframe of our research. We were interested to see how the frequency of price promotions impacted sales.

We found that if you run more than two price promotions on the same title within two months, after the third price promo, your return on investment won’t drastically increase in the short term anymore. The first promo on average had a 150% increase in sales value on the discounted price. The second promo had even better results with a 210% increase in sales value. However, when the third promotion come within a two months period, it generally resulted in the same sales value as before the original list price.

We can translate this info into: don’t overuse price promotions. They are powerful tools to boost sales in the short term, but if you schedule more than two price promotions in two months, readers may lose interest.

How to schedule a price promotion easily.

So now you know how lucrative running price promos for your books can be. How can you do it efficiently and effectively? 

One of the issues with setting up your own discount is that it doesn’t go live on the day you actually get your price promotion deal. This can result in delaying or canceling the deal you paid for.

With a platform like PublishDrive, you can use tools to schedule any price promotion ahead of time. We know that plans might change, so you can modify your promotions up to 72 hours before your campaign starts. To use our price promotion feature, you need to have a title published through PublishDrive. Check out our article on how to upload a title in PublishDrive (the first title is entirely free).

Here’s how to set up a price promo on PublishDrive:

  1. Go to the ‘Promotions’ tab where you see different Promotional tools. Choose ‘Price promotion’. (Here, you also have the options to send free review copies, get featured deals in stores/newsletters, run effective Amazon ads and promote your book with our partner, Written Word Media.)
  2. Add the basic info about your promotion.


Your promotion will be applied to select stores wherever your title is published via PublishDrive. Don’t worry about price matching or whether your promo price goes through. We make sure your titles are discounted on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play Books.

You can also you can group more than one price promotion into campaigns. This makes it easy to navigate between your promotions and campaigns for your books.

The basic information you need to add for your promotion are:

  • The start and end date
  • New promotion price
  • (Optional) Price in different currencies
  • (Optional) Communication tactic about your price promotion campaign
  • (Optional) Budget

PublishDrive's Price Promotion Scheduling
PublishDrive’s Price Promotion Scheduling

PublishDrive’s Price Promotion Discount
PublishDrive’s Price Promotion Discount

PublishDrive’s Types of Price Promotions
PublishDrive’s Types of Price Promotions

We’ve optimized the process even more with extra functions like adding different prices in different currencies, scheduling, and budgeting.

Once your price promotion is scheduled, you will need to put together a plan on how you will alert readers to the discount. Successful ways to market your promotion include emailing your reader list, purchasing features on book promotion sites, running paid ads on Amazon, Facebook or Bookbub Ads and posting to your social media accounts.


All in all, our 2-months data shows that running price promotions can be a very effective marketing tool for your books. Price promotions work, and we’ve made it easy for you to start and manage them on PublishDrive.


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