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The State of Indie Book Marketing in 2023 Featured

The State of Book Marketing in 2023: A Year in Review

The State of Indie Book Marketing in 2023 Featured

The book marketing landscape is always changing, which means it can be tricky for authors to stay on top of the most popular trends.

At Written Word Media, we believe that email promos are one of the most effective forms of book marketing, and this is backed up by authors in our 2023 author survey.

Across our brands like Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy and in our ready-made promo stacks, we run thousands of email promos for indie authors and wanted to share some of the key trends and strategies we’ve noticed authors using over the past year.

In this post, we’ll summarize the main takeaways from 2023, including the most popular book promo genres and price points. We’ll also look at KDP Select enrollment and how wide and KU books are promoted with us.


Most Popular Book Promo Genres

Wondering which book genres are the most promoted among indie authors? We’ve dug through the data and uncovered some interesting findings for what genres authors promoted the most with Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy in 2023.

Free Book Promos

Do you have a permafree book you’d like to get in the hands of more readers? Or perhaps you’re running a limited-time free promotion? Below you’ll find the 10 most promoted free genres with our Freebooksy newsletter in 2023.


Steamy Contemporary Romance – 9.8%

Children’s Books – 7.7%

Fantasy / Paranormal – 7.6%

Mystery – 7.2%

Self Help and How To – 7.1%

Thriller – 6.4%

Paranormal Romance – 6.0%

Cozy Mystery – 5.6%

General Nonfiction – 5.2%

Science Fiction – 5.1%


Here is the full breakdown of free book promotions by genre for Freebooksy in 2023:

The State of Book Marketing in 2023 1

This graph shows the wide variety of genres that authors promote with us at Written Word Media. Romance promos are hands-down the largest group of promos run, which isn’t surprising. Romance is popular, and we offer several romance sub-genres to promote in as well.

How did this compare with the previous year? Children’s Books were one of the biggest movers, seeing a jump up to the second most promoted genre (climbing from 5.9% of all promos in 2022 to 7.7% in 2023). Self-Help and How-To books also went from the ninth most popular genre in 2022 (5.3% of promos) to fifth place in 2023 (7.1% of promos).


Discounted Book Promos

Want to run a book promo but don’t want to give your book away for free? That is not a problem, because promoting discounted books is another very popular book marketing strategy. Below you’ll find the 10 most featured promo genres for books priced between $0.99 and $4.99 with our Bargain Booksy newsletter in 2023.


Fantasy Paranormal – 9.9%

Science Fiction – 8.0%

Self-Help and How-To – 7.8%

Steamy Contemporary Romance – 7.6%

Thriller – 7.4%

Nonfiction 6.8%

Mystery – 5.3%

Literary Fiction – 5.3%

Young Adult – 4.4%

Religion / Spirituality – 4.0%


Here is the full breakdown of $0.99 – $4.99 book promotions by genre for 2023:

The State of Book Marketing in 2023 2

The major thing to note here is that fantasy and science fiction are both more likely to run a discounted promo than a free promo, and the inverse is true for romance.

A potential explanation is that on average, fantasy and science fiction books tend to be longer than romance books, so a fantasy author may have fewer titles in their series, and therefore fewer chances to charge readers.

If a romance author can have a 5 book series with the same number of words as a 3 book fantasy series, they’ll see more value from a free promo because they simply have more books on offer.

Did we see a shift in trends from last year? While its percentage of total promos run only dropped by 0.5%, steamy contemporary romance fell from the second most popular genre in 2022 to fifth place in 2023. Science Fiction jumped from 7.6% to 8.0% year-over-year and moved from third to second place. Similarly to the results mentioned above for free promos, Self-Help and How-To continues to increase in popularity with authors, climbing from sixth to third place (6.9% in 2022 to 7.8% in 2023).


Most Popular Book Promo Price Point

Now that we’ve taken a look at the most popular genres authors are promoting, which price points are the most common when running an email promo?

While we know free promos are always going to be in demand from authors due to the ability to get your book in the hands of as many people as possible, paid promotions are a necessity to help boost sales.

We ran tens of thousands of books in our Bargain Booksy newsletters in 2023 and found some fascinating trends when it comes to pricing. Below you will see a breakdown of the most common book promotion prices from this year.

The State of Book Marketing in 2023 3

The main change we’ve seen in the past year is that authors have opted to use a $4.99 price more frequently than $3.99. In addition to this, the $0.99 price point did see a decline of around 2% year over year, but it still remained the most popular choice.

So, which price works best for authors? Well, as with all things book marketing, it depends. The number of books in a series, read-through rate, and the cost of later books in a series all factor into which price point works for an author. But, looking at the chart we can tell that when it comes to promoting a book on Bargain Booksy, $0.99 is by far the most popular price point.

$0.99 books tend to get more clicks from readers. So, while authors don’t earn much immediate revenue from a $0.99 promo, they do ensure more readers buy the book, and that gives them more opportunity for read-through.


Kindle Unlimited vs Wide Publishing

One decision authors face when self-publishing is whether each book will be exclusive with Amazon KDP Select (enrolled in Kindle Unlimited) or published wide across all digital retailers.

While we don’t have the exact data to show how many authors opt for one over the other, we can gather some insights into which strategy is more popular among indie authors when it comes to running book promos in our email newsletters.


Free Book Promos

In terms of free book promotions run with our Freebooksy newsletter in 2023, almost 72% of all promotions run by authors were for books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. You can see the breakdown below.

The State of Book Marketing in 2023 4

This was an almost 5% increase in free promos run for Kindle Unlimited books when compared to the same period in 2022.

This isn’t surprising. Being enrolled in KDP Select gives authors access to Free Days, which makes it easy to drop a book to Free for a limited time.

Authors not enrolled in KDP Select have to make their book free on another retailer and wait to see if Amazon will match the price. This process is more stressful and takes more effort.


Discounted Book Promos

When analyzing the books promoted with our Bargain Booksy newsletter (books priced between $0.99 and $4.99) we see a similar split with Kindle Unlimited books representing around 68.4% of all promotions from authors.

The State of Book Marketing in 2023 5

When we compare this to the 2022 data, there was a 2.3% increase in Kindle Unlimited books promoted by authors from the previous year.

These findings aren’t necessarily surprising due to the popularity of Amazon Kindle books and the fact that Amazon makes it very easy to run Kindle Countdown Deals regularly for authors that use KDP Select.

How Much Are Authors Spending On Marketing?

Running promos and ads costs money, so how much do authors spend every month on book marketing? For this, we turn to data we collected in our latest author survey, where we asked authors how much they spend per month on marketing their books. Then, we broke this down to the number of books published and the average marketing budget for each group.

Graph of Marketing Budget by Number of Books Published

As you might expect, the number of published books has a major impact on the average author’s marketing budget.

Books Published Average Monthly Marketing Budget
1-2  $            75
3-4  $          116
5-9  $          167
10-14  $          310
15-24  $          630
25-49  $       1,594
>50  $       2,138

More books means a few things. One, an author with more books is likely to be making more money from their books, so it’s easier to reinvest these earnings into marketing to build their business.

Two, more books also means more books to market. If an author has multiple series, they will likely need to split their budget across multiple first-in-series and new releases. With a single series, all the marketing budget can go to the only first-in-series. So, an author with more series could be more likely to have a higher marketing budget.

One thing to keep in mind with these numbers is that there is a lot of variance within groups. Some authors with three titles had massive budgets, whereas some with 15 books had very low budgets. But, we hope these averages can give you a general idea of how marketing budgets are impacted by the number of published books.


2023 was another year of growth for book marketing. We hope this data will prove useful for you in your self-publishing journey as we ramp up for another big year in 2024.

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