Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. The question is, where to spend it? There are no sure things when it comes to laying down your own cash, but some sites are better bets than others. In the ebook world, the three big guns are www.bookbub, www.ereadernewstoday.com, and www.pixelofink.com. Following behind those are sites like http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/ and www.bookblast.co. But the one key to success with all these sites is reviews. Most of the sites require at least ten reviews with a four star average. In general though, reviews lead to success in its own right. So the question becomes, how to get those reviews?
The two main review giveaway sites are www.goodreads.com and www.librarything.com. And although Goodreads is bigger, they only accept physical books for giveaways. Librarything meanwhile will allow you to give away digital copies of your books. There is a benefit to doing a Goodreads giveaway. For the cost of one physical book printed out and mailed to the winner, you'll get added to a number of To Be Read lists on Goodreads, which could mean more eyes on your book.
For those that haven't made a paperback version of their book through www.createspace.com or don't have the money to print and ship copies to winners, Librarything is the place for you. Librarything only allows you to give away 100 books per giveaway. Meanwhile you can choose to run your giveaway for one week, two weeks, or a month. I've seen that most people do one month giveaways. I would advise against that. The reason is that if you're doing a giveaway, you're probably looking for reviews sooner than later. So you run the month long give away, send out copies of the ebook, and it could be up to two weeks before you get your first review. That means from the time you set up your giveaway, it will be at least four weeks before you see a review, and more likely around six weeks.
Plus, you'll most likely have more than a hundred people looking to pick up your book in that month long span. That means some readers will be left out in the cold. If you run a weeklong giveaway however you can give away in the neighborhood of 30-50 books, no one gets shut out, and then you can set up another giveaway immediately.
Why would I do that? Simple. You'll give away your first round of 30-50 books, then maybe have a review on your title two or three weeks after your posting instead of waiting four to six weeks. There's no limit to the number or giveaways you can do, so you can do five or six week long giveaways back to back. By the end of the sixth week, you might already have four or five reviews.
Note: I've noticed a fifteen to one review rate, meaning you'll have to give away around a hundred and fifty ebooks to get your ten reviews.
Once you get your ten reviews--and hopefully a four star or above average--get ready to book your paid promotions.
www.ereadernewstoday.com has a 99 cent bargain book promotion. You need 10 reviews and a 4 star minimum average to participate. You pick a two or three day period, fill out their form, then wait for them to pick you. If picked, you lower the price of your book to 99 cents for 48 hours. They post the promotion on their site that has over 330,000 Facebook followers, and see the sales roll in. For this promotion, you don't pay up front. ENT tracks how many sales come in from their affiliate links and invoices you for 25% of the author royalties generated. The best part about this promotion is that you're guaranteed not to lose. I've seen a wide range of success, from 200 sales all the way up to 1700.
Pixel Of Ink
www.pixelofink.com recently started a 99 cent promo. You pick the days you want to run a sale of your book at 99 cents, submit it to them, and hope they pick you. POI also has over 300,000 followers on their Facebook page. Unlike ENT though, the POI promotion doesn't cost you anything. POI however does not list their criteria for the books that get picked. But since it doesn't cost anything, it's worth a try.
Kindle Books And Tips
http://www.fkbooksandtips.com has over 36,000 followers on their Facebook page. The ads run $25.00 to $50.00 depending on the promo and require 10 reviews with a minimum 4 star average. Prices subject to change.
www.bookblast.co is an up and coming site that offers promos as low as $10. And while it doesn't have quite the firepower that ENT or POI have, for $10, it's hard not to at least break even.
www.bookbub.com is the big dog in town with over 1 million subscribers. Even better, their subscribers are divided into individual genres. And while the submission requirements are vague, you'll need somewhere between 15 and 25 reviews with a good star average to get accepted. The price is not cheap though. At the time I'm writing this, sponsorships run between $100 and $900 depending on the genre and whether it is a 99 cent or $2.99 book. The good thing about Bookbub though is that they allow you to get promoted on not just Amazon, but Barnes & Noble, Itunes, Kobo, and even Smashwords. Other than going permafree, Bookbub is the most effective way of gaining a foothold in stores that aren't Amazon. I've seen authors easily make back the money and more. It's a high risk but possible high reward proposition. In the end though, the choice is yours.