by Cheri Allan
If you’re a busy writer whose idea of due diligence is analyzing the relative hotness of random shirtless fireman memes on Facebook, I’ll make this message short and sweet: if ever you have the opportunity to have Kobo promote or feature your book(s), don’t stop for coffee, DO IT! But for those whose eyes aren’t already glazing over with the thought of discussing sales numbers and analytics, let’s forget the coffee for a minute while I tell you how Kobo marketing opportunities increased my books’ visibility and gained them traction in a crowded marketplace.
I write romance, which accounts for over half of all paperback fiction and more than a third of all e-book fiction sales. (Woot!) But writing a book in a popular genre and getting it read are two very different things as most authors will tell you.
I released my first in series in August of 2014, my second in October 2014 and my third in April of 2015. For various reasons (we’ll call them “life” and “laziness”) I chose to enroll the first two titles in KDP Select after sales at Smashwords made me wonder why I’d wasted two days of my life nuking and meatgrinding my manuscript to within an inch of my sanity. I had barely a handful of sales through Smashwords up to that point, and Amazon seemed to be doing fine for me, so why make life complicated?
Things were acceptable if not stellar sales-wise (but what did I really know?) until I noticed something the more established authors had already begun to report: Kindle Unlimited borrows appeared to be cannibalizing my Amazon paid sales. As I watched the red line sink below the blue on my KDP sales chart, I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favors by keeping all my eggs in one basket. Not only was each KU borrow earning me less than each paid sale–there was no guarantee month to month what I’d earn on each borrow.
So, as I neared the release of book three in my series, I pulled the first two titles out of Select and got busy broadening my availability. I soon had accounts established and my titles up on five platforms: Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Google Play and, of course, Kobo.
Then I watched what happened.
Initially my sales appeared fairly unchanged. Whereas I had, quite obviously, earned nothing on other platforms when I was exclusive to Amazon, now that I was no longer in Select, that pattern more or less continued. I began to wonder whether I’d traded the security of Kindle borrows (and whatever Amazon might throw my way each month) for the uncertainty of wider availability and the sound of crickets chirping. Sure my books were out there, but they appeared to be hiding remarkably well from the non-kindle readers in the world. And while I had moderate success putting titles on deep discount and promoting on the usual e-reader marketing sites and Facebook promo pages, those readers appeared to be almost exclusively kindle owners living in the U.S. How could I reach beyond that pool of readers?
That’s when I contacted the Kobo Writing Life team and explained that I was looking for ways to increase my books’ visibility. With a new release and good reviews on previous titles, the KWL team graciously put my third book on the schedule for inclusion in Kobo Next. Then I submitted book two for inclusion in the June 30%-off sales promotion and was accepted.
The results speak for themselves.
Watch what happened to sales of All or Nothing (my newest release) when it was featured in Kobo Next starting in July. The percentage of total Kobo sales compared to Amazon sales jumped to nearly twice what they’d been the previous month. Not only that, but the 25% figure in June? That’s a direct result of ancillary sales from having another book in the series, Stacking the Deck, featured in Kobo’s June 30%-off promo.
Here’s what happened with Stacking the Deck when it was included in Kobo’s 30%-off sales promotion. Here, Kobo sales outpaced kindle sales by a significant margin.
And while I’ll be the first to point out that those percentages didn’t carry over into July when the promo ended, the July chart looks a whole lot more balanced than the May chart did!
<chirp, chirp> That’s right. I believe those continued sales in July are what other authors call “gaining traction.”
So, what’s the take-home message? Each time Kobo has included one of my titles in a special promotion or feature, its sales haven’t just increased, they have challenged the notion that Amazon is the biggest player out there. Not only have my Kobo sales met or exceeded Amazon sales during each promo period for those titles, my market reach broadened as well.
Here’s a table of total countries sold to during the months of June and July for each book:
Or, as Kobo likes to show it:
You don’t have to be a genius to do the math on this one. The world is a big place. Why limit your marketing and sales when other retailers can expand your reach?
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m more than happy to gain visibility and stretch my readership ‘round the world through Kobo. So do yourself a favor and see what the good folks at Kobo Writing Life can do to help boost your visibility! Then get your cup of coffee. In that order. 😉
Cheri Allan writes hopeful, humorous contemporary romances. She lives in a charming fixer-upper in rural New Hampshire with her husband, two children, two dogs, three cats and an excessive amount of optimism. She’s a firm believer in do-it-yourself, new beginnings and happily-ever-afters, so after years of wearing suits, she’s grateful to finally put her English degree to good use writing romance. The first three books in her Betting on Romance series, Luck of the Draw, Stacking the Deck, and All or Nothing are all available on Kobo.