NYT bestselling author Cristin Harber recently blogged about her efforts over the last year to expand retailer market share at Kobo. We loved the story and her helpful tips, and were thrilled when she agreed to let us share the post here. To read more posts by Cristin outlining “Actionable Ideas for Indies,” go to The Next Level Author.
By Cristin Harber
One of my 2015 goals was to rely less on Amazon. They owned over 75% of my market share in 2014, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. So I prioritized Kobo and iBooks for 2015, drafting two distinct marketing plans. Basically, I needed to make the sales needle move substantially without a scary financial investment.
Below is a global, pictorial representation of my Kobo 2014 year to date sales, which were earned organically. Other than posting Kobo buy links and running (without a good ROI) Facebook ads and generic release week boosted posts, I did not my promote my Kobo books or focus on my Kobo readers. (sad, I know!)
Without using specific numbers, what you can assume here is that I was strong in Canada, US, UK, and Australia. These are all places that Kobo is historically strong.
Assessing my sales and trajectory, I laid out my new 2015 goals:
- Double my Kobo income
- Maintain the same organic trajectory while exploring new audiences
This is my starting point.
I start to play with very low dollar ads, both in countries that I feel can’t fail me: Canada, UK, US, and Australia, and in new countries that I’m curious about the cost of acquiring a new reader.
Without getting into the nitty gritty of targeting a romance Kobo reader in this blog post, here’s a quick summary:
Coupled with a niche universe of my readers who like Kobo. It’s a tiny universe, but it’s a highly segmented ad. Think slice and diced.
Okay, back to what happens when I start targeting specific people with a targeted message.
What I learned in the process:
My loss leaders work. I have three. They are very different, with distinct covers, genres, and styles. They sell VERY differently in different countries, with different messages on the different retailers.
I’m still mapping all that out. It’s confusing, and I need more hours in the day. I’m not a household name, but if I want a chance to continue to meet my next-level goals, and hit my next major one, it’s something I need to prioritize.
(Side note: Holy shiz, Cristin. This is a lot of work. If someone told you that there’s a good chance you can bring in seven figure next year, and this might be one of the steps it would take, would you think about working it into your plans? Yeah, me too.)
My can’t-fail-me countries like the US and Australia failed me in my ads. Or rather, I failed the ads, because something I’ve done in the copy, messaging, or graphics is wrong. If your ads aren’t working, it’s not because Facebook is out to get you.
I haven’t prioritized the problem-solving endeavor high enough on my to-do list to figure out why yet. But, I will in 2016.
Here I am, running low dollar Facebook ads, focusing primarily now on one loss leader book to Canada. I haven’t had a book release since mid-July.
It is one of my best months of the year. The size of the Canadian bubble makes the others look less significant. Not the case.
I’ve met my 2015 Kobo goal.
Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. First published in September 2013, she writes steamy new adult, romantic suspense, and military romance. Find all of her titles on Kobo.
Hi Cristin. Thanks for the interesting article. Increasing Kobo downloads and purchases is one of my mini-goals this year (I segment mine). I was wondering – you mention Facebook Ads in the article. Is this the only way you increase your sales on Kobo besides your generic release week boosting posts? Or did you use other advertising services as well (such as virtual book tours)?
Thanks again for the article. An interesting case study for sure!
I do FB and Twitter ads focused on permafrees year round, non-stop. Ongoing ads in 2015 replaced my 2014 boosted posts. InkSlinger PR helped me w/ my new releases and for each of those I planned a retailer-specific marketing plan. The release plans were more focused on a spike whereas my income-focused plan was to maximize exposure and read through with a minimal financial investment.
Thanks for writing this Cristin, it’s very useful. I plan to try something similar later this year.
Reblogged this on …and then there was Sarah.
Hi Cristin – thanks so much for the great tips! How did you get the country-specific URLs for your books to put into the ad for each country? Every time I try to get mine, my browser just redirects me to the US store.
Great question, Jenni. While we can’t answer for exactly how Cristin did it, we can tell you that Kobo automatically re-directs the URL to each user’s own IP territory.
For example, this link (copied from here in Canada) – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/the-romanov-legacy shows us the CDN price of $5.06. But if you, as a US customer, click on the very same link, you’ll be redirected to the en-us link, which shows $3.99 USD and the same book.
The goal is to make it simple for people on social media, etc to share a book they love and the person on the receiving end sees the book in their own currency but without the author having to manage a dozen links. (Since Kobo is available in 190 countries, that could be a dreadful amount of work for our authors)
Also, just a couple of friendly quick hints for you regarding optimizing your pricing and your series metadata so we can help you sell more on Kobo! IE, getting our customers ready for your prequel to The Romanov Legacy, The Dante Deception — check out these articles on Series metadata and Global pricing tips. (Hint, Hint: a $3.99 USD book is better off at either $4.99 or $5.99 in CAD, AUS and NZD based on currency exchange and what the market will bear)
That’s really cool that the link will cater to the user’s region! No need for extra regional links! Very convenient!
I am beginning to get downloads from kobo since the app ads to peps like me on Facebook featured my book covers for a month or two. That was really neat. Thank you Kobo! I, too, am actively promoting Kobo and iBooks although Kobo is winning hands down right now! I use Facebook ads to get downloads for my loss leader free book, I hadn’t segmented them but it looks like a good way to go.
Glad I’m not the only author who is unsettled by the idea of an Amazon monopoly and thanks for sharing your results.
Really informative! Thank you for this detailed breakdown. I see a lot of authors these days utilizing Facebook Ads to maximize their sales. It’s something I will look into further on my next release.