SALES ON KOBO TOPPED ALL OTHER VENDORS DURING MY FIRST GLOBAL DISCOUNT-PRICE PROMOTION
By Diana Deverell
This result surprised me.
I’m an ex-pat American living in Denmark and I own a Kobo Mini eReader and a Kobo tablet. I love Kobo. The only eBooks I buy elsewhere are ones sold directly by the author or in bundles.
However, through the first half of this year, my lifetime sales on Kobo amounted to only 13% of the total eBooks I’ve sold since I began indie-publishing.
Kobo was a distant second to Amazon which accounted for 59% of my sales. Apple, Nook, and Smashwords made up most of the remaining 28%.
So how did Kobo sweep the field during July?
Here’s the background. I had a two-title backlist from my sole trad-publishing contract. Both titles went out of print by 2000 and all rights reverted to me. In 2012, I indie-published those thrillers on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook, and via Smashwords to Apple and other retailers.
For the next four years, I concentrated on creating new work. I also added Draft 2 Digital as a distributor.
Now, I have ten book-length titles available. I decided the time was ripe to run a sale on Help Me Nora, the first volume in my legal thriller series.
For thirty days, I made my first-in-series a loss-leader, knocking five dollars off the cost and where possible setting the bargain price at .99 in native currencies.
I wanted Americans, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders to see $.99 in their dollars, Brits to see £.99, Europeans to see €.99.
I’m told that when the price looks “natural” and “normal” to readers, I eliminate another subconscious block that might discourage them from clicking the BUY button.
Smashwords doesn’t offer this pricing option and because I distribute to Apple through them, I couldn’t fine-tune my price on iBooks either.
I promoted the sale via my Facebook author page, website, and newsletter. I also paid for an ad with Read Cheaply which included buy buttons for the five retailers carrying the book.
Finally, I signed up with Kobo for a two-week-long Deals Page Spotlight – Thrillers Promotion running July 1-15.
The cost of that promotion was roughly ten cents per book sold during the promo period as Kobo reduced my royalty by approximately that amount for each sale. I paid nothing up front.
The ad ran on July first and I registered a small spike in sales on Amazon. I sold a few more books on Amazon during the rest of July. I had no July sales on Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.
But from July 2, sales on Kobo took off. By July 10, Help Me Nora was at number four on the Kobo Mystery & Suspense/Legal Thriller best seller list.
At the end of the month, my lifetime sales on Kobo had doubled and I’d gained readers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and countries scattered across Europe and Africa. Interestingly enough, I sold no books via Kobo in the US or the UK during July.
Happily, I sold full-price copies of other titles on Kobo and Amazon during July for a net profit during the month.
As of July 31, Kobo is responsible for 23% of my global sales since starting indie-publishing.
How did I get so lucky?
I think fine-tuning prices was important. Possibly my inability to do that on Smashwords and iBooks contributed to getting no sales.
Because I’m not exclusively on Amazon, I have difficulty getting traction there. No surprise that Kindle sales were low to match my low-key approach.
Overall, I credit Kobo’s promotional muscle for this great outcome, particularly in the Canadian market where I made 73% of my Kobo sales. Australia and Ireland were in second and third place respectively.
The Kobo Deals Page Spotlight – Thrillers Promotion was the key variable that had no impact on other retailers. It served me well.
I’m glad I had Kobo on my side.
A native Oregonian, Diana Deverell was a US Foreign Service Officer and served in Washington DC, San Salvador, and Warsaw, before she moved to rural Denmark to write full-time. She debuted as a published writer in 1998 with 12 Drummers Drumming, her first Casey Collins International Thriller. The latest book in that series is China Box, published June 14, 2016.
She also writes the Nora Dockson Legal Thriller series, featuring an ex-con turned feisty appeals lawyer. The three books published so far are Help Me Nora, Right the Wrong, and Hear My Plea. She plans to publish a fourth in late 2016.
Diana writes short fiction starring FBI Special Agent Dawna Shepherd. Dawna’s fourteenth published adventure “Shaken, Not Stirred” was in the Jan/Feb 2016 edition of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Diana’s first alternate history short mystery “Opening Day 1954” will appear in the November 2016 issue.
Diana’s Website: www.dianadeverell.com (where you can sign up for her author news)