Okay, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and pay for a spot on a Kindle deal site. Yay! But now you have to decide which one to choose. And then you notice that they all have different prices, they all claim to be the best, your friends say this one is better, bloggers say you won’t get good results with that one, and on and on it goes.
If your head is spinning, fear not. We’re going to take a look at some ways you can evaluate a deal site before you buy the promotion.
Check Their Following
This is the number one thing you should do when buying a promotion anywhere. Poke around their site for an indicator of how many people you can expect to reach with your ad. Here are a number of things you can look at to get an idea of the crowd who will see your promotion.
Estimated number of subscribers
Most deal sites are going to mail the deal to a list, so you’ll want to find where they tell how many people are on the list. If they don’t have it on their site, contact them and ask for the number. Nothing is worse than buying a feature in a deal newsletter only to find out nobody reads it.
Newsletter open rate or click-through rate.
This is a key statistic when you’re purchasing an ad that’s going out to a mailing list. You can buy a feature that’s mailed to 20,000 people, but it doesn’t matter if nobody opens the message or clicks on your book. These stats are harder to find, so you might have to e-mail your potential deal site and ask if they’re willing to share.
Targeted mailing lists
Another key piece of information to find: Does this deal site have targeted mailing lists? That is, do they have a romance list, a science fiction list, a nonfiction list, and so on? Or do they simply blast an e-mail out to a mixed bag of readers? This detail is important because a targeted list is far more likely to generate sales. You can pick the list that best fits your book and get the ad in front of the people who care.
An estimated number of sales from the promotion
You’re not always going to find this stat on a deal site. When you do find it, it’s always an estimate, since the deal site can’t control how many people will buy your book. However, they might track sales from past ads and try to guess. If you can’t find a number, that’s okay. We’ll look for it elsewhere soon.
The number of Facebook likes the site has
If the site has a Facebook widget displayed in their sidebar, this number is easy to find. If not, find a link to a Facebook page and check the like count. This number isn’t necessarily important if the site has a big mailing list, but if they offer to plug your book in a Facebook post for an additional fee, find out who’s going to see it.
You want to find this for the same reason as the Facebook likes. It’s probably the least important stat of the three, but again, if they offer to tweet your book, you want to know who’s reading.
Check Up On ‘Em
Word of mouth is a powerful thing, so let’s use it to our advantage. The easiest way to do this is to run a quick Google search. Type in the name of the deal site and add the word review or results. Take a little time to cull through the links that come up, looking for authors giving their opinions on how these sites have performed.
An even better resource is author friends. Whether they’re authors you know in person or authors you’ve “met” online through a forum or Facebook group, you can ask them for advice. If you’re part of an author forum or group, post asking if anyone has experience with purchasing a spot on a particular deal site. Remember when we were looking for an estimated number of sales? This is where you can get some idea of how many books you can expect to sell. Ask if other authors are willing to share sales numbers during their promotions with the deal site you’re evaluating.
If you get enough responses, you might take all the reported sales numbers and create an average. Total up the responses and divide by the number of responses. So if you have reported sales of 20, 34, and 23, the average is (20 + 34 + 23) ÷ 3 = about 26 books.
Doing the Math
Now that you have some numbers, you can whip out your calculator and do some math to help you decide if this promotional opportunity is worth your while.
Cost Per Person
Take the price of the feature and divide it by the number of people you’ll reach. For example, let’s say I find a feature that costs $15 to reach a mailing list of 1,000 people. We can calculate that like this: $15 ÷ 1,000 people = about $0.02 per person.
Cost Per Click
Another useful number to find is the cost per click. For example, if the deal site says they have a 30% average click-through rate and they have 1,000 subscribers, that’s 1,000 x 0.3 = 300 clicks. Now divide the price of the ad by the number of clicks. In the case of our previous example, it would be $15 ÷ 300 clicks = $0.05 per click.
Cost Per Sale
Of course, not every click becomes a sale. If you were able to come up with an average number of sales for the promotion, you could go further and divide the price of the ad by the average number of sales. So if the example above results in an average of 26 sales, you could calculate $15 ÷ 26 sales = about $0.58 per sale.
How Many Sales Do You Need to Break Even?
This is the most important way to evaluate a deal site. Take the price of the promotion and divide it by the royalty you make on each sale. Here’s a key gotcha: Remember that if you drop the price with a Kindle Countdown Deal, you’re still making a 70% royalty. But if you drop the price below $2.99 outside of a Countdown Deal, you only earn 35% of the sale. Do your math accordingly.
For example, let’s use the $15 deal from before. I’m going to run a Kindle Countdown at $0.99. That means I get a 70% royalty, so let’s find out how much I make on each sale. $0.99 x 0.7 = about $0.69. Now I can use that royalty to find out how many books I’ll need to sell to break even. That would be $15 ÷ $0.69 = about 22 sales. And if you remember that our example above averaged 26 sales, we can decide that this deal site might be worth it.
On the other hand, if I drop the price manually I’ll earn $0.99 x 0.35 = about $0.35 per sale. Using the same $15 ad above, I can figure $15 ÷ $0.35 = about 43 sales to break even.
Making It Simple
That’s a lot of math, isn’t it? What if there was a quick reference sheet that you could plug the numbers into? I just so happen to have one for you! This is the kind of thing I usually post as a special subscriber-only bonus, but this time I thought I would make it available to everyone. Download the sheet and enjoy!