How To Market A 99 Cent Ebook Sale On The Cheap

Book Promo Time? Oh, yeah. As mentioned in other posts, I didn’t market my fiction series at all until I had three published novels in place – and trust me, my book sales for the fiction series were nil before this. But now that Paint Me Gone is launched, I’m diving in. The first thing I did was gather intel on what does NOT work, and from there I made a plan about where to begin.

What does NOT work? Paid print and click ads.


    Image by James Vaughan

    Goodreads and Facebook “click” ads and are a waste of time, according to multiple authors.

  • Kirkus ads, both email and print. Per one author, “I purchased a [very pricey] Kirkus email and print ad and it had absolutely no effect on the book.”

I’m going to make a leap here and assume that Google Adwords ads will also be ineffective for fiction, so I’m crossing that off my list as well. But hey readers, if they’ve worked for you, please leave a comment and share specifics!

It’s all about the SALE
What I decided to do was run a sale on book #1 in my series, Mark of the Loon. I lowered the price across all platforms to 99 cents – I’ll try this for two weeks. My goals for the 2-week special are reasonable:

  1. Sell at least 100 books across all sale platforms (DONE!).
  2. Reach an Amazon ranking in the top 10,000 or higher (DONE!).
  3. Gain at least 4 more Amazon reviews for Mark of the Loon (DONE!).
  4. Get an idea how sales affect B&N and Kobo stats – is it worth being on these platforms? (MAYBE NOT!)
  5. See if the rest of the series will get a bump from sales of the first book (DONE!).

Where to begin? Using FREE & low-cost listings
I don’t have a street team and I don’t believe hawking wares on Twitter and Facebook works, so my first challenge was how to get the word out. I decided to begin at the low- and no-cost end and work my way up to more expensive promos over time. I have a theory that some of the pricier vendors might be more inclined to list books with Amazon rankings that are already decent – so to begin, I submitted my .99 cent sale to a number of no-cost “ebook deal” websites that will advertise a DISCOUNTED ebook at no charge. Here’s where I submitted:

  1. Bargain Booksy. A request for an editorial feature is the only “free” option here.
  2. Addicted to Ebooks.
  3. Bargain Ebook Hunter, via HotZippy. (Completed form gets your title submitted to both Bargain eBook Hunter and Pixelscroll)
  4. Ebooks Habit.
  5. Best EBooks Free. (Free at this writing.) Easiest submission of all and an instant reply.
  6. Books on the Knob.
  7. Booklover’s Heaven.
  8. Choosy Bookworm.
  9. EReader Café.
  10. EReader Perks.
  11. Just Kindle Books.
  12. The Midlist (gone now!).
  13. People Reads.
  14. Pixel of Ink’s 99 cent promotion.
  15. Read Cheaply.
  16. Reading Deals.
  17. BookGoodies.
Image by Gerard Stolk

Image by Gerard Stolk

Note: Many of these sites have requirements – ranging from FB likes to the number of reviews a book must have. Almost all include Kobo & B&N sale links. Most will not guarantee your “free” listing, and most also offer paid options. I only submitted to the free options. As a personal choice, I excluded Facebook sites that also offer these services. If you can add stand-alone websites to this list, please leave the link in comments!

For the second week of my sale, I submitted to these low-cost sites:

  • Fussy Librarian.  Listing to be included in their newsletter, cost: $3. Overall prices at this writing range $3-$6.
  • EbookSoda. Cost: $5.
  • Flurries of Words. Date-specific .99 cent book promotion, cost: $5 per book. 48 hours advance notice required.

So I figure week two will cost about $20. I staggered the “run” dates to try and get some idea which sites increase sales the most. (Follow-up: VERY FEW sales from these low-cost sites). And while my sale is running, I’m going to read up on what “them in the know” are advising. Here are three pertinent articles:

Is there a “best day” to promote books in the Kindle Store?
“Although slightly fewer subscribers open their BookGorilla alerts on weekends, those that do open them are more likely to purchase Kindle books … we find that Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday are the top three days for paid Kindle downloads via BookGorilla, in that order. Read the rest on the BookGorilla Blog.

Tend Your Garden
Joe Konrath says, “Your ebooks function much like a garden. On rare occasions, a plant will thrive with little help from you. Others may whither and die no matter how much help you give them. But the majority need to be constantly tended. Planted, watered, fertilized, weeded, pruned, mulched, replanted, harvested. In other words, lots of work. … But if you’re doing what you can to make your books discoverable, you have a better shot at sales than those authors who self-publish then self-ignore.” Read the rest on Joe’s blog.

Doing It Wrong
We can count on Russell Blake to keep us real. Here’s a recent post that will either leave you laughing or checking your social media feeds. Either way, he’s the best. “If you can fall against the keyboard and claw out a few lines of sub-custodial drivel, presto, you’re an author. So it’s not fascinating to anyone but you. Honest. It takes more. If you want to sell books using social media, here’s my suggestion: develop an interesting personality, blog, tweet and Facebook about things that genuinely interest you (that don’t involve you trying to sell someone your stupid book), and maybe, just maybe, if you demonstrate that you can write, are relevant, and have interesting things to say, some folks might think, “hey, maybe I should check out one of his/her books – they might not completely suck, like most of the rest of the dross clogging the drain these days!” Read the rest on Russell’s blog.

Readers, what have you tried that worked for you? What kind of book promotion will you NEVER do again? Can you add to my list of websites that will list a discounted ebook for free? Please leave a comment and share!

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Images by James Vaughan, Gerard Stolk

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67 Responses to How To Market A 99 Cent Ebook Sale On The Cheap

  1. Anne R. Allen May 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    All of this advice is spot-on, Molly. Some of the freebie newsletters don’t show much return for some authors, but it’s worth the try.

    And those FB ads are a complete waste of money, according to 90% of the authors I know who’ve tried them. Others say they got a lot of “likes” but I don’t see those as very valuable for moving books.

    One low-cost newsletter I’d like to add is EBookBargainsUK. They are different from the others because they target English-speaking markets all over the world (there’s a huge market in Asia.) They have newsletters for about 12 countries and they list indie bookstores that have online sites as well as Amazon, Kobo and B & N. They got me on bestseller lists in Germany, France and Australia for only about $10 Here’s the link:

    • Molly Greene May 19, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

      Thanks so much, Anne! I have EBUk on my list from the post you and Ruth did early this year about promo sites, and their cost is very reasonable so I’ll try them next. It was so much fun to be on your blog this week, by the way!!

    • Pamela Beason May 20, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks so much for providing that link, Anne! I’m definitely going to check this out.

  2. Pamela May 19, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    THANK YOU for this post – fabulous information and funny to boot. Oh, how frustrating it is for us indie authors. We know our book is GOOD, but how to find readers so they discover that too? I’m going to try some of your plan…when I can get to it. Sigh.

    • Molly Greene May 19, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks, Pamela! Like Russell Blake says, “75% writing, 25% promotion.” Let’s get out and market our books!

  3. Thom Reece May 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Nice ‘meaty’ article, Molly. I appreciate the hands-on feedback… that is always helpful stuff. Love your blog.

    • Molly Greene May 19, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

      Thom, thank you so much for the read and your lovely comment!

  4. Deirdre May 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve had a similar experience, and I’m interested to read your follow-up. Cheers 🙂

    • Molly Greene May 19, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

      Thanks, Dierdre. This book promo campaign will be ongoing, I’m sure. I’m interested in learning the results, as well!

  5. Thom Reece May 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Just a quick “heads-up”, Molly. Your blog post leads off the new issue of “Book Marketing Journal” tonight.

    • Molly Greene May 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

      What an honor, thank you so much!

  6. Ellis Shuman May 20, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    Thanks Molly! Another very helpful post. I look forward to following your advice when I run my next discounted book promotion. In the meantime, I’m concentrating on finishing my next book.

    • Molly Greene May 20, 2014 at 7:07 am #

      Thanks so much, Ellis. I’m doing the same thing – working on #4. Meanwhile, I’ll try a few lower-cost promo venues and see what I can stir up!

  7. Belinda Pollard May 20, 2014 at 3:43 am #

    Good one, Molly. I’m bookmarking it! 🙂

    • Molly Greene May 20, 2014 at 7:09 am #

      Thanks, Belinda! The freebies moved almost 40 books for me in five days – a drop in the bucket for the big selling authors, but in my estimation, worth the effort.

      • Belinda Pollard May 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

        Ooh, that’s exciting. I hope it goes on to build more momentum for you.

  8. K.C. May May 20, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Thanks for this terrific post! All the best info in one spot for easy reference. I’ve bookmarked it for later and shared with some author friends, too.

    • Molly Greene May 20, 2014 at 7:10 am #

      Thanks so much KC, for the read and the share and the comment – and stay tuned, much more to come as the promo project moves forward!

  9. Pamela Beason May 20, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Another oh so useful post, Molly! Two days ago (Sunday) I took out an ad in ereadernewstoday and put my romantic suspense SHAKEN on sale for 99cents. It’s still on sale for two more days, and I have had 220 sales across Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. It’s hard to say how much of those came through the ad, although most seemed to. I also did a couple of tweets with the #99cents hashtag, so that blurred the lines a bit. I’m writing the sequel right now, so I’m excited to get more than 200 new readers. Thanks for this list; I will use it in future campaigns!

    • Molly Greene May 20, 2014 at 9:22 am #

      Yaaay, Pam! I have an ENT ad running next week – they’re the ones who charge a percentage of sales after the ad runs. I’d be thrilled if LOON racked up 220 across all platforms as well!! I need to try that twitter hashtag, too. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Barry Knister May 20, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    This post is a keeper. Aside from still working on books 2 & 3 (and not running a first-rate website), I face circumstances similar to yours. In other words, thanks a LOT for sharing valuable, hard-won information. By doing so, you demonstrate just how generous a writer can be to others–and strangers at that!

    • Molly Greene May 20, 2014 at 9:20 am #

      Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Barry. The truth is I have successful author friends who freely share what they’ve learned with me. It’s all about paying it forward!

  11. Barry Knister May 20, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I forgot to add the book-promotion approach that I will NEVER use again: sending $4,500 to a well-known, well-respected person in the book marketing biz, and expecting anything whatever to result from it. Moral: don’t let yourself get sucker-punched by smooth self-promotion and a big reputation in the book-marketing business. Especially when it’s accompanied by back-slapping compliments on your writing.

    • Molly Greene May 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      Oh, Barry! I’m so sorry to hear this, but unfortunately I’ve heard the same from other authors about book marketing companies. I hope it’s no one I know!

  12. TP Hogan May 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    This is fantastic. A little in the future for me yet, but forewarned is forearmed. I’m keeping this for reference.

  13. Aya Walksfar May 20, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    As usual, your post is relevant to my writing, and marketing. I appreciate your willingness to share what you’ve learned through your struggles. Thank you.

    • Molly Greene May 21, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      It’s my pleasure, Aya! I’m happy if it helps.

  14. JB May 21, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    I tried giving away copies.Gave out 216 for free and received one review. Won’t do that again.

    • Molly Greene May 21, 2014 at 7:33 am #

      Hey JB, thanks so much for sharing – and yes, “free” book giveaways come at a price, and I think it’s pain for the author. I have not tried it, but it’s definitely on my book promo play list. I believe the best way to work a free giveaway is to have at least two other books published and cross-promote them heavily in whichever book is free. More on this when I get to that marketing phase!

  15. KD May 21, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Has anyone tried Facebook Parties? I tried one and got more people subscribed to to my newsletter and liking my FB page, but no hard (increase) of sales during that period. But I did make good connections for “guest blogs” when I promote my upcoming novel. I also don’t see any “results’ in kobo, smashwords or ibooks. Most of my book sales happen through Amazon, and I do have a decent response on B&N. Anyone have good experiences with Ibooks?

    • Molly Greene May 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      Hey KD! GREAT question, and I haven’t done much w/FB so am clueless about parties. Author Toby Neal’s theory is that FB is the best place to interact w/ current fans and readers, not so food for trying to get the attention of new readers. I hope others jump in and discuss their results on other platforms – I agree w/you, so far nothing from smash or kobo, B&N runs far behind Amazon sales and I can’t even seem to find out if smash has distributed LOON to ibooks. Arggh! THANK YOU so much for sharing!

      • Cassandra Carr May 26, 2014 at 8:54 am #

        I do tons of FB parties and ALWAYS sell books at them. One of the top things I hear is “another new author to me!” so it appears I’m reaching both current and new to me readers. You can do them yourself as long as you’re willing to put in the time to set it up and admin it during the party, otherwise there are several excellent groups who will do the work for you (for a fee, which is why I reserve them to FB parties with a group of writers together so we split costs). One example is Smexy Fab Four, but there are others.

        • Molly Greene May 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

          Cassandra, thank you so much for this great tip! I know nothing about FB parties so this whole concept is new to me. We all appreciate the share!

  16. Claudia Jackson May 21, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Hi Molly, This is a great post and I am sharing it with other authors. Very helpful information. You are absolutely right about the importance of having more than one book. It seems that three is a good number before really starting to market the brand. I agree with your comments about FB. I have recently discovered WattPad. It is a free service where authors can upload their content. However, it is also free for the reader. It combines the functionality of eReading plus social networking so that you can connect directly with your readers about your story. This may not work for everybody depending upon the audience and genre, but I have seen authors succeed with this service in that they put one of their books up for free, perhaps a few chapters at a time. This gains the readers interest. Some go ahead and purchase the book because they don’t want to wait for the end of the story and/or they purchase the books in the other series. Thanks for the great info. Best wishes and happy writing!

    • Molly Greene May 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      Thanks so much, Claudia. Wattpad has been on my “to do” list for a while, but I find that there are so many sites to try out I couldn’t possibly cover them all. In a perfect world we would split them up and each try a few, them report back in. THANK YOU for sharing about Wattpad!

      • Hayley Shaver May 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

        I didn’t have much success with Wattpad, but I have heard of those who did.

    • KD May 22, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      @Claudia, I have been on WATTPAD for about a year now. I initially joined to keep track of my niece who’s a big fan of it, but I was making sure she wasn’t cyber-bullied and practicing safe connections. Then I uploaded excerpts of my books there.

      Not much “traffic” but then I haven’t been following others or commenting and promoting. When you’re self-publishing and doing your own book cover designs among other things, it just seems that social media soaks up so much time. On one hand, you want popular sites because it can increase (connections) but the self-promo and advertising overshadows the efforts sometimes, and then, you may want to try something new and obscure and be apart of something that is “up and coming”, with fresh discoveries. I did hear about a teenager who had millions of hits on her wattpad story and then later got signed to a book deal

  17. Maria Constantine May 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Molly, thanks so much for this great post. I am in the middle of planning my $0.99 sale. Will post what I learn – and to what extent it has an impact on sales.

    • Molly Greene May 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

      Maria!! Thank you so much. I’m excited to hear what happens for you and hugs in advance for sharing!

    • Kay October 28, 2014 at 7:49 am #

      Would love to hear how it went, Maria! I’m just getting my feet wet and looking for how-tos. You sound like a trooper and love the “post what I learn”–

  18. Jay Lee (ChoosyBookworm) May 21, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    Hi Molly,

    thank you for including Choosy Bookworm on your list!

    Much appreciated.

    Good luck with your promo!

    – Jay :o)

    • Molly Greene May 23, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      Thank YOU, Jay, for your support of self-published authors!

  19. Cindy O. Herman May 22, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    I am bookmarking this for future reference. Wow! Molly’s done the work, and then shared it with us. Thank you!

  20. Greg Strandberg May 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Tons of good advice here I really could have used when starting out. Thanks for putting this together!

    • Molly Greene May 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      You and me both, Greg. Thanks so much for the read and comment!

  21. Barb May 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Hi Molly!
    Thanks for including Booklover’s Heaven. We’re just starting out, but are aiming to help the Indie/Small Pub community. Drop by and visit us anytime!

    • Molly Greene May 23, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      Barb, you are so welcome! It’s great that self-published authors have a range of sites ready to help us promote. We wish you all the best!

  22. Elle Marie Morgan June 3, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Thank you for this article, Molly! Like you it’s just me, myself, and I doing this writing/marketing thing so your ideas and experiences are appreciated.

    • Molly Greene June 3, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      Elle, my pleasure. It’s me, myself and I on this end, too, and I’m always happy to share what I’ve tried that works, as well as what has not turned out so well.

  23. Laura Dobbins June 27, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    I enjoyed your 99 sale information, so much so, I am referencing it in my new marketing book with a link to your site.

    You also requested sites where .99 deals can be listed for free. I run a Kindle Book Promo site and offer free and paid services, if you would like to include it that would be great.

    Also any kindle deal of any kind can be posted free on my facebook page

    Some marketing ideas that have worked for me:

    Run a rafflecopter with a promotion. For instance if you are running a .99 deal for two weeks run along side of a $25 Amazon Card Giveaway. The higher the prize the better but then you get into budgets. So whatever works for you.

    Also if you go to List your blog giveaway at: – very low cost and you will get at least 2,000 entries. (I am not an affiliate)

    Thanks for the opportunity. And again good blog, I will add your link to my Author Resource Page.

    • Molly Greene June 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      Laura, I apologize for the late reply, but thank you so much for this info!

  24. R.J. at ReadingDeals August 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Hey Molly…

    We just launched and we feature free and bargain books for authors who want to promote their promotions.

    We offer free and low-cost advertising options for authors.

    Thanks so much for considering adding us to your great list!

  25. Jan Moran September 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Hi Molly! What a wonderful list, thank you for compiling it for fellow authors. The first book in my new Hostile Beauty series is launching, Flawless, and we’ll definitely use this. You’ve been a great help to indies 🙂

    In the spirit of sharing, I compiled list of entrepreneur/author resources on my blog, so if indie authors are interested, here it is.:

    Thanks, Molly!

  26. Stephanie Stevens-Hicks September 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Thank you so much Molly. This has been very helpful. I have self-published my first book and I have found that marketing is the hardest part. You have provided some helpful links and tips.

    Thank you.


    • Molly Greene September 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      Thanks, Stephanie – and I agree, marketing is the hardest part! Best to you on your journey.

  27. Deborah Carney September 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Hi Molly! I’ve been looking to compile a list of places that will promote not just free books but bargain books to add to our site, your list is a great start. BookGoodies also does have free listings for Bargain Books, in addition to paid advertising. We allow books that are priced under $2.99 to be listed in our Bargain Books category. Here is the link to that:

    • Molly Greene September 17, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      Deborah, thanks so much for letting us know!

  28. Erica S September 26, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    My questions is Most sites want a review for a book before they accept it for submission in their lists. How is a new writer supposed to get a review? probably would have to wait for ages to get em

    • Molly Greene September 26, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      You’re right, Erica, nearly every book promo site requires that a book have reviews before they’ll accept it. There are several posts on my blog that address the proper way to approach book bloggers and how to vet them. Hope this helps!

  29. Sha at eBookSoda October 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Hi Molly,

    Thanks so much for including us in your fab list. It’s much appreciated!

    To answer Erica’s question: at eBookSoda we don’t require any reviews to promote brand new releases (3 months or less).

    Hope that helps 🙂

    • Molly Greene October 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

      Great news, thanks so much for letting us know!

  30. Daniel October 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

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  31. Eva Lesko Natiello November 4, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    Molly, Wow! what a great list, thank you! There were many here I didn’t know about. I subscribed on HotZippy and they asked how I heard about them, so I left a link to your blog post. A couple I found through other blogs:,,, bestebooksfree, Crossing my fingers!

    • Molly Greene November 4, 2014 at 6:51 am #

      Eva, every site you named there is new to me – THANK YOU!! I’ll check them out and (eventually!!) add them to the post. I appreciate it!