…Authors–caveat emptor re book-selling websites–the final report makes for sorry reading…

…I promised yeez a round up summary of my recent dabble with book-selling websites… and the final report makes for sorry reading… let me back up and explain for emb’dy coming in fresh to this… as a self-published author, I’m always keen to find and develop non-spamming channels to help sell my wee literary  masterpieces… Aunty Internet is full of enterprising offers, at a cost, of course, with various claims of daily email shots to anywhere up to 120,000+ readers, clustered in genres, in order ‘to target and maximise your sales to these avid followers’... well, in good ol’ Scottish vernacular… BORROX!!… here’s the score:

Website ONE:

Paid US$ 15—Result 2 sales

Website TWO

Paid US$ 16—Result 2 sales

Website THREE

Paid US$ 50—Result 1 sale

…impressive, NOT… in truth, I hadn’t expected massive downloads from this, but the sheer sparseness of the returns is mind-boggling… and it raises questions in my mind… are these email lists for real? tested?…

…remember this, each of these sites demanded that my novels be offered at a significant discount, and to have had a minimum number of positive reviews already… I think that 85,000+ downloads under my own promotional activity, with in excess of 350 reviews in aggregate, the bulk of which are 4-stars and 5-stars, more than qualified… now here’s the rub… each of the sites also ‘suggested’ that I use my own SOSYAL NETWURKS to push the promo at the same time they put out their emails… again, my questioning mind would ask, ‘If their email lists were so productive and effective, and that’s what I’m supposedly paying for, why do they need my extra push?’...so, naughty quill-scraper that I am, I did not push the specific titles on the days they did… instead I ran my own parallel promos for separate titles in my back list… and guess what?… yup, every one of my own efforts produced sales in multiples of their returns (which wasn’t difficult, considering how paltry theirs turned out to be)… I’d be more than interested to hear from anyone who can share their experience with such outlets…

…I retrospectively emailed each of the sites and asked if they could tell me from their records how many sales were attributable to the promo on their page… the answers were astonishing… not one has the capacity to do that… in other WURDS... they have no idea whether their service produced none or a million sales… hmmm… again I question, so, how can they be so assured in their offer in the first place?

…let me be clear, I’ve no beef with anyone who offers a credible service to any of we authors, self-published or otherwise…we all wanna make a living… but I do have an issue with any outlet which may be seen merely to be preying on the desire of most writers to get their WURK up and running… it’s tough enuff trying to scrape a living from an occupation that takes months and years of effort to create the end product… meantime, not missing the opportunity, my books and their links are listed below… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!













Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

42 responses to “…Authors–caveat emptor re book-selling websites–the final report makes for sorry reading…

  1. I had a very good experience with Bookbub. It is very expensive. I paid about £350 for a non fiction book to US subscribers only, selling the ebook at a third of its normal price. I made nearly £1000 and six months later I can still see an effect on my US ranking and sales (from nearly nothing US to about 20-30 a month). I don’t know if I was lucky, got it at the right time (early December) or if it would work out the same for other people but I took the risk after reading about an American self-published fiction writer’s positive expereince on her blog…

    Liked by 1 person

    • …well done on the BookBub trail, which DOES track the sales… however, I did have a wee look at that and find unless I’m really after just more sales for the sake of numbers, (which I don’t need now with 85,000+ aboard), the odds are not pretty… the cost to me at an offered price of US$0.99 would cost $1,010… the AVERAGE sales in my genre of crime fiction at BookBub they say is 3,240 sales… given Amazon would pay at the lower rate of 35% royalty on each download, and in the US, tax kicks in at say, 33% that leaves US$ 0.23215 net to the author … multiply by the average sales of 3,240 equals only US$ 752, a loss of US$ 258… still not very appetising…for only just over 3,000 more sales, when I already have 85,000 … :):) mwaaah 🙂 thanks for sharing, m’Lady, Bridget:)


  2. I paid $50ish to BooksGoSocial; sales did increase but increase coincided with an Amazon promotion, (run by Amazon not by myself). They seem to want me to do an awful lot of reviewing, liking, sharing etc in order to get most benefit from their service. But they do respond very promptly and the service seems quite personal. Maybe I’m not genre based enough for them…

    Liked by 1 person

    • …one of my points is the one you’re underlining, m’Lady, Jessica, …namely having to do much of the running yourself, in which case , how do we determine how successful their part of the exercise has been versus our own.. as I say above, I ran parallel exercises in each case with only my own push, and this excelled over theirs each time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nola

        Seumas, One of my concerns with all of them is what certainty do we have that these companies are truly and accurately reporting to us what our sales are. There are several incidents reported through my many Linkedin author groups, with the horror stories of “paying” a company to publish. Examples from those massive networks bringing other companies under their parent umbrella. Class action lawsuits beginning around 2012, saying there was deception. Just one issue, was they were not possibly declaring full sales, because even the number of personal friends who confirmed buying books added up to more than the sales the company paid for Royalties. Some offer black and white packages from $500 to $15,300 to publish. How many book sales would be required to earn that back? When claimed sales are low, they then offer a huge collection of paid marketing including Hollywood to Screen, with no visible prices. (A couple of years ago, it had been visible and some were $14,000)
        At least when you go with KOBO, Smashwords, and some of the Amazon choices, your publishing is free for e-book.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Seumas has proof that paid promos do not work as well as claimed…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very helpful! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Doesn’t sound promising and costs too much. Sorry to hear that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on lucinda E Clarke and commented:
    Food for thought. Any comments?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry it cost you, but thanks for trying this out and sharing the results with all of us, Seumas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ..I’m glad I did it, m’Lady, Cynthia… at relatively modest cost it opened my eyes … I can hardly think as an author with 85,000+ downloads to date, it’s because the books weren’t good enough… email list-stacking perhaps.:(

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Seamus. Lucinda Clarke just reblogged it. I recognised your trademark creative lingo right away, before I saw your name mentioned. You seem to be doing a great job promoting your own wonderful writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks, Seamus. I came to much the same conclusion in January when I reviewed all the work I’d put in last year pushing books on all sorts of sites. I think there are one or two free ones worth asking to include your Amazon offers, but very little else.
    Good luck with your books!

    Liked by 1 person

    • …Oh, I agree m ‘Lady, Jemima.. I have no problem when it’s to do with free books, which really is an exercise in generating numbers of downloads, but for expected ( hoped for) sales equalling cash in the bank, it’s a different thing …Amazon has been excellent to date for me, ever since the start, including discounted and promo freebies from time to time ..:)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have always had my doubts but this really does make sad reading. Thank you for sharing so that we may know it is not just us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • …thanks for the comment. tr, I don’t think ALL of these sites are sailing close to the wind, but certainly some are doing so…I refer to the post title above, and hope it’s a pointer for any of us ..Caveat Emptor!:)


  11. It does make you wonder if even the 5 sales were by people who had already decided to buy your books and it was just co-incidental timing. 😀
    I suppose there could be a longer-term spin off but it doesn’t sound promising. Thanks for the information and for carrying out the experiment Seumas. We live and learn. x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jim

    Seumas – I think media sites need to pay YOU a ton of money to learn how do it in your inimitable way.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s interesting that you say that, because I have come back online addressing just that sort of issue – how to cope as a writer in a market that’s busy and hard to be heard in. We need a few big bandaids out there to get people through the disappointment. Video media is the same, the flood waters are deep and late comers are disappointed.

    Tweeted you a few days back. I’m under Octopus Ink (or re-inked) rather than CommuniCATE. Looking forward to hanging out with you again.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Frustrating world, isn’t it. Never mind Jurassic, you have the one defining and always (ultimately) success-making attribute … . Power to ya!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Sunday Post – 5th June | Brainfluff

  16. It really doesn’t seem worth the trouble with most of them according to your findings, Seumas. Interesting. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    Seumach Gallacher tells us about the results of his tests on paid book-selling websites. Thank you very much for sharing this with us, Seumach!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Seumas, this struck a chord with me. My late husband and I did business for a period of time with a USA-based company called AuthorHouse. They reported 4 sales of my husband’s books in 1.5 years. A paltry ROI. Our experience mirrored yours: expensive, lots of hype and no substance.

    Liked by 1 person

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