Setting Promotional Pricing Should Not Be This Painful!


In my on-going efforts to get Aisuru more visibility, I decided to run a promotion from July 6th through July 10th reducing the eBook price from the usual $4.99 price to $1.99 across all the sales platforms.

One thing I have learned as an indie is that running a sales promotion can be a serious pain in the rear!  I don’t mean because I don’t want to do sales or the like, I mean getting the actual sales set in the different distribution platforms!  Seriously, most of them regularly encourage authors to have sales while making it so difficult to actually do! 

It makes it difficult to do scheduled promotions with any kind of specific date, particularly if you want to do advertising around those promotions.  I think it’s one reason you see a lot of them spanning multiple days, like mine, so you can give yourself that flexibility as best you can.

I currently distribute through five platforms for my eBooks.  I’ve listed them below in order from easiest to do a sales through to the hardest:

Kobo

Kobo is freaking awesome when it comes to doing sales!  Of all the platforms I distribute through, they are the only one to get it right.  To run a promotion, click on your title under your list of books then click “Set the Price”.

The first section you’ll see is your regular pricing, but if you scroll down a bit you’ll see a button to “Set promo price” which will pop down another set of pricing forms below.  It preloads with your existing price.  Set the dates, set the promotional pricing, and then just hit “Save and return to Library”.

promo_pricing_kobo

That’s it.  Simple, easy, and works perfectly (and automatically!)

Google Play

Google Play’s promotional system sucks.  It is particularly embarrassing considering this is Google we’re talking about, who otherwise tends to have pretty good user interfaces.  But their promotional system is convoluted as all get out and the documentation SUCKS!

So why is it second?  Only because it is the only other one that has a built in system at all!  (Yes, seriously!).

Google Play’s promotional pricing operates on a combination of web form and a CSV (Comma-separated Value) file that you open.  In your Google Play interface, click Promotion and “Download CSV Template”.  Open the CSV file in a plain text editor, like Notepad.  Do NOT open it in Excel, especially if you have 2010 or higher as it borks the formatting.

The file should look something like this:

promo_pricing_google_1

Tech savvy folks amongst us may immediately note that the template is actually a TSV (tab-separated value) format and not a CSV, but Google still really wants a CSV.  First, replace the tabs with commas, then you type in your book info on the next line.

  • Identifier: the ISBN or other number shown as the identifier if you look at your book’s General Details tab
  • Title: your book’s title, put quotes around it if it has a comma in the title (this is optional, but I’d do it for your own sake)
  • Currency: what currency the price is listed under – for US it would be USD; you can see the list of three letter codes under your book’s pricing page
  • Amount: the promotional price, listed in the indicated currency
  • Counties: which countries the price should apply to – you can find the two letter codes on the pricing page as well, or save yourself a ton of headache by just using WORLD which will then auto convert the prices to the appropriate currency

So for Aisuru’s upcoming promotion, my CSV looks like this:

promo_pricing_google_2

I’d highly recommend saving that CSV for future promotional purposes later – then you can just change the price as needed. If you want to do individual prices based on region, or you’re doing multiple books at once, just add a new line for each price different, country change, or title change.

Now that you have your CSV, go back to Promotions and click Add New Promotion.  Give the promotion a label you’ll recognize, set the dates, and follow the prompts to upload the CSV.  Fair warning, if your CSV contains any mistakes, it will give you ANOTHER CSV telling you what was wrong and you’ll have to delete the promotion and do it again as they do not give you a reupload option.

And with all that done, the promotion itself runs automatically so you don’t have to do anything else unless you need to change the dates or cancel it, which you can do from the promotion page.

I will say at least, that Google does get three things right: you can set your promotional pricing per region like with Kobo, you can do multiple books within a single promotion, and you can set up multiple promotions at once! 

Nook Press and Draft2Digital

This two win a two way tie for third because neither has any mechanism at all to do a promotional pricing.  None.  So if you want to run a promo through Nook or through titles you distribute through D2D (like iBooks!), you’ll have to go in 12-24 hours before you want it to start, manually change your title’s prices (and maybe add a note to your description that it’s on sale), then hope they changes go through on time. 

When the promotion is done, you get to go back and reset it all back again.  More than likely, depending on who you are distributing through with D2D, some of your sales prices will start late, others early. 

Nook, it’s a tossup – sometimes changes go through in a few hours, sometimes half a day, but generally putting in about 12 hours early works.

Note: if I had to pick, I would put D2D slightly higher up just because they at least are dealing with multiple platforms, though I don’t think it would be that much work for them to have automated price adjustments going out. 

Amazon KDP

Amazon gets dead last on my list because they DO have some promotional tools, but only if you are in KDP Select!  Despite Amazon’s regular proclamations that they are all about indie authors, what they really mean is they are all about having their own authors.  And considering Amazon’s size, they really have no excuse for this other than just not wanting to do it.

If you are in KDP Select (meaning your eBooks are exclusively sold through Amazon – you can’t even sell them on your own site), then you have the option to do things like KDP Countdown deals and 5 day free promotions.  If, however, you choose not to be in KDP select, you get absolutely nothing in the way of promotional pricing tools.  Zip.

As with Nook Press and D2D, if you want to run a sale, you have to go into the KDP site and manually lower you prices the day before the sale starts (again, about 12 hours out tends to work), then go back and raise them again when your sale is done.