Do not discount your books on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Are you ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? I am too, but like last year I won’t discount my books on those dates. Here are my reasons, explained for readers and writers.
black friday and cyber monday shopping deals

Here comes that time of the year again: Black Friday and Cyber Monday, w00t! Well, as an Italian I didn’t know this tradition fully well until I went here in the UK. Black Friday and (most recently) Cyber Monday are ace days for consumers to get great deals they would rarely get throughout the rest of the year. On the other hand, many companies – and authors – take those days of huge promotions and deals madness to boost their sales and make their products more visible.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, I found out that my ideas of book promotion and Black Friday & Cyber Monday don’t get along well. In a nutshell, here are my reasons:

  • Whenever you put your book free o with a very low price (ie $0,30 as I saw somewhere) you tend to attract compulsive downloaders. Don’t get me wrong, I use freebies and discounted deals every once in a while as it’s great way to discover new readers, however I think that running a freebie or a discount promo on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will attract even more readers who download your book just because it’s free/discounted.

  • Therefore, you’ll end up with a lot of downloads/sales on your statistics (yay), but with a few quality readers (boo), which to me are supposed to be readers who actually read your books because they are truly interested in them/the genre you write and eventually leave a review. I honestly prefer quality rather than quantity. What’s the point of having wasted a lot of your precious time in marketing your exclusive Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday deal when you don’t hit your target readers? It’s like you’re shooting random.
  • If you stumble upon some readers out of your target audience, you might have quite a good chance of getting some bad reviews. I mean, more chances than usual. The reason lies in the fact that you’ve exposed your book to an enormous amount of eyes, and probably it’s arrived under some eyes who don’t fancy your literary genre. It happened to me a couple of Black Fridays ago, when I received an email from a reader (bless him, he didn’t leave a review!) telling me that he was so sorry but he didn’t like my Into the Killer Sphere novella, he got on Black Friday. The reason? He didn’t fancy the cozy mystery genre!
  • Another reason why I don’t discount my books on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the competition. If you think there are a lot of books out there that shadow your masterpieces, imagine how hard is to stand out when everybody’s discounting their book on a 24hours frame time.  If I choose to go for a promo is because I want to make my books more visible to people who maybe wouldn’t look at them when they’re full priced. That goes completely neutralised if other million authors aim at my same goal the same day as mine.
  • To get more visibility on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you might use some paid promotions in dedicated websites, or social media promotions packages. That means you’ll be spending money, which has to be added to the percentage of revenue you won’t get out of your books because they’re discounted (discount = lower price = lower revenue, unless you’ve joined a Kindle Countdown Deal). That may cause you a slight loss of money, since you might end up spending more than what you’ll be earning. Although it’s not a major concern to me (when promoting a book with a deal, I normally aim at the visibility rather than earnings), you may want to think about that.
  • Since you’re aware of the harsh visibility competition out there on Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, you’ve got the right solution: using all your marketing weapons in great advance and thus creating hype way before the rest of the fellow authors. Well done and well played, but what about the fact that many people could forget about your book, being “overwritten” by other interesting and unmissable deals? That might or might not work, but personally I tried once and didn’t go as expected.
  • Deals aren’t always the best you can buy. You might stumble upon a freebie in February of the same book you’ve bought discounted on Black Friday. Authors can leverage the excitement of the day, discounting something that otherwise they would put free or more discounted. I know, you’ll never know that until the very moment you saw that. A good strategy to avoid this kind of disappointing situations is to follow the authors of the books you’re interesting it and monitor their marketing initiatives – by the way, this is my mailing list *winkwink*

As a side note, I gathered some opinions on Twitter and many authors claimed their rights (especially from publishers) of not discounting their books only because it’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Former journalist and multi-genres author Sherrie Todd-Beshore said:

An author’s work should be valued by the author

I totally think she’s right.

What I do on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

As I said above, I normally do anything fancy or discounted for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What I do instead is:

  • Running a promotion or a deal before or right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. People are getting ready and saving money for those days (and for Christmas), so they already are in the mood of buying.
  • IF I go for a deal on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s generally for a certain, defined purpose, that can be the launch of a new book. Last year I run a promotion for the launch of my mystery novel Pull the Trigger, this year for the Italian edition of my short detective stories series Cutting Right to the Chase (Dritto al Punto, Chase! is the Italian title).

I hope this brief overview over my ideas about deals and promotions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can help readers to better choose the books to buy and authors to be more clever and opinionated in promoting their precious stories.

Foto credit Now The End Begins