By Victor R. Volkman
This month mark’s the one-year anniversary of the Lightning Source (LS) Book Long Term (BOLT) program - a tiered, continuous sales ladder that replaces the old notion of quantity discounts that are limited to only today’s order. Like a lot/some of you, I didn’t know what to expect or how to really take advantage of incrementally increasing discounts across the sales year. Luckily, I also began experimenting with a new marketing service through a popular online retailer at the same time I signed us up as a BOLT publisher.
The service I opted for, AMS, is the big umbrella for all pay-as-you-go advertising plans for publishers. There’s a dizzying array of plans to choose from, including Sponsored Products, Headline Search Ads, Kindle “lock” screen ads, and Product Display Ads. Given that customers rarely have brand-loyalty to publishers (well, not including Harlequin Romance!), the Sponsored Product plan is the best place to start. The best way to describe Sponsored Product is it is as the answer to Google AdWords. Most of you have probably heard of Google AdWords, the system where you “bid” for keywords to be placed highest on the search results. The reasoning for this being 90% of shoppers never go past page one of search results.
The program I found is most effective for non-fiction works. After all, when was the last time you searched for a romance novel with keywords like “seaside love affair?” Especially in the self-help marketplace, people often start looking for books with a concept like “divorce help,” “traumatic brain injury,” or “bulimia books.” You can own these keywords for a pittance, with the default bid being up to 50 cents per search capture. However, you can often bid quite a bit less and still get good placement. Much of success in book sales is all about discovery, and while effective metadata is crucial, the older your book gets, the more help it needs to stay relevant.
Now, what on earth has this to do with BOLT volume tiers? Consider the old saying, “it takes money to make money.” What we’re going to do here is buying up keywords to increase our sales volume to raise our BOLT discount to save money per unit printed. This completes our virtuous circle where a small investment in marketing causes an increase in sales, and an increase in per-unit profits; the proportionate amount of keyword spend per sale goes down as you cross the BOLT tiers on your way to a 20+% discount territory.
The above strategy even helps for those fiction books that might not be accessible through keywords because of the advantageous pricing structure. This unique pricing structure includes discounts at both the title level and ascending discount tiers based on total annual units shipped. In this way, sales of a few blockbuster titles can help to increase the per unit savings on all titles you would order through your account. Just like the old proverb says, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Of course, as they say on TV, your mileage will vary with the AMS Sponsored Product and BOLT pairing. However, you’ll never know unless you give it a try!
Victor’s publishing house, Loving Healing Press (LHP), specializes in books about self-help, psychology and trauma recovery. LHP is unique in that it is a 100% traditional publishing model that is completely sourced by print-on-demand. Since 2003, LHP and its primary imprint, Modern History Press, have released more than 200 titles. You can reach Victor by writing to victor@LHPress.com .