When does a multi-author promo NOT work?

Marketing is difficult enough as it is!


It REALLY doesn’t need to be compounded by wasting time preparing a promo that is aborted at the 11th hour.

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues (and fun to be had) of taking part in a multi-author promotion. Now I’ve seen the other side of the picture, so I thought I’d better share the negative experience also.

A friend I’ve made on a facebook author group recently invited other authors to join with her in a promotion she’d just found on Shelfari (so many places to be on the internet!)  So far, so good. I joined said group and expressed my interest in being a part of this promo. I was welcomed into the fold, and, along with at least one other member, was assured we would hear about a date for the proposed promo, just as soon as the number of authors wanting to participate reached a critical mass – or in this case, perhaps that should be a critical mess?

The idea was: between 10 and 20 authors would lower their book price (one book each) to 99c, and on the specified day we would all buy a copy of each of the books, thus propelling all our works high up the Amazon rankings. A good idea, and cheap enough to be worth it, even if you had no intention of reading all those books. The added benefit would be that you might get a review or two on the side.

So you may imagine my surprise when a date was set, just 3 days hence.

Now, the previous promos I have been involved in have been arranged at least a month in advance – plenty of time to arrange sufficient advertising to maximise sales. Indeed, quite a few sites require at least one week’s notice, and some considerably more.


After squeaking a little about it, I buckled down, intending to make the most of this, to me, rather hasty and unprofessional approach.


Not the worst of it

Sadly, worse was yet to come.

Now I probably should have realised in advance that this was going to be an issue – but it was only the day before when my brain suddenly went DING.

I am in the UK. I can only buy from Amazon UK, not Amazon US. So I duly, without thinking the implications fully through, put up a request for all authors to ensure that their prices were dropped on the UK site as well as the US.



Next thing I know, I have received a group-wide email announcing that because I am unable to purchase from the US site, there will be no reciprocity possible, and so I am being summarily removed from the promo.

He’s right, but…

Yes, he was correct. Sometimes I forget that the sites are separate, and sales on one do not affect rankings on the other.

However, I was more than a bit miffed when the email concluded with a snippy little ‘I wish you’d told us this earlier’.

If I’d thought about it, I would have done!


Wheels in motion

Ah well, I’ve been meaning to try out the much-vaunted Kindle Countdown deal for a while, and it was too late to cancel that, not to mention letting all the other promo stuff I’d spent so much (frantic) time putting in place go to waste.

So, for this week only, DESPRITE MEASURES  is on sale at 99c/99p (until Friday), and three of the lovely ladies from our fb group bought it anyway (I returned the favour, as arranged, even though it hasn’t counted towards their US rankings), and yesterday DM got as high (or low, if you prefer) in the Amazon rankings as 17,122 on the UK site, and 33,203 on the US site, so something is working regardless 🙂

Message to take home

So the moral of this story would be – if you are partaking, or even arranging a multi-author promo, CHECK that all the details are in the open. If it had been specified that this was a deal for US authors only, this whole mess would never have ended up like this.


Yes, I should have thought of it before – but then I think the organiser should have done so too. My profile clearly says I live in the UK, and he followed me when I joined the group.

The other promos I’ve been involved with have been truly International, with authors from as far afield as Australia and South Africa, as well as US and UK, so I just made an assumption.

Won’t do that again 😦

How about you? Have you got into any messes on the internet because you didn’t think things fully through before landing yourself in a mess?


  1. I was thinking about doing this but hadn’t decided in time. I was given the up coming date fir next month. I was considering doing this. I guess the issue you had will not be mine because I’m in the US. What I got from your post is I should really research before signing up/on for anything. But… I am slow to jump in. If it sounds good I’m usually on board but because I’m slow to react, most opportunities such as this end up passing me by.


    1. There’s no doubt it’s a great idea. Don’t miss out by being slow, but do check things out first, and try to think of all angles before you commit.
      You are right in this case, though, that you won’t have my problem with this specific promo, so in your shoes I would go for it – it does work.


  2. I’m not the voice of authority on any of this, but I’ve read in one or two books from people who are far more experienced, that amazon frowns highly on this particular type of promotional activity. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to double check and see if this is correct, in order to protect your standing with amazon. (Hope I’m not speaking out of turn, here, and it’s always possible I mis-read something, but it wouldn’t hurt to check, right?)


    1. I should not be surprised if that is the case. Thanks for the warning.


      1. It’s so hard to find the right way to promote our books…with success…isn’t it? I’m always looking, because while I love self-publishing, I truly hate self-marketing. It is ALMOST as big a time-suck as browsing on Pinterest. 🙂 I wish you good luck with whatever you try to do, and if you find out this is approach is allowed by amazon, I hope you’ll post more about it. (Sorry this particular even was such a disappointment, but possibly, if what I read turns out to be right, having it fall through might have been in your best interests.)

        Good luck with it all!


  3. Also sorry for my typos! 😦 Eye issues are bad this morning.


    1. If this turns out to be legit with Amazon I will certainly post about it again – but I have a feeling I might have heard the same as you, somewhere back along the line. It isn’t really very genuine, is it? Although perhaps that’s a silly way to look at marketing – when did ‘fair play’ ever come into it?
      I certainly enjoyed the other multi-author promos I took part in (the link to that post is near the top of this one) and will be doing both of those again.
      In the mean time, I’m getting quite a list of advertising avenues lined up that are either free, or low cost, and effective for a solo promo, though I don’t think anything is as effective as a BookBub ad – something I’ve not tried yet, as I know they are as notorious for rejecting books as they are for charging eye-watering prices.
      Thanks for your comments Marcia, and good luck to you too. 😀


      1. Yeah, marketing’s not known as the fairest game in town, but one thing for sure. You don’t want to mess with amazon. I wish I could afford (and qualify) for BookBub, but that’s off the table for me, for now. And Book Gorilla lists only big name authors with books on sale. However, I’ve been collecting others that are possibly more affordable, and will still help get the word out. We have a discussion going on my new writer’s blog, The Write Stuff, on just this topic, and one of our members has just posted a whole list of possible candidates, if you want to check it out. ( http://marciamearawrites.com ) Would love to have you join us there, too, if you’d like a place to have good discussions with other writers, and where you are encouraged to share your promos, sales, release dates, etc. Members are encouraged to help each other gain visibility.

        BTW, I just listed my books with The Fussy Librarian, and will be posting about my success (or lack of it) with them. They have a 75,000 subscription list, so I thought it was worth a $9 fee to try it out, anyway. We’ll see how it does.

        In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye on what you find out, and what you are doing next. And I’m going to go check out your books, as well.


      2. Oh, for sure, don’t ever mess with Amazon!
        I’m waiting to try BookBub when I have my first sequel out, who knows whether they’ll take it.
        Thanks for checking out my books, and I’d love to join your blog – will be over asap 🙂 I have a page of Writer’s Resources on this blog, with a couple of downloadable PDFs of marketing sources, which I update every so often – just about to go do that now.
        I’ve listed with Fussy several times now – works for me with one book, not the other. Presumably down to subscriber tastes, I guess. Not huge numbers of buys, usually just enough to justify the cost of the ad, but as their following grows, hopefully so will the sales.


      3. Look forward to seeing you on The Write Stuff…it isn’t even a week old, yet, so if you decide to follow, you’ll be in on the ground floor. I have LOTS of plans for the site, wanting something a bit different than I’ve been able to find elsewhere. A sort of neighborhood hangout feeling…like Cheers!, on without Sam behind the bar. 🙂 I’m checking out your resources list. If you’ like me to post anything for you at all (Intro, promos, release dates, etc) just email me with details. When things get settled, I hope to make each author a user, so they can start their own threads, like on a bulletin board.

        Off to check out more stuff here! 🙂


  4. Terry Tyler · · Reply

    Urgh, Deborah, what a total pain. As you say, the confusion came from people being too self-interested to bother to look at your bio, and also the assumption made by some that everyone who’s anyone is in the US and that those who aren’t don’t really count!!!!!

    I am a bit of a lone wolf so haven’t got into any of these group type things, but I hear many harrowing reports from those who have, particularly these reviewing groups, clubs and cartels. The pressure to leave glowing reviews on books that don’t merit them is huge, and leads to all sorts of back biting. I think it’s best just to make good contacts with book bloggers, and do your own promotion. That way, you don’t get into having to ‘big up’ books that you haven’t read, or that you have started and don’t think are any good, which is bad for your own credibility.

    Book blogger Rosie Amber kindly emailed your post to me .


    1. Hi Terry, thanks for dropping in 🙂
      I totally agree with you about the groups that pressure people for glowing reviews – I avoid those like the plague as I can’t in all conscience leave a great review for a book that doesn’t deserve it (and there are plenty out there!) and, as you say, it does nothing for the reviewer’s credibility.
      On the other hand, the two joint promos I’ve taken part in before where both great (and truly International), and I’d happily recommend them to any author as a way of extending reach to new customers.


  5. Ouch a near miss.


    1. So it seems! 😉


  6. […] messed up promo I reported on earlier this week, here, was still quite a success in the end. Even going it alone (with a little help from a few of my […]


  7. Deb, excellent post! Yes, I know all about the ‘different stroke for different folks’ approach with Amazon. That sucks what you went through and here’s to hoping at least the promo you put on will bring you some sales. Amazon really has to make the playing field a bit more fair. But as you know, Canadians have the short end of the stick with them. I pay for a promo when I use kindle countdown, to garner interest, only to find the only people who get the countdown price is U.S. and U.K., the rest of the world doesn’t get the sale price, including my own country, so people get pissed when they see my ads and the price is not correct. So, I hear ya girlfriend! On the bright side, at least you can purchase kindle countdowns! 🙂


    1. Yes, I’m flabbergasted that such things as the Kindle Countdown only apply to US and UK sites – why on earth not Canada! It’s just plain weird they treat you so differently, and even worse than the UK 😦
      I’m not surprised your home customers get pissed off – it makes no sense at all.
      I subscribe to a number of daily ebook digests, and always need to check first if an offer applies to the book in the UK as well as US – always a bummer when it doesn’t, so must be doubly so for you when you know in advance that you definitely won’t have it.
      Amazon! (Is that a current swear word? 😉 )


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