In 2019, I redesigned almost all the covers for the Tassamara series. It was a big investment, but I thought having covers that looked like true romance covers for the books might give the books reach into the romance market. There are millions of romance readers. It is by far the biggest genre marketplace. And even though the Tassamara series has done okay, there are certainly millions of those readers who haven’t ever tried it.
I did some Facebook advertising with the new covers and found that to be slightly better than break even. The obvious thing to do would be to increase spending on Facebook ads to see whether slightly better than break even would pay off. If I invested $10,000 in Facebook ads and earned $12,000, that would be a gain of $2K. Worth doing, right? Except that it would mean giving a lot of money to Facebook and I don’t like Facebook. Investing in Facebook ads feels a lot like investing in gun manufacturers or big pharma. I get that it might be profitable, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
So I considered investing in advertising in other places — Amazon, BookBub, other sites — but I’ve also just been watching the sales rank. After six months, it was clear that the new covers had done nothing intrinsic for the books. The sales ranks, especially on A Gift of Ghosts, which is free, have just dropped and dropped and dropped.
It made me curious. Were the old covers actually better for sales and downloads then the new covers? The only way to find out was to give it a try. So as of Feb 1, 2020, the old covers are back.
According to the listings on Author Central, until December 2018, the sales rank of Ghosts was only rarely out of the top 1000 free books on Amazon. At that time, I put it in KU which stopped it from being free. The sales rank then dropped like a rock until June 2019, when I finally managed to get it free again. The sales rank climbed back up to 500 or so by August 7, 2019, then began dropping steadily. Throughout January 2020, the sales rank of Ghosts was mostly in the 4000 – 5000 range. (I don’t know the exact date when I uploaded the files with the new covers, but it was sometime after July 21, 2019.)
I’ll recheck these numbers at the end of February. Until then, I’m not going to spend any money on advertising, because I don’t want to add another variable to the experiment.
It’s human nature to assign cause and effect values to change, but it’s important to note that the drop might have everything to do with Amazon’s algorithms and the way Amazon is changing sales rank and nothing at all to do with the covers. The experiment might not show me anything one way or another. But I’m trying it anyway.