Should You Offer A Bonus With Your Book?

It’s very common in the online sales realm:

Should you offer a bonus with your book?You buy a program for $997 and ALSO receive $2,000 worth of related bonuses. Really makes you feel like you got a lot of bang for your buck, right? The thought is that you’ll come for the meat of the topic (main offering) but stay for the potatoes, salad and dessert (bonuses).

But guess what, that doesn’t always translate from the online sale of information to the sale of books on the Internet. In the book publishing world, this “add in a ton of “value” with bonuses” approach often backfires.

Your reader purchased your book for a very specific reason; they were looking for a very specific solution. Offering them more than what they came for usually doesn’t scream “BONUS INFO! This author really knows her stuff!”

It says:

“This author couldn’t figure out how to stay on topic!”

I’ve seen it in a lot of independently self-published titles, both in fiction and non-fiction. Here are some examples:

Fiction Example:
I buy a Kindle version of a novel. Upon “finishing” the book, the progress bar that tells me how much of the book you have left to read is reporting 20%. That last 20% of the book are excerpts from the author’s other novels.

Now, at first glance, that seems like good marketing, right? I just finished this novel, presumably liked it since I got to the end, and I get a taste of more stories. But think about the math: I paid $4.00 for the book. But 20% of the “book” wasn’t a book. It was just advertisements placed there by the author.

I really spent $3.00 for the book and gave the author $1.00 for the PRIVILEGE of selling to me. I think I might be a bit annoyed.

Non-Fiction Example:
I purchase a book on how to use a trade show event to attract new clients to my business. I’m expecting a book that will have tips, tricks, techniques, sales tools, etc all revolving around a trade show.

I get one chapter about finding the right trade show, one chapter about setting up the booth, one (short) chapter about a free giveaway to build my newsletter list. Then, I get six chapters about how to email that list, how often, what to say, etc and a call to action to buy the author’s email newsletter building program.

Is offering a #FreeBonus with your #eBook a good idea? It might actually backfire! Click To Tweet

Again, it seems like good marketing, right? I’m learning how the author is an expert in list building.

Here’s the rub, I really spent my $6.00 on a book about TRADE SHOWS! I got three chapters about tradeshows and six about email newsletter lists. I’m feeling flat-out ripped off!

When you throw in the new way Amazon pays authors for books in Kindle Unlimited, this idea of bonus content makes even less sense! When you get paid by the page, you want to make sure that all your pages will be consumed – NO FLUFF!

(Even if the bonus really isn’t fluff, you’ve got to get into the reader’s head!)

So how can an author fix this problem?

1. Deliver what you’ve promised
If I’m expecting a novel, give me a story. If I want a non-fiction book, especially a how-to, solve that problem for me.

2. Offer related “bonuses”
My recipe books offer 33 recipes and four tips on camp cooking, each under a page long. It works out to approximately 36 pages of recipe content to 4 pages of “bonus”. Or, another way of looking at it is 90% content they paid for (recipes) and 10% bonus (tips).

The right way to offer a #FreeBonus with your book! Here are 4 tips. Click To Tweet

3. Point them at a second book!
Break your content into targeted chunks. Then make each chunk its own book. At the end of each book, give links to the others.

4. Direct them to your website for additional materials
Don’t make them search for it either! It’s fine if you want to have them opt-in, but then give them the bonus materials as a direct download.

I feel like we’ve been trained through online selling that offering bonuses is the key to getting more sales. But in books, the price point of purchase is so low that only the most targeted of bonuses really impact sales.

What about you?

Do you feel that a “bonus” in a book you buy through Amazon is good marketing or just something to make You-The-Reader crazy?

Kim Galloway
Find me!