Bonus Backfire: How Adding a Bonus to Your Book Can Be a Mistake

As an online business owner, I love launching things to my tribe. I love the free trainings I get to offer, the emails I get to send spreading the word, and I love designing my paid offerings – including the “sweetener” of a bonus.

You know…

That little extra that makes you REALLY feel like you’re getting a huge bang for your buck.

The same thing doesn’t hold true for launching your book, though. That “extra” that you’re offering as a bonus with your book can backfire in a big, big way.

I client asked my opinion on adding additional content into her book: additional chapters with resources, tips, and a “plan” to follow.

I suggested against it.

In her industry (health coaching) it’s common to add several bonuses to the main offer. The thought is that you’ll come for the meat of the topic (main offering) but stay for the potatoes, salad, and dessert (bonuses).

After all, when you buy a program for $997 and ALSO receive $2,000 worth of related bonuses, you really 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 that doesn’t translate from the online sale of information to the sale of books through Amazon. 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.

If you're offering a bonus with your book, make sure it's on track! #amwriting Share on X

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.

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!

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. Only offer related “bonuses”
One of my cookbooks offers 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).

3. Point them at a second (or third) 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. This is what I do with the bonus for the Geocaching GPS anthologies; you can get the “bonus” of the geocaching newsletter – just go to the website to subscribe!

You’ve been trained through all the “how to sell online” programs 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.

Publishing a book – and launching it to the world – is fraught with seemingly innocent mistakes. Mistakes that can be very costly to your wallet and to your credibility. I want to help you get your message out there in the easiest, most streamlined way possible.

So join me for “Edit, Publish, Launch 1-Day Virtual Intensive” on July 28, 2017 where I’ll give you everything you need to know to be able to finally publish your book and share your message. And I’ll also steer you away from the “tips” that just backfire!

Register today here: http://EditPublishLaunch.com

All the sessions will be recorded so you have it for your permanent success library – even if you can’t attend live! And since the event is virtual, you don’t have to travel.

Kim Galloway
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