The BookBub Experience

Hello, Story Empire readers! We seem to be sharing our November experiences this week. Wednesday it was Joan’s lessons from NaNoWriMo but today it’s another book trip where you get to see what can happen on the sales side of things. This isn’t a brag, but more of an inside view from a top promotion service and some tips about gaining one.

For some years, BookBub has been a marketing gold standard for authors and their books. It’s difficult to get a deal with the advertiser for many reasons but it can be done. The results for getting one of these deals can be very eye-opening for many authors. Back in November, I was fortunate enough to land a BookBub deal so I thought I’d share the experience with everyone with some observations and tips should you want to pursue this marketing channel.

For those who don’t know, BookBub is a marketing service which sends out daily email messages with deals for readers. Additionally, readers can have accounts on the site and recommend books, even follow authors. Authors can have accounts where they associate their books and offer deals or run ads that go out on BookBub’s emails based on interests in genre and specific authors.

Authors can also gain followers on the site and have a number of readers. The latter is interesting because it appears that, while creating an ad on BookBub, I found the number of my readers in their system is 6,463 which is much higher than my active followers at just over 1,750. That’s significant by itself and good information to possess because there are better known authors with fewer readers than I.

All those stats aside, the significance of landing acceptance from BookBub can be substantial since their service often returns very good results. The possibility of thousands of sales and landing on a bestseller list is very real. Personally, I just wanted to maximize sales during the prime shopping season of the year.

To acquire BookBub’s acceptance, a deal requires you book meets a number of criteria which turns some self-published authors off immediately. Among the details that reviewed are whether the book is wide (published on most main e-book retailers) and pricing discount. Some other aspects examined are whether self-published books are quality, meaning well reviewed and possess good covers. There are more suggestions from which can be found on their blog.

I’ve tried numerous times to get a deal with BookBub but always got turned down. They often suggested I offer a book for free but that has never been in my business model for a novel (free works are best for romance books, but I’ll get into that in another blog sometime). What it took to get a deal was discounting my series bundle to 99 cents. Once I did that, BookBub jumped all over the submitted deal and offered me a spot. I’d heard that this was often the case so I gave it a try and found this to be true. So there it was, an accepted deal with BookBub .

I accepted the offer though the price was steep and setup my price changes on the day of the deal. It took several days for all the results to appear but the day off and the next day were definite positives on Amazon. Once all the retailers information arrived I was even more pleased with the results. The bundle sold close to two thousand copies  (with three books it means you are moving three times the number, just in one product).

When the smoke cleared, the bundle was a bestseller on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and (most likely) iBooks. These results were a massive benefit because the bundle is tagged as a bestseller on these sites, adding some cache when readers look at it. Plus, I moved copies at the busy time of year and it also appears to have helped sales of the individual titles in the series including some in the audio format. Overall, the high cost was more than returned from the sales and I got some good name recognition.

Were there downsides? Yes, from some other perspectives. The cost for my deal was about $700 and lowering the cost of my bundle to 99 cents to get the deal created some tension about whether it would return on the cost. It did and more so that was a plus but with all those sales, it feels like a lost opportunity to bank higher royalties for production cost of new books and print for my last two books in the series.

Young woman holding magnifying glass like detectiveWhat observations are there from my experience?

  • Running an ad on BookBub with good targeting can increase sales but also increases cost so tread lightly with such a concept. I ran some follow-up ads with solid results to pad my totals over several days.
  • Making the deal longer can create more return. I initially thought I’d just keep the price at 99 cents for the one day but held onto it for several days based on the results and it continued to sell well with the sales traction. However, I think if I had chosen a longer date range when accepting the offer on the site it could have possibly returned more sales.
  • Speaking of price, there’s no getting around the fact that 99 cents returns volume sales with the proper ad visibility. The price is hard to keep since the royalty level is so low but if you are looking for an increase in audience size or that bestseller tag on retail sites, this works. One of my goals with this was increasing my audience size as I work on new books in hopes of having as large a buying audience as possible when these are released.
  • Don’t submit on a lark. Be ready to promote and pay the price for it. If you get a BookBub deal it is likely to boost your sales in incredible ways so it will likely pay off roylaties arrive after 60 days but you will pay the cost up front. Cost is tough to swallow immediately so save for it and plan for when you will schedule your deal.
  • BookBub by far has had the best results for a paid promotion service in my experience. Get on their site and learn what they expect and what they can do. For instance, new releases can be scheduled for notifications to readers in the their system so that plus means a deal can garner a lot of release sales depending on your initial price.
  • BookBub also serves as a good source of reviews and recommendations, do well with a new release and you may find their editors chose your books for a genre recommendation via blog or email. My plans for new releases include involving BookBub, then several other services. I’m saving up for my next release promotion now.

My overall experience with a BookBub deal was very positive. My goals were reached and I didn’t lose money on the promotion, regardless of the price. The promoting service can be picky about what books they accept but they are very helpful otherwise and a solid choice if you can swing the price. Plan your deal well and you could see very positive results, especially with your next book launch.

For me, the benefits outweighed the downsides of cost and book pricing it took to get the deal. I’ve grown my reading audience substantially which is an investment for the future, especially with the BookBub services of notifications about new releases and reviews or recommendations by readers (and I got several nice reviews and recommendations in the following weeks).

What promotion plans do you have? How can BookBub help you with promotion? What gives you pause about approaching BookBub or any promotion service?

Thanks for reading today. Please leave your answers and thoughts in the comments section and I’ll respond as soon as I’m able. Also, please share this post on social media or reblog on WordPress. See you next time!

P. H. Solomon

35 thoughts on “The BookBub Experience

  1. Pingback: Author Essentials Part 6: Marketing Plan | Story Empire

  2. interesting post. Elasticity of demand. Or in other words, if you’re returns are higher than your costs, you’ve got gravy. The problem for me is I guess, I’m in the UK (until the next referendum, then it’ll be I’m in Scotland). I’ve got a book (or books) I’d like to publish, but as usually the case no publisher wants to publish them. I’ll probably go the self–publishing route. KDP, it seems, do the best deal. I don’t know if they’d demand an exclusive publishing rights? Certainly I could publish in other markets eg Kobe (although I’m not even sure what that is or means – but it does make me sound kinda intelligent). So if I passed that test, the next test would be to gain acceptance from Bookbug. And there’s no guarantees – as you point out. I wouldn’t sell my work for nothing. No high-horse here, no horse at all but just seems to send out the wrong signals. As we all know in a game of Chinese whispers in bookselling those that shout loudest get noticed and sell copies. (Back to elasticity). In summary, screwed if you do, but screwed more if you don’t?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Self-publishing means you have control of pricing and changes to it for sales. Generating an audience is tough so low pricing helps. I don’t put full novels out for free, only shorts.

      KDP on Amazon allows you to publish elsewhere with other online retailers. When you move to KDP Select you must be exclusive with Amazon.

      If you want to be wide with self-publishing, try an ebook distributor like Smashwords which can send you books to Barnes & Noble, Kobo (Canadian & international with an agreement with Wal-Mart in the US which is a large store retailer making an online run at Amazon and doing well), and Apple iBooks among many. You can release them wide for a while, then pull back narrow and be exclusive on Amazon where the page reads from being in Kindle Unlimited in the Select program can make more a month than the other retailers. Being nimble with pricing and publication locations is important with self-publishing IMHO.


  3. I had good results a couple of years ago with Bookbub in promoting the first book in my series. It’s perma-free and listed on many sites. Unfortunately, it did not produce much in reviews, which was disappointing. I haven’t used them for my other books bc I have them only on Amazon. I like the idea of creating a series set and selling it as one. I may look into that. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Outstanding results. I’m frozen out, because of my exclusivity with Amazon. I have a presence on their site, and love the fact that I can share individual reviews on social media. Let’s face it, when you get a good one you want to tell the world about it. It would be cool if they came up with some tiered advertising. Maybe something less exclusive with a narrower exposure. Those are great results, and it’s almost like a prize if you get in.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My publisher did a BookBub ad for me with excellent results. I also have a free BB ad coming up the end of February to tie in with .99c promo I”m doing elsewhere. Publisher is handling BB, and I’m doing a bunch of promo on my own (they are as well). When I indie this coming year, I’m not sure I will pub outside of Amazon, which means BB ads wouldn’t work for me. I do, however, really love the site and normally check it daily. I love the notifications I get of new releases and the ad suggestions, plus I love recommending books there.

    Glad you had such a great experience. P.H. Way to go!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Mae. Good you’ve had them. I wish BookBub was more forgiving but their international audience mainly gets book elsewhere than Amazon. I’m planning to delay new book for KU until later and note in wide venues that it’s in sale there for a limited time then do a KU release. I’m no certain on the mechanics just yet but long term sales are higher on Amazon for now. I just want the launch volume I can get with BB so wide is good for a start. This is all fodder for a future post, I suppose.


  6. Every time I’ve gotten on BookBub, I’ve had wonderful results. But just getting them to accept a book is tricky. My publisher has put my mysteries on it three times, and it always makes my sales go up. BookBub is the best advertising I’ve found. With other paid ads, the results are iffy. Glad you had success with your book!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with BookBub. I’m in the process of setting up a BookBub author page, and am also interested in learning everything I can about all aspects of BB. I’m saving this post for future references, and btw, I don’t want to brag or anything, but only ONE week on BookBub, I’ve garnered 17 followers!!! 😀 😀 😀 Okay, I confess–I’m totally impressed by your numbers, P. H. Congratulations on a successful ad campaign with them, too. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I haven’t tried for a Book Bub ad. Maybe sometime in the future, but I have a long way to go. I’ve done some smaller and less expensive promos with good results. I am using Book Bub more often, making sure all my books are listed there as well as leaving reviews for others. I like the idea that reviewers can send recommendations to their followers.

    Good post today, P.H. I’m glad the promo was sucessful for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Pingback: The BookBub Experience | Legends of Windemere

  10. I’m exclusively with Amazon so far, so that would preclude me from being able to advertise with BookBub. It sounds like your experience was a positive one, though.

    Being in the UK, we get excluded from a lot. For instance, we can’t leave reviews on BookBub, and we can’t sell with Barnes and Noble and various others, so our market gets limited right off the bat, which annoys the heck out of me.

    Thanks for an insightful post, PH. And congratulations on those great numbers!

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    Liked by 2 people

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