My Bookbub experience and a few tips

Phew. What an experience. Talk about pins and needles.

I ran my first Bookbub promo on May 15th and wanted to share a bit of my newbie experience — what I learned, and what I might do differently next time.

First of all, I dove into this effort after reading a detailed post by Deborah Jay (author’s of The Prince’s Man – an excellent fantasy series, I might add). Deborah provided wonderful guidance regarding her strategy as well as a look at her results.

I wasn’t as financially successful as Deborah, but I did turn a profit. Two months after the promotion, my sales are still above pre-promo levels. I’m happy with that.

I also hit #1 Bestseller in a number of categories including Epic Fantasy, ahead of Sarah Maas (and her 22K reviews) for a day! And ranked #24 in the Fantasy genre over all. That little “Best Seller” banner was a giddy high while it lasted.

Some things I learned:

Make your book available through multiple retailers.

Some authors say this doesn’t matter, but I had tried to snag a Bookbub promo a number of times in the past and was always turned down. My books were exclusive to Amazon, a requirement of Kindle-Unlimited. This worked great for lazy old me, but from my perspective, it seemed to be a problem when it came to Bookbub.

I took seven books off KU, including the series I wanted to promote, and three other books that were languishing on Amazon anyway. I had to wait for the KU contracts to expire which can take up to 3 months, so I did this step first.

When the KU contracts expired, I published all seven books on multiple platforms: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and Googleplay. I didn’t realize that Smashwords publishes (on your behalf) on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. So I did more work than I needed to. But live and learn. Smashwords and Googleplay would have done the trick.

A special note here: Bookbub knows what they’re doing. If the book had only been available on Amazon, I would NOT have made my investment back. For me, the multiple platforms were essential to pushing up the sales.

Pricing

I went with the $.99 promotion, dropping my retail price from $2.99. I’ve heard that the bigger the drop, the bigger the incentive to buy from a reader’s perspective. I have no idea whether my price deal was significant enough to cinch a purchase if someone was on the fence, but there you go.

I dropped my prices a week ahead of the promotion on all sites. I didn’t know how long it would take for all retailers to make the adjustment and didn’t want a hiccup. This also enabled me to do some pre-Bookbub promotions to give the book a bit of a boost in rankings.

Be sure to check ahead and make sure the prices changed. This should be a no-brainer. But… I set up Googleplay to drop automatically and it didn’t! I discovered it the day after the promotion and lowered it then. UGH!

Pre-Bookbub Promos

The Bookbub promotion is expensive – $705 expensive. I used the family’s vacation funds, hoping, HOPING, that I’d be able to replace them. Phew. I also ran $100 in pre-promotions with various sites to build momentum and improve the book’s Amazon ranking. I went with 12 sites, about half of them free with no guarantees.

(There isn’t time to book some of the better promotion sites, so act fast before slots fill).

Basically this was a bust. I sold about 12 books this way with a revenue of $4. Next time, I’ll go with more free sites. Authors who use multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) may do a lot better than I did.

First in a Series

Catling’s Bane is the first in a (4-book) series, and this was key, for me, in making the promotion a success. Sales of the other three books in the series topped 125 in the first week after the promotion, and they continue to sell across the retail platforms. I would not have broken even without them. If you’re thinking about giving Bookbub a try, I recommend going with the first book in a completed series (unless you’re last name is Rowling or Clancy).

Reviews

One question that Bookbub wants answered when considering your book, is how many reviews you have (and your average). I had 66 at the time of submitting, and apparently, this was enough. (I’ve hear that books with fewer are accepted too.) Getting reviews is no easy task! I’ve recommended Goodreads Reading Rounds before, and still believe it’s a great tool. The reviews are Amazon approved. Here’s a link to a post that explains more about them: Goodreads Reading Rounds.

Post-promotion reviews are coming in from Bookbub readers. Yay for Bookbub Readers! Not many of them are text reviews, but even those star-only reviews add up.

A Few Other Things of Note:

US or International or Both:

Bookbub offers a choice in promotion markets. It’s more expensive to go global, but I’m glad I elected this option and was accepted. I had sufficient sales both domestically and internationally to cover the combined cost. I would go this way again if I have a choice.

Reporting lag times:

Don’t panic if a week has gone by and your numbers are giving you heart murmurs. Retailers report at varying times! Apple, for example only reports at the end of the month, so if you run a promo at the start of the month, it will be a while before you have the slightest inkling how you did there. It took me almost two weeks to know that my family vacation was back on again.

Payment lag times:

This takes months, so don’t panic. My promotion was mid-May which Amazon will pay at the end of July. The other retailers take just as long.

Bookbub writes the blurb:

I didn’t know that Bookbub would be writing the blurb for my promo. A bit scary to say the least. They did a good job, but it wasn’t what I would have done (or did). My eyeballs fell out of my face. Just be prepared.

Cover:

This goes without saying. A professional cover is essential. Your promotion is competing with others in your genre.

Quality:

This also goes without saying. A Bookbub promotion is a big investment, and you not only want to snag a bunch of sales, but you want the readers to pick up more of your work. I made another editing pass through the series (and corrected a score of typos) in the weeks before the promotion. I was glad I did.

Was it worth it?

It appears so. I was a wreck, but ultimately Bookbub did what it says can do – provide a return on the investment, sell books, increase sales over time, improve ranking, and generate reviews. No guarantees, of course, but this seems to be a consistent outcome. Would I do it again? Yes.

161 thoughts on “My Bookbub experience and a few tips

  1. […] My Bookbub experience and a few tips […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank Prem says:

    Excellent article, Diana (and thank you Debby for the link).

    I’ve looked at Bookbub before, but am not confident that poetry can fly there (or anywhere else, for that matter, in terms of paid promo).

    I’ve just recently moved to go wide via Smashwords and D2D, and I’ll create myself at Googleplay now – thanks to your reference.

    Such a complex world!

    Delighted you went well with Bookbub. That’s a feat, I reckon.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by, Frank. Someone mentioned that Bookbub doesn’t offer poetry anthologies, which seems odd to me, but I guess they have their reasons. I went wide with some of my books simply because they had started to languish on Amazon. (Why not have them languish more broadly. LOL.) Though honestly, it’s helped a little. I lost the ability to give them away free on Amazon, but that’s probably not a bad thing. Good luck with your wonderful books. They’re meant to be read. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. alexcraigie says:

    I’ve always wondered what goes on with a Bookbub promotion and, thanks to this, I now have a much better idea. I found this fascinating and I’m pleased that it worked out well for you. I think that once a reader is familiar with your work, they’ll come back for all of your other books and so there’s a longer-term bonus in doing the promo. Thanks for the information on the Goodreads Reading Rounds – I’ve kept the link! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I picked up a few readers who seem to be exploring other books, Alex, and I’m happy about that. From what I’ve heard, authors consistently do well on Bookbub, which explains the high price they can ask. I’m glad I jumped in even though it was nerve-wracking. And the Goodreads Reading Rounds are very effective! If you’re looking for guaranteed, honest, Amazon-approved reviews, it’s a great resource. So great to see you here. Happy Writing, my friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a lot of friends who have been accepted at BookBub, but this is the first time anyone has provided a detailed assessment. Thank you for that, Diana. And congratulations on your success! All of my books are Amazon only at present, so youโ€™ve given me something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deborah’s post on her experience with Bookbub was the one that inspired me to do the work. My books were exclusive to Amazon for over a decade, and it was time to try something different. I just added two more across platforms and hope to do another promotion. It was scary, Martha, but worth the effort, even now two months later. Definitely something to think about! Happy Writing.

      Like

  5. Baydreamer says:

    Congrats, Diana, and thanks for sharing your experience. I don’t know anything about this, but I’m not a fiction writer either. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Anyway, I’m happy it worked out for you. Have a great weekend! So glad it’s Friday! ๐Ÿ’ž

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Diana! So delighted to know yours was a positive one. Cheers to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Vashti Q says:

    Hi, Diana! I canโ€™t thank you enough for this fabulous post! Youโ€™ve answered all my questions in regards to BookBub. Now that my Fantasy Angels Trilogy is complete Iโ€™m going to give this some serious thought. Of course, first Iโ€™ll have to get my books published on Smashwords and Google Play because theyโ€™re exclusively on Amazon like your books were. I appreciate youโฃ๏ธ

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad this was helpful, Vashti. I loaded two more books onto those sites yesterday. You have gorgeous covers, so you are all set there. One thing that I forgot to mention is being flexible with your date (let bookbub pick). I think this also increased my chances of getting a spot. Other than that… this is the only paid promotion in 12 years that covered my cost… so it feels scary and risky, but I think it’s a good investment. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you have any questions, just ask. โค

      Liked by 2 people

  8. acflory says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Diana. Like most Indies, I know /of/ Bookbub but that’s about it. I’m really glad you did so well…and got the vacation money back! lol Would not have wanted to miss Ranger Diana. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

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