Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Business of Writing: BookBub Lessons Learned #MFRWOrg #ASMSG #IARTG

BookBub meme c2016 by Kim Headlee.
Chalice photo c2010 by Marco Varro Depositphotos ID 8031476.

I've been marketing my books for three years now via several methods—blog tours and hops, Facebook parties and ads, informal author spotlight exchanges, Twitter, and most recently, email promotions, paid as well as free.

Free exposure is always good, of course, even if only one person sees your ad. When you're shelling out your pennies, however, the adage that "marketing is about exposure, not sales" (which is true) is tough leather to chew all the time.

The good news is that if you have a great book that has been professionally edited, features a professional cover, the Moon is in the Seventh House—and there's a big enough spot in your advertising budget—you might be lucky enough to score a BookBub "Featured Deal."

Why do I equate paying hundreds of dollars for a single book advertisement with luck? Because the BookBub promotion is the only marketing tool I've discovered to date wherein sales revenue has exceeded the investment in a timely fashion.

If you have achieved the Holy Grail of book marketing by landing a BookBub spot, these are the steps you need to take to maximize the return on investment for your ad:

  • Immediately: Decide on how long you want to keep the deal in place (I recommend no more than 5 days, inspired by the Kindle Unlimited free promo model), and confirm your assigned feature date.
  • Immediately: Relay any specific instructions not already conveyed. "Let us know if there’s anything in particular we should be aware of about your listing — for instance, if there are multiple editions of the same book available, or if the cover has recently changed." (source: BookBub Deal Checklist).
  • Immediately: If you code your own e-books, begin making sure all embedded product links are up to date for all major platforms (Amazon, Nook, iTunes, etc.), and all available books. If you have several titles, prioritize as follows: the featured book, other titles in the series, then all your other books.
    If you don't code your own e-books, ask whether your formatter person/company will do this for you, whether they can complete the work at least three days prior to your BookBub feature, and how much those updates will cost.
  • Immediately: Reschedule any upcoming Kindle Unlimited promotions that might adversely impact sales related to the featured book.You're already paying an arm and both legs to feature one book; let your readers have a shot at any free books either before or after the BookBub promotion, not on the same day. My rule of thumb is to wait three days before running another KU free promo.
  • As soon as possible: Set up free and paid advertising with as many other email promoters as will fit within your budget. My favorites in the "paid" category include Books Butterfly (to get the tracking link), Book Barbarian (if the featured book is SciFi or Fantasy), Robin Reads, BookSends, Genre Pulse, BookZio, and Fussy Librarian. You may elect to schedule these promos to kick in a day or more after the BookBub promo to help keep your momentum going. Oftentimes a potential customer will decide to purchase an e-book if it has a decent Amazon rank already.
  • 10 days prior: drop prices on Nook, iTunes, Kobo (you can schedule the Kobo promo in advance), Google Play, and Smashwords for the FEATURED BOOK only. Ask your friends to "report lower price" to Amazon so that its regular Kindle price gets marked out in favor of the matched price. This is another marketing trick to help maximize the deal's "wow factor" in the customer's mind.
  • 1 day prior: Check the featured book's Amazon product page to see if they have matched the price of Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc. If not, then manually lower the price.
  • Day of: Relax. Don't start checking for sales until noon ET.
    From the BookBub Deal Checklist: "Your deal will go live on our website between 6-9 a.m. PST, and the email will generally be delivered by 10 a.m.-noon PST."
  • Evening of: Start checking Amazon category rankings. Log stats and take screen shots when appropriate. Post the exciting bits on Twitter, Facebook, etc. to reel in more customers.
  • X days after: Raise prices on all platforms—Amazon, Nook, etc.—again. X = the day after the last day of the deal, decided when the BookBub feature was confirmed.
    From the BookBub Policies page: "If a partner expires a deal early with us more than once, we unfortunately will not be able to continue working with them. Please let us know in advance of the promotion if you need to adjust the end date." Do take that bit of advice seriously; you want to keep drinking from this chalice as often as possible.

For more information:

If you've heard rumors, Carlyn Robertson reveals "BookBub Myths Busted" via BookBub's blog. Most of the "myths" are fairly common sense.

There's an interesting take on BookBub by nonfiction author Mike Alvear via the Huffington Post. Many of the comments are well worth the read too, mine included. :D

The following article includes Bookbub's own advice on how to maximize one's chances of being accepted:

And another article from BookBub Insights about categories subscribers sign up for:
It's all pretty much, "Well, no duh" stuff, actually, but the statistics are interesting if you're into that sort of thing.

British author Mary Smith's relates her success on BookBub with a free (as opposed to 99 cents) promo here:

BookBub now offers advertising that's not a "Featured Deal." They offer a great infographic of the difference between ads and featured deals in this blog post. In a nutshell, an ad may describe any book-related content, including audiobooks, print editions, and full-price e-books. Since it's a new program, and authors (including myself) are wait-listed for participation, I'll most likely be blogging about my experiences with BookBub ads at a later date.

My final BookBub lesson to impart to you:

Don't shy from selecting International promotion when submitting your book's deal for review, even though it's less expensive to do so. 

My medieval paranormal novel Snow in July recently was selected only for BookBub's non-US email lists (UK, Canada, Australia, and India). It's considerably less expensive than a US promotion (in my case, $50.00 versus several hundred for a 99-cent book deal), but I still was able to recoup my BookBub investment within the first 24 hours… even though this particular novel is a standalone, and no one has yet (as of two days after the BookBub international feature) bought any of my other novels.

The other advantage to accepting an International-only BookBub promotion is that they waive the 6-month restriction for the title in question, and you may submit it for US promotion consideration again in as little as one month.

Happy Grail hunting and book promoting!


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  1. Thanks for a very informative post . . . it's helpful in finding one's way through the maze of book promotions.

    1. You're most welcome, Philip. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck! :)

  2. My reading of the advertising option is that they are offering it to a limited group presently (I'm thinking major publishering houses) and later will open it to some other authors (I'm thinking top selling indes.) You also have to create your own promo design etc. (I got an email this morning about it.)

    1. Hi, {{{Liza}}} and thanks for dropping by!

      Yes on both counts. I'm not sure who is being given first crack at the advertising, but your theory makes sense. It's supposed to work similar to Facebook advertising in that you set a budget cap, and your ad will go as far (and for as many days) as your $$ will take you. I'm thinking it will be most useful for marketing print and audiobook editions, since e-books get the most exposure via the "featured deal" thing.


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