I heard about BookBub promotions through Michael R. Hick’s blog (via Goodreads), where he shared his (accidental) experience with BookBub. I did some research and it sounded like a really great service. I signed up for their emails to see what the service was like, and was impressed. Every day I received an email with a few clean, well-designed listings for discounted/free books in categories that interested me. The emails weren’t overwhelming (endless product listings) or cluttered, and each book had tailored marketing copy to go along with it. It was, by far, the best ebook discount notification service I have ever sampled.
Of course, I had misgivings at first. I always do when it comes to paid advertising. In the past I’ve spoken against paid ads, and I’ve had paid ad campaigns flop. The endorsement from Hicks was given in regards to a free book, and he didn’t pay for the advertisement, so I wondered if I should really trust the service.
But I plunged in anyway because I liked what I saw in BookBub emails. Initially I applied to list Wake in the Romance category, since New Adult wasn’t an option and I was iffy about promoting the book to young teens. After a conversation with a marketing representative from BookBub, I ended up listing in the Teen & YA category, and the ad included a content warning re: language and sexual situations.
How it Went
I broke even on my investment in the campaign and made profit, which was my main concern going in. I didn’t want to lose money on a promotion and feel like a complete twit. In hindsight, I had nothing to worry about. BookBub staff know what they’re doing, and they’re damn good at it.
After their email went out (11:30ish), I saw an immediate spike in sales and it continued after May 11th. There was also a spike in Goodreads adds, which helped spread the word even further. Wake‘s sales rank on Amazon shot up and stayed quite high for a few days. Within 72 hours I had broken my previous monthly sales record, and some readers kindly published new reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
I need to acknowledge that I got lucky in a few ways. Firstly, the email with my book’s listing went out on a Saturday. I don’t have evidence, but I think this might have made a difference because people generally have more free time on the weekends, and were able to click through the email links and check out the book. People don’t necessarily have the time or freedom to do that on busy weekdays.
Secondly, the day the email went out just happened to coincide with a coupon promotion on Kobo. I was able to further entice readers with a 30% discount on top of the reduced price. The fact that the stars aligned on that one was just pure luck.
Would I Do It Again?
Absolutely. My book isn’t enrolled in KDP Select and I don’t plan to enrol my books in the program in the future, but I can see how BookBub services would be valuable even for free books. I can definitely see myself investing in their services next time I launch a book (soon, I promise).
One caveat I should add: BookBub’s promotion really only had an impact on my North American sales. Wake didn’t budge an inch in foreign markets during the period where North American sales shot up. That might be important if you’re considering BookBub and are based overseas.
Why BookBub is Awesome, for Readers and Authors
1. They’re selective. Unlike some other services, they don’t accept every submission they get just to make a quick buck. BookBub actually cares about providing quality content to their subscribers.
2. I received personalized, professional attention. It wasn’t like I just filled out a PayPal invoice and never heard from them. While exchanging emails with BookBub staff, I got the sense that they cared deeply about what they were doing and that they took the time to research every product they promote. They aren’t just throwing daily newsletters together; they’re genuinely marketing books.
3. Quick turnaround. I heard back from BookBub almost immediately after I applied, and the email with my book’s listing was sent out the very next day. I know that turnaround time may not be this quick for everybody, but it impressed me because I know they’re capable of promoting deals and discounts without a lot of fuss. Great for discounts/deals that only last a short time.
4. BookBub isn’t dedicated to any particular retailer. A lot of similar services focus on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. and only publish discounts that fit one particular segment of the ebook-consuming population. BookBub publishes links to any and all ebook retailers, so you have a chance of attracting readers from many platforms.