When I first connected with Susan Daffron several years ago, she was an award-winning author of nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. In the years since, she has successfully transitioned to writing fiction — Susan is now the author of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies series that features residents of the small town of Alpine Grove and their various quirky dogs and cats. Learn more about Susan on her website.
Guest post: BookBub ads: One author shares her experience
By Susan Daffron
If you’ve been writing books for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of BookBub. When it comes to e-book advertising, The Bub is arguably the most well-known option.
The bad news for authors is that a BookBub ad is going to cost you. On countless forums, you see writers whining that ad rates are expensive. If your book falls into one of the larger categories like crime fiction or contemporary romance, for example, you’re looking at many hundreds of dollars. The largest lists have more than 3 million subscribers, but spending more than $900 on a single ad gives many struggling authors considerable pause.
Along with the money, getting accepted by BookBub is the other challenge you face. According to the rejection email, BookBub doesn’t accept 80% the submissions it receives. And according to a recent infographic, it received 55,000 submissions.
You are not alone.
The numbers are daunting to say the least. As far as I can tell based on my experience and the experience of many other writers I know, most of the time you submit, your book will be rejected, which can be difficult for a sensitive author to bear. But like the old saw, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Perseverance is sometimes rewarded!
After quite a few tries, BookBub has accepted my books three times – twice for a free promotion and most recently for a paid one. In my experience, if you can afford it and your book is actually accepted, one ad can change everything.
Getting noticed, at last!
I’m not a million-selling author. In fact, you could argue that I was an idiot to write a second novel, given how poorly the first one was selling. It was akin to the Samuel Johnson quote about second marriages: “a triumph of hope over experience.”
But continue to write I did. I released my first novel, Chez Stinky, in 2013. By the time the book finally was accepted for my first BookBub ad, I had five books in the series and I had made Chez Stinky free. (Note that you can’t set a price of zero on Amazon; to make a book free, you set the price to zero on another site, so Amazon will price match it.)
For whatever reason, BookBub finally accepted Chez Stinky in its Chick Lit category, which is one of their smaller ones. At the time, the April 16, 2015 ad cost me $70 (now it’s $105).
Here’s what happened.
Over the next few days, people downloadedabout 20,000 copies of Chez Stinky. That month, I had a total of 36,000 downloads just on Amazon. Books that had sold absolutely nothing on other channels like Barnes and Noble started selling.
Literally overnight, my books went from invisible to visible. Sales of the rest of the books in the series skyrocketed. The ad paid for itself within hours of the email going out. I got a large number of subscribers to my new releases email list, fan emails, and a lot of new reviews.
Although the results of my first ad were impressive, subsequent ad results haven’t been quite as earth- shattering, partly because as a group, my series of books is doing better. Going from almost zero to something (anything!) is always going to be thrilling. But make no mistake, the results from the subsequent ads have been far better than any other marketing I’ve tried, bar none.
My second ad for Chez Stinky ran in November 2015. That resulted in 14,000 downloads, more new reviews, and another increase in sales for the series, which by then had seven books. So although I received fewer downloads, I still got a tremendous return on investment because readers had more follow-on books in the series to read.
My most recent BookBub ad on January 10 was for the second book in the series, Fuzzy Logic, which I discounted from $3.99 to 99 cents. Because the ad was for a paid book, not a free one, it cost more ($210). But it still paid for itself the same day and shot the book into the top 10,000 in the paid Kindle store. I’m still seeing follow-on sales from the tail end of that ad. Interestingly, I have not received any new reviews yet, although I know hundreds of people have bought the book.
New release notifications
New release notifications are a free BookBub feature that started on January 4. The releases are tied to your BookBub author profile. Because I had advertised with BookBub, I had followers on my profile. Followers are those people who have virtually raised their hand to say that they want to know when I release new books.
To take advantage of this new feature, I did a pre-order on my latest book, The Treasure of the Hairy Cadre, so I could time the official release to occur after January 4. That way, BookBub would automatically send a notification to my followers. When the notification went out, it resulted in a nice bump in sales. It wasn’t as good as the email to my own in-house list, but it cost me nothing.
Between the pre-order, Amazon notification (they have a similar “follower” program), and the BookBub notification, my book has stayed in the “Hot New Releases” list for its category since its release.
A few final thoughts
When I looked at the infographic stats from BookBub, one thing that stood out to me was how few authors were selected and able to advertise in 2015. Thousands of e-books are released every single day on Amazon. But there are only 7,600 BookBub authors.
What that means to me is that if BookBub selects your book, you’re hanging out with a small crowd that includes a bunch of big name traditionally published authors. I’ve seen some articles that say BookBub has become a bit of a curating mechanism. In other words, if your book is selected by the mighty Bub, it probably means your cover, blurb, and reviews are good.
Although there are no guarantees in book publishing and everyone’s experience is different, I’m glad I kept trying for a BookBub ad even in the face of many rejections. In a marketplace where it’s almost impossible to get noticed, for me, advertising with BookBub gave my books unprecedented visibility.
Have you advertised with BookBub or any of the other daily deal newsletters? Please share your experiences with them in a comment.
Tip of the Month
I always share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.
This month’s relates directly to Susan’s excellent guest post above. If you’re thinking about advertising with BookBub or any of the book daily deal newsletters, you want to make sure your book’s description in the newsletter works hard for you to sell books.
BookBub has researched the language used in its book descriptions to determine which phrases or strategies sell more books. I shared that research in a guest post: “Six Magic Phrases You Can Use to Sell More Books.” You won’t go wrong using what you learn in that article for your ads in other deal newsletters, too.
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