A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was running a BookBub Featured Deal, and asked if you wanted to learn more about them. The answer was a resounding, “Yes, tell us more.” In particular, this topic was requested by one of my patrons over on Patreon, Thomas Gore. Like a lot of writers, Thomas has been hearing about BookBub for a while now and wanted to know the real advantages of working with them. So today I am breaking down my experience with BookBub, how it all works, and whether or not I believe it's worth the hype.
If you're not familiar, BookBub is a free online service that connects readers with handpicked book recommendations. Specifically, books that are on sale. Basically, readers sign up for BookBub, list their reading preferences, and then receive notifications whenever books that meet those preferences are discounted. There are a lot of websites that do this, but BookBub is by far the most popular. And that's because they are extremely exclusive about which books they feature and recommend. Because of this, authors fight tooth and nail to get their books featured by BookBub. And because of that, BookBub Featured Deals can be really expensive. This leads a lot of writers to wonder, is it all really worth it? You're paying a hefty price tag, so you gotta get something out of it, right? That's exactly what we're gonna figure out today.
I'm gonna give you an overview of how BookBub works, how to apply for a Featured Deal, and my personal experience with using them for a Featured Deal. I have run three Featured Deals through BookBub, and I kept detailed notes for two of them. I will present those notes to you today. Is the juice really worth the squeeze? Stick around to find out.
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What Services Does BookBub Offer for Writers?
BookBub isn't just for readers. Authors can join BookBub, and they definitely should. You can create an author page where readers can follow you, review your books, and check out any books you personally recommend. It's great to have a BookBub author page because anytime you release a new book, all of your followers will be notified, which is huge free marketing. Even if you don't use their pay-for features, get a BookBub author page right now. And get your readers to follow you. Speaking of, if you haven't followed me on BookBub do it, now!
BookBub Also Allows Writers To Run Ads on Their Platform.
Basically, you can pay to have an ad for your book appear in one of their newsletters. It's your job to figure out how this ad looks, and what will make it successful. So really all of the burden is on you to get it right. But what we're talking about today is what BookBub is best known for, and that’s Featured Deals. As we already covered, the entire point of BookBub is for readers to receive a notification when books that meet their reading preferences are discounted. That's what a feature deal is. BookBub features your book to its audience, and that's a service that you as an author must pay for. BookBub selects these Featured Deals by sifting through a bunch of applications from various authors. It's your job to contact BookBub and say, “Hey, I plan to discount my book. Could you please feature it in your newsletter?” And of course, you're gonna have to pay for it.
How Do You Apply for a Featured Deal?
There is a simple application on the BookBub website, and it is super easy to fill out. You have to choose the genre for your book, your book's discounted price, which platforms you plan to run your discount on, and which countries this discount will go into effect in. For example, you might say your book is fantasy, it's discounted to $0.99, and you plan to run the discount on Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. And this discount will only run in the US. After you plug in this information, it's gonna show you the price you will be paying if your deal is selected. And be prepared, BookBub is not cheap. This is an extremely popular platform with very direct marketing. So you're gonna have to fork over some cash.
Lastly, it's time to plead your case. I said it once and I'll say it again, BookBub is very particular. They only want the best of the best for their newsletters. So you gotta make sure your book stands out. That means listing your credentials. Is your book an Amazon bestseller? How many five-star reviews does it have? Has the book won any awards? What's your platform like? You are competing against a ton of authors, so you really need to make yourself stand out and shine. And be sure to follow their submission rules to a T.
Once you submit your application, be prepared for rejection. Thousands of authors are vying for a slot. This is a process that requires time and patience. Many authors apply roughly once a month until they're finally selected. If they're ever selected at all. If you're selected, the details of your deal will be emailed to you, you will be billed, and then it's up to you to make sure you get your book discounted on time. Again you need to follow their directions to a T, because if you don't discount your book on time, they're not gonna feature you. You done fucked up.
What Are Some of the Most Popular BookBub Strategies?
Again, this is exclusively in regard to Featured Deals. Listen, there are a bazillion different strategies that a writer can have for putting their book on sale. Obviously, if your book is on sale, more readers are gonna buy it, because everyone loves a discount. But you also have to take into consideration that a discounted price means you're going to receive a much smaller royalty percentage. If your goal is simply to reach more readers, or get greater exposure on a platform like Amazon, then it doesn't really matter that the royalty percentage is going to be lower, because you will probably reach that goal using a BookBub Featured Deal.
But as we discussed, BookBub Featured Deals are very expensive, so a lot of writers would at the very least like to make their money back. Because of this one of the most popular strategies for Featured Deals revolves around series. If you've written a series, or you're in the process of writing a series, it's very common to request a Featured Deal for book one in that series. Basically, you discount book one, it is then featured in BookBub’s newsletter, a ton of new readers read it, and there's a good chance that a small percentage of them will then go ahead and buy book two, three, or four at full price. This is usually how writers are not only able to reach new readers through BookBub but also make their money back and potentially gain a profit. Again, there are plenty of strategies to use, either way, you're gonna reach new readers. But if you wanna make your money back, this method is considered the norm.
And now for the moment that we've all been waiting for.
Is BookBub Really Worth It?
I'm gonna preface this with what should be an obvious disclaimer. Every author's experience with BookBub is different. And every author's goal is different. My experience is not reflective of everyone’s. If BookBub worked for me, all that means is that BookBub worked for me. If it didn't work for me, that means it didn't work for me. Are you following this?
Authors are not a monolith. Please do not treat what I'm about to say as if it is universal, because if you do you’re fucking stupid. I have run three Featured Deals through BookBub. And by my goals and standards, all three of them were a success. I only have data for two of those BookBub deals, so we're gonna break those down right now.
Let’s Break Down My Very First Featured Deal With BookBub.
For this deal, The Savior’s Champion was discounted at $0.99 cents for two weeks. I was approved for a domestic sale on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. That means this sale would only be promoted to readers in the US, and they would receive links to The Savior's Champion on all four of those platforms. The price for this Featured Deal was $516. At the time of this deal, the companion novel for The Savior's Champion, The Savior’s Sister was available for preorder. My goal was to introduce brand new readers to The Savior Series, and hopefully see a portion of those readers preorder The Savior’s Sister at full price. Because this was my first BookBub deal and I was a novice, I fucked up. The sale didn't end up going through to Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. So the day that the feature deal ran, it was only on sale on Amazon. The folks at BookBub were super nice about this. They said they would go ahead and feature the deal but only share the Amazon link. I was discouraged but hoped it wouldn't affect the performance of the deal too much.
With that said, on the first day of the Feature Deal, I sold 753 copies of The Savior's Champion. For reference, that's a fucking lot. It also hit number one on Amazon's epic fantasy list, which is not an easy list to top. By the end of the two weeks, I sold 1,352 copies of The Savior's Champion. This came to a total of $468.47. As you can see, that was a ton of books sold in just two weeks, despite the fact that the deal only went through Amazon. But you can also see that because the book was discounted to $0.99 cents, I didn’t earn back what I paid for the deal.
However, during the Featured Deal, I saw a jump in preorders for The Savior’s Sister. Ninety people preordered The Savior’s Sister during the Featured Deal, and they preordered at full price. That came to $440.37. This does not include BookBub readers who didn't read TSC immediately and thus didn't pre-order TSS immediately. They may have preordered it or ordered it later down the line. When combining what I made off of TSC and what I immediately made off of TSS, we are looking at a combined total of $908.84. This means not only did I reach nearly 1400 new readers, I also made a profit of nearly $400, after taking into consideration the cost of the Featured Deal. All in all, despite the hiccup, I considered this a huge success.
Next, We’ll Take a Look at My Most Recent BookBub Deal.
This Featured Deal was once again for The Savior's Champion, which was discounted at $0.99 for one week. That's half the length of time as the previous deal. I was approved for an international-only deal on the platforms Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Apple Books. This means the sale would only be promoted to readers outside of the US, and they would be given links to all five platforms. The cost of this Featured Deal was $196. You'll notice this Featured Deal was a lot cheaper than the previous one, and that's because a bulk of BookBub’s readers are based in the US. Because of this, this deal will reach much fewer readers, and in turn, the deal is worth less. This is important to note because since we're reaching fewer readers, we're gonna see fewer sales.
Like my previous sales goal, my goal was not only to reach new readers for The Savior's Champion but to see some crossover and buy The Savior’s Sister at full price. This time I wasn't a novice, and I didn't fuck anything up. The sale went out on all five platforms, and the deal happened without a hitch. Admittedly, I did not check to see if TSC hit any Amazon bestseller lists, because this deal was going down during the release week of Shut Up and Write the Book, and I had other shit to do. However, during this week-long sale, I sold 415 copies of The Savior's Champion, which isn't as impressive as the last deal, but it's still a lot of books in a very short amount of time. This came to a total of $143.79. So like the previous deal, I didn't break even off of TSC sales alone.
However, once again we have to take the sales of TSS into consideration. During the week of the Featured Deal, I sold 35 copies of The Savior’s Sister. That came to a total of $171.26. Again, this does not include BookBub readers who ended up buying TSS at a later date. Altogether my total was $315.05. This means I made a profit of $119.05, after taking the cost of the deal into consideration. Once again I consider this a success. Not only did I reach new readers for The Savior Series, but I also got a bunch of them to buy book two in the series at a higher price.
So There You Have It, Was BookBub Worth It?
In my opinion, yes. If you snag a BookBub Featured Deal, I recommend that you do additional marketing yourself. I mention my BookBub deals through my newsletter. I mention ’em here on my YouTube channel. I mention them on social media. Again this is exclusively my personal experience, but my experience was positive, and I will continue to use BookBub in the future.
So that's all I've got for you today!
I hope that answers the question, “Why BookBub?” There are a lot of platforms that offer the same service as BookBub. You pay a fee, you price your book at a discount, and they will recommend your book to their readers. You can definitely use other services but BookBub is considered the main place to go, and that's because they have the largest list of readers. And they have the largest list of readers because, as we already covered, BookBub is super picky about the books that they recommend. Other websites have a lower barrier to entry, they'll recommend pretty much any book that's discounted. Whereas with BookBub, you have to prove that your book is of quality, or that there's some kind of clout behind it. Because of this readers trust BookBub, and they flock to that website.
A huge thank you to Thomas for requesting today's video. If you'd like the chance to have a video dedicated to you, or if you want access to tons of other rewards, check me out on Patreon. I got it linked right here.
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