How I landed another deal with Bookbub

The promoting of books is a struggle most of us writer folks know. Just where does one start with book marketing? Through many years of trial, error and the sheer will to figure things out I’ve managed to learn a lot about selling books. I will always do my best to pass that on to others so perhaps they can benefit from hopefully something I’ve learned. The self help guide book is coming this year but until then…

This is how I landed another featured deal with Bookbub…

In this post I’ll explore how I positioned myself for success plus the who’s and how’s of everything to do with Bookbub who gave me, a small time, underdog of an indie author the greenlight again…

Who are Bookbub?

Bookbub is book discovery service that boasts up to 15 million users online and they are considered a top shelf promotional site that connects readers with books. Many authors have boasted great returns from actual profits to long term sales, reviews and success – this includes me. Once upon a time back in 2019 I managed to secure a featured deal with them that resulted then in my best day of sales ever. For beginners a good way of marketing yourself online is to use book promotion sites – check out my resources section for more. Bookbub are basically the high end version of any other book promotion site out there. They are a paid service but I consider any promotional method that charges an investment much like books.

Top Tip: Authors can create a profile on Bookbub and list their works. Some might even be listed on there already. You can also review and rate other authors books too. I recommend doing that to build up a profile on the site.

What is a Bookbub Featured Deal

The site offers a range of advertising services but their Featured Deal is the holy grail of advertising. Authors who do get accepted are in essence paying for wider specific reach through targeted email lists. As you can read below they make it seem awfully hard to be accepted and it is trust me.

For me this time around Bookbub agreed to feature my super hero comedy ‘The Teleporter’ again but with a few differences. The US market was now included unlike last time and the book would be free as opposed to discounted. And now I have a backlist of 6 books – more about that further down.

Top tip: I’ve said before my best advice when it comes to book selling is to write another. Having more than one title available as an author will galvanise your brand and increase the likelihood of selling more while finding a readership.

How did I land a Featured Deal, again?

For some years I have been near enough constantly applying to have them feature one of my titles. Although Bookbub say they support indie authors – they only take on books of the highest quality and books that they know will sell. Yes there are indie books that fit this bill but they are strict with who they choose. Some authors have even boasted to have over 50 reviews and awards just to get accepted. Recently I’ve even seen Stephen King’s work featured with them so it’s kind of a big deal!

So you might be asking at this point what the hell am I doing getting chosen by them? Well friends, Bookbub obviously see something in my scrappy underdog of a book.

You can read my account of how I secured a deal with them last time but now things are far more improved and so I guess that’s why they said yes. There are several factors that led to them agreeing and so they are laid out below but timing and niche are probably big driving factors – The Teleporter is in the humour category – something more specialist compared to a crime thriller or another popular genre. Sometimes things just align but there are ways to position one’s self as an author to get noticed…

Top tip: Writing a book that has a specialist or niche genre may be difficult to market across a mainstream following but it also makes for an opportunity when big time advertisers need a particular gap to fill. Niche will make that writing of yours stand out…

Positioning Factors for Success – Why they chose me?

There probably isn’t just one reason why Bookbub said yes, luck might have played a part but here are some other factors that helped me position myself in their sights…

Apply: Okay this is a simple factor but applying for a featured deal sparked this whole thing to life. This probably led to Bookbub doing a little research on me.

Social Media Game: Over the past 6 months I have ramped up my social media game. What exactly do I mean by that? Well I’ve made every effort to create engaging content across my platforms and specifically twitter, look it’s a pandemic okay and I’m bored most of the time so I took that as an opportunity… Very recently my engagement rate has been through the damn roof on the tweet machine (look at the numbers on the tweets pictured below). Anyone who considers you in the publication and literary field will do their research and so recent tweets of mine have been getting a lot of attention and engagement. My following is on target for 6k followers, I only reached 5k back in December. That engagement has come mainly from the writing community so you could even say this opportunity was created by them!

Top advice too…

Shout about it: Although this is linked to my social media game, every recent success I’ve had, I shared via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be proud of those reviews, sales, and anything else you achieve. It inspires others and shows you are the person to follow.

Recent Book Sales equals visibility: Quite recently something wonderful appears to be unfolding. In the month of January which is notoriously slow for sales, I’ve been selling books! This pushes those books up the charts in Amazon – something Bookbub will look at.

Recent Reviews for other works: Although it’s felt like forever since I received my last Amazon review very recently a few came in for both ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ and ‘Cemetery House’ thus proving people are reading my stuff.

I support the industry: You may have read from my recent posts about Changing the Culture when it comes to book reviews by authors. It is my opinion that authors don’t review enough books and so that’s what I do a lot of to support the industry – supporting the industry gets you noticed.

There’s a history: Somehow Bookbub said yes to featuring the Teleporter once before. Having that history is a rapport that basically kept my foot in the door.

There are also some more physical factors as to why The Teleporter was chosen…

Physical factors for success

Cover art and banner game: Undoubtedly the cover for ‘The Teleporter’ is an exceptional work of art. I have Design for Writers to thank for that and of course bolstered by a nice book banner makes the whole thing look professional and appealing. A pro book cover is worth the investment and something I consider part of the basic anatomy of a book…

A decent rating on Amazon and Goodreads: Bookbub will of course have done their research and ‘The Teleporter’ has a healthy amount of recent and older reviews/ratings spanning back to it’s publication in 2018.

On Amazon US the book currently has 21 reviews/rating with an overall 3.9 star average

On Amazon UK the book has 24 reviews/ratings with an overall 4.1 star average.

Over on Goodreads it’s my 2nd highest rated book with 36 ratings and an average rating of 4.03 stars.

A few ratings on Bookbub: Mainly through my various author social media connections, a few nice folks have left reviews for the Teleporter on Bookbub.

Leaving my own ratings on Bookbub: If I have reviewed your work and if it’s listed on Bookbub then there’s a high chance I have left a rating on there. This probably contributed in some way.

A consistently growing backlist: Since 2016 I have released 6 books. This shows consistency and dedication while any reader including those who use Bookbub are more likely to choose an author who has more works – this further makes my point on the best marketing advice I can give authors – have a backlist so if readers like one of your works they’ll invest in another.

Not giving up: Okay calling my sheer will to carry on a physical attribute might be a stretch but on this author road you have to keep going and keep trying no matter what. I have submitted to Bookbub several times over the years and only twice have they said yes. Keep going, you never know when things will align.

So I’ve laid out all the possible reasons as to why they chose my book but what about yours?

Factors to consider

Now this post has probably drummed up some hope and interest for authors and why not because if I can do this, then you certainly can. But here are some things to consider if you are an author thinking of submitting your work to Bookbub…

Does it stand out?: The Teleporter without me probably realising is a unique book and rather niche. Is yours something that sticks out in a good way? There are millions of crime thrillers out there but only a handful of boozy super hero comedy novellas – its specialist.

Does it have the basic anatomy: The basic anatomy of a book in my eyes is probably the most important selling factor. Does your book have a professional standard cover, an enticing blurb and a unique stand out title? Is the editing the best it can be? If your book has those things and nothing else, you my friend are on the right path. Someone will eventually like your work if it has the basic anatomy.

The price: It’s going to cost me north of $250 for this featured deal. Make sure you’ve got the cash.

Do you have a backlist: One of the biggest outcomes of a Bookbub featured deal is what happens afterwards. Normally the author being featured will shoot up the rankings on Amazon and be visible to newer eyes so it’s vital you take advantage of that and the best way to do so is having a backlist readily available. This time around all of my other titles will be discounted on the day and ready for maximum sales. If you don’t have a backlist to sell then this might not be worthwhile.

Top Tip: When running a promo for your book if you have others, discount them during the promo and it’ll drive some sales.

I say go for it: Trust me when I say you never know unless you try. So any author out there who has doubts about their work being good enough – that was me and still is. Somehow I managed to engineer lightning striking twice so go for it!

Final Thoughts

When I casually checked my emails on a weekday evening after dinner I was shocked to see Bookbub said yes to my application but also big time excited because a Featured Deal is a big deal and will hopefully lead to me climbing another level in the realms of authoring, we’ll see and above all I will be ready!

Anyone looking to apply for a Bookbub featured deal I say good luck and do check out my resources section for some top advice about book promotion and blogging.

The Results

Want to know how the featured deal went? Here is a detailed breakdown of the results!

Discounted Book(s) Alert!

Hello cultured follower. Some of you may know that in my spare time I write books. Now there are a bunch of you who have taken the time to read, review and generally be an awesome supporter of them. Of course there are some newer folks who might not have read them or read all of them, and right now 4 of these books are discounted to 99 cents per e-copy. Banners, links and info below, enjoy…

The Ghost Beside Me

Inspired partly by a true ghost story my Grandfather told me when I was much younger and partly from a potentially paranormal experience of my own in a previous place I lived; ‘Ghost’ makes for a unique diary style account of one lonely person’s quest to get over his social awkwardness by way of an entity not of the mortal persuasion. It’s powerful, gripping and quick – basically the best advert for my writing there is because if you liked this book you’ll probably read my other stuff but if you didn’t it’s only a few hours reading so you haven’t lost much…

The Teleporter

Let’s face it, we all need to laugh more. And considering this is my only comedy book (unless you laughed at the others) you’ll probably find something that’ll get you laughing in this story of one slouch who get’s superpowers and decides to do the right thing. It’s also novella length so again, nothing lost if you don’t like it. There’s a range of diverse characters and it’s also a middle finger to the nearly previous President…

Open Evening and Darke Blood

The two oldest rides in the fairground are and always will be 99 cents from now on. They mark the beginning of my journey and the Order of the Following Series which is still running strong. From hive mind creatures to vampires, the two worlds in these books eventually collide later on making for a multi character Avengers of the Occult world.

Well there we are cultured followers, that’s about all I have in terms of pitching my books to you. Click on the banners for the Amazon dot com links. Some more links are below and do let me know if you grab a copy of something – I’ll happily give you a shout out via social media! Rock and roll man!

Amazon UK Page

Amazon Canada Page

Amazon Australia Page

Book Promotion Results September 2020 Pt1

Ah the selling of books, I’ve done that, quite a lot this year and my latest Book Promotional efforts are looking towards being personal best material. With that in mind and for the purposes of helping a fellow author, here’s a detailed breakdown of what I did and the results I got. Roll the intro….

Introduction/Aim

First of all, before setting out and committing to any type of book promotional run its important to aim for something. What exactly are we looking to achieve here? In my case which I hope doesn’t sound too complex I wanted to promote my book ‘Cemetery House’ and get as many folks as possible to grab a copy during the run. The ‘run’ meaning the time it was going to be free to download and advertised. The more complex bit is below and optional to read.

Not so important background info, skip if you don’t care…

Over the 2 years ‘CH’ has been available it’s been the most under-performing book on my back list. It has the least amount of sales, reviews and I’m not sure many have actually read it. This is a shame, because it’s the bigger, better older brother to my clunky (but also good) debut novel ‘Open Evening’. ‘Cemetery House’ is also part of the wider ‘Order of the Following Series’ which continues in the form of my 6th book which arrives at the end of this month (September 2020) so you kinda need to read it in order for book 6 to make sense. My true aim in this promo run was to fix all of the problems stated above by getting some folks to actually download and eventually read it.

Strategy – how was I going to do it?

So the best way to get as many downloads for a book is to set the price to Free for a minimal amount of time. 2 days works quite well, you can generate a sense of urgency by saying ‘Free for a limited time only’ which is a sneaky way of pressurising people into downloading it. So as all of my works are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days within a certain period to set any of your books for Free. So I did that.

Cemetery House would be avalable for Free on the 3rd and 4th of September 2020. And then advertised as Discounted on the next two days.

While Free is good, along with the small space of time this offer is available they are not a guaranteed way of shifting books and like every author everywhere the greatest struggle we all face is being heard. Our voice is only as loud as our social media following and even that sometimes isn’t enough.

You can see the pain in his face, he’s clearly an author…

My go-to way of amplifying my author voice is to used paid advertising in the form of Book Promotion sites. Using a combination of paid sites and some of which were free, I would be able to amplify my voice while also working in tandem with my social media platforms on the days of the promo to maximise telling folks about it. This strategy can be used for all books across all genres. E books sell a lot more than physical copies in my case but that’s not to say you can’t use this strategy to sell all types. Just do your research, there are plenty of authors out there who share their results. And use the Google if in doubt.

Results first, how I did it later…

While you all probably just want to know how I did it, you first need the context of how well things went to gauge whether or not you can try and achieve the same. So here are the results.

Day 1

Cemetery House Free Downloads: 1643

Stuff I didn’t expect or account for:

Selling nearly all my back list in one damn day….

Including sales of the other two books in the series which are priced at 99 cents:

Darke Blood: 20

Open Evening: 30

Sale of other books not in the series:

The Ghost Beside Me: 1 x Paperback

Total Sales of priced books on Day 1: 51

Context/debrief:

I probably sold 51 books last year in total without promo. This is an unexpected but wonderful result.

Open Evening sold 33 copies on release way back in 2016. For this promo, in which it wasn’t even specifically advertised, it got downloaded 30 times in one damn day.

Day 2

Day 3

All 3 books in the ‘Order of the Following’ series sold very well over the promo run. A huge factor in the success of this is governed by the fact ‘CH’ is the middle book in the series, although there is no particular order in which you need to read them. It is also mentioned on each of their Amazon pages, as seen below with Open Evening. It is mentioned in the start of each book also.

Although on this run I advertised ‘CH’ as stand alone which it can be enjoyed as, there was still plenty of interest for other books in the series and they are both available for 99 cents.

Honorable mentions for both ‘The Teleporter’ and ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which sold copies without any prior advertisement on this run and proof that my single best piece of marketing advice is true. That advice being, the best way to sell a book is to have another available, and then another and so forth. The graph and breakdowns above sing from that hymn sheet big time!

Amazon Chart Movement

My newest strategy in promoting free books is to then advertise them straight after the run as discounted. On this occasion this only generated 3 discounted sales of ‘CH’ after the run, but the sales of ‘Open Evening’ and ‘Darke Blood’ rocketed them both up their respective charts, from several thousand to double figures in a matter of days which will give them some new visibility as they begin to recede back to the dark depths of the unknown, like me…

Tis the season

All three books in the Order of the Following Series are occult, horror or thrillers. I’ve been waiting all damn year for the Spooky season to promote them and they always do well this time of year so let that be a top tip; genre and seasons coincide with sales no matter what book you’ve got to offer non fiction or fiction. People will gravitate towards a spooky tale during the run up to Autumn and Halloween. This is probably why ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ sold some copies also.

This was also the run up of Labour Day weekend over the US which is a big market to tap into. Those good folks from the US of A have supported me well over the years!

Execution – what I did

This is most probably best described as the ‘good part’ of the post and probably the reason why you are here, so here’s what I did.

Book Promo Sites

Freebooksy Horror Promotion – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd

E Reader News Today – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd and 4th

E Book Booster Guranteed Promo – Cost: $20 – Date 3rd and 4th

Pretty Hot – Cost: $25 – Date: 4th

Bookzio – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th

Booangel – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th

As you can see some of the dates and sites overlap with one another. A top tip: if you really want to know how much reach a certain book promo site actually has, then just advertise with them only on a single date. The more expensive normally means better reach but that’s not always the case. Remember you have to be willing to spend a little money if you want some good reach.

Twitter:

On the first day of the Free promotion I put up this banner and then RT’d it later on in the day to coincide with Eastern Time for my American Friends. I’m near to 4k followers so it probably helped with some international reach. I’m proud of this banner which I put together myself via Pixlr.

Instagram

My ‘gram following isn’t huge but I also shared the banner and put some other info about the results via my story. Come and say hi, you can find me here...

Facebook Page

Good ol life invader. I don’t use my page that much these days but my 500 plus following will always be appreciated and so I shared the banner and relevant links on day 2.

A blog post

My blogging efforts are very busy and so I didn’t have the time or space to put out a post on the Free days so instead I put one out on the Saturday. If you want to know what it looks like, here’s the link…

Factors that helped…

Having already mentioned that ‘CH’ is part of a wider series and this is clearly marked on each book’s amazon page, what else helped shift a bunch more books than usual?

Amazon Reviews

Reviews, ratings, critiques whatever you call them, spiritually they don’t matter but in the sense of book promotion they do so it’s a conflicting double edged sword. Even though ‘CH’ did not have any US Amazon reviews at the time of this promo, the two other books did. Having a star rating on Amazon will help shift more copies and I could even argue that is the only purpose reviews serve – that’s a rabbit hole of debate that I wont go into right now.

Book Covers

I firmly sit in the corner of investing well in a good book cover. This is such a huge factor that will attract passing trade. Yes your book is free and being paraded in front of a big internet audience but does it look good? People do judge a book by it’s cover. If you scroll to the very top of this site you will see all 5 of my book covers. Trust me, they matter in sales and they are shiny also.

I Invested with money

It doesn’t take a business major to see a potential flaw in this book promo run. Giving a book away for free but paying for advertising, how are you going to make a profit? The answer to that question is, I’m not, in the short term. The purpose of the book promotion is to maximise readers, if your work is quality enough for readers to look at more of your books then this will eventually lead to potential profits. Right now I am in the process of building that readership which is growing. This also coincides with having more work available which the results of this promo have proved as a tactic in selling books. If you seriously want success in publishing you need to invest money.

Final thoughts…

The numbers speak for themselves and I was pleasantly surprised to sell anything more than what I tried to promote. Like everything in publishing apart from the story, us writers aren’t actually in control and that’s both scary and thrilling. Embrace all the stuff you don’t intend to achieve in writing, trust me, its normally the best stuff. Quite recently I have been very much enjoying the connecting with fellow writers who’ve published all types of works from cookery books to vampires which are still the fashion!

To everyone who has read up to this point thank you, I hope you find this post useful an you can hopefully expect the full guide book to arrive next year. But just remember, this post is just Part 1…

But wait there’s more…

You can read part 2 here….

Thanks for reading, stay safe and peace out!

Bookbub Ads – an abject failure

Here at the Hall of Information we are always on the look-out for proven techniques that work on the subject of book promotion. Even though this operation is small, we still try our best to pass on all experiences and results, good or bad for the greater good of fellow wordsmiths looking to get their work out into the wider world. Well it was only a matter of time until a bad one came along, or shall we say a ‘not so good’ one. Right now I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed…

This week I took a dive into the complicated, convoluted world of Bookbub advertising. Now first let me determine that this is not the ‘featured deal’ advertising you can apply for which they will probably reject, but in fact another service via their ‘partners’ site. Anyone can pretty much sign up and get advertising straight away or so they say. 

You are asked to fill in boxes with your book’s URL, and the whole thing is pretty standard if you are comparing to other advertisers. But then it gets a little complicated as you are asked to find an audience who will potentially click on what is essentially a thumbnail sized pop up that will appear in their inboxes the next time Bookbub sends them a circular. This is essentially what the advert is, a small pop up of your cover and 60 characters to hook someone into clicking on it. Did I hook someone? Anyone? Just one person? Find out below…

It isn’t really explained whether broad or specific audiences are preferable. Specific would target individuals most likely to buy I suppose? When I reached the green area it suggested I’m on track (unlike the example below) and so after putting a few Darke Blood related author tags and genres into this targeting thing, it seemed to be happy.

borad

Next you are asked about date ranges, budget and then of course more complicated things known as ‘Bid’ which is an impressions based of clicks budget – again very convoluted for the layman author looking to sling a few ebooks. I selected a continuous option because the ambition in me just imagined the sales rolling in…

So after fudging around with the figures – figures I cannot show you because Bookbub have already deleted the campaigns I put on pause – I was ready to go. My first campaign looked a little like this…

Daily Budget $15 

Bid ‘CPM’ Budget $9ish 

_________________________________________________________________________________

dfw-lh-db-cover-ebook

 

There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness…

(Imagine a jazzy background)

 

 

Buy now

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

I guran-damn-tee somebody who stumbles upon this here post, even in ten years time will click on that buy now button, but when my ad ran for 24 hours, with over 200 impressions, not one person clicked on it…

Ok, so maybe it was me, not being able to navigate the system probably. So the very next day I tried again, and changed a few things. By lunchtime I was done. No clicks and me left wondering what I did wrong, like everyday… I don’t have time to figure out over complicated advertisement algorithms, and maybe you do, but I’ve got books to write.

My total spend on this abject failure was $17.69 and I know for a fact I can get book sales for less than that. In fact I have, with my Bookbub featured deal last year I spent $86.00 and sold 66 books that day. But the many other promo sites I’ve used have given me a way better return.

My advice would be to go elsewhere. Of course my book promo lists/results can be found in the many posts I have put out there previously. Here are a couple of recents:

Book Promo Results March 2020

Book Promo Results September 2019

Final Thought: 

Straight after I was done failing at Book bub ads, I cobbled together this little mock up via an online photo shop site. Seeing as I just got a fresh review, I quoted it and then put it up on the Tweet machine.

Image

As you can see the results are 3 times better than bookbub ads, and not a dime was spent…

tweet

The moral of the story, not all advertisers work, and neither do I… Be wise with your money and don’t just dive into something…

How I landed a deal with Bookbub!

As an author you probably don’t have to go far from the Google to find out what Bookbub is. For those not in the know, Bookbub is referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of book promotion sites and even more so for readers because it’s probably the most prestigious book connector site out there. And what’s even better is that they near enough guran-damn-tee returns on their investments…

From very early in my indie author career I tried and tried to land a promotion deal with them. Those lucky enough to land a deal report of a good amount of sales and even returns on the investment of a Bookbub ‘featured deal’ promo. Just looking at some of the ‘requirements’ for acceptance is pretty damn intimidating, with some even boasting you need 50 plus reviews, but…

Its all about looking the part and persistence…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-teleporter-promo-banner.jpg

None of my books have anywhere near the dizzy heights of what is perceived as a requirement amount of reviews BUT the reduced amount of reviews in comparison I do have are mainly positive and diversely ranged from bloggers, readers and even people I do not know. There are reviews on Amazon UK, US, Canada and even AUS which reflects my initial efforts in getting The Teleporter read and out there. Many of them even put their reviews up on Goodreads. There even a few reviews that are probably better than the book!

The cover artwork is second to none, like all of my stuff I invested in a great cover from some awesome folks called Design for Writers who have made all of my books look as good as any other author, pro or indie out there.

It’s also well edited and formatted by my awesome publisher. It simply looks the part from all angles and this is proof even small time indies like me can be taken seriously. Underdogs can win, even in publishing.

Above all I also never stopped applying. Every month or so I would submit a new deal to Bookbub and eventually they agreed to promote The Teleporter!

Standing out from the crowd…

There aren’t many super hero comedy books out there right now and there aren’t any called the The Teleporter. Like all of my books I have tried to title them in a way that is unique or sticks out from the crowd. So by submitting to Bookbub in the ‘humor’ category I think I set myself out from the crowd. In this world different is good, not the try hard to be different sort, just the naturally occurring different and that’s what the Teleporter is! Find a niche category and if everything else is aligned you may get chosen.

Combination of stuff…

There isn’t one sole reason why I got chosen by Bookbub. All of the above as a combination have led to this. A top tip would be to check on their site what books are currently being promoted, if they are similar to yours then they might be looking for that kind of thing.

Reviewers have helped this book in a huge way along with the awesome writing community who helped promote in recent times.

For anyone who did that, THANK YOU, this feels like our book and it’s going to the big dance and hopefully to a more mainstream audience. You folks can boast, if all goes well, that you read it before it was huge!