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!

Book Promotion Results October 2020

I’ve been promoting books again, or at least one book anyway and so here’s a breakdown of the results, methods and hopefully something a fellow author can use because we all know marketing is hard… let’s dive in…

Introduction/Aim

It’s important to start with some kind of plan or at least something to aim for when it comes to promoting books. For this promotional run, my ghost story novella ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ was going to be free for a few days before and on the day of Halloween via kindle. My aim, to get as many free downloads as possible during that time.

Although this is a great way of generating many downloads, my voice alone isn’t loud enough to tell everyone so I invested in some methods listed below.

Top tip: Promoting a Ghost story over Halloween in theory is a good idea. Some genres work better during different seasons. Another example would be my super hero comedy book which always sells better in summer months (northern hemisphere) as it makes for a beach read. Have you got a Christmas themed story coming up? December is closing in. Timing is important folks…

Strategy – how was I going to do it?

As mentioned I would firstly set the price of my book to free via Kindle Direct Publishing. If your e book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days every so often to make that book free for promotional purposes. In terms of target market, because it will be free, we were aiming for everyone – free books are more of a blanket approach in terms of targeting. There are some authors who insist they’ll never make their work available for free – you’ll probably never reach a larger scale audience if you think that way, no matter how special you think that book is…

How exactly was I going to reach as many people as possible?

  1. Book Promotion websites that offer paid advertising. Websites listed below.
  2. Via my social media following – 4k twitter followers and 500+ blog followers and 500+ Facebook page followers.

There are many paid and free book promotion sites that do a great job in reaching readers. When running a promo I would recommend using them and in my case I spread them out over the three days the book would be free. This is also a great way of knowing which sites are effective.

Top tip: When paying for anything online make sure you use a reputable payment service such as PayPal. There are also many authors like myself who will share results highlighting who are the better sites so remember to do your research.

Results

As you can see nearly 2000 people downloaded the book across 9 different Amazon territories over the 3 days. Day 2 was the most popular and we even got a number 1 chart position over in the US, so let us look at the methods I used in detail.

Methods in Detail

The following things made this promo a success:

Existing Book Reviews

Let’s face it, getting book reviews is a struggle but the one’s we get help immensely when running a promo as lot’s of traffic will be passing by your book page to see them. If there are just a few reviews that will increase the chances of that book being downloaded. In my case ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ had a healthy number of reviews in both the UK and US markets. This helped.

Book Promo Sites

The engine room of this promo was the sites I invested in to advertise and tell people about the book.

You can near enough pin point which promo sites were effective. Day 1 only got a handful of downloads.

The sites I used for day 1 were:

My Book Place ($25 Feature)

Book Reader Magazine ($10)

I would most likely not use these sites for this type of promotion again. For $35 I expect a little better… lesson learned and recorded for future use…

For Day 2 which yielded the brunt of my results I used the following sites:

Hotstuff Romance Free Friday Promotion ($15)

Book Angel (Free)

Freebookshub .co.uk ($15)

Book Bongo Book Bump ($9.99) 2 Day Promo

E Book Deals Today ($9.99) 2 Day Promo

Freebooksy Paranormal Romance Deal ($99)

From the results we can gather that the Freebooksy deal which was the most expensive and probably did the most work, but combining promo sites is a great way to spread the word. My advice, if you want maximum downloads be prepared to pay for the advertising.

Social Media

For Day 3 I simply relied on the two day promos alongside a blog post on here and utilizing Shameless Self Promo Saturday over on Twitter. On Day 2 and 3 I also put up a post on the Facebook Page. All of these posts included this book banner.

Top Tip: Get yourself a decent book banner to share your works on. I made this myself via Pixlr but you can get a freelancer to put one together over on Fiverr for a decent price and half the time. Book Promo Banners are an essential visual. Visuals result in sales. The same also goes for a professional looking cover. People do judge books by them…

This is all combined with the fact Day 3 was also Halloween. Here’s what my Twitter post looked like:

Top Tip: When it comes to Twitter, hashtags and getting people to engage are key. You can see on this tweet above I encouraged others to drop links while also providing incentive to Retweet and follow back – incentives and having something to offer are a must for successful engagement.

Factors for Success

So how exactly did I get the results I got?

Firstly I had a plan and an aim – to get as many free downloads.

The book had some existing reviews which helped passers by notice it.

I invested money in advertising.

I implemented and used my social media following with a post that included hashtags and incentive to engage,

It was the right time for a Ghost story promo – Halloween

Book Banners helped for the visual factor along with a professional cover.

Results Further

Since the promo ‘Ghost’ has already received two new reviews which is a huge result but the results for a good promotional run will last a while after with page reads being tracked via KDP and possibly further sales. Overall for a stand alone short read that has only been out 10 months at the time of promo, I’ very happy with the results. This was my last promo of the year and a good one to finish things with.

My advice for anyone looking to promo their own work is to consider the factors for success listed above and of course combine that with your own expectation as there are so many other factors that help sell books – genre, what’s happening in the news etc. This takes time and patience, if you have those things, you’ll be okay.

If you promote your books a handful of times a year there’s no doubt your readership will eventually grow. Investment is the most important thing and not giving up. Thank you for reading, there is a stack of more useful information for authoring and blogging over on the resources page. That is until next year when the self help book arrives. Peace out!