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Bookbub by the Numbers in 2015

6 January 2016

32 Comments to “Bookbub by the Numbers in 2015”

  1. So they only accepted 22-23% of submissions (depending on how much “plus” there was to that 55k).


    • “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” –Mark Twain


      I had almost a page of snark, but I decided it was safer to just comment on how marketing always loves to play numbers games — being careful never to give you ‘all’ the numbers …

      • The numbers they do give don’t exactly make me want to try a Bookbub deal. My genre will fit into one of their newer additions, but it’s not listed as one of their more popular ones, so… nah, not interested in paying that much to see what happens.

  2. I wonder what kind of fertilizer you should use when growing employees.

    • They’re the firstborn of some of the more desperate writers that begged to get promoted, and they are still teething …

      Still, 23 out of 7631 isn’t too bad …

  3. I looked at BookBub’s price list once, sighed, and never looked again. They could break down their statistics into “traditionally-published books/authors” and “self-published books/authors” categories, but they won’t–there’s just too much easy money from the eternally hopeful to be made.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and BookBub is a wonderful deal for the “average” self-published author. So, has anyone here used their promo services? Did you break even, do better than break even, or was the effort a complete waste of money?

    • i got my first bookbub approved this year. amazing result. gave away the first in series free, made my money back in a couple days on sales of the sequels, and tripled my mailing list in a week. pretty outstanding

    • IMO, they are more than worth the price. I had a BookBub on a free book in a smaller category (Supernatural Suspense), and it way more than paid for itself on the day of the feature alone, in sell-through to the rest of the series. Then there’s a tail that keeps on giving. 🙂 Even if the book had been a standalone, the KU pages read on the featured book alone paid for the ad within a few days. (Not to mention sales once it went back to full price.)

    • I managed to secure a BookBub spot once, and earned back what they charged me by noon on the first day. I would do a LOT to get another spot … it’s the only promotional site I’ve found that truly works.

      • Smaller sites work as well, depending on how you use them. If you buy an ad for a free lead-in of a four book series and your buy-through rate will let you recover the cost, then you’re essentially steering their mailing list to your own list for free.

    • I did a BB ad for a free give away for book one in a series in June.

      Without BB, I’d usually have around 150 downloads for Amazon’s 5 free days.

      With BB, I got nearly 5K downloads. This cost me $70.

      Enough people used KU to get the free book so I made about $150 from pages read.

      Then people started buying my other books. Not just the rest of the series, but everything I had on Zon.

      I’m still real new. Up to that point, if I cleared $70/mo it was happy dance time.

      That month between KU and sales I earned a little over $1,400. The next month it was almost $500.

      This also resulted in my book’s ranking hitting the top in several categories for a month which also brought in readers that didn’t get the BB newsletter.

      Sales have settled down to around $150 a month for the rest of the year. (I really need to get my next book out.)

      I’m still getting sales on book 2 & 3 in the series when I haven’t sold a book 1, so I’m assuming they are trickling in from the free book 1 that folks have gotten around to reading.

      I doubled the number of reviews on book one. I think I tripled the number of names on my newsletter list. Admittedly that wasn’t hard considering I didn’t have that many to start with.

      BB is targeted marketing to people that are looking for discount books in your genre. This is about the best advertising you can do. But I really learned you need a back list for people to go on and buy. To a real extent my income was limited by the amount of product I had to sell.

      I just applied for another ad. It is competitive, but that’s the way it should be. That $70 was the best money I’ve spent on marketing. It worked. I could track it. I see no reason not to try to get a slot if you have a book one you can give away. Loss leaders work. It’s basic retailing.

    • I had three Bookbub ads last year. All for free book promos. I paid around $300 per ad. I made back my money many times over. I had no BB ads the prior year–never applied that year because the price had gone up quite a bit and I worried about the cost, however, I had a few the year before which also did well.

      So, a year ago, I saved up my pennies and applied. I was shocked they picked my book, which was perma-free at the time. It was exactly on the low end of the page count they accept, and it had only about 50 reviews, I think. It did pretty well, reached #14 in the free store and I was very happy with those results, but the rest of the books in the series were wide, and since it was a shorter book, and a prequel, the tail on it died after about 6 weeks. I shook things up and made book one in my series perma-free. I applied, and got another ad. This time, got up to #3 in the US, and #2 in UK and CA. That tail lasted much longer, and was still pretty strong when I applied again for the same book 6 months later.

      BB allowed me to triple my earnings in 2015. It’s a good strategy if you can get one, but I’m working on building my mailing list now. I will apply to BB whenever I can. It doesn’t hurt to apply, but in the meantime, work on my own marketing strategies.

  4. I have using Book Bub to promote my historical mysteries since they started, and I have always made money in sales (sell through for the rest of the books in the series and increased sales of the promoted book because of the increased visibility of the book afterwards.) In the mystery and historical fiction genres that I know…I have never heard of anyone who didn’t make money from a BookBub promotion.

    I know lots of people who have had to submit multiple times before they get their book accepted because Bookbub actually curates the lists they send out. For example, if they get 2 historical mysteries submitted for the same day…they will probably only accept one (but that doesn’t mean they won’t accept the rejected one some other time.) They are very data driven, which means that their decisions are actually based on concrete information about what sells, I believe is the reason they are so consistently successful.

    I believe in investing in my work…which means spending a proportion of money I make in promoting my books.. And BookBub has been the promotional tool that has been the most consistent and most successful in terms of a high rate of return for my investment.

    • I’m glad it works for you (and no, I’m not being sarcastic). 🙂

      Some promotional things work really well for some people. For others, the cost can be too prohibitive to even try them, or not give really good results for the money spent.

      I could pay for a Bookbub promo and not suffer over the loss if it didn’t result in making the cost back or more.

      But if I can afford it and not suffer over that possible result, there’s really no reason to pay for it in the first place, if what I am doing is working just as well.

      My personal “promotional tools” are writing and releasing new books, and hanging out on Facebook with the readers who choose to interact with me there.

      My investment in my work is my time, and money spent on editing.

      Just different strokes for different folks, depending on their situation.

      • I was super hesitant about doing an ad because of the cost for a long time, $300 is a lot of money when you aren’t making all that much, but I have to say I’m shocked that the average author only doubles their investment because I don’t know anyone who didn’t make money, and in contemporary romance I’ve made a LOT more money from the rest of the series after a promo. My most recent one was the third for that book and it didn’t do nearly as well as the others, but I still made way, way more than the ad cost me. No one else even budges the free downloads to more than 1000-and the conversion rate from free download to purchases of book 2 aren’t as good, either.

        • Well, for the imperfect fit category I’d have to select for my series, I’d be looking at $610-$900 for an ad, because I’ve chosen to avoid free and 99c price points.

          I gave away loads of books over the years, and that never did a thing. I ran 99c promos, and watched my sales die in the water every single time. When I could afford to do a few paid promo things, not a single one of them resulted in so much as a blip of increase.

          Book #1 is my loss leader at $2.99. The most I’d consider dropping it is to $1.99. It has 71 reviews, with an average of 4.3, so maybe would manage acceptance by Bookbub. I’ve already sold nearly 15k copies, most of those through 2014-2015, after it began to “take off” during the tail end of 2013. The other 5 in the series are following along in its tracks, taking into account their own release dates.

          I did drop the first one to $1.99 a short time back, just to see what would happen. It began to sink like a stone in ranking due to sales dropping, the rest of the series books also began to stumble, and I changed the price right back to $2.99 before things got worse. They all recovered. Whew.

          Maybe a Bookbub ad would get different results than the ones I’ve historically gotten. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t and I’d be throwing my money away.

          That’s just kind of the luck I have with promotions. 🙂

          • i appreciate your stats Scath. I think it’s wise to do what works for each person. And it’s fascinating how the econ of book sales has a life of its own.

            • You’re welcome! I like to share them because I went through my period (nearly 6 years) of wondering what the heck I was doing wrong all the time. None of the promotional stuff worked, but it seemed like it worked for nearly everyone else. 🙂

              Since I write a series, I track the increase of each first 30 days’ sales for new releases. Happy to say it’s roughly 25% so far.

              Maybe a Bookbub would make the next release’s results higher. I don’t know, just not willing to toss that much away to find out when this kind of progress is happening.

              Could jinx it. 😉

              Besides, I write Urban Fantasy. The closest BB category is Supernatural Suspense, and it’s not a super close fit though my heroine is a private detective.

              • I think your run of ‘luck’ and hard work is never going to run out. Keep going, man. 25% is great for first 30 so far.

                Thing is, in the west, there’s a history of three types of beings: thems that set up camp and then build a permanent camp and stay there, and become experts on building stationary camps that work in ways they like. Then there are those who break camp and keep riding, and discover all kinds of wonderful opportunites that they grab hold of… Then there are those who sometimes stay in the open ranges that make sense to them but also sometimes rest for a bit in the settled places too: some of each.

                That you are open, and yet go your own way, is I think, the best of all worlds.

  5. 19 BookBub rejections and counting.

  6. I’ve had several bookbubs and they have always paid off, sometimes as much as ten-fold (just once there). That said, it’s getting much harder to get my books accepted, despite the fact that my books do well when they’re featured. I’m thinking the word has spread enough that it’s just going to get harder and harder.

  7. BookBub is the gold standard. I try to do at least 4 BB ads per year. They’ve generated tens of thousands of $ worth of sales for me, and hundreds of 5-star reviews as a nice side benefit. Nothing else comes close.

    Yes, they cost more than the $15 and $50 outfits. Yes, it’s getting harder to get accepted. Keep trying. Worth. Every. Penny.

  8. I just got approved by Da Bub for later this month after a year and change of rejection. I went for a $0.99 promo instead of a free one, mostly because I want the Paid in Kindle rankings more than I do the extra free giveaways. From talking to other indies in my genre (science fiction % fantasy), I should get back my $360 investment easily enough. If not, well, I’m currently selling well enough I can afford any losses.

    I found it kind of funny my seventh or eight submission was accepted just days after my newest release hit it big, which might be a case of ‘them as has, gets.’ I’m definitely looking forward to finding out if it works out as well as most everyone claim. I haven’t heard of anyone who lost money from them; hoping I won’t be the first one 🙂

  9. I’m up tomorrow. Will let you know in a few days how it went.

  10. I find this interesting that so manyfind they derive good benefit. That is great. And I’m a little suprised amz hasnt leapt onto buying bb.

    I can see the tail is unpredictable, and the short term run looks like what a promo of BB can do. That seems ok and good too.

    I’d like to see the ‘policy’ for how bb ‘chooses’ which authors/books. That I would like to see to the last dotted i and crossed t.

    I wonder how often one can submit [and be turned down] and how often one can be ‘accepted’ in say, a year’s period of time

    I’d also like to see the thousands of authors’ sales of whatever was promo-ed 6mos later, and then 1 year after a promo.

    • I wonder how often one can submit [and be turned down] and how often one can be ‘accepted’ in say, a year’s period of time

      You can submit the same book once every 30 days. They don’t feature the same book more than every 6 months, or the same author more than once a month.

    • PG posted about a Kindleboards Q&A (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2015/02/bookbub-qa/) that explained more of what they want, but your acceptance is ultimately up to their editors.

      I was turned down two or three times before. I read the Q&A last year, and again a week before I created my pitch. So thanks, PG, because it worked!

    • Here is a link to their explanation of the process. If you are interested, I would subscribe to their blog, it is full of data, and tips about selling and promotion in general. I know people get upset when their book is rejected because they don’t know exactly why…but I really do think a lot of it comes down to how the factors all play together when the editors sit down and make their decisions. That is why the same book can be rejected over and over and then accepted when nothing has changed. On the other hand, a new cover, more reviews, better product description etc could be the deciding factor–just as it can be the deciding factor for why someone decides to click buy or not.


  11. Hey, thank you M Lousa Locke, Meryl and Jen. MUCH more clear now to me.

    ANd Louisa, I know youre right, for it was that way in submitting for years to big pubs, and finally one day, same ms as the last many MANY rejections before, was finally accepted for pub. It seems to be a mystery inherent in publishing and promo-ing? lol

  12. I have never heard of an author who didn’t make money on a BB promo. There is certainly plenty of testament on this page to its efficacy.

    They accepted my first novel 3 years ago and moved 6,000+ units in two days.

    They’ve turned the same book down twice since, and everything else I’ve submitted.

  13. Well, a little over 24 hours after my first BookBub ad and I’ve made back the money on the ad. Still getting sales on Amazon and B&N. I haven’t gotten the second wave of buys for the second and third book in the series yet, but so far, so good. I exceeded the average for my genre and price range–by a lot.

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