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Rejected By BookBub? Look In The Mirror And Change Your Marketing Ways

7 July 2017

From Digital Book World:

[G]etting a listing in a BookBub email is not as easy as placing an order and paying the fee. BookBub estimates that it only accepts 10 to 15% of the books that are submitted.

. . . .

I want you to see your BookBub rejection as a wake-up call. You should use it to start changing your ways. If BookBub doesn’t want you, it’s time for you to turn it around marketing-wise.

Turn-It-Around Tactic #1: Change your merchandising for the better

Even though you shouldn’t pine over being left behind by BookBub, there are compelling reasons to take a fresh look at your book merchandising.

What is online bookstore merchandising? Merchandising in a brick-and-mortar store is the art of making products look appealing to shoppers. Merchandising in a digital store includes having a great book cover, a compelling blurb, and double-digit customer reviews—25, 50, or more.

BookBub rewards authors who are actively performing these best-practice digital store merchandising methods. If your cover, sales description, and customer reviews can’t impress BookBub, what makes you think they’re good enough to impress a reader? Okay, maybe your book is too niche for BookBub. Maybe your book simply is too new. But maybe, just maybe, your merchandising needs adjustment. Here’s how:

Hire a new cover designer—a professional with experience designing today’s ebooks.
Actively solicit reviews by adding a pitch inside your book on the last page.
Get a marketing professional to help you write a powerful blurb. Or read this classic DBW article on writing blurbs.
If you correct the elements that are lacking in your book’s online profile, your offering will become attractive to BookBub’s editors—and those same things are attractive to regular customers, too.

In short, BookBub’s decision-making process is very similar to that of an actual book buyer. So if your title can appeal to BookBub, it will probably appeal to lots of other people. And whether or not BookBub ever chooses your title for a promotion, with a better cover, description, and more sales reviews, your overall sales will surely improve.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World


36 Comments to “Rejected By BookBub? Look In The Mirror And Change Your Marketing Ways”

  1. Lemme see. 85-90% of people who have the audacity to submit a request to BookBub to pay to be on their newletter need to go out and spend major money and do something different?

    Hokay. Will place that on the ‘Under Advisement’ list. I’ll get to it. Some day. I promise.

  2. [G]etting a listing in a BookBub email is not as easy as placing an order and paying the fee.

    Doesn’t that depend on who you are?

  3. Time to give Book Bub some competition. They act like a monopoly and if some other enterprising entrepreneurs out there get cracking, this can open the door for others.

    • There is no law against monopoly. The law proscribes anti-competitive practices.

      • Sorry, but I guess I need to add to my post. And pardon my snarkiness. You know the big problem I have with Book Bub? They are no longer a service geared to help writers get the word out about their product. They hold themselves up as GATEKEEPERS.

        Hello? Doesn’t it ring a bell? 10-15% allowed in? A huge list of rules for you to follow before they let you in? Gatekeepers do that, and this time under the guise of something other than a traditional publisher. And the rates they charge? For crying out loud, that doesn’t help the majority of Indies trying to make a living out of their writing.

        That is rubbish. I am not willing to play their game, as I am not willing to play the traditional publishing route game.

        Bookbub’s claim to fame is that they have a huge mailing list. So what? They won’t always be the big kahuna in town. Sooner or later there will be a better and bigger replacement. I only hope it will be focused on actually helping indie authors instead of charging outrageous rates and adding a “to do” list along with their books.

        • When Bookbub started they promoted books for no cost. One day I woke up and had a HUGE sales increase because they blasted my book out – without my knowledge. That’s how low on the totem pole they started, now they are flooded with so many requests they can only select titles that will sell. What’s the problem again?

        • I agree with this. This is why I’ve never considered trying a Bookbub promotion, especially since they charge. I’ve no interest in going through a gatekeeper even if it means I have to do more work.

        • Bookbub is valuable to writers as a marketing tool because it’s valuable to readers as a way to find good books at good sale prices. If they weren’t stringent, if they didn’t have standards that are up to the level that readers expect, their newsletter subscribers would drop and they’d be of less value as a marketing tool to writers.

          It’s like you’re saying that Bookbub should promote any books that authors are willing to pay for, but that would stretch out their newsletters so long that most of the books wouldn’t even be seen because either the reader’s email service would cut it off or the reader would get bored browsing the list before they got all the way through. Which would mean that whether a writer got any return on that fee to Bookbub would entirely depend on how far up they list they were put, and how far up the list would probably depend on how well they met Bookbub’s expectations. Would you rather Bookbub take your money and then put you so far down a very long list that no one sees your listing, or would you rather they refuse to take your money and not put you on their list?

          I definitely see the frustration that some have with Bookbub’s requirements, but look at it from the other side. What exactly are you proposing that they do instead, given the level of demand they have for advertising with them and the limited number of slots per day that they can do while still being effective for both readers and writers?

          • I think the concern some people have is that BookBub’s new practice of selling bulk spots to publishers to fill with any books they want is reducing the value of the list to readers which in turn reduces its value as a marketing tool.

            BookBub does promote any book publishers are willing to pay for, and those appear in the same newsletters as the stringently selected books. Aside from the worry of declining value as a marketing tool, there is probably some understandable pique that different players get different rules.

            • Yes, that’s definitely a valid concern. I subscribe to Bookbub, and I find myself annoyed at how many tradpub books there are now. Not just as a writer who wants indies to succeed and get those spots. As a reader who wants to find new stuff that isn’t just whatever tradpubs want to push at me. Yes, this is one point that I do certainly agree with, though I think it’s a separate point from Bookbub having standards and limitations in general.

    • Time to give Book Bub some competition. They act like a monopoly and if some other enterprising entrepreneurs out there get cracking, this can open the door for others.

      There’s a new service called Bookbot Bob that uses a chat bot thing to get free books notifications to FB users who have to opt in to receive the notifications. It’s nowhere near close to being as big as Bookbub, but maybe it or something like it is the next step in marketing. I subscribed and have downloaded a few free books from the service so far, and have one of my books scheduled for next week. We’ll see how it goes.

  4. Why the BookBub knocks?
    I’m a relatively unknown author and last year I made an effort to re-brand my books, update my website, increase my newsletter subs – who I reminded how important reviews are for an author.
    On January 1, I applied for a BB promotion. Received an acceptance three days later. My fourth BB promotion this year is scheduled for July 18th.

    I’ve reached #63 [best seller status] in Amazon paid books [May], directly as a result.

    What’s not to like?

    • I think some people just bristle at any form of rejection, or even the idea of rejection, by any sort of gatekeeper. (Which is probably why some chose self-publishing in the first place.)

    • “Why the BookBub knocks?”

      Gee, I don’t know …


      In the comments:

      “try raising that title’s price and resubmit in three months.”

      Raise the price before putting it on sale: An old and consumer-unfriendly (read: slimy) retailer’s trick. Should BookBub — or anyone else — be encouraging such behavior?

      Bookbub have been selling bulk spots to publishers who put up some terrible books, especially Open Road Media.

      #9 You weren’t lucky.

      Similar to a rejection from an agent, ‘Not right for us now,’ when they really mean they have limited room, and too many submissions.

      Sort of like ‘we are not able to offer you admission to Princeton, but this means nothing bad about you or your qualifications.’

      Doesn’t help – because there’s nothing you can do about it.

      At least at BookBub, you can potentially resubmit. At a deeply discounted price. And hope again.

      They don’t know the difference between an anthology and a collection.

      Oh, and ‘yours’ of course:

      “So far this year I’ve made three BB submissions, and have had three ‘featured deal’s. The last one got me to ‘best seller’ status on ‘Zon in paid books. What’s not to like?”

      It is good to hear that some’one’ is doing better with them than most others seem to be.

    • Good for you, John.

  5. BookBub is by no means the only game in town. I know of at least a dozen. Authors also band together and create a list of freebie books on one of their sites, and they all promote the crap out of that link.

    Here is a link to an article I did listing all those sites.


    As an aside, I read a lot so I pick up free books all over the place, and Bookbub is the one I find less on these days. Part of that is that some of the big publishers are buying large chunks of slots from them, and many of the books are repeats.

    • Smart Debut Author

      BookBub *is* the only one that reliably generates several thousand paid sales of your title in a single day, though.

      BookBub is the only one virtually guaranteed to earn you back more than you spent on the ad before the day is over.

      Other sites are great, and thank goodness they do exist… but all of them put together don’t generate a fraction of the sales a single BookBub listing can generate. And most of the time, despite those other sites costing a tenth of what a BookBub ad costs you, you’ll still end up losing money advertising on them.

      Although it’s undeniably frustrating for the 90% of submitting authors that get rejected, there’s a reason BookBub is the king.

      • Often times getting rejected has nothing to do with your cover, blurb, price, or reviews – they simply don’t have enough open spots for your genre/niche. I’ve had titles get rejected in March only to be accepted in June.

        • Smart Debut Author

          Yeah, me too.

          All this complaining about how Bookbub are big meanies now or “gatekeepers” or whatever is just silly and unhelpful. They are a business like any other. If they happen to have an opening in your genre and think that your title will appeal to their subscribers more than the other competing submissions that day, they accept it. If not, they don’t.

          Business-minded authors don’t feel maligned or conspired against when they submit a title to BookBub and don’t get a slot. They just shrug, maybe tweak a thing or two, and keep submitting.

          Which reminds me… 😉

      • Yep. I finally made the cut in January and it was a huge jump in sales.

  6. This fails to mention some genres are more competitive than others. Let’s face it, memoir and literary fiction have much better chances than Romance. Annoying but true.

  7. Smart Debut Author

    And for the record, “Digital Book World” should rename themselves “Legacy Book World.”

    Their concern-trolling editorial stance on all things publishing-related is as anti-indie and mindlessly pro-trad-pub as their “content” is misinformed and outdated.


  8. And whether or not BookBub ever chooses your title for a promotion, with a better cover, description, and more sales reviews, your overall sales will surely improve.

    1.) What is “better”? In whose opinion?

    2.) This is a circular argument– you need more reviews. To get more reviews, you *first* NEED MORE SALES. O-o-o-o-kay.

    3.) They sound pretty certain that these magical, mostly-undefined elements will increase sales. I posit that there is absolutely no guarantee that this is the case.

  9. Smart Debut Author

    Bookbub have been selling bulk spots to publishers… especially Open Road Media.

    It’s BookBub’s business, and they can do whatever they want. But this is definitely true. I remember a graph Author Earnings did showing how BookBub ads over the last three years split between indies and publishers (big five and other). Back in the “good old days” BookBub was mostly indie, but now indie books are a shrinking minority of their ads.

  10. how much does a book bub thing cost? The same to indies as to big publishers? Do big publishers get turned away too? are big publishers given hints as to what genres book bliub is letting in? I wondeir

    • I have a Bookbub running for a cozy mystery next week. Cost was $700 to blast out my book at $0.99 to over 2 million ‘cozy’ subscribers. Years ago that would bring me 5000+ sales in 24 hours, doubling my initial outlay. These days results have fallen a bit, we’ll see how much I suppose. It’s Book 8 of a series, so I will get sell thru to the other 7 (full priced) titles.

      More often what happens to me is that I would submit for cozy and get pushed into a smaller genre that costs perhaps $300 but results in only 1200 sales at $0.99.

      And yes, between each successful Bookbub application I get rejected 2-5 times. Just like trad pub, we are often left guessing as to what type of book a publisher is looking for.

      • thanks Thoroedge, I appreciate your thoughts on this, and wish you well on your current promo. let us know how it goes ok?

  11. Since I get mailings from Bookbub and all the others I have listed on my site, I can say that those who have books on Bookbub have books up on some of the other lists on the same or following day.

    Putting all your eggs in one basket for promotion or any other endeavor is never a good thing, and these authors are smart enough to know that.

  12. People often don’t realize that BookBub owes much of it’s success to a substantial infusion of capital: $3.8 million in funding in 2014, plus another round of $7 million in 2015. Compare that to many other still-impactful sites started literally in someone’s basement with $0 investment.

    I hold the distinction of turning JA Konrath onto Bookbub years ago. He had tried many ‘banner ad’ type marketing promos with no success and mistook Bookbub for more of the same. Just an interesting tidbit.

  13. Alternate title: Just because you’re indie doesn’t mean you can’t do rejectomancy, too!

  14. Too bad honesty hasn’t been a ‘thing’ for so long now. (And from what I’ve seen never in publishing or advertising.)

    A ‘Sorry – We’ve hit our limit! Try again if you like.’ from BookBub would be oh so much more useful to a writer/publisher than being told by places like Digital Book World that you didn’t make it because you need to ‘up your game’.

    • +1

      I’ll admit I tend to be a little irritated by BookBub’s insistence that they feature only books of high quality. How many times have I discovered an absolute gem of a book hidden behind an awful cover? And how many times have I seen a fabulous cover that piques my interest, only do be severely disappointed when I check the Look Inside?

      Answer: Too many times!

      It’s not like BookBub can (or does) actually read the books they feature. Nor do I think they should. That’s not a business model that would work. But it does annoy me that they pretend that “good cover + good blurb + 50 reviews = good book.” Sometimes it does. Sometimes…not so much.

      • And it doesn’t help their credibility any if they ‘sell’ slots to trad-pub – who can then fill it with any old junk.

    • Actually, those suggestions to “up your game” come from BookBub itself on its blog and in its rejection letter. I particularly like the one that says to submit at a lower price when they’re rejecting a book at a price of zero.

      • Moving the indie/self-pub goal posts rather than admitting they’re out of slots because they’re busy taking payola from trad-pub won’t keep them in business too much longer. They’ll lose their draw listing so-so trad-pub drivel while the indies find another way to get the word out.

        They may think they’re the next facebonk, but I’m thinking they’re turning more into the old myplace (I barely do one, never bothered with the other. 😉 )

  15. As a KU reader, I use both BookBub and ReadFree.ly. In the last several months I have clicked through from BB to Amazon to look at a book maybe 4 times (if that). From RF I have clicked to Amazon at least twice a week. It seems that the authors that use RF write what I want to read, BB not so much.

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