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Is There Anything Better than BookBub?

Mrs. PG and PG held a meeting this morning to discuss Mrs. PG’s sales results and her future marketing plans. As usual, Mrs. PG has lots of good ideas.

Among many other topics, the PG’s discussed BookBub and Mrs. PG’s generally favorable results from her BookBub ads. Mrs. PG’s experience mirrors that of other authors who have shared their feelings about BookBub online or otherwise with PG.

Two related questions floated into PG’s mind during the discussion:

  1. Is there any paid advertising/marketing service that is as consistently effective as BookBub for indie authors?
  2. Has anyone put together a credible knock-off of BookBub’s service? If not, why not?

PG understands that not every BookBub promo works and some authors haven’t had positive results, but his general impression is that many indie authors regard it as an important marketing/promotion tool.

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30 Comments to “Is There Anything Better than BookBub?”

  1. I’ve runs dozens of Bookbub ads over the years. Yes, they promote sales for that day, of that title, at a discounted price.

    But. The long tail effect is mostly gone for further books in a series. I know there is some and Bookbub touts it. But it’s nothing like it used to be.

    But now that it’s populated by a considerable number of backlist, traditionally published, NYT bestsellers, we need to seriously consider the OVERALL effect of Bookbub, especially for midlist and indie authors. A reader has a choice between your new release at $4.99 and a NYT bestseller backlist they might not have read at $1.99. Hmm.

    Authors have to do immediate cost to profit analysis. But there is a much larger picture that is rather dim for many authors. But, like many such issues, there is nothing we can do about it, so we will continue to run BB ads.

    • A reader has a choice between your new release at $4.99 and a NYT bestseller backlist they might not have read at $1.99

      And that’s the reason, as a reader, I quit reading their mails. SF reader, kind of bored with most bigV SF. If a mail ends up being bigV promo… Sorry, I got into Bookbub so that I could get to know new writers. Bestseller backlist is… Not.

      Take care.

      • I just unsubscribed from BookBub myself, largely because it was getting taken over by tradpub titles. I can get those from the library if I want them cheap. I’m more interested in finding good indie deals, and BB has been moving away from giving me those. (That, and my TBR pile is already hundreds long, so I really need to stop buying new books for a while anyway.)

  2. I have seen a steady stream of sales from my Bookbub ads. I have a negative ROI, but the sales took my Amazon sales ranking from the millions to below 30,000. I write in a very narrow non-fiction niche, so gaining any readers feels good.

    Cheryl Bradshaw’s blog post on paid promotional sites lists many websites where you can promote your books at a discount price. http://cherylbradshawbooks.blogspot.com/

    eReader News Today is a credible Bookbub knockoff. https://authors.ereadernewstoday.com/

  3. I have used Bookbub almost monthly for 4 years. The ROI is still positive, but down quite a bit from the 2013 glory days. For a $0.99 cozy mystery I once moved 7000 copies in a week and made the USA Today Bestseller list. Last month for a $700 cost on a cozy blast at $0.99 I moved 2000 copies.

    As far as giving freebies away, I have found a combination of Freebooksy, KND/Book Gorilla, Robin Reads, and EreaderCafe to be nearly as effective, less expensive, AND of course easier to get on.

  4. As a customer, I can’t tell the difference between a Bookbub email and a BookGorilla newsletter. Exactly the same format, sometimes the same books.

  5. the answer to both #1 and #2 is no, not right now. The why of it is that what BookBub actually does is a lot more complicated than it looks. Most of that has to do with analyzing market trends and recognizing a book that will sell well vs. one that might not, and also recognizing that this will evolve over time.

    I agree that they aren’t as huge as they used to be in bang-for-the-buck, but they still pay out, and honestly i think everything in indie is diluted from what it used to be.

  6. To answer #2, I’m subscribed to a knockoff called My Book Cave (https://mybookcave.com/).

    • As a reader, I find that I do better with My Book Cave. I’m able to personalize it more and overall I’ve ended up happier than with what was recommended by BookBub. Even though there tend to be fewer freebies, I’ve found a lot of authors I hadn’t heard of before and I was willing to pay a buck or two for their book. Money well spent and quite a few new (to me) authors I will follow.

  7. Book Bub is great for ‘genre’ fiction, and especially ‘series’ books, the first book in the series obviously will do the best. I’ve done two or three ads with BB over the years, beginning in the beginning. But BB will not take, and this is simply my opinion based on my own experience with them and what I see on BB… They will not take what I call, ‘serious fiction,’ or the fiction of ideas. This is purely based on profit, and, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Their list of readers is populated mostly by people what want quick reads. As far as there being an alternative, there are a few, but they don’t sell anywhere near as many books as a BB ad will.

  8. Since my books are published traditionally, I’ve never used any of these services, but I have a list of many of the same kind of services on my writing blog.

    http://mbyerly.blogspot.com/2017/01/book-recommendation-services.html

  9. I’ve been using Bargain Booksy with excellent results for a year now. They charge $45 (bulk purchase) and you get a couple of days run in their email is my experience. My sales often run at over 200 hundred percent of normal sales and I book them twice a month for one of my 8 books.

    Despite 13 submissions to Book Bub, I’ve struck out every time. Two and half years ago, I swear their fee was like $450 and now its $1,000+ for an ad, but DataGuy did some analysis of the Bookbub effect and it was good at the time – I wonder how it’s going now for Indies?

  10. I received an email from Amazon today touting their ads for ebooks. I signed up with a daily budget of $1. You pay only for clicks. I’m not expecting much, result-wise, but figured I’d give it a try. It’s one of my pen name books. Anybody else doing this?

    • I’ve been running AMS ads intermittently for almost a year. I know they’re working because whenever I stop, my sales and rankings plummet. I’m currently only running on one book, but since it has a book 2 after it, I’m finding it is keeping sales of both books plugging along.

    • How do the ads work on Amazon? Where do they show up? I’ve almost never seen and ad on Amazon, or noticed its an ad. Maybe I’ve trained my brain not to see ads on websites? Or are they in search results, and I just don’t pay attention to the fact that they are sponsored results?

  11. Book Barbarian worked ok for my first of series novels priced at 99c. A few readers picked up others in the series too, so I think it was worth it. Broke even or a little better.

  12. I don’t know of anything that compares to BB. In January 2016, a featured deal for the first book in my Jim McGill series, “The President’s Henchman,” launched it to #6 in the Kindle Overall Paid Store, was the springboard for 4.6 million page reads for my entire list of titles that month, and landed me on the Amazon All-Star team for that month. The irony is, BB has shut me out since July, 2016.

    Following Mark Dawson’s FaceBook ad model, my wife and I have started to rebuild our marketing effort and are pleased with initial results and future prospects, but it takes a lot more work than just plunking down a credit card. Oh, yeah. The FB campaign has helped to raise my BB followers from 1,600 to almost 2,000.

    • I am almost compulsive about clicking on book ads on FB. I think FB must do a really good job of matching ads to users.

  13. I’ve had great success with Bookbub, but it doesn’t last longer than 3-4 weeks in ongoing/additional sales boosting. For consistent results, I find Facebook Ads the most effective. I’ve been running three Facebook Ads for approx. four months now, and have ROIs of about 200-400%.

  14. Nothing I have tried has come even close to the success I’ve had featuring my adult book on Bookbub a number of times. I think other formats (i.e. Kindle Nation and others) don’t vet the books they offer that well, so buyers aren’t sure what they are getting. I wish there were more services like this. I have yet to try their paid advertising, but given your discussion today, maybe I will.
    Thanks, Elaine

  15. BookBub has always been my top place to advertise, resulting in the best return and visibility. I’ve used it for standalone books and a series. I did fantastic with an advertisement for my first free book in my series back in November last year in the US/International with resulting sales for books 2-4 lingering into April. I made more than my average yearly income in January/February/March because of that one ad. However, I don’t always get accepted in the U.S., so I’ve focused on the UK/International ads where I’m more readily accepted. One book that was on the UK site was on the historical romance best seller list for well over six months until it finally dropped off. Other advertising sites give me mediocre results with perhaps a few hundred sales but nothing into the thousands like BookBub. Competition has gotten fiercer as their popularity has increased, and I’ve had my fair share of rejections too. I do appreciate their author pages and automatic notices to my followers of new releases.

    As far as other sites, I’ve used quite a few over the years with varying results. I think a lot of it depends on the genre too.

  16. There is no service out there at this time that I’ve found that moves my books and generates me income like BookBub.

    We’ve done Facebook ads, Amazon ads, ENT, KND, Robin Reads, BookSends, Book Gorilla, etc. Many of these smaller lists only move a few dozen books or less. That’s not to say there isn’t a reason to use them, but just that I haven’t yet found any single thing, outside of mentions by folks with monstrous followings, that moves as many books and generates as much income.

    At the same time, BookBub is only one tool. I’m finding that using multiple tools works best.

  17. I had my first and only Bookbub March 1st of this year to promote my permafree book that is a mystery in a niche genre (LGBT/lesbian). It cost me $90 to run the ad. Over the course of the month of March, I gave away 11,000+ copies on Amazon alone and more than 6,000+ on all other sites. I made 12 times my money back on Amazon alone from sales of other books in the series and of boxed sets including a few hundred sales of my $.99 second in series (the series has 9 books). That was just in March. Sales continued at a high level from all vendors well into April. They only started to tail off drastically at 45-50 days.

    From my perspective, Bookbub is well worth the money. No other site comes close and, in fact, most don’t accept books that are termed LGBT. Those that do have very small audiences. In fact, most of the other promoters don’t have total numbers that equate to what Bookbub has in LGBT readers alone.

    Bookbub does/did lean heavily gay as opposed to lesbian as many straight women read M/M gay fiction. They’re doing better but, out of necessity, other services have cropped up in an effort to give lesfic books more visibilty and they’re doing pretty well…not as well as Bookbub but time will tell.

  18. I haven’t found anything competitive with BookBub. And I’m with you – I wish they had serious competition that worked just as well. I have a series that regularly gets put on sale (like this month) and I’ve submitted to BookBub multiple times. I know they’re considering me, given that they typically take awhile to respond, but it’s always a no. Meanwhile, my publisher seems to not have the same issue that I do and routinely gets this series in BookBub. So they’re obviously books that meet their standards; I just can’t seem to manage it on my own and every request I’ve made has been turned down (and yes, I know about the length of time required between ads; one book falls within that parameter, the other two did not as it has been over six months since advertised and over thirty days since my last request).

  19. Had my first BookBub in May and over my May, June and July sales have made something like $15,000 more than my usual income, for a $400 ad (free first in series). Like others I wish there were more alternatives, but also like others I’ve found some of the good sites such as Freebooksy, KND, Robin Reads etc. consistently deliver an excellent ROI when advertising that book for free. IMO readers love hearing about discounted books so much that advertising opportunities (some more curated than others) will continue to grow. I also did a 99c sale through Open Road’s Early Bird, which had a good result for a 99c sale. Didn’t earn back my money from sales of the 99c book but if my usual sell-through applies I should break even. The really nice thing is that I’ve hit my (modest) 2017 sales goal thanks to BookBub and have some extra cash to play with FB advertising and make a couple other investments in my business I’ve been looking forward to (I take a small paycheck and plow most of my profits back at the moment).

  20. Just my 2c worth… As a reader, I have a list of sites I check occasionally to find new authors/books, but these I check daily: Book Basset, Book Sends, Digital Book Today, eReader News Today, Freebooksy, PeopleReads, and Robin Reads. I get a daily newsletter from BookSCREAM and Book Bub, but Book Bub is slowly losing me as their offerings don’t seem to grab my attention like they once did.

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