9 Reasons a Book Was Rejected for a BookBub Featured Deal

23 June 2017

From BookBub:

BookBub editors get on average 300 Featured Deal submissions per day and are only able to accept 10-20% of them. Why might we select one book above another? What criteria do we look at?

In this post, we’ll reveal some of the most common reasons why a book is rejected for a BookBub Featured Deal, from unmet minimum requirements to cover design issues and other common pitfalls.

. . . .

1. The book was too short

One of our minimum requirements to qualify for a Featured Deal is that the work should be full length. Sometimes we receive submissions that do not meet our minimum page count requirements:

  • Novels and anthologies: at least 150 pages long
  • Nonfiction: at least 100 pages long
  • Cookbooks: at least 70 pages long
  • Middle grade books: at least 100 pages long
  • Children’s picture books: at least 20 pages long

Any work that is too short isn’t eligible for a Featured Deal.

How to fix: Consider bundling multiple related short titles together to make an anthology (just double check our box set rules). Or, submit other titles that do meet BookBub’s page length requirements.

2. The deal didn’t meet our pricing requirements

BookBub promises readers deeply discounted and free books. We expect these promotions to run for a limited time, although we do accept permafree titles. To qualify for editorial review, a book must meet our discounting requirements, which you can read here. However, we often receive submissions for books that have already been on sale for a month or more, or have not been discounted to at least 50% off the predominant historical price. Unfortunately, these pricing issues will disqualify a submission for Featured Deal selection.

How to fix: In some cases, a book could qualify for a promotion if you submit it at a lower price point. For other issues, since we look at pricing history for the past 90 days, try raising that title’s price and resubmit in three months.

. . . .

5. We found evidence of a bad reader experience

We want to feature great deals on quality books that our readers will love! If we see that readers are generally having a bad experience with a book, we’ll take those factors into account. For instance, if multiple reviews mention typos, grammatical errors, that the book feels incomplete, or that the story ends in a huge unresolved cliffhanger, that will negatively impact a book’s chance of being selected.

How to fix: For typos or grammar issues, make sure to hire a professional editor. If a book has a significantly open-ended cliffhanger, try bundling it with other books in the series into a box set so the story is complete.

6. The cover wasn’t a good fit

They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” — but let’s be honest, we all do. Readers have different expectations for covers depending on the book’s genre, and elements like the image, typeface, featured characters, and colors all impact how readers approach a book. BookBub editors know what types of covers our readers respond to, and if a book’s genre is unclear at a glance or the image does not appear professionally designed, they may be less likely to accept.

How to fix: Examine the covers of popular titles in the book’s genre and decide if the cover needs a redesign. If so, you might want to hire a professional cover designer — you can check out some of our cover design resources here.

Link to the rest at BookBub


Anthologies: Joining With Others In Marketing To The Masses

21 June 2017

From Digital Book World:

A lot of people that ask me how I got started marketing my books. There are so many options out there for marketing your books, and as you probably know, some are effective, and some… not so much. I’ll tell you about the number one way I marketed my books early on when I didn’t have a list or a fan base. It’s a way of sharing the marketing effort: joining with other authors in anthologies.

. . . .

One type of anthology is a collection of stories written by various author and complied into one large omnibus. The authors usually come together and create the topic/genre and set up a few standard rules, including due dates for story submission, formatting specifics and the like. They work together to choose the cover, the title, and the blurb.

Everyone pulls a bit of the load, and when you release the book, you PUSH like crazy together. It’s hard work selling a book, as I’m sure you’re aware of, but when you do it in arms with other authors, it makes the load a little lighter.

. . . .

After being a participant in 5-6 of these efforts, I finally stepped up and decided to run several of my own. I pulled together some writer friends who had similar genres as myself, and we did novella short stories for Halloween and then again for Christmas.

There’s some time involved in these projects, but the monetary investment was $25, and we hit number 1 in the holiday section on Amazon and broke through the top 100 for Free with very little effort. It was a fantastic way to share my readers, and have my friends do the same.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Nate for the tip.


When I Worked in Advertising

7 June 2017

From The Millions:

When I worked in advertising, I took solace in knowing that my task was, fundamentally, to tell stories. I believe that; our society’s most successful storytellers are probably the people who make television commercials. In one of the 16 or so drafts of my new book, I mention that Folger’s commercial where the guy comes home for Christmas and wakes his family by brewing a pot of Folger’s. If that ends up in the finished book, I’m confident most readers will know exactly what I’m talking about.

When I worked in advertising, one of my clients, one of this country’s largest retailers, used the language of storytelling, which further helped me take solace in my work (the money was quite good, too). They told stories and then sold things, and the story changed every so often, so that the months of the year were like the installments in a collection of short stories. You can guess how some of those stories went: the story was Christmas or the story was Summer or the story was cleaning and organizing or the story was Father’s Day or the story was Mother’s Day and the moral of the story was buy stuff. Only the stuff changed, and even then, not that much, the same stuff month after month, story after story, the way certain writers repeat themselves when it comes to an image or a turn of phrase.

. . . .

When I worked in advertising, I told myself that anything is a learning experience if you insist it be. I think that holds true. On more than one occasion, I had to write for a sign that could only accommodate four words. Four words is not many, but you can, if you need to, if you’re being paid to, get a great deal out of four words. The other day I went to visit an art gallery in Chelsea with a friend, a novelist, and her mother-in-law. My own mother-in-law is an absolutely delightful woman, and other people’s mothers-in-law are almost always my favorite people, perhaps because of my fraught relationship with my own mother. When I worked in advertising and I had to tell the story of Mother’s Day, I never thought of my own mother. At the gallery, apropos of nothing in particular, my friend said How long is your new book? and I tried to remember the page count and she said No, words, how many words? and I told her it was near 80,000, which is true, and quite a bit longer than those four-word signs I used to write.

. . . .

When I worked in advertising, sometimes the art director I worked with (there were many, and this is true for every one of them) would say What does it look like? She (they were mostly, though not always, women) would be frustrated, because I was using words and she did not think in words; she thought in pictures, which was why she had become an art director in the first place. I would describe, say, a Mother’s Day ad, and she would ask What does it look like? I would spin a story about a sweater or a handbag or a lipstick or a stand mixer and she would ask What does it look like? I enjoyed these conversations because they were a bit like the conversations you have with someone on drugs, or a young child; they didn’t have to adhere to any particular logic. She could ask What does it look like? and I could tell her it looked like flowers, and Tina Barney’s photographs, and happiness, and late afternoon sunlight, and the paintings of John Singer Sargent, and a scone on a chipped porcelain plate and an old American standard sung by someone with a Carly Simon-ish voice but not Carly Simon, and the art director would close her eyes and nod her head slowly.

Link to the rest at The Millions

PG also worked in advertising a long time ago and will testify to the intense effort involved in conceiving, writing and shooting a commercial. The cost per minute of a commercial was much higher than the cost of a minute of even the most expensive of motion pictures.

Here’s a classic advertisement that, for PG, displays the art and craft of creating a good advertisement. (click on image for larger version)



How Steve Vernon leverages Kindle Scout

6 June 2017

From Sandra Hutchinson, Sheer Hubris Press:

Sandra Hutchison interviews the ever-entertaining multi-genre author Steve Vernon about his experiences with Kindle Scout, the challenges of publishing across genres, his reviewing habits, and more.

Steve, you used Kindle Scout to successfully win a contract for your book KELPIE DREAMS, but I know that wasn’t your first try. What are your tips for those who want to try that?

First, write the very best book you can write. Try to make it marketable. Kindle Scout is simply a thirty day pitch to the world’s largest digital publisher – Amazon. Kindle Press (which is the publishing arm that actually publishes winning Kindle Scout novels) wants a book that is going to sell. So, if you have decided that you want to write something that is intense and personal and complex and damn near unreadable – DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO PITCH IT TO KINDLE SCOUT!

Or, maybe you should.


Well, really for me the very best way to think of Kindle Scout is like this. Kindle Scout is the a thirty-day extension to your book launch. Think of it as a pre-pre-order.

It works this way: You enter your book into Kindle Scout. You then have a thirty-day window to try to draw as much attention, in the form of nominations and views, to your book. If it’s selected, you get a $1500 advance and a chance to sell a whole lot more copies. The readers who nominated your book receive free copies – which can lead to a sudden boost in reviews.

BUT – if you AREN’T selected for Kindle Press publishing, you still have a note that you write ahead of time to your readers that can be used to notify them when you actually release your book. If you release it as a KU release you have the ability to set a free giveaway on your first few days of release and thus you have the ability to give away a whole lot more copies, boost your ranking and (hopefully) boost your initial flow of reviews.

I could talk a whole lot more about Kindle Scout – but let me just sum it all up by saying YES, I would do it again. The experience has been a good one for me and it continues to be good.

Link to the rest at Sandra Hutchinson, Sheer Hubris Press

Here’s a link to Steve Vernon’s books. If you like an author’s thoughts, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.


Bookstores Suffer Unintended Consequences From Mark Hamill’s Campaign Against Fake Autographs

25 May 2017

From Reason:

In a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker is the ultimate hero (or is he?), but here’s a note to state lawmakers in this galaxy: maybe don’t trust him to make policy for you.

California is learning that the hard way, as a new law championed by Star Wars actor Mark Hamill has landed the state in court. In that lawsuit, the owners of a California-based book store argue that new rules governing the sale of autographed memorabilia—like books signed by authors at events hosted by their store and scores of others around the state—are overly burdensome, threaten harsh punishments for minor infractions, and above all else are poorly written.

Under the terms of the law, which passed last year and took effect in January, retailers have to provide certificates of authenticity for all autographed merchandise worth more than $5. That doesn’t sound like a difficult burden for retailers, but look at what has to be included on that certificate.

The law specifies that those certificates must contain a description of the collectible and the name of the person who signed it, the purchase price and date, and an “explicit statement” of authenticity. It must also indicate how many items were signed, whether they are numbered as part of a series, and whether any more might be sold in the future. Oh, and there has to be proof that the seller is insured. And, of course, there has to be a certificate number provided by the bureaucrats at the State Board of Equalization (a real thing, believe it or not, tasked with collecting various taxes and fees for everything from gasoline to recycled computers). There’s a separate requirement for an “identifying serial number,” which, naturally, has to match the serial number of the receipt—a receipt that must be kept by the seller for no less than seven years after the transaction. Finally, the certificate of authenticity has to say whether the author provided his John Hancock in the presence of the dealer, or another witness, and include the name of the witness. (There is no word on whether the witness’ first born must also sign the form.)

. . . .

“This law’s expensive mandates — with voluminous reporting requirements and draconian penalties — create a nightmare for independent booksellers that thrive on author events and book signings,” said Bill Petrocelli, owner of the Marin County-based Book Passage, which has three locations around the San Francisco Bay Area. Petrocelli is the plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the autograph law. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian legal nonprofit, is representing him in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in federal court for the Northern District of California.

Anastasia Boden, an attorney for PLF, says the law does little to protect consumers from the dangers of fraudulently autographed memorabilia. Rather, the lawsuit alleges, the law will have a chilling effect on “truthful, non-misleading speech” protected by the First Amendment, as it will reduce or eliminate book-signing events, like the ones Book Passage hosts hundreds of times each year.

. . . .

“The public is being swindled on a daily basis and the numbers are huge. I just can’t keep quiet when I see people I love being hurt,” Hamill toldThe Los Angeles Times in 2016 as the bill was working its way through the legislature.

Link to the rest at Reason and thanks to Lucy for the tip.


The Bestseller List Box Set Gig

28 April 2017


Why does it seem like lately the heavens are raining down hundreds of brand spanking new bestselling authors? They’re everywhere, man, like, it’s contagious and we need a vaccine.  New York Times, USA Today, heck, it’s no big deal anymore, thanks to a handful of individuals who have figured out how to make a ton of cash and inflate sales numbers to shoot 20+ author box sets onto the lists. (Yes, you read that correctly; 20 books from 20 authors in one massive box set). Has anyone ever heard of the authors in these mega-sets? Do they ever go on to sell any other books after “getting letters”? A few shining stars have emerged, but for the most past, the answer is no.

According to one box set Organizer, Amazon assures her that everyone at Amazon is perfectly fine with her methods, and the way she tells it, Amazon’s in her pocket with this gig, and Amazon has no problem with authors gifting thousands of copies of books to readers who then use those gift book credits to purchase the box set, making it look like a legitimate sale. We’re not talking about chump change here, either, folks. The “buy-in” for these box sets is anywhere from $500 -$2000 per author. At 20+ authors per sets, the Organizer is collecting between $10,000 – $40,000 per set, and self-reports 8 sets have made the lists (out of dozens of sets managed). Not counting the sets that did not make lists, 8 box sets have raked in $80,000 – $320,000.  Even more disturbing, the same Organizer says that she spoke with PayPal and PayPal is fine with her methods of asking authors to pay her thousands of dollars of business transactions via “friends & family” transfers (which PayPal does not report to the IRS as taxable income and are not covered by PayPal Buyer Protection), or even worse, Amazon Gift Cards so that customers can not get a refund via PayPal dispute, which has happened multiple times to the Organizer.

Link to the rest at

PG doesn’t know any of the backstory on this and he hasn’t consulted any of the relevant terms of service, but he will point out that, when everybody is a bestselling author, the marketing benefits from such claims decline substantially in value.


CoreSource® Connects 750+ Publishers to Microsoft’s Digital Bookstore

25 April 2017

From Ingram’s public relations department:

Ingram Content Group has been working with Microsoft to build inventory for the initial launch of the new books category in the Windows Store. CoreSource®, Ingram’s digital asset management and distribution platform, is already delivering content from over 750 publishers to the Windows Store.

With the Windows 10 Creators Update we are excited to bring books to the Windows Store,” said Alex Holzer, Director, Microsoft Digital Stores. “With books in Windows Store, you can discover and read e-books from your favorite authors across genres you love. We are pleased to work with Ingram’s team and CoreSource technology to bring content to readers.”

. . . .

“We’re always looking to add more distribution channels to CoreSource for our customers,” said Lewis Pennock, Director of Digital Retail Sales at Ingram Content Group. “Offering books in the Windows Store is one of the highest potential sales channels to come to the market in several years; it will be a great opportunity for our publishers to get their books into more readers’ hands across multiple devices.”

Link to the rest at Ingram

PG says there’s an art to writing good press releases. To quickly study that art, compare and contrast this Ingram press release with any press release issued by Amazon.


Which is it: Amazon Ads or Facebook Ads?

19 April 2017

From author and TPV regular John Ellsworth:

In reflecting further, it becomes clear to me that the possibility of having my book discovered (albeit maybe not purchased) is much higher in terms of permutations on the Facebook platform than on Amazon ads. With Amazon ads I might choose 2000 keywords to bring up my book. With Facebook I have literally millions of possible sorts (database sorts) that I can create and try with a few simple clicks. For example, I can choose an audience of a certain age, a certain gender, a certain country, with certain interests, with other interests that further include or exclude and etc. ad nauseam. The truth telling, though, comes in the intent of the viewer. With Amazon ads, we can probably presume the viewer is there predisposed to buying a book. But on FB we can’t assume any such thing.

. . . .

Knowing what little I do know about SEO, it can probably be stated that discoverability on Amazon will only happen on the first three pages of ads. After that they fall off tremendously. So discoverability on Amazon depends on being on page one to three of the sponsored ad search results while discoverability on Facebook, while maybe higher because of the defined database sorts Facebook can make, is very achievable but the intent of the viewer will probably be very different (who do you know who goes on FB to buy a book?) than the presumed intent of the Amazon viewer.

. . . .

Amazon, in truly Amazon fashion, is extremely stingy with the data I need to make a business-like choice about advertising. FB, on the other hand, gladly provides me with probably more data than I know how to use, all of which is modifiable in the tabular displays that allow me to choose lots of different variables.

Link to the rest at John Ellsworth

Here’s a link to John Ellsworth’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.


John Grisham Returns to the Road for His First Book Tour in 25 Years

19 April 2017

From John Grisham’s blog:

Celebrate John Grisham’s 30th novel–CAMINO ISLAND–and his first bookstore tour in 25 years!  Seating is extremely limited–see full tour schedule and event guidelines below.

EVENT GUIDELINES (Please check each individual store listing)

•  Events are ticketed – 1 ticket per person, which will include a copy of CAMINO ISLAND.

•  Ticket costs vary.  Check store listings.

•  Events will be strictly limited to 200 people only.

•  Mr. Grisham will personalize and sign up to 2 copies of CAMINO ISLAND (1 copy included with event ticket, 1 copy purchased on-site only).


•  Photos will be permitted.

•  The event will be structured into two parts: book signing and discussion/Q&A.

•  Your ticket will gain admittance to both the book signing line AND in-store discussion UNLESS space is limited – check in-store seating guidelines below.

•  The book signing portion of the event will be from either 1 to 5pm or 2 to 6pm only – check timing of each venue.  You must have your ticket on-hand to join the line, which will be first-come, first-serve.

•  All books MUST be signed during the signing window – there will NOT be an autographing after the event.

•  Mr. Grisham’s in-store discussion will begin at either 5 or 6pm – check timing of each venue.  You must keep your ticket on-hand to join the discussion portion of the event.

•  Seating at the discussion will be first-come, first-serve. There will not be assigned seating.

Link to the rest at John Grisham’s blog


Authors need help with their digital presence that they still are not getting

13 April 2017

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

A major difference between book publishing today and book publishing 25 years ago is the practical power of the author brand in marketing. Multi-book authors can not only build their own followings in ways that can be usefully exploited, they now have an unprecedented capability to help each other.

Of course, they can do that best if they’re “organized” in some way. But both of the most obvious potential organizers who deal with many authors — the publishers and the agents — have commercial and structural impediments to being as helpful as they could be, or as authors need them to be, at either of the new needs: helping authors be better marketers of themselves or getting them to act in a coordinated way to help each other.

Building an individual author’s digital marketing footprint is an important component of career development. And, in fact, the foundation of the author’s “brand” footprint has strong influence on the success of the title marketing publishers would see as their principal objective.

But the publisher has a book-by-book relationship, not an assured ongoing relationship, with authors so investing for a longer-term gain is not structurally encouraged. And agents live with pretty strict ethics rules limiting their compensation to a share of the author contracts they negotiate, so they also have a structural impediment against investing money and time in the author’s general welfare beyond getting the best possible deal they can for every book they represent.

. . . .

When you discuss author marketing with literary agents you find that many of them already think of themselves as career consultants for their authors. Many of them build it into their own job description. But, frankly, the skill and expertise agents have to advise on financial management or digital marketing is highly variable. There could be even less consistency to what agents know about digital marketing than there is across publishers.

One agent, expressing what I think is appropriate humility, said she thought of herself as a “coach” for authors on career and digital marketing matters, not a “manager”. It seems likely to me that most agents with a multitude of clients will have some that know much more about digital marketing than they do!

. . . .

But organizing authors to help each other in this way is also touchy for both agents and publishers. For agents, there are two obvious problems. One is that the best marketing partners for any particular author might be represented by a different agency. That makes things complicated. But the other is that the agent’s “job” is to get an author deals. Getting authors engaged in a perhaps-complex marketing consortium requires another level of understanding and persuasion that agents could rightly see as a distraction to what pays the bills: developing proposals and getting offers from publishers. From a publisher’s perspective, organizing the house’s writers and having them communicate directly is a bit like asking big-company management to organize the union. There might be good arguments to do it but for many it would provoke a visceral negative reaction.

One consultant I spoke with in the course of writing this piece made a long list of concerns publishers would have about what authors encouraged to trade war stories might talk about, including contract terms and how much attention they were getting for their marketing efforts. But, of course, the authors’ agents already know these things.

. . . .

Trelstad made clear that authors are talking to each other about marketing and organizing themselves to help each other. With modern digital tools, this is easy. It is also very hard to track. There is one effort that has gotten some notoriety called the Tall Poppies, a collection of writers organized and spearheaded by author Ann Garvin. Their mission statement explains that “Tall Poppy Writers is a community of writing professionals committed to growing relationships, promoting the work of its members, and connecting authors with each other and with readers. By sharing information and supporting one another’s work, we strive to stand out in the literary marketplace and to help our members do the same.”

According to Trelstad (who is herself a “Tall Poppy member”), this kind of collaboration among authors is becoming increasingly common under the radar, like with her “masterminds” groups. It makes sense. The Trump and Sanders supporters didn’t need the party apparatus to get themselves together in common cause. Using the same tools and techniques, authors can also unite in their own interest without needing a publisher or agent to facilitate it for them. And apparently they are.

. . . .

So authors talking to authors is a development we may as an industry not be as aware of as we should be.

. . . .

When I asked Trelstad if any publisher seemed to be getting this right, she said, without hesitation, “Amazon. They are very good at communicating with their authors. They help overcome fear and uncertainty. And they automatically give authors and editors a voice in their covers.”

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

PG should be smarter by now, but he continues to be constantly surprised by how clueless the pillars of traditional publishing are about what’s happening outside their small circle.

Authors are talking to each other!

Authors are helping each other!

Authors are creating websites and blogs – sometimes all by themselves! In every one-stoplight town in America, there are people who know how to build websites and blogs who are happy to be hired by authors who don’t want to do the work themselves.

And then there’s that internet thing that lets an author in Boston hire a digital designer in Anchorage to create the author’s online presence and promotion materials that an internet marketing consultant in Dallas uses to run the author’s book promotions all over the world.

The idea that authors talking to each other, sharing inside information in the process, will only happen if publishers or agents organize such gatherings is truly bizarre. Publishers and agents would be out of business without their suppliers – authors – yet they have huge gaps in their knowledge about what authors have been routinely doing for years – getting together electronically to talk shop, share information about royalties, advances, which marketing techniques work and which don’t, etc., etc., etc.

Of course, Amazon is different. Amazon is a well-managed, highly-efficient 21st century organization. Amazon is obsessively customer-focused and Amazon’s publishing arms – KDP and Amazon Publishing – view authors and readers as their customers.

As many regular TPV visitors know, one of Mrs. PG’s books was selected for publishing via Kindle Scout. For someone who had a lot of books traditionally published, the Amazon Publishing experience is extraordinary. Information is shared, emails are answered, the publisher treats the author like an intelligent human being who wants the same thing the publisher does – a high-quality book. Mrs. PG’s book is likely to be published and selling sooner than a New York publisher could manage to email her a publishing contract.

Also, Amazon knows more about selling books than any publisher and any conventional bookstore because, unlike the English majors running big publishing, Amazon understands the value of data and employs a whole lot of people who are extremely talented at mining big data for its secrets. In Jeff Bezos’ letter to shareholders, referenced in an earlier post, he talks about how much of what happens behind the scenes on Amazon’s websites relies on cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

Speaking of data, PG’s impression is that, when Data Guy speaks to a large gathering of traditional publishing folk, 99.9% of the analytical brain power in the room is up on the podium talking and running the PowerPoint presentation.

Meanwhile 99% of the audience really needs a stiff drink because Data Guy is showing them reams of information about their own industry that they didn’t know before the PowerPoint started.




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