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BookBub Explained

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 6, 2014

BookBub is a popular reader subscriber service where you can promote your book for a fee. They have four million subscribers. Its readers are 84% women, the majority over 40 years old. 37% are retired. 58% are empty-nesters. 59% read four or more books per month. The devices they read on? 49% Kindle, 26% Apple, 15% Nook, 10% Android. Most use tablets, then e-readers, and then cell phones. 29% read non-genre material. 32% read mysteries and thrillers; 25% read romance; 14% read science fiction and fantasy. 95% of readers have purchased a book from an unknown author because of an e-book promotion. 63% have gone on to order more books by an author due to a price promotion.

When a book goes from $.99 to $2.99, there is a 50% drop in sales. But 77% of subscribers will purchase full price books.

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Why feature a book on BookBub? Readers get hooked on your work and they recommend books to their friends. 65% of readers tell their friends about books they discover. What results can you expect? A spike in sales during the promotion. 381% was the average increase. Average downloads are 29,500. 91% of authors have an increase in sales after the promotion when their book goes back to the regular price. There’s an average 73% increase in reviews and 81% increase in sales of related books.

Mysteries have the biggest subscriber list. If your book is free, you’ll pay $320 for a BookBub ad. Under one dollar, you’ll pay $640. If your book is priced from $1-$2, you’ll pay $960.

Go here for pricing in other genres: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

To submit a book to BookBub, fill out the form online. An editorial team selects the titles. You will get assigned an account representative. If selected, your date and category will be confirmed. Make sure your deal is available across all retailers on the sale date.

Requirements include discounting your book by at least 50% off the list price. It must be a full-length book. This should be a limited time offer of 30 days or less. The editorial team will make sure this is the best deal available for your book and that the work is error-free. They do not feature new releases, because they look at the overall platform and pricing history. No novellas or short stories. Book lengths are specified on their site. The same author may submit a book once every 30 days. The same book may be submitted once every six months.

Next the book goes out for quality assessment. Here the team will look at reader reviews, professional cover design, and cover tropes. For example, dogs do well on covers but motorcycles and tattoos do not. They’ll also look at critical reviews, formatting, and author accolades such as quotes from other authors. This is all part of your platform. BookBub receives over 200 submissions per day. The editors will compare your book to others in the same category that come in at the same time. They advise you to study books in your category on BookBub to see the average number of reviews. Only 15% of submitted books get accepted.

Be sure to put your quotes from other authors on your Amazon author page as they will look for these. Or you can include author quotes in your comment box when applying. They’ll also look at sales data from an author who has applied there again to compare this title to other BookBub books, so you’re not ensured a spot even if you’re a repeater.

Eventually they may make stats available to authors. As for distribution routes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are currently more popular than Kobo and Google.

Trends in subcategories that do well are also examined. For example, in historical fiction, American history and World War II do well.

Regarding box sets, reviews on individual books are viewed, rather than the box set itself. Books can be older but the box sets can be a new release.

For the selection process, they compare books and pick the best price and platform. Spots for discounted books are more competitive than for free books. Make sure you have your book available at as many retailers as possible, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. This is especially important if you don’t have enough reviews or a bestseller status to tout your platform. Google Play subscriptions are growing.

60% of indie books and 40% of traditionally published books are selected. These have an average of 140 reviews.

Tips for submitting your book

Be flexible with timing. Be available whenever they have an opening. Sell yourself in the comments section with your reviews, author quotes, sale figures, bestseller status. Resubmit at different price points. Be open to different categories. Promote when your book is at its best. Optimize your product page. Add more retailers. Continue to submit and try again. The beginning of the month sees a ton of submissions.

If you get selected, set your prices as far ahead as possible. Notify Amazon about the date for a price match. BookBub will do permafree, but put it on sale first at a retail price to get baseline stats.

A UK edition just launched. You can add them for a 5% fee to your BookBub promotion. Soon you’ll be able to just get UK promotion and they have 100,000 + subscribers.

How to be successful

Determine your goals and choose a pricing strategy based on these goals. Price as low as you can to attract new readers. Time the promotion strategically, i.e., seasonal books. Make sure your book is discounted in time. Optimize the back matter in your books and include links to your other titles and your newsletter. Spread the word. Measure the results.

Follow @bookbubpartners on Twitter

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This is from the BookBub session at the Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach. Also please note that I have not used BookBub myself so some of you can chime in here about your experiences.

Novelists, Inc.

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28 Responses to “BookBub Explained”

  1. Thanks for the excellent summary! I appreciate all the wonderful reports you are doing from the NINC conference. They are so useful to those of us who weren’t able to attend.

  2. I’ve used Bookbub,and it did get me noticed. However, it’s expense and I lost about $100 on the deal. I looked on it as money spent for publicity, since 47,000 people downloaded my book. If i’d have had a series going, I believe I would have done better. Unfortunately, the novellas in my 2 book series don’t qualify in length.

  3. Hi, Nancy,

    I’m assuming this is a service for self-published writers who control the price of their books. Book promotion is well-spent if it gets publicity for the author.

  4. Rebecca said

    Great article! I use BookBub as a reader, but since i don’t use a hand-held reading device, I get the PDF, which is only available through Smashwords. I’d really encourage writers to promote their books there as well. I’ve downloaded several and found some great new authors. I didn’t see any statistics on PDFs in your article, but please know that some of us prefer that format and are limited to the available books.

  5. Marcia said

    Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Loads of info here for those of you considering promoting your books through BookBub.

  6. Great summary, thank you. I plan on submitting my first novel to Bookbub when the sequel comes out next year, so really helpful to know how to give it the best chance for being selected.
    Reblogged on my own site. 😀

  7. Reblogged this on deborahjay and commented:
    All you need to know about Bookbub – both as an author and a reader. Probably the most expensive and difficult to advertise with, but they only choose the best, so a great accolade if your book is selected, and the rewards look worth the effort.

  8. BookBub has worked very well for me. My last free promotion I had over 70,000 downloads and have made my money back several times over in less than two weeks. However, I have a series, and many reviewers have commented that after they read the free book, they went back and purchased the other books in the series and intend to read future books as well. I sell on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords distributes to iBooks as well as Barnes & Noble.

  9. BookBub can be great, IF you get in. Looking at their newsletter, most of the ads tout how many reviews (usually of the 5 star variety) the book has on Amazon, or Goodreads. It’s a tough nut to crack, and the timing can be tricky if you’re relying on an Amazon price match to offer your book free. I do agree that for those who are selected, it can garner excellent visibility. There’s another similar, but smaller (and WAY less expensive) newsletter, The Fussy Librarian, that might help some authors if they can’t crack BookBub. More and more of these are springing up, but you need to check the distribution and see if you can get others to tell of their successes (or not-so-successes) before you spend any money.

  10. MM Jaye said

    Reblogged this on MM Jaye writes… and commented:
    This is the real lowdown on Bookbub. How much it costs to advertise there, what categories are favored, what your covers should look like plus the process, percentages, tips … everything you need to know in one place. A truly comprehensive article by Nancy Cohen about the mother lode of promotion sources.

  11. MM Jaye said

    That’s the most comprehensive article on Bookbub I’ve read. I did reblog. Thank you for the valuable info!

    Greetings from Greece!

    Maria (MM Jaye)

  12. I found this on MMJaye’s blog. Many thanks for the useful info! 🙂

  13. Thanks, Nancy. We writers appreciate hearing what you learn at conferences. Sounds like the Ninc was a good place to pick up on the latest! Rolynn

  14. Reblogged this on CHRISTIE STRATOS and commented:
    Excellent in-depth information on BookBub and how it works. We’ve all been waiting for something comprehensive like this!

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