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The Writer Unboxed / BookBub Interview, Pt 2


If you missed Part 1 of my interview with BookBub’s Industry Marketing Manager–or if you have no idea what BookBub is–click HERE [1], then come back. Today I’ll wrap my two-part interview with BookBub’s Diana Urban.

But first…  Something unexpected and fortuitous happened on the way to seeing this interview published. My publisher, Crown, decided to run a BookBub on my second novel, The Moon Sisters, and initiated a temporary price drop. That BookBub goes live today, so I orchestrated things here at WU so this post could go live today, too.

‘Show don’t tell,’ right?

Below is a screen capture of stats for The Moon Sisters on Amazon, taken on 9/17, the day before the BookBub. Just so you have all of the facts, my Amazon rank before the e-book was put on sale on 9/13 was 240,000. It dropped to about 6,000 after the sale began and I ran a BookSends [2] promotion. I’ve also promoted over social media, but nothing too extravagant or repetitive.

Sept 17th

This is where things stood on Barnes and Noble as of 9/17:

Barnes and Noble

This is the second time Random House has run a BookBub for The Moon Sisters. The first time was very succesful–the eBook reached #10 in Nook books at Barnes and Noble, and #1 in the Mothers and Children fiction category on Amazon and #116 overall. If you’d like to follow along today, you’ll see for yourself what happens to a book’s numbers on the day of a BookBub; you can watch The Moon Sisters’ pages at Amazon [3] and Barnes and Noble [4]. BookBub’s daily email usually lands around 10-10:30 EST, and the effect is not immediate but, well, you’ll know it when you see it.

Amazon.com Movers Shakers The biggest gainers in Kindle Store sales rank over the past 24 hours

Numbers update (9/19), for interested followers:
Within 24 hours of the BookBub for The Moon Sisters, the book reached #61 in Kindle books on Amazon (an increase of over 22,000%). It was again #1 in the Mother’s and Children fiction category, #3 in Psychological Thrillers, #3 in Coming of Age fiction, and #5 in Family Life fiction. It reached #13 at Barnes & Noble in Nook books, #13 in Kobo, and #49 in iBooks.

Without further ado, the second part of my interview with Diana Urban. Enjoy!

The Writer Unboxed / BookBub Interview, Pt 2

TW – Q16: In terms of author sales following a BookBub, is there a point where a given book, series, or author starts to experience diminishing returns with BookBub promos, and if so how can that be avoided?

BB: Each genre has anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers. Books sent to these massive and highly engaged lists typically experience a significant spike in downloads and revenue within the span of a few days. This often leads to increased retailer rankings, better performance in recommendation algorithms, and even hits on major bestseller lists like The New York Times or USA Today. This increased visibility usually gives rise to even more downloads from readers who find the title through these other outlets. These extra sales beyond those generated by BookBub subscribers are what we call the “halo effect [5].”

Independent author Cheryl Kaye Tardiff is a great example [6] of this. Here is a graph showing book sales of her thriller Submerged before and after her promotion. Her BookBub Featured Deal launched Submerged to Amazon’s Top 100 overall bestseller list, and her promotion had lasting effects after the promotion ended, instead of flatlining like before the promotion.


TW – Q17: Does a successful prior BookBub experience make it more likely an author will be promoted again? Conversely, does a less successful promo make it more likely the author won’t be picked up again?

BB: Yes, editors do look at past performance when considering a book that has run as a Featured Deal before. While authors and publishers may look at ROI, profit, unit sales, bestseller status, or any number of other metrics to evaluate the performance of their own promotions, we look primarily at each book’s results as they compare to other books in their respective categories. This helps us determine if a book was more or less appealing to our readers than other books in that category. If a title underperformed last time it was featured compared to other books in the category, it is less likely to be selected for another Featured Deal, and vice versa if it overperformed!

TW – Q18: What makes for a successful promo? Can you provide numbers, as an example? What is a good click-through? What is a disappointing click-through?

BB: We aim to ensure the majority of our partners achieve a positive return on investment (ROI) through their BookBub promotions. Aside from your profit, ROI is a great indicator of your campaign’s success. ROI is expressed as a percentage; it’s your profit minus the cost of your BookBub campaign, divided by the cost of your BookBub campaign — the higher your ROI percentage, the better your campaign performed.

In terms of the numbers, you can see the average number of downloads and sales in each category on our pricing page [7], so you can compare your individual results to these.

TW – Q19: Let’s say an author has been chosen to do a BookBub. What can s/he do to prepare for sales day, to maximize the success of the BookBub?

BB: One of the best things authors can do is to make it easy for readers who discover their books via the promotion to find their other books. We’ve found that 63% of bargain readers [8] go on to purchase other books by an author they discover via a price promotion, so to make sure your readers find your other books, cross-promote other books [9] in your promoted book’s back matter. Authors promoting a book in a series see a 3x higher increase in sales of other books in the series if links are included in the back matter of the discounted book.

Another thing you can do is notify your existing fans of your price promotion to boost your campaign’s momentum. Queue up an email to send to your email list letting them know of the discount. Run a boosted Facebook post promoting the discount that day and target fans of authors who write books similar to yours. Tweet about the discount. Also consider running ads on relevant websites that your target audience reads. The more traction you can get that day, the higher chance your book will have of hitting the top charts or a bestseller list, and the bigger your halo effect will be.

TW – Q20: Can you be in KDP Select and do a BookBub, to help with maximum impact?

BB: You can be in KDP Select and run a BookBub Featured Deal, but keep in mind that a book available on all the major retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo) will have a better chance of getting selected. Because authors in KDP select are only reaching a subset of our user base, they’ll be at a disadvantage even if they do get selected for a Featured Deal, so we recommend that partners make their books available on as many retailers as possible before submitting for a BookBub Featured Deal.

TW – Q21: If a traditionally published author wants to approach her publisher about doing a BookBub, what approach might she take? What, if anything, have you seen work?

BB: Most publishers already work with BookBub, so it could just be a matter of expressing interest in submitting your book for a Featured Deal. If your publisher needs some convincing, tell them that running a price promotion and driving exposure with a BookBub Featured Deal lets you reach millions of new power readers to effectively drive backlist book sales, get readers hooked on a series, and possibly boost a book up the bestseller lists. We created an infographic for this very purpose with data showing why discounting books is a powerful marketing strategy, so feel free to send them this link: http://insights.bookbub.com/why-smart-marketers-discount-books-proof [10]

TW – Q22: What has been the reaction from traditional publishers, generally speaking?

BB: We’re so thrilled that like our independent author partners, our publisher partners also love working with us. You can see testimonials from them on the BookBub Partners website [11] and on this case studies page [12].

TW – Q23: Is there any more about BookBub you’d like to share?

BB: Our mission as a company is twofold: We aim to make it easier for readers to discover great books, and to help our partners get their books discovered by avid readers. Direct-to-consumer marketing is a relatively new goal for many authors and publishers, and we hope to help them navigate this space in effective and valuable ways. Aside from our Featured Deals, we regularly blog about book marketing and publishing tips on the BookBub Partners blog [13]. Additionally, we raised a second round of funding [14] earlier this year that will allow us to grow our team and build additional products to help our partners get their books discovered, whether it’s a backlist title or new release.

Lastly, we want to thank all our partners for their support, their feedback, and their business. This is an exciting time for our industry and our craft, and we’re thrilled to be working with you!

Thank you, Diana, for all of the time you and the BookBub team put into this interview!

About Therese Walsh [15]

Therese Walsh (she/her) co-founded WU in 2006 and is the site's editorial director. She was the architect and 1st editor of WU's only book, Author in Progress [16], and orchestrates the WU UnConference. [17] Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [18], was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal and Book Riot; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [19] was a Target Breakout Book. Sign up for her newsletter [20] to be among the first to learn about her new projects (or follow her on BookBub [21]). Learn more on her website [22].