If you’re a big fan of your Kindle and cheap books, you probably already know all about BookBub.
Just in case you’re in the dark on this excellent creation, BookBub is a daily newsletter with discounted e-books. Subscribers join the newsletter and choose which genres they like to read. Then every day subscribers receive an email with a list of free or discounted e-books — one per chosen genre. The books can be purchased via whichever digital platform the book is listed on — Amazon Kindle is a given, though if the book is available via Nook, Apple Books, or any of the other popular e-book marketplaces, those will be listed as well. Readers just click the button in the newsletter and get directed to the marketplace of choice to finish their purchase. Most books will be free or discounted to under $4.99.
Sounds too good to be true, right? I’ve been a subscriber for a few years and have discovered a ton of new authors via BookBub — my favorite genres are fantasy and biography/memoir, but I also love cozy mysteries and historical fiction so subscribe to those genres too.
As impressive as BookBub is for readers, it can be even more beneficial for authors who advertise via the newsletter! The primary advertising option open to publishers and self-published authors is the Daily BookBub Featured Deal.
how BookBub featured deals work
The holy grail of BookBub advertising is getting your book listed as one of those featured deals in a daily BookBub newsletter. But first, a warning: it’s a competitive placement!
The way featured deals work is the author or publisher applies to be listed in one of the daily emails in his or her preferred genre. There’s a simple application form where one can specify the primary and secondary genres, the discount that the publisher is willing to sell the book at, and a free-form field to share with the BookBub editorial committee any details that might influence their decision.
The selection process is somewhat secretive, but significant details to include are any events planned, awards or lists that the book has won, and other mainstream publicity, such as recent interviews on popular television, radio, or podcast spots. Other considerations in the selection process are how competitive your genre is and how many authors are writing in the genre — i.e., romance is typically the most competitive as there are a ton of romance novels on the market, and even though the readers are voracious, there’s only one romance novel selected per day.
There’s also been anecdotal evidence over the years that a book needs a certain number of reviews to be selected as a featured deal, something which the editorial folks have denied. Nevertheless, most featured deals on BookBub tend to have at least 20 Amazon reviews, so a good thing to keep in mind if you are thinking of submitting your book as a featured deal.
If selected, the cost of the placement varies based on the genre it will be listed in — more popular genres with more massive subscriber lists will cost more. The cost of the placement also varies based on the discount you are willing to offer — a book discounted to free costs less to list than a book discounted to $3.99. There is no set required discount according to the guidelines, but as a long-time subscriber, I’ve noticed that most books are not usually more than $2.99. As BookBub subscribers are ‘primed’ for free and discounted books, it makes sense to go for a deep discount to get a lot of downloads or sales!
Since a BookBub featured deal requires a discount, this option is only open to self-published authors or authors working in close partnership with smaller publishers as the discount is created by changing the sales price on the marketplace (Kindle, Apple Books, Nook, etc.) Large publishers routinely place books as featured deals as well, but those decisions will be made as part of a broader strategy that the author might not have much say in.
take advantage of your BookBub featured deal for more sales or downloads
If you (or your publisher) do place a book as a featured deal, take advantage of the discount window to buy additional advertising while the book is discounted. The discount window for a BookBub deal is not exclusive to BookBub subscribers — the book will need to be discounted on the e-book marketplaces for all users. So this is a perfect time to buy Facebook, Goodreads, or even Google pay per click ads to get even more traffic to your book and gain new readers.
While the exposure from a BookBub can be huge — most genres average at least 20K downloads per placement, it’s obviously not a huge revenue generating strategy due to the discount. BookBub featured placements are ideal for authors who are writing in a series or have multiple books and tend to have high read-through rates — catch new readers with the featured placement and make sure you have a strong call to action to convert your new readers to repeat readers. For authors who only have one book, a BookBub Featured Deal can be a tool to generate buzz or if you are a coach or speaker with additional offerings, focus the call to action at the end of your book to get readers to join an email list or opt-in to stay connected with you in some other way.
pros! BookBub featured deals are good for:
- Self-published authors or those who are working closely with smaller publishers willing to discount the listing.
- The book must be available in electronic format — minimally, Amazon Kindle.
- The book should have a high number (at least 20) Amazon Kindle reviews — not a requirement, but great to have in place before submitting.
- The book should have best in genre cover art and blurb copy — you’re competing in a wide field to be accepted into the advertising program, so second-rate design won’t cut it!
cons… keep these things in mind when considering a BookBub featured deal
- BookBub featured deals are very competitive. If you’re not accepted, wait a bit and submit again — try a different genre if your book can be listed in more than one.
- Expense — a BookBub placement can run a few thousand dollars, so it’s a significant investment
- Return on investment — since BookBub is a free and discounted newsletter, you’ll get lots of downloads, but not a lot in book sales. If you’re using BookBub as part of a broader strategy where you know you have a high read-through or some other offering that readers will be interested, it can be totally worth it, though! For those who do not discount to free, the ROI is likely significant enough to pay for the cost of the placement plus get a nice bump in sales revenue.
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