Monday, May 9, 2016

#Bookbub: Holy Grail for the #indiewriter? #amreading

Today my first book, Dying for a Living, is being promoted by Bookbub for the third time. I've had a few people ask me if Bookbub was really worth all the hype and I think the short answer is yes. But I want to explain why--and how you can gain a few similar benefits, even if you aren't eligible for your own Bookbub promotion yet.

When I first began my journey as a self-published author two years ago, every successful indie writer I knew insisted that Bookbub was where it was at.

For those of you who don't know, Bookbub is a listserv that notifies subscribers by email of book deals (usually free or deeply discounted books).

 In their own words:

BookBub alerts you to limited-time free & discounted ebooks matching your interests.
It's free to join, you can read on any device, and the books are yours to own.

For those of us who go through books like chocolate bonbons, free and cheap books can be very exciting.
So it's no surprise that according to Bookbub, the website has millions of email subscribers.

So what does that mean for writers? Particularly indie writers?

It means that if you are able to get enough reviews (I was first approved around the 80 review mark) and most of them are favorable (4.0+ rating), then chances are you will be approved for a promotion.

This means that (depending on your category), a million+ readers will get an email suggesting that they buy/download your book one morning.  This usually results in A LOT of downloads, which translates to sales of your other books, and in general, can be great for visibility.

The reason why Bookbub seems like the holy grail of such paid services (and yes, you pay Bookbub for your feature), is because it's the most successful one around. I've used several similar services that send emails to readers, but they were not as effective in generating downloads/sales, and they were usually more expensive. So overall, these services had a low ROI.

But there are two other reasons why a Bookbub feature is something to aspire to:

1) Readers can follow your page
2) New release alerts

A Bookbub author profile looks like this. All Bookbub authors are eligible to claim and design their page. And once they do, it is a good marketing tool because readers can easily see a list of your works and learn more about you. Even better, they can follow your page. You WANT them to follow your page because if they do, then they will receive a New Release Alert whenever a new book comes out, which is another great marketing tool. One of the continuing challenges of the indie writer is to keep people aware of books as they hit the shelves.  
But what if you aren't eligible for a Bookbub feature (yet!)? There's still something to gain:

1) Amazon has a similar "follow-new release alert" feature.
While you work to build up your review numbers, try to actively market your amazon author page. Beneath my author photo, you should see a follow button. Everyone who clicks this receives an alert whenever I put out a new book and sometimes months before, when the book goes on preorder--just like Bookbub does. So be sure to promote your author page and encourage others to "follow" you to help generate visibility for your forthcoming books.

Another tool that has helped me with visibility (and you don't need a single review to access it) is Bookbub's blog. I've found their posts really interesting and helpful in learning about visibility and how to promote my work. Self-publishing has a steep learning curve and any resource that can help me understand how to present my work to others is a good thing.

Regardless of whether or not you are an indie writer or a traditionally published one, I've found many useful posts on marketing on the Bookbub's Partners blog. So it might be useful to add this to your homework reading list.

Bottomline: Is it the Holy Grail? Maybe. Maybe not. But I certainly haven't found anything better yet. Hopefully that will change and other equally successful mail lists will emerge that give writers more opportunities to promote their work. But until then, the best we can continue is to continue to educate ourselves about the ever-shifting market.


  1. I got a BB ad last year and the results were amazing. Unfortunately I can't seem to get them to advertise the same book again. :(

    It is worth submitting a book and if you are lucky enough to get picked it can be a fun ride of sales and downloads.

    1. I'm curious: was the book a standalone or part of a series?

  2. You are totally spot on about BB. I have told all my clients, when I was busy being the publicist last year, and will continue to say listerv's like BookBub and Australian based Booktastik are the way to go!

    1. Oh I didn't know about Booktastik! Learn something new every day! The only other listservs I've heard of/used are Book Gorilla, Fussy Librarian, and a few others.