Promotion Services Update: More BookBub, Bargain Booksy, Free Booksy, Kindle Marketing, Genre Pulse

I’m Robert Stanek, a pro author since 1994 and an indie since 2001. Today, I have a special report in a continuing series of articles on book promotion services. I had hoped to have the full research reports completed for a number of services we’ve been tracking and testing since 2014. But with the unexpected early release of Windows 10, which I’ll be writing about in three upcoming books: Windows 10: The Personal Trainer, Windows 10 Step Up and Windows 10 Fast Start, I’ll have to keep this update short and sweet. Thanks to the team for the initial writeup, with my additions and edits!

Team Update

Yes, Team Read Indies heard and considered your increasing complaints and gripes about BookBub (www.bookbub.com), and how you’re tired of its high prices that keep going higher for decreasing returns on your investment and sales. Team Read Indies increasingly agrees the service is overpriced for what’s delivered, and that pricing seems largely based on how much money they think the average writer is going to make from a promotion. We also agree with complaints that the information and statistics provided by BookBub are misleading and need strong disclaimers regarding active, open, click and buy rates.

Our research on BookBub is here and here. For another take on BookBub, we recommend the independent research from Indies Now:

The eye-opening graphic below, reprinted with permission from the book, best summarizes the true picture regarding BookBub--and the statistics come from BookBub’s own published numbers and public statements.

As the graphic shows, one million subscribers doesn’t mean one million people are going to see the ad for your book. Only about 30 – 45% of subscribers are active at any given time and of these, only a smaller percentage even open the daily email containing any particular ad. This quickly whittles down the 1 million number to the base number of people who potentially could see your ad: 22 – 35% of the actives or about 66,000 to 157,500 per one million subscribers.

Of these, only 21 - 29% actually click on something and of the clickers only 34 - 58% actually buy something. Overall, only 8 to 12 % of buyers buy your book (when an email has 5 to 12 book listings). The chances of getting a buy go down proportionally to the number of book listings. If a daily email has 20 to 25 books instead of 5 to 12 your chances of success go down 50 to 75% (closer to 3 to 5% of buyers).

An update on promotion services Team Read Indies has been researching since 2014 and had hoped to have final research reports on :

Bargain Booksy (www.bargainbooksy.com)
Free Booksy (www.freebooksy.com)
Genre Pulse (www.genrepulse)

Bargain Booksy / Free Booksy

Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy are two of our favorite up and comers. Both services are run by the same management team – a team who graciously accepted our offer to talk with them regarding their services. Robert sat down with the management team and conducted an extensive interview, which will be part of the upcoming research report.

As the names imply, Bargain Booksy is where readers go to find bargain books and Free Booksy is where readers go to find free books.

With Bargain Booksy, pricing ranges from $25 to $50 and all genres of books are accepted. Pricing here is somewhat high relative to return on investment, and like most promotion services somewhat high for the value delivered. Fair pricing, based on observed results from the 18-month study, would be at least 20% - 35% lower than current rates.

However, this is true of all services we’ve tested. For example, based on actual value delivered for paid books, BookBub is priced 150% to 500% over the actual value delivered, depending on genre and book price. However, BookBub offers a mostly fair value for promotions of free books. 

With Free Booksy, pricing ranges from $40 to $200 and all genres of books are accepted. Though we like the service, pricing here is very high relative to return on investment and value delivered. As an example, a paranormal romance promoted at BookBub for $195 will get most authors 4,000 to 16,000 downloads, a cost of .05 to .0125 per download.

A paranormal romance promoted at Free Booksy for $200 will get most authors 1,200 to 3,500 downloads, a cost of .17 to .06 per download, making Free Booksy up to 7X more costly than BookBub. Fair pricing, based on observed results from the 18-month study, would be at least 50% - 75% lower than current rates. To be clear, the same is true of most of the promotion services we’ve studied:

BookBub is overpriced 150% to 500% for paid books. We’d like to see flat-pricing for paid books—not pricing based on how much money BookBub thinks you’re going to make off a promotion and then pricing everything so most authors break even at best (and at worst spend a lot of money for a lot less return than expected).
ENT’s recent price hike has made them less of a value and actually put them on the overpriced side. The price hike was unwarranted and also increasingly based on how much money an author can potentially earn from a promotion. Whether an author wants to price a paid book at .99, 1.99 or 2.99 pricing should be the same.
Fussy Reader also recently hiked prices, making them less of a value. We’d like to see the prices rollback to retain the high value we saw in our earlier research.
The Reading Club has had two recent price hikes, both making the service less of a value. Again, we’d like to see the prices rollback to retain the high value we saw in our earlier research.

Where Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy shine is with helping newer authors with promotion, as their rules and restrictions are more inline with how these types of businesses should operate. Basically, if you have a book that has a marketable cover, a marketable description, looks professional overall, appropriate pricing and money to spend on advertising, you should qualify for any service and be able to spend that advertising money wherever and however you please. Amen. Kudos to Bargain Booksy and Free Booksy for their openness and true interest in helping authors.

Kindle Marketing

On to Kindle Marketing (https://www.fiverr.com/kindlemarketing). Our earlier research on Fiverr promotion was pretty condemning. However, we did find a few bright spots and have researched them thoroughly. One of these is Kindle Marketing, a dedicated team of marketers who truly cares about your success and gives excellent value for your marketing dollars. The $5 basic gig plus the $5 viral social media option gave the best value: daily promotion for 7 days on social media. This is a great value for the investment, as Kindle Marketing will create an ad for you and then promote it up to 20 times each day for 7 days, giving you up to 140 promotion opportunities.

Basically, in talking with Kindle Marketing your $10 is buying 1-hour of an associate’s time. Kindle Marketing will go to sites, groups on Facebook and other social media and post for you each day. We’ve tried something similar and it took 5 hours to set up with all the sites and another 3 hours to make a similar number of promotions each day ourselves. So $10 for an hour of an experienced marketer’s time? Yes, a great value.

Another excellent value was the $5 basic gig plus the $5 viral social media option and the $20 option to extend the promotion for 30 days. Again, a great value for the investment, as Kindle Marketing will create an ad for you and then promote it up to 20 times each day for 30 days, giving you many promotion opportunities. In talking with Kindle Marketing your $30 is buying 3-hours of an associate’s time. Considering Fiverr gets a 20% cut and Kindle Marketing actually only receives $24, it’s a great value, unless you really have the time to do something like this yourself. We tried and even with everything set up for promotion, it took 6 -7 hours of our time.

Another excellent value was the career makeover gig, which provides everything an author needs to start turning his or her writing career around and start getting sales. To be effective, you really do need to order the complete set of extras in the appropriate quantities and then get out of their way to let them help you. The service requires an investment of time and money—and Kindle Marketing expects the author to work as hard as they do to turn things around. Here the options you need to make the service worthwhile can include cover revisions, bio revision, social media building, revision of book descriptions, keywords and categories, and more depending on author.

The initial analysis provides a report on your current author platform and where you need to go. A required first step so Kindle Marketing can review where you are on social media. You’re not really paying for the report; you’re paying for their time in reviewing your current efforts. Thus, if you buy this option and nothing else, you’re wasting your money and time.

The average cost of a makeover was $200 to $500 and the results? Authors who previously had no or few sales, started seeing regular sales. To them, it was money well spent. There are caveats, though. For authors with one book or two, your time and effort is better spent on writing your next book. You really do need 3 or more books to benefit from this type of service.

Genre Pulse

Genre Pulse is another promotion service we’ve researched and will report on in the weeks ahead. James, the founder of the service, was also gracious with his time and willingness to work with our team and Robert. Robert interviewed James and discussed the service at length, the results of which will be published with our forthcoming study.

Genre Pulse is a service that shows a lot of promise and potential. However, during our research, the service was priced at $30 for full promo and $10 for apps only promo. Both of which were slightly overpriced based on results. The service is now priced at $40 for full promo and $15 for apps only promo, with no real change in results. Though the service is growing, we don’t feel the price increase is warranted. Look for the occasional sales that put pricing for full promo at $20 - $25 to get a better value. Though fairer pricing would be $20 flat fee. Apps only pricing, however, needs to come down about 50%, which would then make the offering a value.

That said, Genre Pulse retains a recommendation with caveats we'll discuss in more depth later. James seems to genuinely want to help authors, so let him know your thoughts and give his service a try! If you don't get the expected results, let him know that too and he may help you out.

Thanks for reading,

Team Read Indies

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