Book Promotion Sites Ranked & Rated: More Thoughts & Tips for Getting into BookBub from BookBub, Plus 20 Questions & Answers with BookBub

So many have pinged me about Book Promotion Sites Ranked & Rated and asked questions that I added more to the article originally and in comments, but will now put those together with additional tips for getting into BookBub from the BookBub team. The details come from research and discussions between January 2014 and December 2014 as well as updates and additions from January 2015.

Before I get into more details and tips for success, remember, a promotion that doesn’t do as well as hoped isn’t necessarily a failure on the author’s part. It can be a failure of the marketing done on the author’s behalf – and marketing does fail frequently in my experience. That said, it's up to the author to put his or her best foot forward. You really need to take your time with any submissions to these services, make sure your work is highly polished with good cover art, and provide as much detail as possible in your submission.

Further, to be clear, no one who participated in the study was disappointed with BookBub. Participants gave BookBub two thumbs up with caveats and our highest rating.

Did the participants think BookBub was a good value? Yes, that's what the score of 10 indicated.

Did the participants think BookBub was perfect? No, that’s why the score was a 10 and not a 20. Online promotion services in this category have a long way to go towards perfection—BookBub included.

Will the participants be using BookBub again? Yes, absolutely.

I was asked many questions about the residual value of online book promotion services, as in: Is there value beyond the promotion period?

To be clear, the study looked at the value of the promotion not just on the day of promotion but within a reasonable window of time that extended beyond. As an example, a book may see 80% of its boost on Day 1 and Day 2, 15% of its boost on Days 3 to 5, and 5% of its boost on Days 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, and that windowing effect was taken into account.

These offerings are really one-time and done, with little residual value. Remember, many of these services are featuring 20 – 30 or more books a day with promotions appearing on “daily feature” pages, promoted through daily emails, and often on social media. It’s important to remember that success with these services isn’t just about the daily newsletter emails to followers. It’s also about the service’s web site and social media channels. Thus, there are 3-parts to promotion strategies using these services that must be considered.

With the “daily feature” page, your book is one of many. Successive daily promotion pages quickly follow the page your book is on. Thus, after 7 to 10 days, your book is already several hundred books back in the queue. Some promotion services distinguish themselves by making their web sites about more than the listings, and that helps to build traction.

With daily emails, your book is included in a daily email. Successive daily emails quickly follow. Thus, after a few days, the email containing your book has already been superseded several times.

It’s also important to remember that just because a service has 1,000,000 followers doesn’t mean 1,000,000 are going to see your promotion. Typical open rates for promotion services that use daily emails are likely 2 to 3%, though I’ve seen claims as high as 6 to 12%. Open rates are posted by some services if you look for them, though self-reported and based on all classes of recipients.

With an open rate of 2 – 3% and 1,000,000 emails sent, that means about 20,000 to 30,000 are opening the email. With an open rate of 6% and 1,000,000 email sent, that means about 60,000 are opening the email. With an open rate of 12% and 1,000,000 email sent, that means about 120,000 are opening the email. Once those emails have been opened, some subset of those who did so will make one or more purchases based on what they read.

Going back to the idea of residual value. Marketing isn’t just about the sales made, but also building brand, following and cache. However, most of these services would have to rethink their entire approach to build any actual product awareness: daily pages and daily emails don’t build anything.

With 20, 30 or more books featured at a time each and every day, readers are simply being overwhelmed and it’s highly unlikely any value is being built. ENT and BookBub might be exceptions, as their larger followings make the building of traction more likely. As ENT and BookBub are quite popular, they may also have higher open rates than smaller services.

Anyone working at these services may wonder how they can start providing more value more consistently. There's no easy answer but here's a start: Don't feature so many books at once. Build additional value using your website and social media. For examples of better websites, start by looking at how ENT is doing things.

The effectiveness of this category of book promotion services has changed over time. Services focusing on free and discounted ebooks have grown and matured with the ebook/kindle marketplace itself. A mature following isn’t the same as a new, hungry following.

When many of these services started, they were rapidly expanding and growing their following. Now much of their following has matured along with the services themselves. As a result, there’s likely a growing percentage of members who may not be actively seeking new reads or who may not be seeking new reads as frequently, as well as a base of members who continue to actively seeking new reads. Because of this, these services must constantly grow their membership base with not just new members, but with members who are actively seeking new reads.

I know when I first started following these services, I couldn’t wait to open the emails each day to discover new deals. A few weeks in though, I was only checking every few days. A few months in, I was only checking sporadically, and mostly when I needed something to new to read. Now after several years, I check only every now and again—and I’m someone who reads ravenously, daily.

Regarding repeat advertising for the same product, some discussion should be made about the possibility of diminishing returns—and that should definitely be highlighted. The first time you advertise a product in a new market you are likely to capture the attention of a larger part of the market than with subsequent advertising in the same market. In fact, with each subsequent ad for the same product, you may find less and less of a return.

Keep in mind, the concept of diminishing returns applies to advertising the same product in the same market repeatedly. Thus, one way to get continued success is to market different products rather than the same product. Also, keep in mind the market itself can change over time. In the early days, this was especially true with BookBub. BookBub with 2 million members didn’t have the same market as BookBub with 4 million members. Not only did BookBub have 2 million more members, but the company also started doing things in different ways. Growth and change create new opportunity, and if BookBub continues to grow and change these opportunities will continue to flourish.

Open rate is only one metric for success in email newsletters. Other important metrics include clickthrough rates and conversion rates. Going back to what I was talking about earlier with open rates for the email newsletters from these services. The open rate is the percentage of members who open the newsletter. If a service has 4-million members and a 10% open rate, that means about 400,000 will open the email on any given day.

The clickthrough rate is the number of members who click through to a sales page after they’ve opened the email. If the clickthrough rate is 26%, that means out of those 400,000 about 104,000 will click a book link and land on a sales page, whether at Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble or somewhere else. Thus, in the end, the 4-million member base is whittled down to about 104,000 who have progressed far enough to make a purchase decision:

4,000,000 to start

400,000 who open the email

104,000 who click through to a sales page

Those who click through may do so more than once, but typically are only counted on the initial click through. Because the newsletters always have multiple features, each book typically receives some portion of the click through.

Sometimes an additional metric called the conversion rate is used to track the number of people who then make a purchase. However, that’s a difficult metric to track because it relies on sales reporting, which is often estimated or self-reported.

Tips for Getting into BookBub from BookBub, Plus 20 Questions and Answers from BookBub

Like Country Clubs and Men's Clubs, BookBub builds buzz among authors by seeming to be exclusive. In 2014, they accepted 1 out of 4 submissions. For 2015, they’re currently reporting that they accept 1 out of 5 submissions and that’s what we’re seeing as well. But the only real criteria they seem to have relate to:

Current sales rank
Current sale price relative to past on sale prices
Number of favorable reviews relative to total reviews

Or in other words, they're largely looking for already successful authors to make even more successful.

Never forget, BookBub is offering a service. They exist to serve authors, authors don't exist to serve them. In 2014, BookBub earned about $12,000,000 from authors (our estimation, not theirs). If they want to keep earning that kind of money, they'll need to start being fair about their selection process, start looking at the product offered itself, start posting real sales numbers for all authors and not just the winners, and stop paying attention to what we all know can and are being bought: reviews and sales rank.

So what does BookBub itself have to say about all this? Do they have specific tips for successfully getting featured? Yes, they do, and here they are with my revisions as appropriate for clarity.

What is the biggest factor for getting into or not getting into BookBub? Discount. More specifically, the discount relative to the everyday price of the book. Books must be discounted by at least 50%. As an example, a book priced every day at $5.99 and offered at $2.99 has a 50% discount. A book with a discount less than 50% will not be accepted.

BookBub accepts novels. Does BookBub accept novellas, short stories or picture books? Any work of fiction must be at least 150 pages. Any work of nonfiction must be at least 100 pages. The exceptions are for cookbooks, middle grade readers, and pictures books. Cookbooks must be at least 70 pages. Middle grade books must be at least 70 pages. Picture books must be at least 20 pages.

So novellas and short stories are acceptable as long as they meet the length criteria? Yes. We don’t currently accept stand-alone novellas or short stories, but we do accept collective works.

Does BookBub use reviews to determine whether to feature a book? Yes. Customer reviews and ratings are used to determine whether to feature any book. BookBub also looks for critical reviews from trusted editorial sources.

Such as? Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Amazon editors, book review sections in newspapers.

Do deeper discounts help to get into BookBub? Yes. BookBub promises members that any book we feature is deeply discounted or free. The deeper the discount from the everyday price, the better. Remember, the deal BookBub features must also be the best deal available at the time.

Does BookBub accept always discounted books? Not usually. A book that’s always discounted doesn’t meet our criteria for a limited-time offer.

What is the best price point for a deal to get accepted? BookBub rarely accepts deals priced higher than $3.00. For the best chance at getting featured, make sure your deal is $2.99 or less.

Does the price history affect a submission? Yes. BookBub doesn’t accept submissions for books that have had a better price in the previous 90 days. We don’t accept submissions for books that will have a better price in the near term (approximately next 30 days).

Does BookBub accept free books? Yes. BookBub only features books that are free or discounted. Free books are our most popular listings, and we’re always looking for submissions of good free books.

Does BookBub accept always free books? Not usually. A book that’s always free doesn’t meet our criteria for a limited-time offer.

Books that were on sale at the time of submission often weren’t selected. Can you tell us why that could happen? BookBub looks for limited-time offers and typically 14 to 30 or more days in advance of a feature. If the book is already on sale, it won’t be a limited time offer by the time we feature it.

During the submission process, we are asked for how long after the feature will the offer be available. We found that our answer here really seemed to matter. Does it? Yes. Again, BookBub looks for limited time offers. A book that’s going to be on sale for 60 days isn’t a limited time offer.

A deal has to be widely available for acceptance. Can you explain? Yes. A deal must be available on at least one major retailer in the US or UK.

An example? Amazon US or Amazon UK.
I notice BookBub is looking at Amazon Canada too, and breaks out US, UK and CA separately in pricing when you get accepted. Yes. US, UK, and CA pricing is separate. The audiences are separate.

Does the number of retailers matter? Wider availability is better, but a deal only at Amazon US, Amazon UK or both is sufficient.

How often can an author submit a book to BookBub? Each book must have at least 6 months between features. A book featured in February can’t be featured again until August.

But what if a book is rejected. When can the author resubmit? BookBub asks that authors wait four weeks before submitting a book for consideration again.

But what if an author has multiple books? BookBub looks at submissions for individual books. An author with many books can submit each that meets our requirements.

But BookBub will only feature the same author once every 30 days? Yes. BookBub won’t feature the same author twice in any 30-day period.

ReadIndies recommendation: Authors with multiple books should wait to see if they are accepted before submitting a different book for consideration.

Submit your book to BookBub @ https://www.bookbub.com/submit-order/new

Learn about BookBub pricing @ https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

Hope this special report helps you get into BookBub! To share your BookBub success story with our readers, send an email to williamstanek@aol.com with subject BOOKBUB STORY TO SHARE. Be sure to include full details about your promotion including the cost of the promotion, the total sales attributed to the promotion, the category you were featured in, the sale price, the number of days for the sale, the everyday price of your books, the number of reviews and the overall rating at the time of the submission. No attachments, please enter the details into the body of your email.

Thanks for reading,
Robert Stanek

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