If you’re sick of hearing about BookBub walk away now, because I scored my first BookBub (BB) promo December 21 after months of submitting, and I’m about to share the results. For those of you who aren’t familiar (hahaha), BB is the top-of-the-heap discounted book vendor that tons of authors are vying to get into. I’d submitted several different titles at 99 cents and was rejected each time, so this free promo was my first BB ride.
And what a ride it was!
I’ve mentioned that I waited until I had three books published before I did much promotion. Even so, promo spots across all vendors are often limited by the number of reviews, as most vendors have minimum requirements. (BB says they don’t, but even so you don’t see many titles with a handful of reviews.) So I racked up a few reviews before I submitted Mark of the Loon, Book 1 in my Gen Delacourt Mystery Series, for a 99 cent BB promo last June. And again in July, again in August. At that point I knew scoring a 99 cent promo was tough, so I decided to try for a “free” promo. And to make scheduling free promos easier, I put all my titles into KDP Select for the first time ever.
LOON was accepted in November for a “free” promo spot in December.
How I set up my 5-day free promo
Here’s how I set up my promotion days, *followed by the download results.
- Saturday Dec. 20, Ereader News Today (ENT) promotion. Cost: $25 (mystery category), result: 3,864 downloads.
- Sunday, Dec. 21, BookBub promotion. Cost: $220 (women’s fiction category), result: 30,111 downloads.
- Mon-Tues-Wed Dec. 22-24, BMT’s free ebook submission tool. Cost: $29 (both mystery and women’s fiction categories), result: 10,398 downloads across all sites.
*It’s impossible to tell how much crossover any given campaign will generate during the days following the promo, so I’ve simply related the downloads received on that day.
Social Media: I did not share the sale on social media because I wanted to see what the promos alone would do – although my friend and fellow author Toby Neal did share the sale link with her significant Facebook reader fanbase (thank you, Toby!) and I know of at least a few downloads that came from that share.
Price adjustments: I dropped the price of LOON to 99 cents the day following the free promo. I also dropped the price of Book 4, A Thousand Tombs, to 3.99 from 4.99. As an experiment (because it all is, anyway), I took TOMBS out of KDP Select on January 29 when its term was up. Borrows stopped then, of course, but sales continued at a similar pace to the other books, which was what I wanted to know.
Downloads: Yikes! The 5-day “free” giveaway netted Mark of the Loon 43,373 downloads.
Reviews: 54 reviews for LOON (to date) plus several for other titles. FYI, reviews came in quickly for two weeks following the promo days, but slowed to a trickle when everyone went back to work Monday, January 5, so I figure the holiday had plenty to do with people taking time to write them.
Sales: Over six hundred sales of all books in the series December 20 – January 4. LOON made it to #4 in Amazon’s Top 100 Free list, and stayed high on the list for five days.
Book 1, Mark of the Loon: 125 at 0.99
Book 2, The Last Fairytale: 271 @ 2.99
Book 3, Paint Me Gone: 114 @ 3.99
Book 4, A Thousand Tombs: 112 @ 3.99
Borrows: 468 borrows across all titles December 20 – January 4.
Emails from readers: I received my first five emails from readers, the best Christmas gift ever!
Sign-ups to my Reader’s Club subscriber list: Since the promo, 30 readers have registered on my website for my Reader’s Club email list. If you want to read more about how to increase email sign-ups, check out this great post by Joanna Penn.
Hidden benefits of a free promo
I was lurking on Facebook one day and observed a conversation where one commenter noted, “Who can afford BookBub?” But clearly, as you can see by my results, the outcome can more than compensate for the cost. In fact, if you want to place a value on reviews – let’s say they’re worth $2.00 each – the reviews LOON gained alone were worth $100.00. To me, anyway.
There’s lots of talk about “free” losing its mojo, and while it’s true it may not work as well as it used to, it still works. And I’ve heard the complaint that eReaders are full of free books, but I choose to take that with a grain of salt. I download tons of freebies myself, but don’t make it past the first two pages of many. (Confession: I admit to being a truly picky reader.)
BookBub’s proven results have made them super-popular and both trad and self-published authors are eager for a spot, which has made it more of a challenge to get a book accepted. My two cents is that trad authors’ growing participation has probably attracted droves of new subscribers to BB’s email lists, given self-pubbers a shot with readers who otherwise may not have given us a whirl, and maybe, just maybe, helped upgrade our image with the faction that remains skeptical about the quality of a self-published book.
So if you’ve tried and failed to get accepted by BookBub – like I did! – take heart.
Final note: I’m aware that many, many authors do not like free promos/giving books away, and I understand the feelings and philosophy behind that position. To that end, I work hard on my blog NOT to tell other authors what to do, but simply to recount what I’ve done and how it’s worked for me. If readers of this post are not a fan of “free,” I applaud and support that decision. This is not a one-size-fits-all industry, thank goodness. Many paths lead to success!
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