My First BookBub Promo: The Results

BookBubIf 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.

Results overall

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.

In conclusion

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.

Try again.

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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62 Responses to My First BookBub Promo: The Results

  1. Anna Dobritt January 19, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Very interesting.

  2. JL Oakley January 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Thanks for the results. What genre is Loon in? That seems to crucial to whether the ads are worth it in BB. Friends who write historical fiction have done almost nil sales with the 99 cents. Free was hard to get into. Some genres do waaay better than others. Nice to have Toby in your corner.

    • Molly Greene January 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks! Loon is women’s fiction/mystery. I would imagine different run days and dates also return different results, and I would not expect the same number of downloads from another BB promo.

  3. Patricia Sands January 19, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    Well done, Molly! You put together an excellent marketing plan and the results show how right you were!

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:21 am #

      Thanks so much Patricia!

  4. Garry Rodgers January 19, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    This is very interesting and encouraging, Molly. Congrats on your ever-increasing success. You’ve earned it & thanks for your generosity!

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:22 am #

      Garry, gdub, Onisha, thank you so much for your kind words and your support!

  5. gdub January 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    43,000 downloads!!!!!! Yowee wowee, ms. greene, that is some tall cotton. Keep on truckin’!!!!

  6. Onisha Ellis January 19, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    One reason authors feel they can’t afford BookBub is that it is up front cost. The two month delay until Amazon pays can be rough, especially if you write in an expensive genre. Congratulations on your successful experience!

  7. DK Walker January 19, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Molly I know you are super busy but if you could give a slight breakdown to the submission process to Bookbub it would be greatly appreciated. I have a free book coming out soon, but would love to have the do’s and don’ts for getting it the best exposure possible, thanks. And of course congrats on your success

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:24 am #

      Thanks DK, but BookBub does it better than I could. Check out their “Tips” and “Requirements” pages and you’ll know everything I do.

  8. Kim Wenzler January 19, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Wow – great information! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:25 am #

      Kim, Tammy, Maureen, thank you so much!

  9. Pamela Beason (@PamelaBeason) January 19, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, Molly. I did a 99-cent promo for my mystery THE ONLY WITNESS on BookBub in July 2014, and I have to say that although the hefty fee was frightening,it paid off with more than $7K in net sales in July (for all my self-pubbed books), plus more than 100 fantastic new reviews for THE ONLY WITNESS and many new readers on B&N. The results dwindled off pretty fast, though, but I still have twice the sales on B&N that I did before my BookBub ad. Unfortunately, Kindle Unlimited seems to have destroyed half my sales on Amazon. I will definitely do BookBub again when I have another book out in one of my series.

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:28 am #

      You hit the nail on the head with the word “frightening,” Pam – a 99 cent promo in BB’s mystery category is jaw-droppingly (word?) expensive. But as you say, it pays off, and WOW! did it every pay off for you – congrats and thank you so much for sharing your numbers, it helps everyone. It seems KU has affected lots of royalty checks, but I was selling enough prior to KU to be able to relate whether or not there is any difference in my sales.

  10. Stephany January 19, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    I very much enjoy your writing. Like you, I’m a picky reader. I always read the initial pages of a book on Amazon, as well as go to the author page so I can see the photo of the person writing.
    I “read the energy” emanating to see if it’s a match to mine. I love your bright spirit. 🙂

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:29 am #

      Thanks so much for your sweet message and kind words, Stephany!

  11. Tammy Salyer January 19, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    It couldn’t have happened to a better book! Congrats, Molly!

  12. Lisa Maggiore January 19, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    I love your strategy; waiting until you had three books published before you ran a BookBub promo. I published a short story, am publishing a novel in two months then one more in the fall. Although two are in the same genre, I am hoping that having three in the public’s eye will help with exposure and revenue. Thank you again for your transparency. Love it!

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:31 am #

      Thanks, Lisa, but the 3-book strategy wasn’t really mine, it’s been shared by authors who came before us and sent back word – lol! I read a lot of blogs and decided it made sense, as I’m sure it will for you, as well. Best of luck to you!

  13. Maureen Grenier January 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    Well done, Molly!

  14. Ashley R. Carlson January 19, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

    I greatly appreciate you sharing this info Molly–it was so helpful. I have been looking into BookBub for my own novel and the price seemed very steep–however, I’m not worried about making money at the moment, but instead to get my name out there, because I’m a debut novelist.

    I will submit (and resubmit most likely) my novel as a Free option because of your experiences. Thank you for your candid nature with this, very inspiring!

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:33 am #

      Thanks Ashley, Diana, Joybelle – I appreciate your support and encouragement and best of luck to you all with your own books!

  15. Diana Douglas January 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    Very encouraging. I know how hard it is to get on Book Bub, so that’s great that you kept at it. Thanks for sharing!

  16. joybelle2012 January 19, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

    Congratulations, you did it. But you deserve it because you give back to your friends and readers all the time, by telling us how to do similar things for themselves..

  17. MM Jaye January 20, 2015 at 1:30 am #

    That was great, Molly! I’m so happy for you, and you fully deserve this and so much more! What I keep is that you have to have two or three books out to make the most of a Bookbub deal.

    Here’s to more great news for your books in 2015!


    • Molly Greene January 20, 2015 at 7:35 am #

      Thank you Maria! I hope BOTH of us are inspired to write a couple more wonderful stories in 2015 – and a private “thank you” for all your help with mine.

  18. Ellis Shuman January 20, 2015 at 2:24 am #

    Great article and great results! I ran one successful BookBub promotion, now I’m encouraged to apply for a new one.

  19. Katarina West January 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Thanks, Molly! Highly useful!

  20. Holly Kerr January 21, 2015 at 8:08 am #

    That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing and thanks for the inspiration!

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2015 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks so much, Holly!

  21. Brighid O'Sullivan January 21, 2015 at 9:32 am #

    Congratulations. I’m wondering why would one wait until you have multiple books to do it. Is it to rationalize the cost? Some authors are struggling with reviews and I wonder if this would help even a first time author???

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

      That’s an excellent question, Brighid, because in my limited experience it does seem that free giveaways draw the most reviews, so it would be a good way to get reviews for a single title. The best answer is that with only a single title – even two, you wouldn’t have others to sell to cover BookBub’s hefty fees, and many authors wouldn’t be in a position to spend that kind of money. I’m not saying anyone else should wait, I’m just saying I did, and for many reasons I’m glad I took that route. Thanks so much, hope this helps!

  22. Judith Cranswick January 23, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    Great blog – as always!
    It’s something I keep thinking about, but the cost makes me apprehensive as my sales are far less than so many of my fellow writers. Perhaps it’s time to bite the bullet and invest in myself a bit more!

    • Molly Greene January 23, 2015 at 7:43 am #

      Thanks Judith – and yes, it was scary to pay for that promo, but I am OH-so glad I did. Try it when you’re ready!

  23. Dannie January 23, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    Great results that I hope translate into ‘real’ sells for you, Molly!

    Talking about downloading lots of free ebooks and not reading more than a few pages (and you’re not in the minority) should show many writers the importance of the first ten pages. I know as a writer it upsets me that we have to engage the readers so quickly because we’ve written a great book, but truth is truth and we either adapt or fail.

    Thank you for putting out good information!

    • Molly Greene January 23, 2015 at 8:11 am #

      Thanks, Dannie! For me it’s not so much engagement with the story itself as it is great writing in the first few pages. I’ll read on if I can see the writer has talent. I think my “problem” is that I do so much editing, my internal editor is always engaged – and if I find myself editing a story in my head right off the bat, I move on. Thanks for your support!

  24. Benjamin Wallace January 23, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    Huge results. Congrats, Molly.

    I haven’t tried a free promo, but I’ve found with the .99 promotion BookBub has always paid for itself by the end of the first day. So, it’s worth it if you can get in.

    It’s been a while since I tried and I hear it’s just getting harder.

    • Molly Greene January 23, 2015 at 8:45 am #

      Thanks, Ben – and I wish I COULD get into BB at 99 cents. I’m hoping a couple of successful “free” promos will change their minds about my 99 cent submissions. Crossing my fingers!

      • Benjamin Wallace January 23, 2015 at 8:47 am #

        You’re in a much more competitive category than I’ve ever entered. And they still won’t add comedy. Been after them for years for that.

  25. Chana Keefer January 26, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    I’ve done two Bookbub promos over the past couple years and I can honestly say NOTHING I’ve done to promote my books has worked so quickly or so well to get my books out of the weeds, gain some traction outside the friends & family circle AND bring scores of great new reviews.
    I would love to do a .99 promo with them but so far, Free has worked quite well. Even since the first time I advertised with them in Spring of 2013, the competition has gotten much more fierce. But, hats off to Bookbub. They really do get great response from their subscribers.
    During my Free Bookbub campaign in Summer 2013, my novel topped ten Amazon Bestseller lists and debuted as #1 Amazon Hot New Inspirational Romance Release. The Bookbub campaign dovetailed with a CrossReads Featured Author Campaign. Huge results. The novel was One Night With a Rock Star and I felt like one for about a week there. 🙂
    So glad to hear, Molly, that your Bookbub campaign worked so well too. It is pretty mind boggling to work so hard to get notice and then, overnight, the downloads go crazy. Feels great. And you’re right. The price I would put on new reviews, at least to me, makes it all VERY worth what Bookbub costs.

    • Molly Greene January 26, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Chana, thank you so much, and huge congrats on your achievements. If it was possible, I’d pay the price to have a title in BookBub every month – free OR 99 cents, I wouldn’t care – because the attention from readers is, as you’ve said, unbeatable. Now I’m off to Google “CrossReads Featured Author Campaigns.” 🙂

  26. brighid o'sullivan January 29, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    I’m confused on a few things. I’ve listed my book in kindle select to do the promotion and Amazon does not let me list it or FREE only .99 I’ve looked on some forums and they are telling me that if Amazon sees your book fro free somewhere like smashwords they usually match it but this does not make sense since to me. KDP select is a contract for exclusivity for 90 days. I also did not know it has to be listed in Select for 30 days before a sale price can be used. How does anyone get their book for free on Amazon?

  27. Elyse Salpeter February 19, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    I just scored my first BookBub on March 6th for 99 cents. I’m nervous as it’s a smaller category “supernatural/suspense” but I’m hopeful I’ll make it up with the other books in my inventory. I have book #2 in that series launching a week before, so that should help it and 5 other books in my inventory!

    • Molly Greene February 19, 2015 at 7:23 am #

      Good for you, Elyse! I still can’t get in at 99 cents. I bet you’ll do really, really well – congratulations!

    • DL Lewis June 17, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

      How did your March BookBub promotion work out for you? I hope you did well.

      • Molly Greene June 19, 2015 at 8:34 am #

        Hi DL, March was good. I’ll blog about it soon!

  28. Josa Young February 28, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    Hi Molly, thank you SO much for this. I have just been selected for a free BB day on 8 March and was debating about leaving Kindle Select. This post is SUCH a help. Thank you. Do you think there was a huge benefit in doing the whole five days of freebie? I was only going to do two days over the BB period.

    • Molly Greene February 28, 2015 at 9:30 am #

      Hey Josa! Keep in mind this is only my opinion: If you keep the book free for the entire five days and promote the freebie everywhere you can, you have a better chance of maintaining the download momentum and hitting/staying on a few “top free books” lists. If you can make those lists, more readers will have a chance to see and discover you. You might also consider dropping the price to 99 cents for a day or two directly after the promo ends. Best of luck to you!!

  29. Josa Young February 28, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Thank you Molly, excellent advice. I love the generosity of my fellow writers. Will let you know how it goes.

    • Molly Greene February 28, 2015 at 10:32 am #

      Josa, yes, please let us know!

  30. Josa Young March 12, 2015 at 7:42 am #

    I tried some of the ideas for four free Kindle days over the weekend and after as follows: First day, my own social media efforts – around 500. Second day, BookBub, several thousands. Third day, ReadCheaply around 1000. Fourth day, Ereader news today around 1000. So far, only three extra reviews, but it is early days. Thank you for inspiring me to get on with it! I have no idea what any long term effect will be at this point. The book is Sail Upon Land, my second novel. BookBub is extraordinary! Best wishes and many thanks

    • Molly Greene March 12, 2015 at 9:09 am #

      Huge congratulations, Josa! Reviews should come in over time. Good for you for going for it, and thanks so much for coming back to report. Yaaay!

  31. DL Lewis June 17, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    You wrote “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.”

    How did you rack up those reviews? I’ve hit a brick wall when it comes to getting reviews.

    • Molly Greene June 19, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      I queried book bloggers to request reviews and used a series of free promos on smaller book promo sites via Book Marketing Tools’ ebook submission resource. Free promos garner more reviews.

  32. DL Lewis June 19, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Thanks for responding, Molly. I guess there must be something seriously wrong with the books I’m trying to promote, then. Book bloggers ignore me and the free promos I’ve done (Goodreads) have been disappointing. Out of 15 paperback books given away, I received 1.5 reviews. (I mark one of them as a half because the kind lady rated my book and put up a short preliminary unfinished review.) My experience has been that most people just want to win a free book and have no interest in reading them, for the most part.

    I have a very hard time finding bloggers who don’t specialize in romance (I never put romance in my works). My first novel is a fantasy similar in type to Watership Down. A UK Editor of the Year who works for Transworld Publishing said the book is wonderful but hard to sell. She was right. I guess an author can write the best book of all time and get nowhere with it because it doesn’t fit into a popular mainstream genre. I’ve become so discouraged that sometimes I sit and think, “Maybe I should write romance into my books so people will read them?” and then I burst out laughing because I know going down that road would result in a vicious satire of romance . . . sorry to go on so much. Thanks for responding and sharing your experience. I appreciate your taking the time to reply. I will look into the Book Marketing Tools’ ebook submission resource.

    • Molly Greene June 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

      DL, it’s not your books. Approaching book bloggers is time consuming and slow, but there are lots of posts out there about effective ways to do it (Google!). And I’ve never done a Goodreads giveaway, that’s a totally different animal. I’m talking about promos that generate thousands of free giveaways. This post explains what I did at the first of the year: Best of luck to you!

      • DL Lewis June 19, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

        Thanks, Molly! I’ll take a look at the link you provided, and will strive to keep on plugging away at the bloggers.

        Thousands of free giveaways sounds good.