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message 1: by M.A. (last edited Dec 01, 2015 03:21PM) (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments I have been wading through the thread on best bang for your buck (about 50% through now), and there's a lot of talk about Bookbub. I know other authors who have used them, and getting chosen seems to be a badge of honor, and yet...

I looked at their pricing. For example, in Crime Fiction they charge $940.00 for the ad if the book is priced less than $1.00. The average sales are 3360. At $0.99 per sale the royalty rate (35%) is $1164.24. That's an average fee of almost 81% of your royalties.

More importantly, they have 3,290,000+ subscribers for Crime Fiction. But at 3360 sales, that's only a .1% buy rate. In other words, 99.9% of all Bookbub subscribers DO NOT BUY. That's abysmal! Why would an author want to be in a bookstore where only .1% of customers buy? And pay for the "privilege" to be in it?

Or take Supernatural Suspense. Average downloads are 980 yet Bookbub charge $360.00 for a book priced below $1, which is $20.43 MORE than what the author earns in royalties. So Bookbub take all the author's royalties and then some. This strikes me as absurd.

On top of all this Bookbub earn affiliate income from Amazon.

So, fantastic for Bookbub but crap for the author. Is this a case of the Emperor's new clothes? Are authors getting duped?

Your thoughts?

(P.S. I posted this in Writer's Cafe on Mobile Reads as well; it will be interesting to see if there is any consensus.)

message 2: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 199 comments I am on the BookBubs e-mail list. I look at it every day, but I hardly ever buy—usually only books I intended to buy anyway.

Think of supermarket coupons. It's similar, in terms of sales. When do you use them? To buy something you would have bought anyway, right?

For that reason, as an author I have so far chosen not to pay for Bookbub. But that is one author's view. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

message 3: by Anna (last edited Dec 01, 2015 04:14PM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 277 comments Thank you, M.A. A very good point to make.

I think it is just a case of Bookbub being one of the best of a bad bunch. We all know we are handing over wadges of money and receiving little or nothing in return by way of royalties, but on the other hand, our adverts are placed directly in front of potential customers and there is often the chance of overspill where our books, having achieved visibility courtesy of such sites, start selling at the full price. For a lucky few, this happens. For the rest, well it's a good job we like writing.

This, of course, doesn't take away from your maths calculations and the very real feeling of being ripped off by most of the sites. And that is why Jack and others have put in so much work to find out which sites should be avoided as being nothing but money making machines for everyone but the writers. Your post is helpful in showing new writers that they are unlikely to make much money, if any.

Ereadernewstoday is reckoned to be the fairest in terms of pricing to sales according to that thread. BookSends is one of the better ones too. And Simon, who runs Readers in the Know, is also trying to help with sorting out the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

I'm off to look at your profile and if you are a new writer, then at least you have got what it takes to spot a bad bargain!

Thanks again.

message 4: by Mellie (last edited Dec 01, 2015 05:52PM) (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 618 comments Bookbub has always had a fantastic ROI for me when they have run a 99 cent promotion. It's not just earning back on the featured book, its the sell through to the rest of the series at full price that can push your income substantially higher. A long tail can see your books sitting higher in the ranks for a number of months and I have heard of some authors who experienced a six month tail from a Bookbub ad.

The last Bookbub I had saw my book reach the number 23 spot in the entire paid store at Amazon, it spent 3 days in the top 100 overall (after the promo was over) and took several weeks to drift back to its pre-Bookbub rank of around #20,000. Plus I had significant sales on all the rest of the books in the series. The ad paid for itself several times over, I've not seen an ROI close to that with any other advertiser.

message 5: by Debbie's Spurts (D.A.) (last edited Dec 01, 2015 09:36PM) (new)

Debbie's Spurts (D.A.) I have no idea how to tell how many subscribers on any book promotion company's mailing list are fellow authors and book industry people rather than readers. Or how many non-subscribing members might see an advertised book on any of the company's various sites, social media, etc. pages (directly or because of someone's share/like).

Personally, I (reader) email subscribe to a very few because they are good at selectively grouping some books by my interests but most of them I sporadically glance at various pages like their Facebook page to see if something catches my fancy. My inbox is so packed I'm careful about what I subscribe to. I personally prefer Ereader News Today to Book Bub just because I've found more books I enjoyed reading; not so much on Facebook anymore because the social is so taken over by the promotional it's an effort sometimes to wade through the newsfeed noise for what I want to see.

When something indie is of interest, I tend to check around some reviewers and bloggers I follow to see any "buzz" then sample before buying/downloading -- even if that means I miss out on some sales. Since I'm unlikely to click thru ads, to buy via the promotion company's affiliate purchase links or even during the promotions -- not sure how my purchases would necessarily be tracked back to the promotions as ROI. I'm careful to never review or shelve unknown authors until I see how they react to reviews and book activities because of bad experiences -- bad experiences even though I seldom read non-traditionally published books and very seldom rate a book low or write a negative review because if I don't like a book I usually just stop reading and waste no more time on it. Goodreads is no longer the book site I write most of my reviews on.

ETA: typos.

message 6: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments So I asked Bookbub themselves about their numbers and what they told me was useful: the average number of downloads they publish is across all price points; and 99 cent books sell on average 70% more copies than $2.99 books.

So if one looks at Supernatural Suspense again by way of example, Bookbub claim an average 980 paid downloads. If the average download rate at 99 cents is 70% higher than the average at $2.99, then the average at 99 cents is 1234 downloads.

At 35% royalty, that means an average income of $431.90, which makes the cost ($360.00) a little more palatable. That equals a profit of $71.90 rather than the initial estimated loss of $20.43.

However -- and this is where it gets more interesting -- the average number of downloads at $2.99 would be 726 units. At 70% royalty, with an Amazon delivery fee of 10 cents, that is $1468.70 in royalties. The cost is $900.00 for the ad. That means a profit for the author of $568.70.

So Bookbub may actually deliver a higher profit to the author selling fewer books at $2.99 than more at 99 cents.

And yet I was told on another forum that Bookbub are pressuring authors to heavily discount their books to 99 cents because that generates more unit sales. Great for Bookbub's affiliate income, but not necessarily as great for the author.

message 7: by Gerry (new)

Gerry (gerrydowndoggmailcom) | 60 comments Very points made by all of you, A really good overview.Thanks

message 8: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments The plot thickens: when I suggested to Bookbub that they publish averages for each price point, they replied:

" might actually be unhelpful for partners. The average sales numbers we list on the pricing page are only meant to be a guide, and exact results can vary between features. Those results also tend to vary even more at individual price points in a category, so listing average sales for each price would unfortunately be misleading.

However, we have seen that $0.99 features tend to result in more sales than the average sales numbers we list."

So rather than publish data that might lead the author to choose a higher price point and therefore earn more royalties, Bookbub reiterate their spiel about 99 cents books generating more sales (just not necessarily higher royalties for the author).

Just when I was thinking that Bookbub might still be worth looking into ... now I'm on the fence again.

message 9: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 35 comments I ran a BookBub promotion last March, and the results were phenomenal. I applied three times before I got an approval — first offering my novel at $2.99, then $1.99, then 99 cents. And voila — they approved my book at the .99 price point. This seems to support what you're saying, M.A.

I decided to join to Kindle Select a few months before my BookBub promotion in order to take advantage of their Kindle Countdown promotion (and get the 70% royalty structure). That way I received about .69 per book. Still, I netted more in the 6 days of that promotion than I've netted with the book priced at $4.99 (its original price).

message 10: by Mellie (last edited Dec 06, 2015 03:52PM) (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 618 comments Bookbub do share their data and findings, it's on their blog and in their author newsletters. They ran an article some time ago about how it's not so much the price point as the comparative discount, that is a huge influencer in number of sales/downloads.

They took the example of a $3.99 indie book discounted to $0.99 and a $10.99 (or similar) trad book discounted to $2.99. While the later is still a higher sale price, it had significantly more sales due to the percentage discount being much higher.

message 11: by Faith (new)

Faith A.W. wrote: "Bookbub do share their data and findings, it's on their blog and in their author newsletters. They ran an article some time ago about how it's not so much the price point as the comparative discoun..."

It seems to me that the only way bookbub could determine the significance of price differential would be to run a test in which they compare the identical book using two different differentials. Otherwise there are too many other factors like subject, cover, perceived quality difference between indi and trad published, etc. Maybe they have run this test.

message 12: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments @Martha: good to hear you had success with BB. Does it not bother you, though, that you were coerced into offering a bigger discount than you originally intended just to be accepted? Also, in some ways it forced you into Kindle Select, which again benefits Amazon and Bookbub more than it does authors: you could have had links to other retailers had you not had to join Select to get the higher royalty. I just hate these kind of games that Amazon and its affiliates play with indie authors.

@A.W.: Kobo are taking the same approach with their new promotions: those with steeper discounts are more likely to be accepted for inclusion. However, to Kobo's credit they 1) do not require exclusivity; and 2) the cost of the promotion is either reasonable (usually around $40USD) or 10% of royalties, in which case the author can never lose money on the promotion.

message 13: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments Oh, I should also mention that the Bookbub sales of traditionally published books are also likely due in part to the fact that they are traditionally published and by more recognizable authors.

message 14: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 35 comments M.A., Well, I guess I have to say that I didn't feel coerced ... BookBub has a business model that works, and I've done enough of my own testing to believe that they're right. When I run a promotion at $2.99 or $1.99, my results have been much lower (both in number of sales and in net income) than when I do 99 cent sales. Also, before I signed on with BookBub I did a lot of research on them, and by and large all the feedback from indie authors was positive.

I also didn't feel forced into Kindle Select; no one suggested that to me, I made the decision myself. I think of it as working the system! Would it be better if Amazon gave me 70% royalty no matter what I did, or where else I published? Of course! But I respect that they have a business to run. And I also feel that on balance they have done a lot more to help me find readers than block me. You don't see bookstores or other distribution modes like SPD or Publishers West (if they're even still alive) building independently published books into their sales system. Ingram Sparks does a bit; yay for them I say.

I suppose I am very pragmatic when it comes to sales and marketing. If a practice results in more sales for me, I'm all for it.

message 15: by Suzette (new)

Suzette Hollingsworth | 253 comments I have heard authors say that Bookbub made their careers. I think that's the main point. It's not necessarily money at the beginning but developing one's fan base, i.e., finding the people who would love your books. It's all uphill from there.

message 16: by Denae (new)

Denae Christine (denaechristine) | 18 comments I sometimes buy through Bookbub, but their advertising prices make me hesitant to offer my book through them. So, as a reader, I like them. As an author . . . not sure yet.
As some of you have said, Bookbub makes enough visibility for authors that their sales change for months. I have found some of my favorite indie authors through email blasts (Susan Quinn, Breanna Puttroff, etc.), and I've gone forward to recommend them to my friends. Visibility is a key issue all authors face.

message 17: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 618 comments I don't personally agree with relying on Bookbub to "make" a career, they are after all just an advertiser, although a highly effective one. I govern my career through the choices I make, I'm not relying on the randomness of an advertising spot :)

As a reader, I love Bookbub. I have their email tailored to my favourite genres and authors and I probably shop exclusively from their email, unless there is a new release I *have* to have and I can't wait for it to be on sale.

As an author, there are other marketing and advertising options that are just as effective as a single Bookbub campaign and they have much longer lasting effects. Such as building a mailing list and learning how to use Facebook advertising. There is a learning curve involved in getting your head around FB ads, but I'm seeing a minimum 100% ROI on my ads. FB ads (and Instagram for my YA novels) is something I'm going to explore further going into 2016. In other forums, I've seen authors share some staggering FB ad results by paying attention to their image, copy and targeting.

My next Bookbub spot is in January. It's been several months since my last one, and this one is for a free book, as opposed to a 99 cent deal. It will be interesting to chart the flow on effect this time around as I now have a boxed set available and I'm curious if readers jump to the singles or the bundle. And I always track ROI and I will compare the results to other advertisers like Pixels of Ink, ENT, Freebooksy etc

message 18: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments A.W.: I would love to hear how to use FB ads effectively. What are the steps/strategies involved to make it work so effectively?

message 19: by Sally (last edited Dec 10, 2015 06:54PM) (new)

Sally Burbank | 39 comments A.W.: I'm interested in how to use FB ads effectively, as well. I have no idea how to do one or target the proper people.

message 20: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments A.W.: Perhaps you could start a new thread on the subject of FB ads?

message 21: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Heidtman (kylaurel) | 434 comments I'd follow that thread! I'd love to know more about FB ads, too.

message 22: by Jan (new)

Jan Notzon | 210 comments I'd follow it as well. Thanks for the suggestion.

message 23: by Julian (last edited Dec 13, 2015 01:39AM) (new)

Julian Gray | 18 comments Bookbub was great for my book. Last June I did a UK only ad with them (being concerned about the price of a USA ad) and combined it with ads over the next few days with free listing sights, Fussy and (I think) ENT. The sales had been averaging about one a day since release back in March. Sales shot up to 350 in a single day and were 70-200 each day for the duration of the countdown deal. Thereafter sales have been around 5 to 20 every day. Sales were best in the Uk at that time, but USA readers are now the majority. I was simply trying to build a readership with a 99p/99c discount, but the financial effect has been to make a good profit over the year. Unfortunately, when I applied to them recently for a USA promotion, they turned it down, so I am using ENT and Booksends for my next one, which is next weekend. I have found these two to be quite good alternatives to Bookbub. If you want to see how that one goes, check out the amazon ranking of Interrogating Ellie by Julian Gray after December 18th. For comparison purposes, of today it is around 9,000 in Kindle books on the US Amazon site.

message 24: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 35 comments For anyone who is interested, I wrote a guest blog about my BookBub experience for a social media blogger, and it went live today. One of the byproducts was an audiobook deal.

message 25: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 277 comments Thank you, Martha. Encouraging!

message 26: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 35 comments Thanks! Here's the long link:

message 27: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments Martha wrote: "Thanks! Here's the long link:"

Hi Martha,

If I read your results correctly, you kept the novel's price at 99 cents for the month following the promotion. You have since increased it back to $4.99. When did you do so and what has been the result?

I am thinking about putting my book up for 99 cents for a week and taking out a Bookbub ad. But I would want to increase the price back up after the week promotion.

message 28: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 35 comments Hi M.A., My novel was at .99 only for a week, then it went back to $4.99. This was at the end of March last year. For a couple of months before that I was averaging 7 e-book sales per day. The month after my BookBub promotion (April) my e-book sold on average 25 copies per day, and the month after that (May) the average was 12 per day. In June it went back to pre-BookBub levels.

message 29: by Suzette (new)

Suzette Hollingsworth | 253 comments Martha wrote: "Hi M.A., My novel was at .99 only for a week, then it went back to $4.99"

Thank you for posting this, Martha, and your article, I so appreciate that. It sounds like you sold the audio rights too as a result of the Bookbub ad? And you have 247 reviews, so no doubt you have a fan base for future books (i.e., I think the impact of the ad goes beyond immediate sales). Had you already won the "North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction" when you ran the Bookbub ad? (I have a much less prestigious award, it doesn't seem to have much influence with Bookbub :), just wondering)

"Thieving Forest" looks like a fascinating book! Best of luck with your career!

message 30: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 35 comments Yes, I'd already won that award when I signed on with BookBub. Congrats on your award! From what I understand, having an award helps get interest, both from readers and from promo companies like BookBub.

I think the audiobook company noticed my book because of its sales rank, which was very good during and after the BookBub promotion. However, I just ran a Kindle Countdown promotion and used outfits like Bargain Booksy, Free Kindle Books and Tips, and Book Gorilla, and my sales rank improved just by doing this. Didn't have BookBub this time.

message 31: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 169 comments I was considering taking out an ad for my new book, only to dig deeper and discover that Bookbub isn't interested in new releases; they want established books* ( That turned out to be fortuitous because I've been wondering how to reinvigorate interest in my first novel now that my second is out. So I'm going to use NetGalley to push for new reviews of my first novel, then apply for Bookbub.

*Starting in January 2016, Bookbub will have a new feature to promote new releases but only by authors who have an author page on Bookbub, which anyone can have, and the notice will only be sent to the author's followers. But that would require you to acquire said followers, which is just more work like getting people to follow you on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads...

message 32: by Alice (new)

Alice | 11 comments BookBub is indeed an investment and a gamble, as all marketing is. I thought long and hard about spending the money, which in the mystery category is a lot. It was scary to lay that much down on the table. I looked at things like the response rate (in sales) and worried about the timing and the length of the promotion. . . but, in the end, I jumped. I joined Kindle Select to get the 70% royalty rate and waited to see what would happen. The morning the BB e-mail went out, watching my sales was like seeing coins pour out of a slot machine -- and I made back my investment in 90 minutes. My rankings went to #1 and my number of reviews went way up. My promotion was at the end of one month and the beginning of the next one. Over that two month period, I sold half of the books I sold in the whole first year my book was out, and the "tail" continued for another month after that. In every way, I give BookBub 5-stars, and I am glad if they make money. They have the largest list by far, they are skillful at writing copy about the books, offer very attractive promotional messages and a nice website, bring to the equation a strong reputation as a source of offers, and provide excellent customer service for authors and good follow-up. Regarding acceptance, pricing and timing, I like working with a partner that knows what brings good results for both of us better than I do (since I don't know much, but I am learning). I have also done promotions with other e-book marketing services that have also been successful on a much smaller scale. With them, the return on investment was more like 4 to 1, whereas with BookBub, it was about 13:1. Everyone has to decide what risks they want to take in marketing and what they can afford, but I wouldn't hesitate to send in a book and try your hand with BookBub.

message 33: by T.L. (new)

T.L. Clark (tlcauthor) | 44 comments Bookbub are really picky about who they accept, and sadly their prices have sky rocketed.

Not so long ago many authors used it, and had some success, but with their astronomical prices now imho I don't think it'd be worth it. :-/

message 34: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 618 comments T.L. wrote: "Bookbub are really picky about who they accept, and sadly their prices have sky rocketed.
Not so long ago many authors used it, and had some success, but with their astronomical prices now imho I don't think it'd be worth it."

Are Bookbub picky? Yes. That's what makes them so effective.

Bookbub have quality standards. There's a lot of self published drek out there and you don't have to scan too many threads here on GR to see how tired readers are of picking through it all. Bookbub have quality standards around cover, formatting, editing and basic craft. That's why they have so many subscribers, people are assured there is a basic standard to any titles promoted. Plus they now offer an extensive range of categories to directly target the people most likely to be interested in a particular novel.

They are also delivering many trad published titles now. In another thread someone analysed who published the titles and found that 50% of advertised deals are trad published and 25% from NYT/USA Today bestselling indies. That leaves 25% of available spots for indies who aren't bestsellers. With so few spots available, why should Bookbub take any old self published title? That's not going to keep subscribers happy, I can absolutely understand why they take the best of those deals submitted.

Are Bookbub expensive? Yes. Because they deliver.

Read Alice's post #32 above. Bookbub delivered 13 times what she paid for an ad compared to 4 times with other advertisers. I've had similar results. Yes you can find cheaper advertisers for well under $100 (or even pay just $5!) and quite frankly you get the results you are paying for with those services.

Everyone makes their own marketing decisions. Personally I will keep using Bookbub, curating my email list, FB ads and then supplement with other services (like ENT, POI) to fill the gaps.

message 35: by Marian (new)

Marian Schwartz | 243 comments How do you get POI to promote your books? To my knowledge, they are no longer accepting author submissions.

message 36: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 618 comments Marian wrote: "How do you get POI to promote your books? To my knowledge, they are no longer accepting author submissions."

POI partnered with Booksends some months ago. You apply through them.

message 37: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 277 comments A.W., thanks. Do you know if POI is still running independently or is it a case of BookSends covers POI's email subscribers too?

message 38: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 84 comments I think the POI/Booksends partnership fell apart again.
You can read some of the progression here:

message 39: by Marian (new)

Marian Schwartz | 243 comments I knew their partnership fell apart, which was the reason for my post. It's a shame we can't go directly to POI without a middleman.

message 40: by Suzette (new)

Suzette Hollingsworth | 253 comments Alice wrote: "The morning the BB e-mail went out, watching my sales was like seeing coins pour out of a slot machine -- and I made back my investment in 90 minutes. My rankings went to #1 and my number of reviews went way up. ."

Alice, thank you so much for posting the specifics of your results, that is SO helpful and illuminating! It really takes the guesswork out of it if you make all your money back, doesn't it? In addition to new readers, a bigger fan base, and more reviews! It's kind of a no-brainer. *sigh* I wish I could get on with Bookbub. I just have to think the time is not yet right and keep writing. I think the results will be better and more effective if I have more than 2 books out in my series (when I finally get on :) I think Bookbub is selective - but I also think they rule out some good books. Which is another way of saying 'No doubt all the books that make it onto Bookbub are good - but not all good books are on Bookbub.'

message 41: by Suzette (new)

Suzette Hollingsworth | 253 comments Marian wrote: "I knew their partnership fell apart, which was the reason for my post. It's a shame we can't go directly to POI without a middleman."
I know. I got in on POI about a month ago during that very small window of opportunity when they were merged with Booksends, and my sales were about 100 times normal. I just had a promo with Booksends today, and my sales were about 20 times normal, so about 1/5 the results from the promo with POI.

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