KDP Select Part 3: BookBub & How to Top the Amazon Charts

kdp select bookbubThis post is a spiritual successor of sorts to KDP Select: The Secret to Hitting the Top 100 and KDP Select: Is it Still Worth it? Thoughts for 2013You might want to read those first, you might not — it’s your call.

Yes, another KDP Select post.

A couple of weeks back, I told you I’d be sampling a BookBub advertisement to coincide with my latest free promotion for What We Saw. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about BookBub lately, mainly from J.A. Konrath, who took a u-turn on his ‘no advertising’ approach to eBooks to sing the praises of the website.

What is BookBub?

If you aren’t already aware, BookBub is an absolutely enormous mailing list with over one million subscribers. The premise is this: you sign up, select the genres of fiction/non-fiction that most interest you, and BookBub send you an email of three or four ‘Daily Deals’ generally ranging from free books to $2.99.

What sets BookBub aside from the other mailing lists? Well, I believe it is this targeted genre tactic. It tailors to your own interests as a reader, not to mention offers a focused number of books. Sometimes, these ‘book deal’ mailing lists are so sprawling and messy that it just isn’t worth trawling through them. BookBub, therefore, is a refreshing change.

But anyway, I digress. We’re only here for one reason, and one question.

How can BookBub help my KDP Select free promotion?

Short answer? More than you could ever imagine.

Slightly longer answer? Okay, but a bit of context first.

On Wednesday 27th March, What We Saw began its second big free promotion with KDP Select. I scheduled the free promotion to run for three days, coinciding with the Easter weekend. I took my usual steps that have brought me success in the past (I won’t go over them in detail again, so check the links at the top for info) — checked my eBook files, notified the major free promotional websites, and updated the info on my website. The BookBub ad was set to go live on Friday 29th, so I expected the promotion to go out with a bang and bring in a healthy amount of weekend sales.

By Thursday evening, I was a little underwhelmed.

Very few of the big free promotional sites had mentioned me, apart from one in Germany, which really boosted downloads over on Amazon.de (thank you!). Instead of the 11,000 in two days of my previous KDP Select free promotion, I’d given away around 1,000, which is nowhere near enough downloads to catalyse a post-free sales boost. All my hopes were with BookBub.

By Friday evening, I was in awe.

What We Saw sat at the top of the overall Amazon.com charts. The moment the BookBub emails went out, copies were being downloaded in the thousands. So many, in fact, that I decided to extend my promotion to Sunday evening. My hunch was that the new found exposure guaranteed me a spot in the top rankings for another couple of days at the very least, and this proved correct, staying in the top four for the remainder of the weekend.

How many books did I give away?

20,000? Pah. 30,000? Nah.

How about 40,775 on Amazon.com alone?

I went into the BookBub promotion a sceptic and came out a believer. A quick glance at today’s free charts on Amazon.com reveal, unsurprisingly, a list of the books recently advertised on BookBub. If KDP Select was the big shortcut to indie nirvana in 2012, then BookBub is the best way to boost sales and visibility in 2013, and used in conjunction with KDP Select, it’s heaven.

But BookBub costs a lot, right?

Right. I think I paid something around the £150 mark for my advertisement, which was a major risk. However, I’ve made that back already with my post-free sales boost, and am beginning to see profit. At the moment, if you’ve got a quality book with a nice cover, I think it’s worth taking that financial investment. If everything breaks right, you’ll make the money back in no time.

So, I’ll be submitting What We Saw again next month, then?

Unfortunately not. Not only have I used my five free KDP Select days at once, but BookBub runs a (rather wise) 90 day policy, whereby it refuses to feature the same book more than once every 90 days. They also run a 30 day policy for authors too, so no shortcutting there.

However, with websites like BookBub, it is clear to see how a writing career can be forged without much fuss. If you have three books, that’s one BookBub promotion every thirty days (if you’re lucky) whether with KDP Select or simply a discount. With six books, the path becomes even clearer.

Main lessons learned

My second major KDP Select free promotion has taught me a few things.

Firstly, it’s much harder to be mentioned by the major free websites since the Amazon affiliate changes. With the focus turning to discount books over free books, it really is hit and miss with a lot of those sites now.

Secondly, if you aren’t mentioned by any of those major free websites, then your KDP Select free promotion will probably struggle. I was lingering around the 1,000 mark and my free promotion was fizzing out until BookBub came along, so again, my argument a couple of months back of the importance of these websites stands. It might be harder to get a mention, but you should still absolutely give it a shot if you aren’t planning a BookBub ad.

And finally, BookBub really does work. It shot me to the top of the Amazon charts and has boosted sales since. Sure, it’s costly on the surface, but I see that as more of an investment than anything else. If everything breaks right, you’ll make that money back in a day.

In independent publishing, we spend far too much time searching for the next big thing, when in fact what we should be doing is using the best tools available to us right now. Sure, Amazon KDP Select might not be as easy to break as it once was, and BookBub’s bound to decrease in influence as membership numbers increase, but right now? They work, and until they don’t, I’ll continue to use them.

Have you tried a BookBub promotion? Do you have any reservations about doing so? How has KDP Select worked for you in 2013 so far? 

36 Comments

  1. Wow! Fantastic results, Ryan! I’ll definitely be giving BookBub a second look.

    Reply
    • Cheers, Will! I’d highly recommend checking BookBub out. Well worth the expense for the sort of exposure they offer. And, like I say, it pays for itself after a few days.

      Reply
  2. I whole-heartedly consign on the effectiveness of BookBub. I did a discount BookBub promotion last week (from $2.99 to $0.99) and made all my money back that day. Their popularity is escalating big time. In two months, they went from 700k to over 1,000,000 subscribers. The genre I used was $170; now it’s $200. When I try it again in 90 days, I’m sure it will be well over $300. Get in now if you can!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your BookBub experience, James. Pleased to hear it worked for you too. I think you’re right — as popularity rises, as will prices, and over time, effectiveness will probably decline. But right now? It’s the best way to boost visibility and, more importantly (when it all comes down to it), make some money.

      Reply
  3. Hey so how many sales did you get after the promotion?

    Reply
    • Hi there,
      The promotion ended just over a week ago and sales are still going strong. The book has been in and around the top 1,000-3,000 area on the Amazon charts, which means that advertising costs have been covered more than twice over. It’s definitely a technique I’d recommend if you have a book with all the right ingredients. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Thank you so much for the quick reply! I am new to the eBook selling world and I think I will be trying this technique. I’m also going to use your promotion technique tomorrow April 7! I have a great cover too so that should be a plus. I’m so excited, thanks to the you!
        – author of seed of life

  4. I knew there was a reason I have your blog bookmarked – very nicely done, sir.

    I am not quite ready for publishing, but I follow closely people who scout the current landscape on the indie side – and you write very well about it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Thank you, I’m glad to hear you found the post helpful. Best of luck when you are ready to publish — these are exciting times indeed.

      Reply
  5. Thank, Ryan. Great advice! How far in advance did you plan your ad with BookBub with regard to your free days on KDP Select?

    Reply
    • Thanks, David. I booked my BookBub ad approximately a month or so ahead of my KDP promotion. I always like to get these things done nice and early, especially with the BookBub queue beginning to grow at a rapid rate now the site’s getting ever more popular.

      Reply
      • Of course, getting your advertisement accepted by Bookbub is easier said than done! Having said that, I’ve only tried with one book and will try again for another. I notice you have a LOT of US reviews, which is great. Any tips on how to get some more reviews over the pond? Most of mine come from UK readers. Fantastic to have found this blog, by the way, and it’s great to read a blog from a UK indie author for a change, particularly one who writes in my kind of genre.

      • You’re right, Celina — getting accepted by BookBub can be tricky. I only actually had 20-ish reviews when I was accepted (I think my average was over 4-stars at the time though) so I think I was rather lucky.

        As demand increases, so will difficulty to be approved. But for those times we are, it looks like we have a brilliant advertising solution.

        And thanks for the kind words. It’s nice to chat to fellow UK indies too and see how they are getting along!

      • I’ve just submitted another book for a Bookbub slot, faint hope as it’s new with very few reviews but you never know…really enjoying reading your blog, thank you.

  6. Hi Ryan, any tips for a successful application to BookBub? Just got turned down in the Thrillers & Mystery category – 11 reviews on Amazon.com, 17 ratings and 5 reviews on GoodReads, on Kobo but not on the other US sites such as Barnes & Noble. Thank you. Alison LN

    Reply
    • Hi Alison,
      Sorry to hear that. In retrospect, I think I broke lucky with BookBub — I’ve been hearing more about rejections since my promo went live than before. My best advice would be to keep on building those reviews. Amazon and Goodreads seem to be the ones BookBub/everyone pay the most attention to, so make those your priority.
      If you’re looking for reviewers, I’d advise heading on over to the Writers’ Cafe section of Kboards. There’s some great advice on there.
      My next-best advice would be to keep faith. When BookBub do accept you, you’ll be delighted with the results.
      Good luck! Keep in touch with your results.
      Ryan.

      Reply
      • And thanks for all your help….. Alison

      • You’re very welcome, Alison. Be sure to drop me an email via contactATryancaseybooks.com (replacing the AT with an @ of course) if you need any advice. :)

  7. Can I ask how you extended your promotion? I’ve looked in promotion manager and the only option is to cancel it. Did you just run another promotion immediately afterwards? And if so, was there any noticeable break in either your price, or the free ranking?

    Reply
    • Hi, Rinelle.
      I just add a new promotion on the days following my original promotion. The process should be seamless, so don’t worry about that. :)
      Ryan.

      Reply
  8. I am having my first ever BookBub advert going out today….. it’s 3,15pm UK time and so far not seen any action… just hoping that the BookBub effect still works!!! x

    Reply
    • Hey Emma,

      Best of luck with your promo. I will look out for your book in the emails!

      Bear in mind KDP dashboard/sales ranks often have a delay of an hour or two. They claim they are ‘live’ but not always.

      Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

      Ryan.

      Reply
      • Thanks Ryan – its all starting to take off – dong about 1500 per hour at the moment this is SO EXCITING!
        Emma x

      • Fantastic! Isn’t it such a great feeling?
        Congratulations. Those sort of numbers should keep your book high in the popularity rankings for a good 30 days or so, so I’m sure you’ll definitely enjoy this month! :)

  9. Hi Ryan, Would you mind sharing the name of the website that promoted your book in Germany?

    Reply
  10. You’re doing a lot of good here Ryan for fellow writers by your own experience and expertise. Thanks for the info, man! And Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Brandon. Glad the info helps. I’ll be posting a KDP Select Part 4 very soon to reflect the changes in 2013, so stay tuned for that.

      Best of luck yourself!

      Reply
      • Ryan, I agree with the earlier comment here about how much good you do for us indies – you’ve certainly helped me with your advice…. Please feel free to add my results to your next post about KDP Select free – the current tally is one borrow on the UK site after going free!
        http://lambertnagle.com/2013/07/28/is-this-the-end-for-kdp-select-free/
        As I say in the post, this does not bother me one bit – we just have to come up with other ways to market our work.
        Alison LN

      • Lambert,

        Thanks very much, I’m glad these articles have helped.

        You’ve commented at exactly the right time as I’m writing up a new post on KDP Select later this afternoon. It’s very interesting to hear your results, and the seemingly declining impact of free is very much something I wanted to talk about.

        Ryan.

  11. I just did a promo with BookBub and am beyond happy with the results. I feel fortunate to have been able to advertise with them. Now the challenge is figuring out what to do next – it’s not easy to see how I could top my results with them. They’ve just extended the time frame for listing the same title again to six months, too.

    Reply
    • Rachel,
      Glad you hear your BookBub results were strong. My best advice would be to keep working on that next release. When you have a few books out, it’s much easier to promote because, from a business perspective, you have a few products to sell. With one book, that six month BookBub waiting list seems like forever. With six? Not so much.
      Best of luck!
      Ryan.

      Reply
  12. I want to ask If there is another platform similar to Bookbub.com where I can do promotion of my book and increase my amazon rank?

    Help will be appreciated
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Mohsin,
      I don’t run free promotions anymore, but the last time I checked, KindleBooksandTips, Bookblast, Pixel of Ink and Ereader News Today were all good options.

      Reply
  13. Thanks for this! Are you aware of any way to use free promos via kdp to boost preorders via smashwords? I would love to use the free promo with bookbub to promote paid orders on the next upcoming book in a series. But my sense is that is readers are buying from amazon, then smashwords isn’t the place to send them. Any other way to use a free promo to boost next book preorders?

    Reply
    • Hi Giulia,

      Free promos through KDP require Kindle exclusivity, so I’m not sure how much of an impact on Smashwords pre orders a KDP Select promotion would have, if any at all.

      Kindle now allows pre-orders, so maybe using a promotion to boost a future book could work.

      Bear in mind these tips are over a year old too – caution, because lots has changed in the last year.

      Hope this helps a little.
      Ryan.

      Reply

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