BookBub for Authors: Complete Guide & BookBub Review
One of the most effective advertising strategies for authors is to target buyers who have already self-identified as avid readers and signed up for newsletters that promote books directly to them—in their preferred genre! How can it get any better than that? That’s exactly what services like BookBub, BargainBooksy, BookGorilla, BookCave, Faithful Christian Reads, Kindle Nation, and many more do. (Click here for an extensive listing of such services, including descriptions and ratings of potential effectiveness. There are 127 in total at Kindlepreneur.com.)
It’s not always easy to find marketing services that work well with Christian values but many of these are a great fit because they have “Christian” or “Religion” as a category. There is a catch, however. You usually have to deeply discount your book, which is why readers love them! But exposing your work to new readers is completely worth it, in my opinion.
How is BookBub Different?
Of all such newsletter/eblast services for books, the most prestigious and impactful is BookBub. I sold nearly ten times as many books via BookBub as the next closest competitor service. Over 900 books were sold in the US, UK, Canada, India, and Australia, directly or indirectly as a result of the promotion, including eBook sales, paperback, and audiobook sales.
BookBub promotions cost an author far more than any of the competitor services. But they consistently land the most sales. Why? Not only do they have the largest email list, but they also carefully curate which books they put in front of their readers.
When you land a BookBub promotion, your book may appear next to Max Lucado or other prominent Christian authors. Subscribers know they can trust the quality of a book offered on BookBub, so they eagerly buy at deep discounts. Some of the other services appear to have lower standards.
Here’s How BookBub Services Work
- Submit your book via the process described on each service’s website.
- Specify the sale price. They typically recommend $0.99 but you can set it at $1.99 or $2.99 or more, depending on their requirements.
- Request one or more promotion dates or are assigned a date.
- The promotional platform lets you know if you are accepted and confirms the promotion date.
- Make sure your book is discounted just before that date. (I lower the price 12 hours in advance because I don’t want to have the wrong price. That will get you banned from future promotions.)
- Watch your Kindle, Apple, Kobo, etc. sales numbers rise pleasingly higher than usual!
- Monitor your sales (and reviews!) afterward across all formats and watch the nice tail of additional sales that nearly always follows a promotion.
Promotional/eblast companies want authors like you to sign up because that’s how they make money. They are all hungry for high-quality submissions.
What I Did to Prepare for a Successful BookBub Promotion
When I first heard about these services in 2019 as a new Christian author, I was reeling with excitement. “Sign me up, the faster the better!”
I went straight to BookBub’s site and read their submission guidelines. (Check out BookBub’s submission tips page.)
“Yikes,” I thought. It sounded intimidating, and I was quite sure I would not be accepted. But I didn’t hang my head about it. I studied their tips carefully and kept them as a guide for what I could do to prepare, which took over a year. The most significant things I believe I did right was seeking trade reviews (BlueInk and Kirkus, for example) and working hard at getting the number of Amazon reviews up. I’ve been blessed to have very satisfied readers who highly rated my book, Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine. The trade reviews were also terrific.
As the months passed, I sensed I was gathering stronger data to convince BookBub to offer me what they call a “Feature Deal.” In the meantime, I booked an eblast with a less expensive service called BargainBooksy. I was reluctant to discount my book too far, so I offered it at $2.99 and sold 12 books. That was a good day for me. “Okay, very nice!”
I broke even between the cost of the promotion and the 70 percent commission as a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) author. Had I priced it at $0.99, I would have received only 35 percent commission, per KPD’s policies, which is a paltry $0.35 per book.
I bit the bullet and start doing $0.99 promotions on different sites. One can never know for sure, but sales numbers were higher at the lower price, not surprisingly, and I decided the exposure, potential word-of-mouth recommendations, and Amazon/Goodreads ratings might be worth it. That ended up being a great decision. I saw the number of reviews start to climb.
I ALWAYS saw a one-two week tail of sales across all formats after a promotion. I believe people started talking about it. Maybe they wanted a paperback for a family member or decided they loved it so much they wanted the audio experience. I’m not sure, but the numbers were undeniable. The promotions were working.
My number of Amazon ratings climbed to over 50, which was so encouraging! It was clear that readers were hungry for an easy-to-read, relevant book about Christ and my confidence increased that BookBub would offer me a Feature Deal.
Landing the BookBub Deal
At least one year after a marketing advisor first told me about BookBub and other eblast services, I finally felt I had a chance of being accepted. I decided to do a $0.99 listing, starting with the international audience, which cost close to $100. (See current BookBub pricing here.) I was curious whether I would be accepted and the cost seemed low compared to the $500+ for US-based Feature Deal.
I was thrilled. Bookbub accepted my book for the deal and offered me a specific date. Nothing else was needed except for me to make sure my book was discounted at all retail eBook outlets on the right date. At the time, that included Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. They prepared a little ad with snippets from a Kirkus Review, which went to all of their readers interested in Christian nonfiction.
I sold over 100 books across all formats, including the tail of sales that stretched nearly two weeks. That spike alone was enough to launch my book to a #1 Amazon bestseller across multiple Christian book categories! For me, that was a golden buzzer, angels singing, Hallelujah moment. Number one on Amazon! Twenty-plus years of writing and publishing and marketing that single volume and finally seeing that kind of response was incredibly fulfilling. That’s not remarkable by many standards, but it was remarkable to me, for sure. That would not have happened without BookBub.
I submitted for a US-based BookBub promotion and put up over $500 to see what would happen. I was accepted again, they ran the deal, and my KDP sales chart took a spike like I have never seen before or since. Just under 700 eBook sales on the first day and then a long tail of additional eBook, paperback, and audiobook sales. The combined sales for both BookBub promotions surpassed 900, this time holding the #1 spot on Amazon for days.
Why We Write
We write Christian books to enrich lives and promote faith. More than anything, each of us felt called to stand up and be a courageous witness for Christ. Can you imagine the joy, awe, and reverence I felt when I saw my book’s Amazon ratings and sales rise almost daily for a while? They went from 50+ to 100+. Readers shared how deeply they had been touched and how much they valued this book as a tool to share with others! How does it get any better than that?
So, that is my story. Becoming a Christian author was anything but easy for me. I’m just a simple man with a God-inspired passion who gave it his best, and it all worked to God’s glory. Praise God, in all sincerity. Praise God! May you feel lifted and encouraged by this story of hope and may God’s blessing rest on your project and your readers.
R. Christian Bohlen is a professional communicator. He is the best-selling author of Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine: The Story of Jesus and How It Applies to Us in the Twitter Era and an award-winning consultant to Fortune 500 companies, providing instructional design and human performance improvement services. He has been involved in ministry and church leadership for over 30 years and worked for over a decade with juvenile offenders. Visit him at http://hislifeandmine.com.