After non-figurative years of submitting to BookBub, my YA fantasy, Odriel’s Heirs got selected for a $0.99 US-only BookBub Deal in their YA category! Huzzah! 🥳 So for any other prospective BookBubbers out there, here’s the skinny on how it went.

First of All: What is a BookBuB Deal?

Basically you pay a fee (the amount differs depending on your genre), and BookBub will feature your book in their newsletter and on their website when it’s on sale. You can only apply once a month for the chance, and it’s not super easy to get accepted.

However, a cursory google search will tell you that BookBub is essentially the most successful/effective/biggest promotional newsletter used by both traditionally published and indie authors. So yeah, as an indie author floundering around on how to market my books, this was definitely something I wanted to check out. I’d gotten an international deal before and the results are here.

My strategy

Get the BookBub deal and run (i.e. I had no strategy.)

Some people try to buy a bunch of other newsletter promos at the same time to get their book higher in amazon’s rankings or on one of the bestseller lists. I did not do this. I’d done a lot of newsletter promos in the past, so I wasn’t sure it’d be worth the investment for me… also, I kind of wanted to see how BookBub did on its own.

The deal was run on 1 September, and since I did essentially no other promotions during September, the month’s results you see are basically due to BookBub. Yay for less variables!

I will add that I kept my books $0.99 all month on Amazon, and on the other retailers I track through Draft-to-Digital, all my books other than Odriel’s Heirs were free (and now they’re all free.) Likewise, my paperbacks are all $8.01 or less. I do this because my main goal in self-publishing is exposure, not profit, but your goals and strategy may be different!

Also, just as a head’s up. Odriel’s Heirs is the first of a series with three sequels available and one up for preorder. My other book, The Gatekeeper of Pericael, (a middle-grade fantasy) is not related.

GIVE me the numbers!

Cost: $202

Draft to Digital September Earnings: $31.28
54 x Odriel’s Heirs (0.99)
12 x Burning Shadows (free)
13 x Idriel’s Children (free)
3 x The Gatekeeper of Pericael (free)

Amazon September Earnings: $143.67
286 x Odriel’s Heirs (0.99)
2 x Burning Shadows (0.99)
84 x Idriel’s Children (0.99)
6 x Night of Ash (0.99)

Amazon Preorder Increase: $30.80
11 x Time’s Orphan (3.99)

Audible September Earnings: ~$10.00
2 x Odriel’s Heirs
2 x Idriel’s Children
1 x The Gatekeeper of Pericael

Units sold in September: 476
Total Earned in September: $215.75
Profit: $13.75

(For reference, I sold 12 books in August on Amazon, so yeah, this was a 40x increase for this small potatoes writer.)

Ratings Increase: 3-4ish on both Goodreads and Amazon. (Hoping these will trickle in longterm)

BookBub Followers: +30 (ish)

Highest Amazon Rank Hit: I actually don’t know because I was mostly out of cell service for this day, and I didn’t even screenshot what I saw. So on brand. 😅

Goodreads Difference:

So, was it worth it?

For me, it was obviously worth it. I only made a few bucks, but I gained hundreds of potential readers, and absolutely achieved my goal of increased exposure.

However, it was pretty close, so if I hadn’t had sequels and multiple books, I wouldn’t have broken even. Also, please keep in mind, BookBub results will definitely be different for every book in every genre, so this is just my experience.

But basically if you want to invest in exposure, I’d definitely give a shot! (And I will definitely be applying again for my future books.)

Bonus round: How to increase your chances of getting a bookbub deal

This is tough, because they don’t tell you why they select your book, but here is the list of criteria that they officially publish. Everything else is just my speculation.

  • Reviews: Both on Amazon & Goodreads that will reassure readers that people have enjoyed your book. I had over 100 on Amazon and 150+ on Goodreads. (How do you get reviews… well that’d need a different post, but I’d start with the ARC reading sites here.)
  • An Awesome Cover: My new covers are by Fay Lane, and they look sharp. But I also have another post here on some other cover artists I’ve been impressed with that might not break the bank completely.
  • Awards: Odriel’s Heir was the winner of the 2020 Florida Indie Author Project (which is free to enter and I highly recommend) and a finalist in the 2021 Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award (which is $20 to enter and I also highly recommend). That’s stated both on my the book page itself, and I put it in the comments of my BookBub application.
  • Heavy Discounts: For exposure purposes, I usually try to keep my books as cheap as possible… but for BookBub, I kept Odriel’s Heirs at 2.99 so I could discount it significantly for the deal. When I go for my next deal, I will probably make it 3.99 to increase my chances further.
  • Going Wide: I’ve heard this significantly increases your chances, so this is actually why I went wide with my books. Draft-to-Digital made the process seamless, but also has some drawbacks. That’ll need another post though.
  • Perseverance: I got rejected many, many, many times before finally getting accepted. It totally depends on who else is applying at the same time as well as the other factors. And it doesn’t cost anything to apply every month, so definitely give it a shot, and keep trying!

That’s all I can think of for now, but if you have more questions, definitely let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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