In the last month, I’ve done two ads with BookBub. Ads with the company aren’t cheap, and definitely aren’t cheap in the larger categories like romance and mystery, but I can wholeheartedly recommend trying. (BookBub has criteria for the ads it runs, including a professional cover, a good number of reviews with a high rating, etc, and even then people get turned down for no apparent reason. But if you meet their standards, give it a try — you don’t pay until you’ve been accepted, so you have nothing to lose!)
CAMPAIGN #1 – SOLOMON’S THRONE ON SALE
I lowered the price of Solomon’s Throne to $1.99, which is 50% off its regular price. The ad ran on a Thursday. I kept the sale price through Sunday. For Action Adventure, BookBub says that the average number of downloads for a sale (versus free) book is 740, with the range being 130-2010 (they’ve actually upped this since I placed the ad – the average at that time was 690). The cost of the ad was $240.
Between Amazon and Barnes & Noble (the only places to buy the book), I sold about 1200 books! My highest monthly total on Barnes & Noble up to this point had been 5. I ended up selling 380 in the 3 days of the sale, but sales continued afterwards, as well, so that now I sell several a day at least and ended June with a combined 453 (Solomon’s Throne and The Hoard of the Doges). Amazon sales continued also, and ended the month with about 1200 of the two combined. I was #4 on the paid bestseller list on B&N, and #16 on Amazon, as well as #6 in Action Adventure on Amazon (the 5 books in front of me were Dan Brown and Game of Thrones books, so I was happy!).
Even at the lower 35% royalty I got from the $1.99 price, the ad was obviously well worth the money.
CAMPAIGN #2 – IXEOS FREE
The second promotion was last weekend, when I put IXEOS on free with KDP Select and promoted that with BookBub and eBook Booster. (Note that previous ads with eBook Booster have given me an average of 1200 free downloads, so I am giving the credit to BookBub.) The book was free for 3 days. The cost of the ad was $70 in the Science Fiction category. Their download average in this category for free is 5100, and the range is 2000-8700.
By the end of the 3 days, adding in all worldwide territories, I had about 16,600 downloads! The book was #1 in all seven categories it’s in (Science Fiction & Fantasy, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Adventure, Dystopian, All Teen, Teen Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Teen Science Fiction), and got to #10 overall. I set the price at $1.99 coming off the promotion, and raised it to its normal $3.99 today.
Prior to this, IXEOS wasn’t selling very well, for no reason I could tell (good cover, good blurb, lots of “this looks great!”, and good reviews). Now I’m selling more than 10 books a day, plus I’ve sold about 2/3 that number of book 2, IXEOS: Rebellion. (It’s a trilogy, with book 3 coming out in the fall.) I will make back the price of the ad in a couple of more days, and now there are a lot of people who should want book 2 (IXEOS ends in a pretty big cliffhanger).
So that’s my experience. I am going to try a free promo ad with them for Undaunted Love, my Inspirational Historical Romance (say that three times fast!) this week, and see if they accept it. That will probably run in their Religious and Inspirational category, so a free book ad will be $140. I wish I had another book in the genre to capture some follow-up sales, but we’ll see how it goes. Additionally, we are going to run my husband’s political/election book as an on-sale book (always assuming they accept it). That ad will be pricey – $450! – but books in that category have hit the NYT Bestseller list, so I’m told, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.
My conclusions are that, obviously, BookBub is a terrific place to put your marketing money. They are very aware of their subscribers’ likes, so you might get turned down. You can always try another category (for instance, I could run Solomon’s Throne under Thriller; IXEOS under Young Adult; and Undaunted Love under Historical Fiction as well as my first-choice categories).
Secondly, it reaffirms my belief in the need for multiple books before spending too much on marketing. Both The Hoard of the Doges and IXEOS: Rebellion are getting bounces from the sale/giveaway of the respective book 1’s. Especially on a free promo, it wouldn’t make much sense to pay for the ad if there was only one book with which to recoup the price. You can try it. The after-free bounce might make it back for you. But what you ultimately want are people who will buy whatever you write. And if they have to wait awhile to find another book, you’re basically starting over. (So go write!)
Finally, this is what’s working now. One thing I’ve learned in my almost-year as an indie author is that things change constantly. What works now may not work in a month or three. You have to keep paying attention to what other authors are saying and doing, throw things at the wall and see what sticks, and keep plugging away. Your books aren’t ever going to go away, if they’re digital. But your name might, at least from people’s minds. That’s what marketing is about — keeping your name out there, reminding people, introducing yourself and your books. I’m not sure it ever ends, so in the meanwhile, I keep letting you know what seems to be working (and not!).