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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Indie Corner - I Love BookBub, I Hate BookBub

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 16 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Reunion and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books

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This past week was perhaps the most amazing week I’ve had as an indie author thus far (I made the switch from being traditionally published to indie about 18 months ago). On May 1st, I released my 2nd suspense novel in my Jack Turner Suspense Series, Remembering Dresden (I wrote about this last month – CLICK HERE if you’re curious). Book 1 did quite well (When Night Comes). The challenge was…how to promote Book 2 in a series.

Not everyone will have read Book 1 (over 15,000 have so far). But even for those who did…how will I reach them all to let them know? How can I attract new readers to the series? One of the most effective ways to reach a large block of Christian readers in one fell swoop is to use BookBub. BookBub is a large marketing firm that has a massive reach; it has over 930,000 subscribers in the Christian fiction category alone. 

Every day, they send out an email to the subscribers highlighting 5 novels that are marked down somewhere between $2.99 and Free, with a button to push right beside the cover. Their website said, if they picked my book for one of their promotions (and I was offering my book for free), I could expect 16,000 downloads in a single day.

That is, if they picked my book….

But here’s the problem…I had been submitting proposals to them for the last 5 months and had been rejected every time. Even though I met all their requirements, and then some. They simply had too many authors now vying for those few slots available. Another problem is, while some other marketing companies offer the same service to readers (ENT, Book Gorilla, etc.), they only reach a sliver of people compared to BookBub. We’re talking hundreds versus tens of thousands. 

This is why I hate BookBub. They are so good, they are too good. They have no decent competition. And the worst part, they could solve my marketing problem if they would only say YES. Just this one time. Please.

So, about a month ago as I got Remembering Dresden ready to launch, I made one last ditch effort and submitted a request to BookBub. 

Shock of shocks…a few days later they emailed me back saying YES. They would do a promotion for Book 1 in the series, When Night Comes, on May 25th. That’s exactly what I had asked for. I would make the book available for FREE for 5 days. I had put the first 2 chapters of Remembering Dresden in the back of Book 1, along with a link where readers could order it right away (and if they did, they would pay $3.99 for it).
If 16,000 people downloaded the free book, the hope was, maybe at least 10-15% of them would like it enough to read the sneak preview of Book 2 and order it on Amazon. That happened, and I would be a very happy man.

Well, WAY MORE THAN THAT HAPPENED. Last week, during that 5-day period over 44,000 people downloaded the book (over 25,000 on a single day). My book made it to #2 in the entire Kindle Store. And both books have been flying off the shelves ever since (neither are free any longer). My sales have QUADRUPLED every day since the sale ended. Here’s a pic from yesterday showing both books on the Top 10 bestseller list for Christian Suspense. All of that for a promo that cost $205.

I LOVE BookBub!

But I know, this love affair cannot last. Why do I know this? Because BookBub will not let me do this promo again. Not for a very long time. Not for at least 3 months on any of my other books and 6 months for the book I’ve just promoted. But how can I go back to all the pathetic marketing alternatives now? I’ve been to the mountaintop. I’ve seen what’s on the other side. 

I hate BookBub.
Why must they tease me and taunt me this way? Why doesn’t someone do something about this? 



  1. I got the book from Bookbub when it was free....Happy to be part of the over 44,000.

  2. Chappy, I'm SO glad you did, too. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. My bookbub ad was on April 14, and it was just as amazing as you said. Now, over a month later I have to remind myself that my numbers are better than they were before BB. But you are so right, once you've been to the mountaintop... Congrats and enjoy the ride!

  4. Yes, I thought I'd had success with my ENT (E-Reader News Today) ads, but the number of Bookbub downloads blew those away. I plan to incorporate BB into my yearly marketing plan (as long as they'll take my books!). I am pretty certain that having my book wide across all vendors and having a flexible ad date did make a difference when I re-applied with the same book. And one thing is for sure--BB boosts sales of other books in the series by a landslide, so it's worth having a few more books out in the same genre or the same series before doing Bookbub.

  5. Dan, you made me laugh here! Love how you wrote all of this. And so glad that BB finally took you.

    I'm hoping to start submitting to BB this fall, when I get book two in a new series out. Hoping I won't have to hate BookBub as long as you did...

  6. Kay, don't know how long I can ride this wave, but it's still crazy. Yesterday...just a plain ordinary Wednesday, I made as much as I've normally been earning in 10 days.

    Heather, great advice. That's one of the reasons I was so surprised they finally said yes (after saying No 5 times). I'm only on Amazon. So it's Kindle and KU only, and they still said yes (and look at the results...not too shabby). I'm going to try again in October for my Rescuing Finley book, Book 1 in a new series (that's when Book 2 should release)

    Diane - Thanks!

    Sally, maybe they'll come up with a way to expand the number of people they say yes to. One simple fix, I think, would be to create multiple categories within Christian fiction, instead of lumping them all into one.

  7. Congrats on getting your BB ad! I got a BB ad last March and LOVED IT! Worked like magic. I'd tried once before (one year prior to getting the ad). I believe I had over 20K downloads in a day. Got tons of reviews and then some of those readers purchased my second and third books in the series.

    Once I get a lot of reviews(around 100) on the second book, I'm going to lower the price and approach BB about getting an ad for that one. Not sure if they'll take it, not sure if I'll get a lot of sales some some of those who got the freebie have now purchased the 2nd book. But, I will try.

    I made it to #3 in overall Kindle free books. That was phenomenal!

  8. Cecelia, that seems like the consistent report from people who get an ad with them. Hence, why I love them. But also, how long it takes to be accepted for a promo, and how long they insist we wait in between...why I hate them (kinda, sorta).

  9. Yes, I can understand that - why you'd hate them. I'd only attempted to get an ad once before they accepted me. But, one thing I did, when I initially tried, I didn't try again after the waiting period was over. Instead, I waited a good long while, an entire year. I had a lot going and was so busy that I actually forgot about the ad. A conversation elsewhere brought it to mind which prompted me to try again.

    I hope to get another ad with book 2 this year or next year. Something tells me that it'll take a long while for them to accept book 2, if they ever do.

  10. Loved this! Wish I could get on there the first time! After this article, they will be swamped for the next year. :)


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