We’ve written in the past about general trends and themes that have performed well with BookBub subscribers overall. But we also recognize that what works in one category may not be true for another, and that our partners are likely interested in data more relevant to their own genres.
With that in mind, we’re launching a new series of blog posts that will feature some of the top performing books in each BookBub category over the past several months. It’s impossible to say with complete certainty why some books perform well and others don’t, but after promoting thousands of titles, we’ve been able to pick out some consistent trends in each genre that help reveal our readers’ tastes.
First up… Mysteries!
1) 3 Bodies and a Biscotti by Leighann Dobbs
As we’ve seen in the past, fun, colorful covers often perform well with BookBub subscribers across genres, and the same is true within the Mysteries category. We’re guessing that this cozy’s combination of lighthearted humor, good food, and off-beat characters didn’t hurt either.
2) Inmate 1577 by Alan Jacobson
We’ve consistently seen books featuring strong female protagonists perform well with readers, and our own testing has shown that laudatory author blurbs — like the one from Clive Cussler on this book’s cover — can increase response rates. So between that and the intriguing, Alcatraz-infused plot, this mystery-thriller hybrid has a lot going for it.
3) Stranger in Town by Cheryl Bradshaw
Though it deviates from some of the other titles on this list with its heart-wrenching premise (a young child’s kidnapping), this book still features a lovable female investigator and a healthy dose of levity. That, plus a great cover and the fact that our subscribers often respond well to stories about children, likely won over the hearts of our mystery fans.
4) Silent Night by Donna Ball
Both animals and the holidays are tried-and-true BookBub themes. Add them together (there’s a dog and a Christmas tree on this cover) and you have about as close to a sure thing as possible.
5) Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
The first in a hugely popular, New York Times bestselling series, it’s not too surprising that this mystery performed well with BookBub readers (we’ve seen evidence that bestseller lists and other accolades increase response rates). But if subscribers needed any more reason to click, the top-notch reviews — both from readers and critical sources — likely did the trick.
6) Better Off in Deadwood by Ann Charles
While comparisons to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series probably helped grab readers’ attention, this mystery also stands out for its quirky, funny premise and relatable protagonist (single mom Violet “Spooky” Parker).
7) Strung Out to Die by Tonya Kappes
Not only do readers call this book truly hilarious — a winning formula in its own right — but there’s an adorable pig on the cover. Plus, it comes with enticing bonus content (a free bracelet pattern) that relates to the plot and appeals to the book’s target readers.
8) The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
Our own blurb for this one calls it, “A classic whodunit from ‘one of the greatest mystery story writers of this century’ (Los Angeles Times)”. While we’ve found that being a well-known and beloved author doesn’t necessarily guarantee success with BookBub readers, add a charming plot that hits the sweet spot of their interests — like this detective story filled with hijinks in the British countryside — and you’ve found a winner.
Of course, hundreds of titles have performed above average in each category, and this is just a sampling of some of the books our readers have responded to best. However, what this list does tell us is that there are certain themes that stand out across genres — and others still that are unique to Mysteries. For example, a book featuring animals, the holidays, or children may perform well no matter the genre, while classic detective stories and lighthearted cozies consistently resonate with readers in the Mysteries category.
That said, it’s also impossible to predict the performance of any one title, and there are many that fall outside of these general trends that have generated high response rates (for example, a recent murder mystery featuring a male protagonist and the Italian mafia sold over 3,500 copies during its BookBub promo!). As a result, examining data like this is just one tool among many — including testing and qualitative analysis — that our editors use to help inform their decisions.