One thing I see a lot of authors ask in writing groups, especially new authors, is, “Should I apply for a BookBub Featured Deal? Is it worth the cost?” My answer, unequivocally, 100 percent, is: Yes. Yes, you should. BookBub saved my writing career. If I hadn’t gotten a Featured Deal when I did, I might still be writing, but I would have stopped publishing.
My Publishing Journey
Those who know me are aware that, in the beginning, my writing career was disappointing. I started out writing rom-coms, and my dream was always traditional publishing. I was lucky enough to get an agent followed by a traditional deal — but it was with a small digital imprint. No advance, no print run, no marketing support, no bookstores. My publisher largely left it up to me to find readers, and though I did a lot of research, nothing seemed to pan out.
That first three-book series launched in 2017. I invested in blog tours, ads, newsletter ads, newsletter swaps, anthologies, and cross-promo with other authors, but five years later, I still haven’t made back what I spent on marketing those particular books. After my second series also flopped, my publisher dropped me for lack of sales. Other books I’d written failed to sell to other publishers. It felt like my publishing journey was a roller coaster where the lows kept getting lower and longer, with teeny upward bumps.
In the middle of 2020, I needed a break from the rom-coms. I started writing short, fun cozy murder mysteries. Because they weren’t long enough for traditional publication, I decided to put them out on my own. I found a cover designer, proofreader, and editors, got a website, and started publishing them with great hope. Once again, the initial results were disappointing. It was better than the rom-coms in that I wasn’t hemorrhaging the money I spent, but the slow trickle of royalties was still less than I would have made investing the same time into a job at my local Taco Bell, where I would cheerfully consume all the Cheesy Gordita Crunches I could eat.
After my agent and I parted ways, I paid for a (fabulous) cover for my final rom-com series and self-published the first book… to no fanfare. A few weeks later, my fourth cozy mystery released. It did better — I invested in newsletter ads with several of the smaller services, and I did manage to make some of that back, but it was very slow going.
Then 2022 came around, and with it a barrage of health issues. I couldn’t do my day job while managing everything else. The audiobooks I’d commissioned mid-2021 sold about four copies. I didn’t know how to market them. My creativity halted. I didn’t see any point in going on. After six years, two genres, and almost 20 novels, it was time to finally accept that my publishing journey was not a success story. I needed to find a job with a set salary and PTO and health benefits because the future was not looking good. If possible, I’d put out Book 5 in the cozy series because it was already up for preorder, but I didn’t much care whether I finished or just canceled the whole thing. The journey was over.
But there was one thing I’d forgotten. In December, around the time my fourth cozy released, I had applied for a BookBub Featured Deal. It was really a Hail Mary — if I didn’t get it, I was done. The promotion was going to take all of my marketing funds, but everyone said getting the deal would be worth the cost. I’d applied before, so I wasn’t expecting to be accepted. Except I was. And everything turned around.
The Featured Deal
On February 18, BookBub ran my free first-in-series, Mystic Pieces. I had zero expectations. Nothing else had helped, so why would this?
That day, I shot to #2 in the free Amazon store.
I topped Apple’s free charts, and The Scry’s the Limit (the second book in the series) skyrocketed as well. Mystic Pieces got over 45,000 downloads before the end of the month. I sold over 100 copies of my audiobooks. Suddenly, I had over 1,000 ratings on Mystic Pieces and more than 100 on The Scry’s the Limit. The fifth book in that series, The Pie in the Scry, got 200 preorders practically overnight. That uptick in sales carried me through March. In April, I got a Chirp deal where the sales covered the entire cost of creating the audiobooks.
This graph covers the four days before my BookBub Featured Deal and the month afterwards. Sales started the day of the deal, but they remained steady — and even spiked again weeks later.
But more importantly, I saw relief. The book sales came in while I was away from work, caring for my family (and myself, when possible). The BookBub Featured Deal results showed me that people really do enjoy my books. The boost lifted such a huge burden off my shoulders that I was able to write again. Although I’d planned to make the fifth book the end of the series, I am currently preparing to release Book 6 in November. I’m plotting Books 7-9. I’ve regained my initial excitement for my spinoff series, starring a witch in nearby Willow Falls. The momentum has buoyed me enough to plan a Kickstarter to launch the series. A few months ago, I never would have believed I had the ability to get the level of support needed for a successful campaign. Even the rom-com I expected to cancel is finished and ready for publication next month.
The sales are great. The income is useful. But it’s more than that. It’s seeing that Mystic Pieces now has over 1,000 ratings and reviews, mostly positive. It’s seeing over 100 reviews for The Scry’s the Limit and Sight Seering, which had only a handful before. If I hadn’t gotten that BookBub deal at exactly the right time, there wouldn’t be any more Shady Grove Psychic Mysteries coming. The spin-off series would be only a pipe dream. I couldn’t be happier that I took that last shot to submit Mystic Pieces for a feature.
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Click to tweet: This is such an inspiring story! Love to see an author succeed against all odds. If you’re applying for a Featured Deal, this will motivate you not to give up: https://bit.ly/3Vnvxgk #authorlife
Click to tweet: “One thing I see a lot of authors ask in writing groups, especially new authors, is, ‘Should I apply for a BookBub Featured Deal? Is it worth the cost?’ My answer, unequivocally, 100 percent, is: Yes.”—@AdaBellBooks #writingcommunity https://bit.ly/3Vnvxgk