While I was on summer vacation with my family, my box set The War Planners Series was selected for a BookBub Featured Deal. Seeing the preview of the acceptance email on my phone’s screen, I was unable to continue the conversation I was having.
“Andrew… Andrew…” my wife said.
I looked up at her, eyes wide, mouth gaping. “I just got accepted for a BookBub.”
She was unimpressed. “What’s a BookBub?”
“What’s a… What’s a BookBub? How do… what the… they have an email list of millions of people, all looking for books every day. They practically control the top sellers of every online bookstore. This is a huge deal.”
“That’s nice, honey. Can you go get the kids for dinner?”
Sigh. Why didn’t my wife understand how big a deal this was? Sure, she appreciated my bulging muscles and square jaw, but I wanted her to appreciate me for my writing success.
Well, at least I knew how important this promotion was. I mean, Joanna Penn used a BookBub Featured Deal to hit the bestseller list and… wait, that’s it! I knew what would make my wife appreciate how big a deal this was! I’d use my BookBub Featured Deal to hit the USA Today bestseller list — just like I read about on Joanna Penn’s blog!
SPOILER ALERT: This story has a happy ending. With the help of BookBub’s marketing tools, I sold over 8,000 copies of my box set during one week and hit the USA Today bestseller list! Here’s how I set up my campaigns.
Ran a BookBub Featured Deal
First, let’s dive into how I submitted and optimized my Featured Deal promotion.
- Determined my discount price. In order to be selected for a BookBub Featured Deal, I wanted to make the price very competitive. So I brought my three-book set down from $8.99 to $0.99.
- Made the deal widely available. I ran the BookBub Featured Deal on all retailers in all regions. However, since my goal was to make the USA Today bestseller list and they only take US sales into account, I only ran OTHER (non-BookBub) promotions to the US retailers.
- Selected the most relevant category. I submitted my promotion under the Thriller category, knowing that it was one of BookBub’s strongest, and that its audience was most likely to be interested in this box set.
- Optimized my box set for the promotion. I uploaded a file with updated back matter that would (1) encourage readers to sign up for my email list and (2) let them know my next book would be available for preorder next month.
Thanks to the BookBub Featured Deal alone, I made it all the way to #15 overall on the Kindle Store, #10 on iTunes, and #1 on Nook. My thumb hurt from taking so many screen shots.
Ran a BookBub Ads Campaign
Prior to this promotion, I read that I could expect about 3,000 sales from the BookBub Featured Deal in the Thriller category. I researched how to make the USA Today list, and found that it took about 7,000 sales to make it, including at least 500 sales on non-Amazon retailers like iTunes and Nook. Additionally, all these sales had to be in the US. So I had to come up with an extra 4,000 sales, and target certain retailers. I was selling about 20-30 copies a day before this promotion. I’m not good at math, but that sounded hard.
Luckily I had BookBub Ads ready to go! I have been using BookBub Ads for over a year, usually to help pump up sales during promo periods. The thing that makes them great is that you can target by retailer, country, and author interest. I created a list of authors in my genre and similar genres, and threw together several ads, spending about $100 per day per retailer. I knew from previous BookBub Ads experience what my typical conversion rate was, so this spend meant that I could expect more than 500 sales each on iTunes and Nook.
For the CPM bid, I used the high end of the BookBub Ads range of other advertisers. My experience with BookBub Ads is that if you bid too low, all of your money might not get spent. I wanted to bid high enough that I reached as many people as possible for the amount of money I was comfortable spending. Since my goal was about volume sales, it was more important to me to have my ads served to more people at a slightly higher CPM than to make positive ROI. If I had bid lower, I might have had better ROI, but I might not have spent all of my money — which means I might not have reached as many people, and thus wouldn’t have had enough unit sales to hit the list.
I used Canva to create the ads, and A/B tested them at low dollar spends in the days leading up to the promo week. Here are examples of the creative:
The creative on the right ended up performing about 40% better than the one on the left, so I cancelled the underperforming ad set and upped my spend on the high-performer to $100 per day per retailer.
I started running these ads prior to the BookBub Featured Deal email going out, and thanks to them, I was already ranked in the top 200 overall on the Kindle Store on Featured Deal day. So there was a lot of extra algorithmic love going on when the BookBub daily deals blast went out. (Side note: Algorithmic Love would be a great name for a sci-fi romance book, if there are any takers.) I continued running these ads throughout the entire promotion week.
Supplemented My BookBub Campaigns
In addition to my BookBub promotions, I wanted to do everything I could to get as many sales within USA Today’s one-week tracking period as possible. Here are a few other ways I promoted the box set discount:
- Stacked promotions. I used three other discount book email services.
- Ran Amazon AMS ads. I spent about $50 per day on those.
- Posted in several Facebook groups. I created specific landing pages on my website that were tailored to those groups. For example, I’m a US Naval Academy grad, and I set up a landing page designed to encourage fellow alumni to purchase and help me hit the bestseller list. I then posted in alumni and Navy veteran Facebook groups linking to this landing page.
- Ran paid Facebook ads. These were a lower priority due to higher cost per conversion.
- Sent a newsletter. I emailed my email list of about 11K, letting them know about the box set discount, and that I was trying to hit the USA Today bestseller list.
- Cross-promoted with other authors. I reached out to other authors in my genre and offered to cross-promote with them if they would email their readers and let them know about my deal. These emails went out the day prior to the BookBub Featured Deal. I think they were pretty effective — thanks to knowing the email lists sizes, my sales data from that day, and click data from a participating author, I estimated that these emails accounted for at least 1,000 of the 8,000 sales for the week.
I Sold 8K+ Copies and Hit the USA Today Bestseller List!
I ended up at #97 on the USA Today bestseller list. I had positive ROI — I ended up making a net of about $700 for the week, with slightly over 8,000 sales. My reviews and mailing list signups have been way up as well. Also, my post-promotion unit sales are about double what they were pre-promotion, AND I priced up all of my books even higher than my pre-BookBub prices, so revenue is way up.
Here is my USA Today screenshot:
Most importantly, my wife was extremely impressed because Amazon briefly had me ranked above the author of Game of Thrones. And we lived happily ever after. The end.
Editor’s note: We congratulate Andrew on his success with his $0.99 box set promotion! Are you considering running a price promotion for your box set? Higher-priced box sets also work well for our partners, often generating a high ROI. Read one author’s experience running a $1.99 box set promotion here.
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