We’ve already shared how our editorial team chooses books for Featured Deals, but in addition to deciding which books to feature, there’s another element to their selection process — in which category should a book be placed?
Our editorial team’s category decisions are all about finding the right fit between a book and the unique tastes of our readers. Our goal is to ensure that every partner who runs a Featured Deal has a strong chance of generating a positive ROI on their promotion. Selecting the right audience for each deal is a crucial factor in accomplishing that goal.
There are four things our editors consider when deciding which of our categories would be the best fit for a book:
1. Content and plot
Our editors have an excellent understanding of our subscribers’ unique tastes and preferences in each category. They use data from past Featured Deals to determine which subgenres and subject matter our readers have historically responded best to in each category, and review the performance of every book after its feature to stay up-to-date on our readers’ evolving tastes. One of the reasons we have such a short scheduling window is that these trends change over time, and different themes and plots can fall in and out of fashion with our readers. Aligning with their current interests helps ensure successful features for our partners.
Our editors have identified the themes, tropes, and content for both plots and book covers that perform best with each group of our readers, and it’s important to note that the tastes of BookBub’s readers don’t necessarily match traditional bookstore genres. For instance, our New Adult Romance readers haven’t historically been particularly sensitive about age. In addition to the traditional college-age protagonists, they’ve recently been interested in books with characters in their mid- to late-twenties as well, as long as they’re excited about the themes of the story. Popular romance hero tropes also tend to vary by category — right now, books with motorcycle club members tend to perform best with Romantic Suspense, Mafia or mob members with Dark Romance & Erotica, and rock stars with New Adult. And while we don’t have a specific Urban Fantasy category at the moment, urban fantasy books tend to be more successful with our Supernatural Suspense readers than Fantasy readers, especially if there’s some sort of mystery involved.* These sorts of insights drive our decisions about where to feature books, and explain why our category designations may contrast with the traditional industry definition of a genre.
While our editorial team’s category selection process is unique to BookBub’s audience, authors should also be mindful of the genre triggers that their book displays to all readers. The cover, book description, and metadata should all be consistent with the book’s intended genre and the readers you’re trying to reach.
We’ll usually choose to send a book to the most targeted list we have available for it — for example, Science, Humor, or Business instead of General Nonfiction. While many of our more targeted lists have fewer readers than our larger, broader categories, those readers have specifically opted in to the content, so they’re among our most engaged lists and generally have high conversion rates. Of course, there are always exceptions; our editors might choose to send a bestselling business book to General Nonfiction if they think its particular topic will be appealing enough for that broader audience to earn the partner a positive ROI in the larger category.
3. Performance history
Another element that can contribute to our editors’ category decision is a book’s past performance with our readers. If we’ve featured a book before, we’ll know how its sales compared to other books we ran in the same category, and that can inform our decision about which audience we would send it to in the future. For example, if a novel with a good platform (lots of good reader reviews, critical reviews, etc.) performed below average with our Thrillers readers, and it has strong romantic elements, we might send it to our Romantic Suspense readers next time.
4. Other submissions
Similar to our overall selection process, our current schedule availability and the other books our editors are reviewing at the same time can impact their decision about which category to send a deal to. Usually, the content of a book will indicate that one category is clearly the best fit, but if a book has elements that would appeal to readers on multiple lists, the editors will often take into account the other submissions currently in our queue for both of those categories. If we have a low volume of submissions in one of those categories, and almost no available schedule space in the other, the editors might decide to send a book to the list with more calendar space as long as they’re confident it could perform well in either one.
Of course, this process will vary for each book, and each of these factors might play a different role depending on the timing and circumstances.
If you’re not sure which of our categories is the best fit for your book, we’d recommend submitting to the category you think is most appropriate, and we’ll let you know if our editors would like to feature your book on a different list. If our editorial team selects your book for a category that surprises or confuses you, please know that they’re not trying to relabel or recategorize it — rather, they’re simply asserting that the BookBub readers signed up to that category will be most interested in your book’s content. However, if you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account rep. Our editors are experts on BookBub’s audience, but you know your book best! We’re always happy to pass along any feedback or information about your book’s content that you think might impact the editorial team’s decision.
*Please note that the trends mentioned here may change over time, and should not be considered “evergreen” nor applicable to every book we feature.
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