You don’t have to be a USA Today or New York Times bestselling author to build a following on BookBub. Whether you’re a debut author or one who’s been around for a few years — or you’re traditionally published (like me!) or self-published — it can be daunting to think about how to increase your number.
As of January 2019, four months before my first book, Every Last Breath, came out, I had zero BookBub followers. Now, I have over 6,500 followers! In this post, I’ll walk you through how I did it, and I hope this helps other authors brainstorm how to boost their following.
How I got more BookBub followers
My initial goal was to reach 1,000 BookBub followers at least two weeks prior to my debut release so I could send out a BookBub Preorder Alert. It’s a wonderful, affordable feature that every author should be using. A Preorder Alert is a dedicated email sent to an author’s followers announcing a new book is available for preorder to help make your launch week a success. The more you can get your book in front of a reader the better — every touchpoint in the leadup to release is important!
1. Asked friends to follow
As a new author with no audience, I was not only intimidated by the prospect of hitting 1k, but I was also a little embarrassed to ask anyone to follow me. I knew there were others in my position and joined up with some debut authors who were also coming out in 2019. We simply followed each other, which got me to a whopping ten.
2. Sent a dedicated newsletter
Then I sent out a newsletter. At the time I only had a couple hundred subscribers and asked them to follow me.
3. Linked to my BookBub profile on Goodreads
Next, I created my author profile on Goodreads. In my bio on my profile, I listed a call to action:
“Be sure to follow Juno on BookBub for the latest on sales bit.ly/BookBubJuno.”
By this point, I had several hundred followers — halfway to my initial goal.
4. Ran a BookSweeps contest
Shortly thereafter, I discovered BookSweeps, which runs genre-oriented contests featuring multiple authors, helping them grow their BookBub followers, newsletter subscribers, or followers on specific social media sites. Readers then choose which authors they are interested in. Here is an example of one for historical romance:
Through BookSweeps I reached the magic 1,000 and was able to send a Preorder Alert to my followers. There are other sites that offer a similar service such as LitRing and Fresh Fiction. Although these tools can help you achieve an initial goal, I think they should be used sparingly because the cost can add up quickly. If you do decide to try this option, I suggest having a clear objective and a firm budget.
5. Added a CTA to my regular newsletters and emails
To continue growing my followers, I added a call-to-action (CTA) button at the bottom of my newsletters and in my email signature. I also recommend creating a bit.ly link for tracking purposes. Since I created one for my BookBub profile on Mar 10, 2019, I’ve had over 1,900 clicks. Here’s what my newsletter looks like:
And here’s what my email signature looks like:
6. Kept writing books!
Thanks to a Featured Deal that my publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, ran in 2019 for my debut Every Last Breath, I experienced a bump in my BookBub followers. However, I’ve found continued success by increasing my backlist. Once I had seven books published, I saw a steady uptick in my followers organically without doing anything. In fact, my highest numbers flowed in naturally from January to March 2021, with no help from contests or even sending out my newsletter. I received between 100 to 140 new followers each week. During this time, I took a break from social media and sending newsletters, but this period was on the heels of back-to-back releases for two of my Harlequin Intrigue books in late 2020. Focus on writing to keep the momentum going.
7. Ran monthly contests
In April 2021, I started running my own monthly contest on my website using the competition app Gleam, which offers following me on BookBub as an entry option. I push it everywhere: my newsletter, author Facebook page, and Instagram. By running these contests myself, instead of using BookSweeps or LitRing, I only pay for the cost of the prize. It’s money well spent, in my opinion, since I gain followers across all platforms while boosting my newsletter subscribers. This is the contest I ran in June 2021:
I went with a big prize for this one because I really wanted to catch readers’ attention since the Hard Core Justice series was complete. My future contests will only offer a $10 gift card and a signed book unless I’m promoting a new release or the completion of another series.
8. Got BookBub recommendations from fellow authors
When other authors have recommended my books, my follower numbers have spiked as well. I’ve been fortunate in that department and have received fabulous unsolicited reviews from some bestselling authors. I also recommend books on BookBub, but not as often as I should. I plan to do this more when my writing schedule slows down.
Remember to maximize your BookBub Author Profile!
I use my BookBub Author Profile to highlight quotes from a trade review and a New York Times bestselling author. Also, in the first line of my bio, I offer a free book to encourage readers to join my newsletter. The very last line is one more opportunity to funnel people to my website.
As my BookBub followers have grown, so have my newsletter subscribers and my sales. I now have more than 10k subscribers to my newsletter and many of those readers found me through BookBub. There are no cons to growing your followers. Only pros. In addition to having the option of sending a Preorder Alert to drive early sales, BookBub will automatically send readers who follow you a New Release Alert email like this one:
Best of all, the New Release Alert is at no cost to you!
And with access to BookBub’s promotional tools, such as Featured Deals and targeted BookBub Ads, you have the potential to reach thousands of new readers. Don’t delay getting started. If I can go from zero to 6.5k in two years, anyone can.
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