Getting selected for an international-only BookBub Featured Deal might elicit a sigh at first, and it did from me, but there are powerful reasons why an author should be excited about the opportunity. I was, and the promotion paid off! I changed up my strategy a little, tweaked my goals, and in the end I got far more than the slender price tag cost.
The book I promoted — The Ways We End: Six Tales of Doom — belongs in a smaller niche. It’s a dark science fiction short story collection. My primary goal was to gain more readers who would want to read everything else I’ve written. Given that reaching international readers is a touch more difficult, and reviews for the collection on non-US retailers were sparse, it was a no-brainer for me to shift gears. It was also surprisingly easy to do.
How I Ran My International-Focused Marketing Campaign
1. Made my book widely available
First, I decided to make this discount available across all regions, rather than potentially alienating new readers — I’d heard from friends that readers can get testy if they find a price lower on .UK or .AU, but not on .COM. Also, since I wanted to email my entire mailing list about the discount, I didn’t want anyone to feel left out of the sale price based on their location.
I also removed the books from Kindle Unlimited to distribute them widely across retailers a short time before my international BookBub Featured Deal, which provided a visibility boost to a wider audience.
2. Set an eight-day discount period
I ensured my discount period would last just over a week because I intended to spread out all contact with potential readers. I wasn’t looking to bust the ranks for one day and then slide off. Instead, I wanted to maintain the rank achieved via a BookBub Featured Deal for a longer period. That way, the casual browser who visits their favorite online bookstore once or twice a week would see my book in the charts… or be more likely to see it.
3. Linked to my other books in the back matter
My main goal when running my international Bubs was to create a new but lasting relationship with readers who I don’t normally reach… and to get some reviews. To enhance that, I ensured that I had proper reader magnets featured in my back matter. A reader magnet is a link to a free book or story that readers receive by signing up to the author’s newsletter. Tweaking the freebie based on the audience is an incredibly effective way to get subscribers. Most authors simply figure out which stories they can spare, give them away, and never change them, but I recommend catering them to each specific audience.
In this back matter, I included two stories set in my two most popular series on the UK Amazon site. After all, great launches for future books can be made greater by reaching more than just US readers.
4. Organized newsletter swaps with other authors
I arranged a few newsletter swaps or mentions with other authors who had a decent number of overseas mailing list subscribers. Research matters here, particularly if you’re limited to a specific number of swaps in a group or program, so I asked how many non-US subscriber numbers each author had. Below is a screenshot of what this looked like in one of these newsletters (see the full newsletter here).
5. Increased my ad spend for the discount period
I bumped up my Amazon ads (AMS) spend a little and refreshed the keywords as well. I also arranged a few small ads with other deal sites/newsletters for the US market to continue growing my readership and platform there, keeping in mind that I intended to continue applying for a US Featured Deal.
6. Emailed my newsletter subscribers
I created a little graphic for my newsletter, which helped to focus recipients’ attention on that part of the newsletter first. I emailed this newsletter to all of my subscribers — those who live both in and outside the US — on the same day as my international BookBub Featured Deal.
7. Shared the discount on social media
I also posted to my Facebook page and asked friends to share. It’s nothing fancy, but then again, the covers are appropriately bleak.
The Results of My International-Only Featured Deal
While I expected to land in the average sales range for an international-only feature in my genre (horror this time), I was shocked to find that I sold more than double that amount over the first two days, and nearly triple for the promo period. I sold far more than the average in the first 12 hours alone! Let’s get to the numbers.
The average amount of sales for a paid promotion in horror for international regions is 290 (at the time of this article’s publication). That may sound low to those of us running BookBub US deals in other genres, but this is a smaller genre in a different market. (Also, BookBub’s price for it is a true bargain, so there’s that.)
In total, I sold 856 copies of both the book featured and its companion volume. 603 of those sales came from outside the US. The buy-through for the companion was an astonishing 44% within the promo period (and those sales continued long after). Remember, this isn’t a series with a continuing plot, but rather two volumes of short stories with mirrored themes. They’re entirely different and there’s no requirement to buy a second book to finish a story. Each is standalone, so that level of buy-through speaks volumes (pun intended).
My largest retailer was, by far, Amazon. Within Amazon, my UK sales beat out my Canada and Australia sales, and for the first time, I had equal sales in the US and UK markets. Kobo was first in sales for all other retailers. Below is a chart for my Amazon sales with two big spikes. The first is the BookBub feature, while the second is the result of the newsletters by fellow authors. Near the end of the month, sales of the second volume — And Then Begin Again: Six Tales of Hope — picked up speed as well.
Sales of the series I promoted in my back matter picked up in the UK quite a bit, and sales of all my books increased in both the US and international markets. And I finally got some reviews overseas! I also gained valuable newsletter subscribers from outside the US (as well as within the US), as well as Facebook likes from readers everywhere. All of these will help amplify my future releases or promotions (and are awesome people to know).
This tale isn’t quite over yet. The same book was selected for a US BookBub Featured Deal (horror) in early October, less than four months later. Did my international performance help secure that US BookBub? I don’t know, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.
If you happen to be selected for an international-only deal, go ahead and sigh, but then consider all the real benefits you can gain. Tweak your campaign, examine your back matter, and prepare your mailing list. Focus on the patterns of performance and reading preferences in non-US markets. If you’re hesitant about selecting the “All Regions” tab when submitting a BookBub Featured Deal, don’t. Reaching beyond our borders is hard for any author, whether indie or trad, but it’s very worth it… and not just in sales.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BookBub.
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