Firstly, if you have just qualified for your first BookBub Featured Deal (BBFD), congratulations!
A little about me. I’m a steamy romance author publishing under the name Juliette N. Banks — my real name with an initial. For three (gulp) decades I’ve been a consumer marketer working with big and small (and everything in between) brands around the world. In 2020 I wrote a book, pitched it to a few agents, got rejected three times, and waited another 35 seconds before deciding to self-publish. One of the best decisions of my life.
In 2021, I wrote and published 10 books, and my business plan is to continue rapid releasing. I publish widely across retailers and highly recommend it. Half my sales are from non-Amazon booksellers, which is a lot of money left on the table. Join the Wide for the Win Facebook group if you’d like to learn more. The support is incredible.
I’ve had two BookBub Featured Deals (for limited-time free books) in my first year and achieved a 4.7% sell-through rate (2% is industry standard) — yes, I’m thrilled about that! Today I’ll share how I secured the almighty BBFD and maximized its impact.
For me, it starts right at the beginning. As a marketer I knew I had to produce a book (product) that was professional. Not only because it reflects on my brand, but because I wanted readers to know they were getting a high-quality book. Inside and out.
Of course we all know that’s subjective, but hopefully you get my point.
Equally, BookBub is looking for specific things to meet their customers’ needs. Our passion for our beloved book won’t change that. Like us, they’re in the business of keeping their readers happy and giving them what they want: high-quality books they’ll love.
Here are what I call my five essential steps for creating a book that’s commercially desirable to readers and companies like BookBub:
- Write a great story people want to buy. Do research. Is the sexy romance between your two crocodiles a hot genre or trope right now? If so, there will be a handful of them in the top selling 100 on Amazon. If not…
- Write a hook into your next book. Create the emotional need to buy the next book. Better yet, have it up for preorder so they can buy it (yes, even if you haven’t written or plotted it).
- Get a professional designer to create a genre-appropriate cover. Look at the top books on Amazon. Not what’s trending on Instagram!
- Have your book edited by a professional. Please, on behalf of all independent authors, please edit your books. Also, companies like BookBub may not select your book if multiple reviews indicate the book has many grammatical errors. Even if your mom says it’s awesome!
- Write a great book description (sometimes referred to as your “blurb”) or have someone do it for you.
Breakdown of series pricing during my first BBFD:
- The Vampire King: Permafree
- The Vampire Prince: $4.99
- The Vampire Protector: BBFD (free for a limited time)
- The Vampire Spy: $4.99
- The Vampire’s Christmas: Preorder $3.99
You don’t need to have a big backlist to recoup or do very well on BookBub. Here I only had two books generating income plus a preorder. I got my investment back in six hours and had over 40,000 downloads. Both The Vampire King and The Vampire Protector hit the number one and two spots on Amazon in two of their categories and stayed there for weeks.
Tip: Screenshot your ranking and create social posts to tell your readers. They love it and may choose to buy another book or share your post.
Breakdown of series pricing for my second BBFD:
- The Vampire King: Permafree
- The Vampire Prince: BBFD (free for a limited time)
- The Vampire Protector: $4.99
- The Vampire Spy: $4.99
- The Vampire’s Christmas: $3.99
- The Vampire Assassin: preorder
- The Vampire Awoken: preorder (went live in the third week)
This time I had three books generating income and two preorders. The second one I put up in week three — don’t leave money on the table. It began selling like hotcakes! It took just over 24 hours to pay for itself. Twenty-five days later, I’ve had nearly 50,000 downloads and my sell-through rate is 4.7%. The Vampire Prince stayed in positions one, two, and three in both its categories for weeks.
So let’s talk about the marketing tactics I used.
- Back matter: I checked every single book to make sure they had the next chapter in the series, and links to buy the next book. I added a link to my Facebook readers group, and another link to my exclusive reader magnet, which signs them up to my newsletter where I can sell directly to them.
- Series links: I put links to every book I have in the front and back matter. Because why wouldn’t you? Think candy on the counter at the local store.
- Make sure the links work! I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s money down the drain if you don’t. This also includes international links such as Books2Read.
- Description: I reviewed my product descriptions and rewrote the ones I thought needed it.
- Put up preorders! Put all of them up. Even if you haven’t written them. Even if you don’t have a cover (or hurry and get one made!). Write a basic description and polish it later. If readers already love the series, they’ll bite.
- Tell readers immediately: I made my book free and immediately told my readers on all my social channels and via a newsletter to my subscribers (a total audience of approximately 12,000). This allowed me to measure my organic reach before the BBFD started. Make it clear there are more books in the series and the value they are getting. In this instance, it was two free books — what a deal! — but for a limited time.
- Other promotions: In the author world this is called stacking. I ran the first BBFD in isolation so I could see how it performed. This gave me a baseline for all future promotions. During my second BBFD, I advertised in other paid newsletters and ran a really bad (sigh) Facebook Ad.
- Author newsletter swaps: I swapped with authors in my genre. You can do this at any point — not just on the day or the week. The tail is long, so keep pushing it.
Tip: If you find you can’t get into another paid newsletter because of availability, email them and tell them you have a BBFD — it’s kind of like telling them your uncle is in the mafia!
Twenty-four hours before my first BBFD I sat glued to the computer. I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen. Let’s call it a moment of insanity. So, I was mildly impressed with myself when I only did it for six hours before my second one.
Here are a few things I recommend doing on the day:
- Make sure the book is free on all retailers. Check it three days before. The day before. The hour before. The minute before. Because if it’s not correct, the link will not go in the newsletter.
- Set up ScribeCount to monitor downloads and sales. It has pretty charts for people who don’t like digging through data like me.
- Sleep. No matter how many times you press refresh, BookBub is going to do its job. It’s magic. Relax, go to sleep, and trust.
Lastly, I kept my book free for longer. Simply put, the longer your book is free, the more sales you will make long after your BBFD has ended, because of the big boost in ranking the BBFD has caused. Truly, when you revert it back to paid, it’s like turning off a money tap. Why would you? Leave it free!
Both BBFDs performed very differently because of the time of year they ran, and my approach with layering other paid advertising. I intend to keep trying new things and learning how to maximize each one.
Now I wouldn’t be a very good marketer if I didn’t invite you to connect with me on my Instagram, Facebook page, or in my Facebook readers group, now would I? And of course, follow me on BookBub. You can search for me on TikTok but I’ll hang my head in shame.
Happy BookBubbing, everyone!
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