BookBub editors get on average 300 Featured Deal submissions per day and are only able to accept 10-20% of them. Why might we select one book above another? What criteria do we look at?
In this post, we’ll reveal some of the most common reasons why a book is rejected for a BookBub Featured Deal, from unmet minimum requirements to cover design issues and other common pitfalls. We’ll also provide tips on how to make a book more likely to get selected. We hope this gives you a better sense for why a book wasn’t selected, and how to improve its chances the next time you submit it for a Featured Deal!
1. The book was too short
One of our minimum requirements to qualify for a Featured Deal is that the work should be full length. Sometimes we receive submissions that do not meet our minimum page count requirements:
- Novels and anthologies: at least 150 pages long
- Nonfiction: at least 100 pages long
- Cookbooks: at least 70 pages long
- Middle grade books: at least 100 pages long
- Children’s picture books: at least 20 pages long
Any work that is too short isn’t eligible for a Featured Deal.
How to fix: Consider bundling multiple related short titles together to make an anthology (just double check our box set rules). Or, submit other titles that do meet BookBub’s page length requirements.
2. The deal didn’t meet our pricing requirements
BookBub promises readers deeply discounted and free books. We expect these promotions to run for a limited time, although we do accept permafree titles. To qualify for editorial review, a book must meet our discounting requirements, which you can read here. However, we often receive submissions for books that have already been on sale for a month or more, or have not been discounted to at least 50% off the predominant historical price. Unfortunately, these pricing issues will disqualify a submission for Featured Deal selection.
How to fix: In some cases, a book could qualify for a promotion if you submit it at a lower price point. For other issues, since we look at pricing history for the past 30 days, try raising that title’s price and resubmit in three months.
3. We recently featured the author or book
In order to consider a submission, it must meet our minimum requirements around timing. We will not feature the same book more than once every six months, nor will we feature the same author more than once every 30 days. If an author submits a book too soon after its previous Featured Deal promotion date — or their last Featured Deal in general — this will cause the editors to pass.
How to fix: Track your past promotions and submissions in your Partner Dashboard and resubmit when eligible, or submit a different book that hasn’t been featured within the past six months.
4. The book wasn’t available in all retailers/regions
BookBub readers use many different retailers across our five regions. We want to send book deals to as many readers as possible. A book that’s available on all the major retailers (Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo) and all of BookBub’s available regions (the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and Australia) is more competitive because more of our readers will be able to take advantage of the deal.
We often get submissions for books that are only available on one retailer, and an editor is less likely to accept that submission. If we ran that book as a Featured Deal, BookBub members who are opted into that category but signed up for a different retailer won’t get a deal in that spot in their email that day. Because of this, between two equally competitive books, the editors are more likely to choose the book available on more retailers.
How to fix: You should choose a distribution strategy that makes the most sense for your marketing plans, but if you only offer your book on one or two retailers and are having trouble getting selected for a Featured Deal, we’d encourage you think about putting the book on as many retailers as possible, in any regions where you have the rights. To easily distribute the book to multiple retailers and discount when the time comes, try using a distribution service.
5. We found evidence of a bad reader experience
We want to feature great deals on quality books that our readers will love! If we see that readers are generally having a bad experience with a book, we’ll take those factors into account. For instance, if multiple reviews mention typos, grammatical errors, that the book feels incomplete, or that the story ends in a huge unresolved cliffhanger, that will negatively impact a book’s chance of being selected.
How to fix: For typos or grammar issues, make sure to hire a professional editor. If a book has a significantly open-ended cliffhanger, try bundling it with other books in the series into a box set so the story is complete.
6. The cover wasn’t a good fit
They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” — but let’s be honest, we all do. Readers have different expectations for covers depending on the book’s genre, and elements like the image, typeface, featured characters, and colors all impact how readers approach a book. BookBub editors know what types of covers our readers respond to, and if a book’s genre is unclear at a glance or the image does not appear professionally designed, they may be less likely to accept.
How to fix: Examine the covers of popular titles in the book’s genre and decide if the cover needs a redesign. If so, you might want to hire a professional cover designer — you can check out some of our cover design resources here.
7. The book’s platform was not competitive
Often a book has met all our minimum requirements, has a good cover, and is widely available — that’s awesome! Now the editors are looking especially closely at all current submissions to decide which books stand out above the rest. We evaluate a book based on the same information a reader has available to them when deciding whether or not to purchase, so positive reader reviews and accolades can give a book an advantage.
We often receive submissions for books that do not yet have an established platform — they don’t have enough reviews on retailer sites to make them competitive in their categories, nor do they have blurbs from publications or comparable authors. This will make a book less appealing to our readers, which means the submission is less likely to be accepted by the editors.
How to fix: While we do not have a minimum review count, having many authentic and positive customer reviews can be extremely helpful when an editor is deciding whether or not to select a book for a Featured Deal. Work on getting more reader reviews or try to get blurbs from reputable authors or publications. We also recommend browsing through the deals in the book’s category on BookBub to get a sense of what a competitive number of positive reviews is for that category right now.
8. The book wasn’t a great content fit
At BookBub, we track trends in each genre to determine what kinds of content our readers like. Certain plotlines or subgenres may perform better than others. For example, fairy-tale retellings have recently performed very well to our Teen & YA category. So right now an editor reviewing submissions for that category might be more likely to accept a book in this subgenre because they can expect the content to resonate with our readers, though this trend may change in the future.
The content of a book can make or break a Featured Deal selection, which is why editors spend so much time understanding what is currently performing well in each category. We’ll generally be less likely to select a submission in an unpopular subgenre. Great tropes can overcome other factors, but content that doesn’t align with our readers’ current interests may be a tough sell.
How to fix: Make sure the summary on the retailer product pages is clear. Who are the main characters? What’s the hook? What makes the book special? Peruse recent deals in a category to know what’s popular with readers now. However, keep in mind that trends change over time, so we encourage you to keep submitting!
9. We didn’t have room
Sometimes you might be doing everything right and the editors think the book is a good fit for BookBub’s audience! But to maximize the reader experience and the ROI of each deal, we have a limited number of spaces in the BookBub daily email. This means that we ultimately have to choose the titles we think will perform best at that time. We get so many high-quality, well-reviewed, awesome books submitted that the editors often have to make really tough calls. The limited space we have in our daily emails is an extremely common reason books aren’t selected for Featured Deals.
How to fix: We encourage you to resubmit! You can submit the same title at the same price point every 30 days.
As you can see, our editors have a lot to consider. While we do notify partners when their submissions don’t meet our minimum requirements, we are unable to provide more detailed feedback about individual submissions. There are so many factors contributing to the selection process that it would usually be misleading for us to identify just one element of a book or submission as a definite deal breaker. So we hope that revealing the most common reasons books aren’t selected in this post was helpful in giving some insight into the editors’ process.
Keep in mind that there are factors in our editors’ decision-making process you won’t necessarily be able to control. Trends are constantly changing, and editors keep a close eye on what’s performing well in each category. Also, your submission is being compared to other submissions we’re receiving in your category around the same time. Since the selection process is often impacted by timing, we always suggest you continue to resubmit!
You can also read more tips on how to optimize your submission for a Featured Deal here.
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