The selection process for a BookBub Featured Deal is highly competitive. We receive between 100 and 300 submissions per day, and we’re only able to select 10%–20% of them for Featured Deals. We’ve always limited the number of books we feature in order to avoid overwhelming our subscribers and to ensure all our partners’ listings have an equal chance of performing well.
Although we’ve previously shared how our selection process works, we get tons of questions from our partners about how to increase their chances of being selected by our Editorial team. So we went straight to the source! We asked our editors for concrete advice on what our partners can do to really improve their chances of selection. Here are their top tips so you know where to focus your efforts before submitting for your next Featured Deal.
1. Make your deal price as competitive as possible
We promise our subscribers the best deals available. The better the deal, the more appealing it is to our subscribers, and therefore the more likely it is to be selected by our editors. We rarely feature books priced above $2.99, and even $2.99 is an unusually high price for many of our categories.
While your deal price should be based on your book marketing goals, pricing as low as possible will entice more readers to download your book. The lower the price, the higher the conversion rate of a BookBub Featured Deal. Knowing this, our editors prefer books that are competitively priced, since those will drive a higher volume of reader engagement. They’re also able to select a higher percentage of free books than discounted ones. If you’re not selected for a Featured Deal between $0.99 and $2.99, consider resubmitting your book for a free promotion next time, as this can be a really effective way to increase your chances of getting selected.
Keep in mind that the competitiveness of your price depends on your category. While it’s normal to see a $2.99 book in Cooking, for example, prices are usually lower in the Mysteries or Romance categories. Browse through the featured books on BookBub in your category to see what’s competitive in your own genre. Again, if your book is not selected at one price, try resubmitting at a lower price or for free. Your chances of being selected will be higher.
2. Accumulate reader reviews
Reader reviews and ratings help our editors get a sense of how readers have responded to your book, and they are a crucial element of the selection process. While there is no specific “minimum requirement” for reviews, our editors are generally more likely to select books with higher numbers of authentic and positive customer reviews. This is why we rarely accept new releases for Featured Deals — books with established platforms and positive reviews tend to perform best with our readers. Note that these must be legitimate reviews, and that we do examine reviews for veracity.
We recommend browsing through the books we’re featuring in your category to get a sense of what a competitive number of positive reviews is for that genre. Getting 12 reviews for your book might be a big accomplishment, but it wouldn’t make a book competitive in BookBub’s Contemporary Romance category. If your book wasn’t selected for a Featured Deal, look at the platforms of the books that were and resubmit when you have a comparable number of reviews.
3. Have a professionally designed cover optimized for your genre
We look for books with professional and appealing covers. A great cover design can not only sway our editors, but also have a major impact on your sales numbers. For example, romance writer R.L. Mathewson went from selling five or six copies per day of her novel, Playing for Keeps, to over 1,000 per day by updating her cover design.
Like everything else in publishing, cover designs are incredibly subjective, and best practices differ by genre. Elements like the image, font face, featured characters, and colors all impact the emotional reaction potential readers might have.
Here are a couple tips to make sure your cover meets our standards:
- Study what kinds of covers trend in your genre. Review the covers of bestselling books or the titles BookBub features in your genre to see what’s working well. Our editors will pass on a book if the cover isn’t going to appeal to readers of that category.
- Considering hiring a professional designer. A polished, professional cover design can make a huge difference. If your book isn’t selected for a Featured Deal, consider hiring a designer who has experience designing covers in your genre. We’ve listed a few of our favorite design resources here.
While your cover can make a big difference in influencing our editors’ decision, remember that it’s just one of the many factors they review, so redesigning your cover wouldn’t guarantee selection upon your next submission. But a great cover design is something that will boost your chances of success, both with BookBub and with readers visiting your product page.
4. Garner critical reviews
Write-ups from trusted editorial sources can also help our editors evaluate your submission. Same goes for awards, bestseller lists, and other accolades. We see increased engagement when we’re able to cite an author as a bestseller or award-winner, or include a blurb from a big-name author, so whenever possible, the editors are going to choose those books. If your book isn’t selected, you could improve your chances by winning a recognizable award or getting a blurb from a brand-name author.
Here are a few things you can do to try to amplify your presence amongst trusted editorial sources:
- Submit your book for relevant editorial reviews. Many genres have publications like RT Book Reviews where authors can submit their books for editorial reviews. Keep in mind that some of these publications require submitting your book months before publication, so plan early! Note that our editors do not take paid reviews into account during the selection process.
- Get blurbs from well-known authors. Blurbs are often effective at catching readers’ attention, especially if the readers are familiar with the blurbing author or publication, and can help entice them to make that final purchasing decision. Here are tips on how to get blurbs and use them on your book marketing assets.
- Submit your book as an award contender. Find relevant or genre-specific awards and submit your book for consideration. Here’s a comprehensive list of 50 book awards open to indie authors. However, make sure it’s a recognizable award such as RWA’s RITA Awards, The Edgar Awards, and the like, otherwise it’s not going to make a difference.
Keep in mind that this suggestion will only really impact your chances of selection if the endorsement is from a recognizable author, publication, or award. If your chances of receiving these accolades are small, it’s best to focus your efforts elsewhere.
5. Optimize your retailer product page description
Because we direct our members to the retailer product pages for the books we feature, we want to ensure they have a good experience once they arrive. We look for product pages with descriptions that are informative, clear, well-written, and error free.
Here are a few things you should take into account when writing the description, or the elevator pitch, for your book:
- Include a concise pitch of your book. Make it really clear what your plot is about, and what the stakes are. Avoid dense paragraphs of text, but also include more than two sentences of information.
- Add relevant accolades. Are you an award-winning writer? A respected leader in your field? Was your last book a New York Times bestseller? Did someone famous give you a killer blurb? Add in this kind of accolade. If you don’t have anything that qualifies, don’t worry. The most important thing to readers is the book itself.
- Avoid typos and grammar mistakes. Your product description is one of the first things our editors review, and any errors in the plot description will leave an impression.
6. Discount your book on all retailers
When members sign up for BookBub, they opt into the retailers they want to see deals for. So if a book is available on all the major retailers — Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo — more of our readers would be able to snatch it up, which makes the book more appealing to our editors. Between two books with equally competitive platforms and deal prices, the editors will always choose the book available on more retailers.
To easily distribute your book to multiple retailers and discount your book when the time comes, you might want to consider using a distributor like Smashwords or BookBaby. See a comparison of the most popular book distributors here.
7. Include all regions in your submission
Similarly, our editors also prefer books that are available across multiple regions. We have separate lists for the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India, with plans to expand to even more regions, and the more readers worldwide who can access to your book deal, the more favorable your submission.
We always recommend our partners make their books available wherever readers might want to purchase them, whether it’s different retailers or different regions. This is a good practice that goes beyond submitting your book for a BookBub Featured Deal. The more retailers and regions your book is available in, the stronger your foundation for consistent, long-term sales.
8. Be flexible with your promotion date
While this doesn’t affect the editorial selection process, if you do get selected, we have a limited number of spots in each category. So if your promotion dates are flexible, it’s more likely that we’ll be able to find an available date for your Featured Deal. If you have specific promotion dates in mind, we’d recommend submitting your deal as soon as your book is eligible so that if you do get selected, we have a greater chance of accommodating you.
Keep in mind that there are other factors in our editors’ decision-making process you won’t necessarily be able to control. For example, certain genres and subgenres perform better with our readers than others. There’s a chance we simply don’t have the right category for your title right now or that the particular subject matter of your book isn’t as good a fit as others in the same category.
Also, your submission is always being compared to other submissions we’re receiving in your category around the same time. This is why we encourage partners to continue resubmitting their books. If you resubmit your title a few months down the road, it may very well be one of the most competitive submissions we receive that week, even if it wasn’t this week (especially if you make some of the changes suggested above). Please always wait at least four weeks before submitting a title for a second time. Our editors will know when our readers are clamoring for a book like yours!
If you have questions about any of these tips, let us know in the comments below.
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