My BookBub Results… the Good, the Bad and the Not So Ugly…

bookbub Let’s talk about BookBub: This site offers a free daily email that notifies readers about free and discounted novels. Readers choose the types of books they’d like to get notified about — all across a host of different genres and categories. For an author, you WANT to be on that email list, and you pay through the nose to get on it. They’re very selective and only take about 10%-15% of the submissions because they are too booked to run everyone. Not to mention they are sticklers about quality – your cover has to be strong and you have to have a certain amount of good reviews.

Now, every author I know touts BookBub. Everyone said I’d make my money back and thousands upon thousands more if I got in. I was very apprehensive about placing hundreds of dollars down for an ad. I’d done a lot of advertising on various sites over the past three years and I never made my money back on any of them. Not a one. I did free book promotions, too, on KDP Select, thinking it would spur sales of other books. That didn’t happen either.

So I tried BookBub. Authors assured me I would make back my investment, and more. So I applied, and applied, and applied again, and I finally got accepted for THE HUNT FOR XANADU. The promotion was March 6th for 99 cents.

Things were different about my specific promotion than others successful ones I’ve read about. First, my offer was not free. I was doing the promotion for a discounted book at 99 cents. Second, I didn’t have it on KDP select for the borrows, because I had just uploaded it to ibooks. Third, it was in “supernatural suspense,” a smaller category than say, thriller or romance. Fourth, I only gave links to Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon Canada.

According to BookBub, Supernatural Suspense downloads for 99 cents range from 110 – 3050, with average downloads of 1300. The good news is I did hit the lower end of that range, but I didn’t even come close to that average download number, at least not yet, and I’m not sure I will. I paid $230 for this promotion and I haven’t made my money back yet. At this time I’m about $10.45 short. (I’m confidant I’ll make that and a wee bit more before the next few days are out)

So let’s talk sales. Day One I had 492 sales. They didn’t start coming in until after 12:00 noon when the email went out. I was told to sit tight from other authors because over the next two days more will come in. Day two, by 9:00 pm, brought 80 sales. These are not the stellar sales figures many other authors touted, but I’m not unhappy. While I didn’t yet make my money back yet, I’m close and very excited that this many people BOUGHT the novel and I did not have to give it away for free. Does that mean they are more qualified readers? Let’s hope so. And, the really great part is I hit some nice Amazon sales rankings. Here are some highlights:

Sales Rankings Amazon US. #5 in Supernatural Suspense

Sales Rankings Amazon US. #5 in Supernatural Suspense

Sales Rankings Amazon US:
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #447 Paid in Kindle Store
#5 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Supernatural
#51 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense
#53 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Suspense

Sales Rankings Amazon Canada:
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #220 Paid in Kindle Store
#23 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Suspense
#31 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Suspense

Sales Rankings Amazon UK
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #705 Paid in Kindle Store
(would have loved for them to have broken this out by categories)

Some would think not making a killing after two days would make this endeavor a failure. It really isn’t. I have to say to myself, “You know what? 572 people PAID for my book so far. And even if I’m out $10 from this promotion (which I won’t be), I have my book in the hands of people that could very well be return customers. If someone told me “Elyse, pay me $10 and I’ll make sure 572 people buy your book,” would I do it? Heck, yes, of course I would. For the exposure to new readers, for the cool screen shots, for the experience. If I’m fortunate, I’ll get reviews and sales of the sequel and maybe they’ll check out my other books. Right now I see 12 sales of the sequel and one or two sales of other books in my inventory. And I finally broke the UK market. I averaged 1-2 sales a month in the UK normally and with this effort I had over 80 so far. That is pretty cool.

I’ll watch the download figures over the next few days, and weeks, as people suggest. I’m certain that I’ll break even, though the thousands of dollars I was hoping to see was obviously crazy wishful thinking on my part. I won’t lie, this wasn’t as stellar as I thought it would be and I wanted to share my experience so other authors can manage expectations. Everyone touts the successes, but sometimes you just need to read about the mediocre. Still, part of me knows I’d try this again. I have a YA series I’d like to push and guess what? I still won’t do Book #1 for free. I’m tired of the perception that authors need to give their books away. I spent hundreds of hours working on these books and hundreds of dollars producing them. I just don’t have the stamina to give them away. If, and when, I do get accepted to Bookbub again, I’ll do a few things differently. And since I really didn’t lose any money, and hopefully will break even and make a little profit, it really is a win. (except for the two returns that already came in. Who returns a 99 cent book?)

THE HUNT FOR XANADU will remain at 99 cents through 3/9. I’ll continue this exposure with a social media effort, touting the 99 cent sale to all the boards, google+, twitter – the whole enchilada. Then I’ll also grab the screen shots in Canada and the UK and promote on those specific areas. My hope is I can grab a few more sales. I wanted to hit 700… I still have a ways to go.

Feel free to grab THE HUNT FOR XANADU for just 99 cents until 3/9. If you like sequels, THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB is out as well.

UK Amazon:

Book #2 THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB can be purchased here:


If you do read the novels – please consider leaving a review. I’d truly appreciate it.

A few side notes: The people at Bookbub are nice, efficient and prompt. I had some questions about the promotion, changed some ending dates, etc. They were extremely helpful, clear and accommodating. My e-mail communications with them were a pleasure.

Consider signing up with BookBub for their emails – they really are a great service. Love to hear your experiences with them and if you’ve ever done a paid promotion with them, as well.


25 thoughts on “My BookBub Results… the Good, the Bad and the Not So Ugly…

    • None yet. I just did the promotion 3 days ago… technically the sale is on for one more day, though BookBub only promotes it on their email for one day. I would absolutely love it if 10% of the purchases netted reviews. Not so sure that will happen, but we can hope. Thanks for reading.

  1. As the release date approaches of my new Amish book, I’m considering BookBub. The expense does makje one step back and reconsider. I’m trying to make sure all my bases are covered. I know my book will available in Select and borrow mode at Amazon. I also hope to have the paperback version available, too, although I understand BookBub deals with ebooks for the most part. Thanks for a revealing look at the realities of BookBub – you’re correct, we usually only see the results of those who had stellar success. At least, if I can get my book selected by BookBub, I won’t be expecting to move to the islands or get me a new car. Your candor is well appreciated.

    • The one thing with BookBub is you can try for a date, but they also ask for flexibility, so aligning it with a launch is hard. Still, I say that if you have a series, give it a go!

  2. I couldn’t afford to pay to promotion but it seems to be working reasonably well for you. I’ve no idea what the magic formula is for selling books, maybe it’s merely luck? I did enjoy your book and think others would too.

    • Julie, the price tag scared me too. The idea of doing this and not knowing if I’d get my money back was terrifying. I have now at least broken even, so that’s good.

  3. I am almost finished with XANADU and love it! I can’t wait to read the next one in the series. I had been wondering about BookBub…I get the newsletter and often see those same titles on the #1 pages on Amazon. I made the connection long ago that Bookbub and can get you there but I hadn’t seen a breakdown of costs and downloads. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading the finally results.

  4. The most “successful” BookBub ads seem to be for Free books, but only if there is a sequel available. I’ve seen authors get 40,000 downloads. But of course, there is no income unless the people who download the free book also “buy” another book from the author. And, to be honest, the majority of people who get those free books will never read them. In contrast, most people won’t spend money on a book they don’t intend to read. Thanks for sharing. I would say you ad was a great investment.

    • I agree with you about the “success” of free books. Look, I don’t deny anyone trying anything to get noticed. I get it, but I want to reach people that are going to buy my next book. If it’s free, will they? How much do they actually care?

  5. Thanks for sharing the results, Elyse. I agree with your views on 99 cents versus free, by the way. I don’t believe that an ad has to directly recoup its cost to be effective, either. The exposure from this ad will increase your presence and probably result in increased sales of your other titles over a longer term. Nicely done!

  6. These are some fantastic results Elyse! I know I’d be really happy!!! I don’t know that I’ll ever get into BOOK BUB, or that it’s a good fit for non-fiction, but it sounds like it worked out nicely for you. Even if you break even, you’ve gained a bigger audience that may buy your other books!

  7. Great to know all this, Elyse. I’ve heard a lot about BookBub recently, so I appreciate you sharing your experience. And I think you’re right to realize that it has implications beyond the sales figures. These are how many hundreds of new readers, with potential to buy other books. If you can get all their email addresses, that would be an even bigger win.

  8. Thanks for sharing, Elyse. I have to say it is an eye-opener because you are (sorry, don’t intend to belittle you, just noticing that things might be different in each case) the first author I know of who didn’t make more that the cost of the BookBub fee.

    But I like your attitude, I too would agree to pay $10 for 500 more real readers who could then review my novels.

    Good luck for your writing journey.

    • Massimo, I tend to think authors exaggerate a lot on social media – so I wanted to be up-front and honest. I did clear the bill, and since the promotion have consistently sold a book or two a day (some days zero, some 3) so by now the money has cleared and I might have gotten $100… it’s not the killing I hoped for, but 7 new reviews came in (mostly good) and I have over 600 people that paid for my book, versus giving it away for free. I still believe it was worth it. I also don’t write straight thriller, romance, or chick lit – the best performing bookbub promotions, so that might have been a reason. Thank you so much for commenting.

      • I agree with you, even if not a stellar result, it is still an outcome better than most other similar online promotional offers. I’ve used BB several times and I might just have been lucky with them (or with my readership).

        Now it is even more difficult to be accepted by BB because I see now the competition has enlarged to include names such as Ursula Le Guin (in science fiction). Now, c’mon, what chances do I get to get my novel preferred over Ursula’s if we compete for the same days spot? 😀

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience – especially that your previous promotions didn’t meet your expectations. Like you said, the fact that people paid for your book is very encouraging. I wish you all the best with your books and future promotions.

    • You are so welcome – we always hear about the fantastic results, but sometimes I just want to hear the real deal – the one most of us experience. I will say, now two months later, I steadily get one or two sales a day for the books (sometimes zero), but I do think it was because of bookbub and I would at this point try it again. I made a little money – not a killing, but I did eventually break even. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

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