Bookbub Deconstructed

A typical Bookbub deal

Just before BookExpo, I had lunch with two self-published writers to swap book marketing tips. We were trying to crack the code for getting books accepted by BookBub, the Cambridge-based company that sends out daily ebook promotions via enewsletters to millions of subscribers.

Bookbub has a reputation for selling thousands of an ebook at a pop—and easily returning revenues that exceed what they charge for a book promotion. But the problem is they’re very selective in the titles they accept for a Featured Deal promotion—and both of my writers were initially rejected by them.

But why? Was it the number of reader reviews they’d gotten on Amazon? The formats the books were published in? The editorial reviews from Publishers Weekly and the like? The discounted price points? We speculated on all these possibilities.

So when I saw the Bookbub folks at BookExpo, I pinned them down to see what I could learn. Here’s a summary of what they said, along with some ideas from those two writers in the trenches.

• Each day Bookbub gets over 300 submissions for each of its 40+ categories (thriller, mystery, self help, etc). They normally choose 2-3 to promote. Not great odds.
• Decisions are made by 15 editors who specialize in various genres. They don’t (can’t) read all the books submitted, so they make their decisions based on additional criteria submitted by writers and publishers—reviews, formats, price, topic, etc.
• Because Bookbub tracks their sales data closely, they know what’s trending among their subscribers, and they choose books with trending characteristics—themes, plots, topics.
• Bookbub does look at reader reviews on Amazon. My writers heard that you must have 35+ reviews to be considered, but Bookbub claims that no minimum number is required: decisions depend on the day your book is submitted, and the other books in the mix on that day.
• Bookbub expects all books to be discounted for the promotion. My writers tried various price points and found best results when books were $.99 (yes, they made money even at that low promotional price). Bookbub claims that they only require your book be discounted by 50%–but of course, better pricing tends to increase the likelihood of a book being chosen.
• Bookbub reaches subscribers in the US, UK, Canada, India and Australia, and books submitted for all those categories rank higher than books submitted for the US market only.
• Bookbub prefers books published on all ebook platforms. My writers heard that Bookbub wouldn’t consider books that were published only on Kindle. Bookbub says that’s not true—but ebooks published only on one platform have less of a reach than those published on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad and others.

In the end, both of my writers succeeded in getting Featured Deals. What do they attribute that to? Persistence. (You can submit your book once a month.) The Bookbub folks said the same thing: “We love our writers and root for them every time a book is resubmitted. Keep trying.”

Bookbub Demographics Charth

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