In my previous post I mentioned how my sales have suffered since the election–a common theme among indie authors–and how I decided to pay for marketing for the first time in my 5-year career.
BookBub is apparently a big deal. Since I was never interested in spending money on advertising I never really paid much attention but I did know that BookBub had built up a pretty good reputation for producing stellar results and that it’s almost impossible to be chosen for a coveted spot in one of their newsletters. Some indie authors have to submit their novels over a dozen times before they get picked. What seems to be key is a good cover, a steep discount, and hundreds of five-star reviews. Luckily, the first book in my paranormal series, The Girl In Between, possessed all three and I was selected my very first time applying.
My BookBub ad cost $115 and I selected to run it in the Teen/YA category. It was scheduled to go live on my birthday, June 21st.
It has since been 24 hours since the book first showed up on their website and here are my results:
Before the ad ran I was giving away between 200-300 copies of my perma-free novel a day. Not too bad but nowhere close to the thousands a day that were being downloaded before January. The day the ad ran my perma-free novel was downloaded 18,149 times. Again, not bad, but not as many as I was expecting. I’d previously read several blog posts and case studies from authors who’d gotten at least 30,000 downloads in a single 24-hour period. But those books were also all in different categories so it’s possible that my results would be different if I’d chosen to run it in the paranormal category instead (I specifically chose Teen/YA because it was relatively cheap compared to the other categories).
BookBub likes to tout something called the “halo effect” as one of the benefits of their advertising. This means that, ideally, I’d experience additional sales and downloads for my entire backlist, which would peter out slowly, giving me more exposure on Amazon for a longer period of time. Interestingly, my paid sales did go up yesterday in addition to the free downloads (85 compared to 33 on the previous day–>still low compared to the 100+ I was selling per day before everything went wrong) but even though I still seem to be getting slightly above-average sales today, it’s not anything mind-blowing (it’s almost noon and I’ve sold 21 books). However, who knows how long people wait before they actually read the freebies they download. You also have to stop and consider that some might not read them at all. Or that they may not like the first book in the series and will choose not to continue. Or that they have to wait for payday before they can buy book number 2. With all of these things in mind, I think it’s best to not jump to any conclusions, and instead, just be patient.
The important thing right now is did I break even?
6/21 8:00AM- 6/22 12:00PM = $240
BookBub Ad = $115
Luckily, yes. But that wasn’t the purpose of this little experiment. The purpose was to see if it’s actually worthwhile to spend money on advertising, especially in this moment in time when our collective consciousness is a little preoccupied. I don’t have enough data to determine whether or not this was a success but I’ll be keeping an eye on this so-called “halo effect” that I’m supposed to be experiencing and will update this post over the next several days.
I’m on day 5 of post-BookBub sales and even though nothing life changing has happened I’m very pleased with the numbers I’ve achieved so far. As of today, The Girl In Between has been downloaded almost 25,000 times and my backlist has sold 324 copies (these numbers have been updated below). Prior to the ad, a typical 5-day period looked more like this: 200-300 free downloads/day; 30-40 books sold/day. It was keeping me in the $2,000-$3,000 range each month once you factored in page reads as well. But prior to January, I was making anywhere between $4,000 and $7,000 per month, which I would love to get back to. The goal for 2018 is to finally reach $10,000 a month and hover around that number with some consistency. After my little BookBub experiment, I can definitely see how running one on a regular basis might help me achieve this goal.
However, at this point I’ve also realized that one of the drawbacks of BookBub is the very thing that makes it so attractive (and lucrative) for authors in the first place. It has a huge audience and offers an excellent selection to it’s customers. The problem is, BookBub changes that selection EVERY DAY, which means that while your book is shooting up to the top of the Amazon charts, there’s another set of books waiting to be advertised by BookBub and ready to knock you from your spot the very next day. In one sense, this means that everyone gets a fair turn. But it also limits how long your book will be in the spotlight. Even if you get an insane amount of downloads that, in the old days, would have kept you in the top 100 for weeks, that longevity is no longer possible with BookBub ads being so directly connected to Amazon’s indie bestsellers.
What I’m watching for now is what kind of longevity is still possible and how long BookBub’s famous “halo effect” actually lasts.
Despite the majority of my books being wide I have always made about 99% of my income from Amazon. I know other indie authors whose earnings are much more widely distributed but I’ve never known where to start when it comes to reaching readers on platforms besides Kindle. In fact, I often forget that my books are being sold on other platforms altogether. For example, it didn’t occur to me until today that I should check my draft2digital portal to see how my BookBub ad did on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and the other platforms where my books are published.
Needless to say, I was pretty shocked! And kicking myself for having always overlooked these other platforms in the past. The fact that my books are now being read by people who own devices other than Kindle is huge and opens up so many opportunities in terms of additional revenue.
Numbers from D2D and Amazon updates have been reflected below.
Total *FREE* Downloads since 6/21: 37,385
Total Paid Downloads since 6/21: 653