BookBub

It should be apparent to anyone following this blog that a weekly post is probably too much to ask, so I shall try to make this a bi- or tri-weekly occurrence. Let’s see how that goes.

This week, I would like to write about BookBub and how it can be a very powerful advertising tool for authors and publishers.

For those of you who are wondering what BookBub is, here’s a little excerpt of their About page:


Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 2.48.48 PM copyBookBub is a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans. Members receive a personalized daily email alerting them to the best free and deeply discounted titles matching their interests as selected by our editorial team.

For readers, it’s a great way to discover books that are temporarily on sale or free. They can choose which categories of books they are interested in and will only receive deals featured in those categories. And they can also follow authors they like (if the authors have claimed their author profile on BookBub) and they will get an alert whenever these authors have a new book out.

For authors, BookBub, with its millions of subscribers, feels a bit like the holy grail of advertising. Every day hundreds of books are submitted to the BookBub editorial team, hoping to get included in a daily email, but only a few are selected. The criteria for acceptance are not clearly defined, but we know several things factor in: is it an interesting discount for the readers? Does the book have reviews and how good are the reviews? Does it look like a professional product? Will enough people potentially be interested in this book?

The cost of having your book featured in a daily email depends on the category in which you advertise and the price at which your deal is set, and for some categories it’s not cheap. But still, people submit because they know that a book featured in a BookBub email will earn back the price of the ad, and more, either through sales of the advertised book at the discount price and even after it gets back to normal price (the so-called halo effect), or, especially for free books, through sales of other books after people have read the advertised one.

We have submitted a book to BookBub four times in the past nine months and have been lucky enough to get selected every time. We think one of the reasons for our success in getting accepted is that the category we advertise in, LGBT, is less competitive than others, such as contemporary romance or crime fiction. But we also like to think that the books got picked because the editorial review team at BookBub saw that we were offering a qualitative and professional product that could bring in a substantive number of sales. BookBub is in it to make money as well of course, so they want to make sure they offer products that people will want to buy.

French Kissing: Season OneSo far we have only advertised Harper Bliss novels or series, and they have all earned back the cost of the ad through sales of the discounted book. French Kissing: Season One was especially successful because we saw an impressive sell-through of Season Two and Three in the weeks after the ad.

We’ve seen other publishers advertise anthologies in BookBub daily emails so next month for the first time we will submit an anthology. We have no idea whether it will be accepted, and if it is, whether it will sell enough to recoup the cost and what, if any, the sell-through will be. But as we have several anthologies in our catalogue, we are curious to see what the BookBub effect can be for that kind of book.

BookBub has really become an important part of our marketing strategy, and we recommend it wholeheartedly. Even if you’ve tried and been rejected, keep submitting, because it’s really worth it.

Don’t forget to check out our weekly podcast Harper Bliss & Her Mrs on The Lesbian Talk Show!

How we keep learning in order to grow

In this week’s episode of Harper Bliss & Her Mrs. we talked about the most important tools and software we use for writing and publishing. Something we did not get into, but is a big part of what we do every day, is our constant endeavour to keep learning and educating ourselves on new developments in the publishing industry, as well as possible techniques to use and avenues to explore to grow our business. These days the internet offers many resources—books, blogs, podcasts, coursesto do just that and in this post I would like to share some of our favourites, which we also consider important tools for writing and publishing.

Iterate and Optimize

One major source of valuable information for any independent author or publisher is the trio of Sean Platt, David Wright and Johnny B. Truant, also known as the guys behind The Self-Publishing Podcast. Their weekly flagship show is hugely entertaining and offers insights from them and their guests on the writing as well as the publishing side of things and they also have other podcasts, like The Authorpreneur’s Almanac and The Smarter Artist which offer very specific tips on the many facets of being an indie author or publisher. In addition to that, they published a book that inspired us a lot to get to where we are now: Write. Publish. Repeat. And they now have a follow-up to that title with Iterate and Optimize, which I am currently reading. There will be a blog post in the next few weeks about how we have iterated and optimised our work here at Ladylit.

Successful Self-PublishingThecreativepenn.com is THE place to go to learn about marketing books as an indie. Joanna Penn is a very successful author of both fiction (under the name J.F. Penn) and non-fiction books, such as Successful Self-Publishing: How to self-publish and market your book in ebook and print, and her weekly podcasts always feature very informative interviews with the creative movers and shakers in the publishing world and beyond. We listen to it religiously and have definitely been inspired to apply to our business some of the things we learned from Joanna and her guests.

Supercharge Your Kindle SalesAnother great source for marketing advice, specifically on how to grow and use your mailing list, is Nick Stephenson. He has books (Supercharge Your Kindle Sales is one of them) a paying course (which we took and has helped us in various ways, like growing our mailing list, building a launch team, getting extra reviews), but also some free videos that are a good place to start for anyone reluctant to spend any money.

The Self-Publishing Formula PodcastOne of the things we are planning to get better at this year, is Facebook ads. The authority on this is Mark Dawson. His website has some instructional videos and he has just started his own podcast with beginning author James Blatch, called The Self-Publishing Formula Podcast. The combination of an experienced and successful author with a newbie, makes for an interesting exchange of perspectives on publishing. Mark also provides monthly income reports where he details how much he spent on advertising and how much he made as a result of that advertising, which is very informative for us, in view of our plan to do more Facebook advertising ourselves.

2k to 10kFor the writers among you, a book that Harper found very helpful is 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. As her followers will probably know, she is obsessed with her word count and this book has really helped her crank those words out faster, and also better.

 

Finally, some blogs we follow:

Joe Konrath is a pioneer and one of the most staunch defenders of indie publishing (and Amazon). Check out his blog for, among other things, entertaining takedowns of the traditional publishing industry.

– Even though here in Hong Kong we seem to be geo-blocked from accessing the site directly, we follow The Passive Voice through a feed reader for links to articles about all things publishing.

This is just a short sample of resources and there are so many books and blogs that could be listed here as well, but hopefully they can provide some interesting reading to anyone looking to start or grow their author and publishing business.