Whoa, abruptly planning a serious promotion

Update: COMPLETED the second-to-last proofing pass through RIHASI. Many tweaks, a good handful of typos, whew. One more proofing pass and also I need to finalize the paperback, hardcover, and epub files.


Okay, so, I did not expect this, but WHOA, BOOKBUB PROMOTION COMING UP.

The thing about a BookBub promotion, the first thing is, it is very, very expensive. I am talking up above $700 expensive for a promotion. This is because their mailing list is absolutely enormous — about 20 million people, as compared to Freebooksy’s mailing list of about 400,000.

The second thing about a BookBub promotion, it is very, very difficult to get one at all. You apply, they turn you down, you apply again, they turn you down again, and on we go. This is because everybody applies for them, including traditional publishers on behalf of whatever books they’re pushing.

Other things make approval much less likely: being exclusive to Amazon makes it far harder. Not having any reviews from Kirkus and Booklist and whatever lowers your chances. (I have a good many reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, including starred reviews, but not for self-published titles.)

Last year, I read some stuff about BookBub promotions. This year, I am trying to knock various things off my No, Seriously, Do It List. This is the list for things I know I ought to do, but don’t want to fool around with. Trying to get a BookBub featured deal was on that list. In April, I re-read stuff about BookBub ads and thought fine, now’s the time, I suppose, and began applying. I made a spreadsheet to keep track because here are the suggested rules:

A) Apply first for a featured deal promo at $0.99 for whatever title.

B) They turn that down, so apply for the same book for a featured deal free promo.

You can’t apply for the same book for thirty days at the same price, but you can apply again at once at a lower price. Therefore, you apply for a $0.99 deal and then a free deal for the same book. You can apply for deals at higher prices, but you’re not likely to be approved regardless, and raising the price means you’re even less likely to be approved. Therefore, the suggestion is, try $0.99 and then free and then

C) Move on to the next book and try again the same way. Repeat. Repeat. Each rejection takes about four days, and each time you see a rejection, you apply again for something else.

D) You can apply JUST for the US or JUST for international or for both. How many times have you applied? Are you applying just for the US, which is the most effective place to do a promotion and less expensive than applying for all regions? If you’re applying for just the US and everything is being rejected, try all regions.

E) Still being rejected for everything? Try offering a boxed set or omnibus for $0.99.

Following these rules, beginning in April, I submitted TUYO twice, TUYO again as an audiobook for Chirp, which is the audio part of BookBub; then MARAG twice, then INVICTUS #1 twice, then INVICTUS as a boxed set, then NO FOREIGN SKY at $0.99, but not for free because it is a standalone and that would be semi-pointless. That’s nine rejections so far. Then I skipped THE YEAR’S MIDNIGHT because its KU term expires at the end of May and I did not want to get any kind of promo that might intersect with the day the term expires. Instead, I submitted the Death’s Lady trilogy omnibus for $0.99 and boom! That got accepted. For all regions. I practically fell out of my chair.

So I had previously made up my mind that if I got ANY acceptance, I would take it no matter how expensive it was, because otherwise why even bother applying. So I paid for this promotion and immediately pulled up the omnibus file and updated the back matter. The endnotes now include a link to my newsletter, a link to my Patreon, and a link to SHINES NOW. The “Also By” section now has complete and updated links to everything. Then I uploaded the new omnibus file at KDP and previewed it and tweaked various things. There was no page break after the ToC, I don’t know how that happened. Now there is. I did not preview every single page because good Lord above, it’s a thousand pages or thereabouts, I can’t bear the thought, especially since I know I DID preview every page when I uploaded the file the first time. I checked all the breaks between one book and the next.

I’m going to have to lower the price by hand in order to have the price drop occur in all regions, so I’ll do that a few days before the promo is due (May 26th). That will drop me to the 35% royalty level because that’s the rule for a $0.99 book when you drop it by hand rather than using a countdown deal. How many omnibus books do I have to sell to break even for this enormously expensive promotion? Quick arithmetic yields the answer: 2034 copies. However, I’m going to drop the price of the fourth book to $2.99 for the duration (that is the lowest price at which you can get 70% royalties), so sales there should also help offset some of the cost. Also, the increased visibility ought to pop the whole series up in KU for a while, so KU pages read should also go up as a result of this promotion. Also, my overall visibility as an author should benefit; no way to calculate how useful that will turn out to be.

… And the bottom line is, I won’t know whether this promotion was actually a good idea until after it’s over, and yes, that does make me nervous. It would be A LOT better to get a promo like this for TUYO, where there are eight other books in the series. BUT FINE, this is my first chance to see how BookBub works for me, and although these promos are not as career-changing as they used to be, they are reputed to USUALLY pay off for the author.

I’m now going to go attempt to get promotions via other promo sites. This is widely regarded as a good idea, even though it will of course cost extra money. I have two weeks to arrange those. Many of the best promo sites sell out way before that, so I’ll just have to see what I can do.

Puppy post later this week!

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11 thoughts on “Whoa, abruptly planning a serious promotion”

  1. Congrats! Hope it works well for you, and that lots more people find and enjoy your stories (especially Death’s Lady, for which I have an enduring love)!

  2. Good luck! And congratulations: Year’s Midnight is a top notch series. Does something like this (if successful) increase sales or KU views of other books by the same author?

  3. Pete, that used to happen. A BookBub deal would make someone’s career because of the huge, sustained boost to all their work. These days, that pretty much doesn’t happen, but sometimes one DOES see a general and lasting uptick, even if it’s not lifechanging. I’ve certainly got my fingers crossed!

  4. … Woah, abruptly planning a purchase of “Shines Now and Heretofore” around May 26 because the special WILL be running on Amazon Australia! (I already bought and loved the trilogy.)

    Congratulations on getting the BookBub deal. Hopefully it really takes off for you!

  5. (Assuming that the price of Book 4 *is* going to be dropped on Amazon Australia, that is. If you were planning to do this, please do remember!!!)

  6. Heather, yes, absolutely. I have a note in red ink that says DROP PRICES BY HAND.

    I’m very fond of SHINES NOW. I hope you enjoy it!

  7. I just got a text from my little sister that I thought you might enjoy: “I’m only 28% percent into Marag, but why is Marag and Sinowa’s relationship like the best romance I’ve ever read??”

    I pointed out that I loved how the book is about love on every single page—familial, parental, romantic, communal—despite never using the word because Ugaro language doesn’t have it! And she commented, “It’s *tasteful,* comparable to the handflex in Pride and Prejudice haha. Give me the romance without telling me you’re giving me romance.”

    I’ve now sold the Tuyo series to 3 of my 4 sisters, both of my parents, a brother in law, and a nephew. Hopefully your Book Bub promotion is much much more successful :)

  8. Mary Beth, sounds like you’ll come in second to BookBub! And I love the idea that I’m putting the romance on the page without telling the reader, Hey, this is a romance. I’ll be super interested in what you (and your sister) think of RIHASI!

  9. Thank you for dropping the price: I have now bought #4! (And messaged my friend – who’s also a fan of yours – to let her know about the special. She might be buying as well!)

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