So I asked. Because I didn't know any better. (I >did< ask nicely, which could have helped.)
Whaddaya know? They did it!
Not only did they secure a BookBub deal, but here’s how it went down. On the date of Book #3’s release (regular price), Book #1 was FREE for 5 days and Book #2 was 99 cents for 5 days.
What did I do to help out? I had secured postings on about 15-20 blogs/book review sites, as well as had the support of some fellow authors for this week. Crimson also supported the deal on their social media platforms, which reached an even wider audience.
In the article, I am referring to my Hell to Pay series.
Book #1: Immortal Flame
Book #2: Relentless Flame
Book #3: Flame Unleashed
Part 1) What were my goals for that book release week/BookBub week and beyond?
#1) Frankly? Get out my rankings out of the dump. Book #1 was running anywhere from 200,000 to 900,000 on Amazon’s rankings and Book #2 was sinking into the abyss around 1,400,000-1,900,000. Not good. I was actually at a point where I’m like, dude, if only 5 people have seen Book #2, then what’s the point? Should I continue this writing thing?
#2) Get Book #1 in front of more readers, and hopefully gain more reviews. Ah, a double-edged sword. For Book #1, I had a rating of approximately 4.20 on Goodreads prior to the BookBub deal. For the first 10 days, that rating actually went UP, a phenomenon that I think is like the “early adopter” satisfaction rating on technology items.
Then, after that wave passed containing what were likely the most enthusiastic readers, those ratings dropped some. Okay, yeah, that hurt, but then I got philosophical. You know what, not every book is each person’s cup of sunshine. Hey, people have different opinions. That’s okay. I reckon if my book is on the upside of a 3.0 on Goodreads, especially since I’m a new/unknown author, then that’s a fair accomplishment.
#3) Meet or exceed the average download projection for a free book listed on BookBub site. So, for a free paranormal romance, BookBub's site states that an average of 16,500 downloads is a reasonable expectation.
#4) Benchmark against a somewhat similar, but more successful/prolific/experienced author. So I picked Holley Trent (seriously, read her books, they’re fabulous!), since she writes paranormal romance for Crimson and also had a series book release on the same day as my Book #3 released. I figured if I could be in the same zip code as far as rankings of my Book #3 compared with Holley’s Book #2, then that would represent some measure of success.
Part 2) What happened?
God’s honest truth, every day of that BookBub week was like Christmas. The high I got, watching those ratings drop – there’s nothing quite like it. At it’s best, Book #1 held the #6 slot overall for free Kindle books on Amazon, which frankly shocked the socks right off of me!
Book #1 even reached #1 in Kindle > Romance > Paranormal > Psychics and #1 in Kindle > Romance > Paranormal > Demons and Devils.
Does that mean it’s a bestseller? I think not, because of the free deal part. Feels kind of like cheating. But it was such a fabulous feeling watching those numbers hit that high ranking. I had no idea that would happen.
Total downloads of Book #1, according to Crimson’s executive editor Tara Gelsomino? Approximately 17,500, which beat the BookBub projection. However, even publishers can’t get all the data out of all booksellers. I don’t know why that is, but the book publishing industry has smoke and mirrors that I still don’t understand. So the download number is admittedly based on incomplete data.
How about Book #2? Well, it was listed at 99 cents, and the overall Amazon Bestsellers Rank settled out around #1,000 during that week, which was a fair piece better than over the ranking where it had been floundering before.
Part 3) 1 month later, what happened?
Am I a NYT bestselling author, ready to quit her day job, take baths in champagne, fend off offers of representation by high-powered agents, and write full time?
Nope. Not even close.
But this deal has energized my desire to write, no question about it. In fact, while the BookBub deal was occurring, I revised the first book in a new series, started writing the second book in the new series, and then did rough outlines for books three and four in the new series. Man, I was on fire! (In a good way, not a need-for-skin-grafting kind of way.)
As far as rankings and sales go, doggone it if the numbers don’t continue to chug along in the 65,000-120,000 ranking overall, with a few sales/day for the past several weeks. Big improvement from before the BookBub deal.
And Book #3, the book that was quietly at full price through all of this wild ride? It’s hung out in the mid #30,000-90,000 Amazon Bestsellers rank since the day of release. So, yes, in the general vicinity of Holley Trent’s book. Considering she has written 10x more books and has 10x the experience, the fact that my Book #3 hung with her book release made me feel like some level of success was accomplished.
Part 4) Questions
Would I do a BookBub deal again?
You betcha. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. (God-willing and my publisher supports the promotion deal.)
There’s a smart blog post going around that talks about how to market a new book release. The basic gist is that you go back to Book #1 and market it hard again. With each release in the series, you’re supposed to go back to that first book and promote it along with the newly-released book.
So along those lines, yes I’d do another BookBub of Book #1, especially if I’m getting ready to release a new series or release subsequent books in a new series.
Could I have done it on my own?
Absolutely not. The ranking changes, the book sales, the increase in reviews and ratings had about 10% to do with my efforts and 90% to do with Crimson Romance’s willingness to advocate for the BookBub deal and support this new author. BookBub deals aren’t impossible for a complete indie writer to achieve, but it’s my understanding that the deal is more difficult to obtain.
Write, write, write. Research the business. Read articles on marketing and publishing and try to understand how this information applies to you. And it doesn’t hurt anyone to simply ask a question. The answer might be no.
But sometimes, the answer is “yes”!