Adventures in advertising: Can anyone beat Bookbub? Part I

bookbubMy forays into advertising my self-published books continue. I know I’m tardy on reporting on many of my ad buys (like, by a few months), but I’ve recently had such success with that I wanted to tell you about this out of order.

Writer friend Karen Cantwell (of Take the Monkeys and Run fame) heard from other pen-smythe and colleague Scott Nicholson (he of The Red Church, Liquid Fear, and a google of other books) that young upstart book-bargain site was a great place to advertise for indies. The skinny: Bookbub’s price was steep in comparison to almost all other advertising venues of its kind–maybe the highest–but the returns were worth it.

Since I’m in the “it’s time to advertise or get lost in the shuffle” camp, I checked it out, blanched at the price, but dove in anyway.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about Bookbub’s approach: subscribers register and let the ‘Bub know what genres they’re interested in. In return, Bookbub sends out a daily email with deeply discounted or free books in only those genres. The refreshing twist is that they only feature a handful of books per day (seems to be about 6-8), as opposed to burying their subscribers under an avalanche of crappy free books.

From an author’s perspective, there are several attractive points to advertising with the ‘Bub:

  1. The primary advantage to the restricted featuring is that, obviously, you aren’t competing against a zillion other titles.
  2. Many sites promise their subscribers that they only feature “quality” books, but the editorial staff at Bookbub seems to keep their promise and only features books with high ratings or an author with a proven track record. This means that, if you make the cut, your title is viewed in a different light than the vast majority of books out there.
  3. Bookbub’s overall subscriber base is over a million (and has grown like gangbusters…it was 440k in February when I was checking them out). That’s a huge advertising reach, but…
  4. …even better, since your title is matched to a particular genre’s subscriber list, you’re only being show to qualified readers. You might argue that it would be better to be shown to all one million in the off-chance they might buy your book, but I think BB’s approach is one that instills confidence in their readership (i.e., they won’t be spammed by Romance if they didn’t sign up for it). In any event, subscribers can sign up for multiple genres.

I should also mention that the daily deals are on the site and can be reviewed by genre or reading device (to address Kindle users vs. Nook users).

In general, Bookbub has some common sense requirements:

  • Your book has to be discounted or temporarily (not perma-) free at the time of the deal.
  • It can’t be less than the advertised price or free just before or after the ad (i.e., they’re trying to offer the best deal possible to their subscribers).
  • The “quality” requirement is nebulous, but I would imagine they won’t accept titles under 10-15 reviews with 4+ stars, but that’s a guess. If you’re a proven author trying to promote a new book in a series, I would guess they’re going to cut you a break.
  • Must be a full-length book.
  • The book can’t be featured more than once per 90 days, nor can the author be featured more than once every 30 days.

Read the rest of the requirements at

The ‘Bub’s cost works on an intelligent, graduated scale based on the popularity of your genre, the number of subscribers you’ll reach with your ad, and the cost of your book. You can check out cost, subscriber base, and download metrics at

As an example, I featured Marty Singer #2, Blueblood, for free. It’s a detective novel, so fell under Mysteries & Thrillers. Total cost: $230.

Stay tuned for my results in Part II…not to mention a colossal mistake I made that almost cost me the whole shebang!

Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Advertising, Epublishing News, Helpful Software & Sites, Tips for eAuthors
12 comments on “Adventures in advertising: Can anyone beat Bookbub? Part I
  1. Been hearing good things about them. Can’t wait to hear what kind of results you got.

  2. Chazz says:

    Thanks for this, Matthew. BookBub is one of the services I’ve been considering. Once I find out the “colossal mistake”, you’ll have probably pushed me over the edge to try it. 🙂

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hey Chazz – The new post goes up Wednesday, so you can find out results mistakes all at once. I’ll give you a hint, though: I doubt you’ll make the mistake I did. Go ahead and contact Bookbub for an ad…I don’t think you’ll regret it. 🙂

  3. Jody Sherin says:

    Just so you know, that is how I, as a reader (and now a fan), discovered your books! BookBub is terrific.

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hi Jody – Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad to hear you found me 🙂

      Bookbub really is great; I think as long as they don’t change their format of giving readers/subscribers a manageable offering of books every day, they’ll be the go-to readers’ resource for some time to come.

  4. Hi Matt, thanks for keeping us all up-to-date on your various marketing experiments – you’re a trailblazer! I’m scheduled for a BookBub promo on April 10. I’m dying to know what not to do!!! (And I’ve put a novel up on Wattpad, too!)

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Awesome stuff, Alan. Middle of the week seems to be really effective (people slacking at work?), so your April 10 promo should go big. Remind me and I’ll spread the word on the ol’ Facebook. Hope Wattpad makes a splash, too!

  5. I signed up with them two weeks ago, but had been too busy to check them out until this week. So far I’ve seen some pretty good books in the genres I picked. 🙂

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hi Voracious – glad you’re finding Bookbub as useful as a reader as I do as a writer! I know they also post their deals on the Bookbub site a few hours before the deals go out. It sounds like you’re pretty busy, but if you have some idle time in the morning, you could get a jump on the deals by checking them out in the a.m.

  6. Jessica says:

    Excellent Matt, Another to keep an eye on is a new one I spotted their setup appears to be very similiar. They appear to have be taken in authors and some will get a free slot so i signed up

  7. nickmilligan says:

    Thanks for the blog Matthew. I’ve just released my debut novel and on your recommendation I will use BookBub as a method of spreading the word.

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