Indie Authors – Questioning Bookbub

By now I’m sure just about every indie author has heard about Bookbub.  I seemed to have heard about them later than others, but I’ve used them a few times now for advertizing.  And although their results are better than anywhere else, I believe that there are some concerns with their site.  Read on…

Bookbub – Bookbub Indie Savior?

bookbub logoI’m stealing that headline from Rob Guthrie.  He wrote an interesting post a while back about Bookbub and their editorial staff.  If you haven’t read the post, it’s worth getting another indie author’s perspective on Bookbub.  One thing Rob notes is:

The Bub better be careful.  The window of success for businesses who treat their clientele like meal tickets rather than valued partners is very small.  Microscopic in the long run.

I’m feeling a bit like Rob these days, especially as Bookbub continues to raise its prices, reject books that should be accepted, do very little to answer questions, and does not verify that their mailing list is indeed as large as they state (more on this below).  So what’s my deal with Bookbub?  I’m glad you asked…

Bookbub – Bookbub’s Numbers

Bookbub claims to have over one million subscribers for their daily email blasts.  That’s quite a number, one that they never verify (believe me, authors have asked them to but never get an answer from Bookbub).  Bookbub also has a page that breaks down their pricing (you’ll choke when you see it) and averages on book downloads.  Let’s take the mystery category.  Right now, Bookbub states that this list has 770,000+ subscribers.  Free book downloads average 17,000, with a range of 8,000 to 25,800.  Discounted books average 1,730 sold with a range of 250 to 4,720.

Bookbub – Breaking Down The Numbers

Let’s say that Bookbub’s numbers are true.  What then should the indie author be able to click-through rateexpect?  In email marketing, a decent click-through rate would be 1% to 2%.  Really good click-through rates would be 5% or higher.  So, is Bookbub delivering?  We should expect at minimum 1%.  Let’s check it out, using their highest numbers in the mystery category:

4,720 / 770,000 = 0.0061298701298701

Wow.  Bookbub delivers at a whopping 0.6% rate.  Not good at all (especially for the price they charge).  And herein lies my main issue with Bookbub…

Bookbub – The Cost

The main complaint I hear from indie authors is that Bookbub is SO expensive.  And rightly so.  Don’t believe me?  Right now, to advertize a 99 cent book is $520.  To advertize a book at $2+ is more than my mortgage payment!  Think about that.

Bookbub price imageOf course Bookbub can charge what they want, but wouldn’t you expect that such a costly site would have a better click-through (sales) rate?  Now I’m sure many of you are saying but I’m getting more sales than I have anywhere else.  Yep, me too.  But don’t be fooled.  You should be expecting more from Bookbub, and they need to hear this.

On a side note, I fill out the feedback form every time I do a listing.  This last time was the first that I had a book offered on other sites, and when I gave Bookbub my numbers, I forgot to include Barnes & Noble.  And I also quoted my numbers based on the one day that the Bookbub listing ran.  Boy, their staff came back within minutes that I’d reported the numbers wrong.  And they were only partly correct.  They’d included all sales since the listing, not just for that day.  So they are sensitive to their numbers, but I also think they are erroneous in how they figure out what they charge.  Here’s why.

Bookbub – What They Should Focus On

Bookbub focuses on the wrong thing, in my humble opinion.  They look at their email list (questionable, and some are wondering if they’re buying their lists, which would be really bad for them if that ever comes out) and say wow, we’ll charge you based on how many people are on the list.  Then they say the author get 35% or 70% of the listing price, which is also not true.  Authors pay a delivery fee, depending on the size of the ebook, and royalty rates are also dependent on whether an author is enrolled in KDP Select or not.  But Bookbub doesn’t care.  And finally, just looking at the download numbers is wrong, again, based on the royalty rate.  It take a lot more downloads to break even if you’re royalty rate is 35%.  Bookbub should be thinking about this.  But again, they don’t.

And this is all wrong on their part.  They should be charging on the click-through rate, which would be more fair to those advertizing on Bookbub, and it would encourage authors to continue using the site (without the growing grumbling).  But again, they don’t care.  They should (read Rob’s post for reasoning on this), but they don’t.  They should be concerned that authors are only breaking even or barely making a profit.  Why?  They want authors to come back, and the more authors don’t make money, the more likely they’ll look elsewhere.   Yes, it may take some time, but it will happen.

Another concern is that the more readers see the same books on Bookbub (i.e. an author advertises the same book every six months), the effectiveness of the listing could go down.  Now, maybe not.  Maybe a reader who passed the previous time decides to buy the book this time.  I don’t know, but at $260+ on up for advertizing, the risk becomes greater.

Bookbub – Indie Author Expectations

breaking evenOne thing I also wonder about is our expectations as indie authors.  I can’t tell you the number of indie authors who say:

Well, I’ve broken even or made a little money on most of my Bookbub listings.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t you want to do more than break even or make a few dollars when you advertize?  Yes, I realize that we’re looking for new readers and new reviews and more exposure, but at what point do you want more than a break-even scenario?  This isn’t a good long-term marketing formula.  And yes, I know some of you have done very well, but I suspect this isn’t the vast majority, or Bookbub’s numbers would reflect this.  And again, using the same site over and over again to boost your sales or keep the sales high may lead to ineffective advertizing there.

Bookbub – The Editorial Team

Another issue I have is their selection/editorial process.  I recently submitted The Maltese Felon for consideration.  It’s the third novel in the Reed Ferguson mystery series.  It should be exactly what Bookbub is looking for, as their readers would want more in the series.  Bookbub should be looking at the whole series and making their decision based on that, not just that The Maltese Felon only has 5 5-star reviews.  But the book is not what their readers want…really?  And, as others have noted, some of what they accept seems pretty sketchy, so you wonder if they’re looking at anything but the money.  Not good if you’re advertizing there.  For the cost, we should expect more from the editorial team.

Bookbub – Their Help

And lastly, I think for as much as we pay for listings, we should expect more from Bookbub when it comes to support, and our questions.  I realize they get inundated with listing requests, but there ought to be a bit more feedback on why a listing was denied.  If an editorial team really is checking each book, it wouldn’t take that long to send standard emails that break down why you’re listing was rejected (not enough reviews, poor quality etc.) instead of one standard email.

Will I continue to use Bookbub?  Sure, with reservations.  I’m also looking for other sites to give Bookbub competition.  If you haven’t checked out The Fussy Librarian you should, and you should get all your readers to sign up there.  More competition will force Bookbub to be more equitable.  And that would be good for all indie authors.

Alas, Bookbub will be around for some time, but it will become more and more difficult to get a listing there.  From what I see on my daily emails, they are focusing more on mainstream-published books (they get more money that way), and as more indie authors submit, the higher competition will mean many get rejected.  I do hope sites like The Fussy Librarian take off (especially because The Fussy Librarian vows not to charge mortgage prices to advertize there), but that remains to be seen.

I’m sure many of you will tell me how great Bookbub has been for you, that you’ve had great results, and that’s fine.  Just remember, the numbers in and of themselves isn’t the point of the post :).

Does anyone know of other sites to advertize where you feel that you’re getting good results?  Let us know.  Thanks!

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Indie Authors – Questioning Bookbub

  1. Kathy says:

    There are other promo sites from which I receive daily emails after I opted-in and chose my genres. They are Book Blast and GoodKindles. I know GK has reasonable prices because I will be advertising with them myself when my novella, An Invisible Hand, is available for purchase. I received an email from someone, telling me about Book Blast, and their prices are cheaper than Bookbub’s. Indie Author News is a site worth visiting. It has a huge social media following and promotes indies exclusively. You’re added to their authors’ list permanently, and your author’s page is also permanent. eBook Daily and Book Daily are two other sites. This seller on fiverr also promotes your book (http://bit.ly/1gYmSHA) on your promotional days, and he only charges five to ten bucks and provides you with tracking. So authors do have some choices.

    I signed up as a reader to each of the sites that I could because I like to see how content is delivered to readers. If it’s bright and colorful and easy to read, I consider using that site. Indie Author News looks like a newspaper and is an inviting site. GK’s emails are bright and easy to read also. I also like the rectangular format that Book Blast uses. Story Cartel gives authors an opportunity to offer free downloads in exchange for reviews, and authors can sweeten the pot by providing incentives of their own.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I’ve heard of some of those, but others are new. Thanks for sharing them with us and for your comment. Best of luck to you with your novella.

  2. ML Doyle says:

    There’s also the Fussy Librarian which is free and Kindle Books and Tips. I am on four or five email lists like BookBub. Like most of the email lists I sign up for, when I have too many of them, I’ll often just delete them without opening them. So when BookBub bases their price on their lists, it’s misleading. And very often, I will open the email, look at the list and not see anything interesting.

    I’ve not forked out the dough for it yet since it is way too rich for me at this point. Thanks for the interesting assessment.

  3. I’m with a very small press and do all my own marketing, so essentially, I am an indie. I just don’t make as much money as a true indie. I don’t have a great deal of marketing experience and I’m just learning now about the myriad of available advertising avenues. An indie friend of mine had a 99 cent sale on her contemporary romance and used BookBub with great success. She also used BookGorilla with absolutely no success whatsoever. So when my publisher and I decided to have a brief 99 cent sale on my debut, THE MISTAKEN, I chose to go with BookBub (in the thriller category). I was fortunate and, after applying, was selected, and we ran the ad on the 4th day of my 5-day sale. Now, at the time of my application, my book had been out for just over a year and had an average of 4.7 stars on 103 Amazon reviews, so it was pretty solid in that respect, which is likely why it was selected. The first few days of my sale, prior to the BookBub ad, my sales were decent, which helped lower my sales rank, making it more attractive when the BookBub ad ran on the second-to-last day of my sale. I also had inexpensive & simultaneous listings in KND’s 99 Cent Library, on eReaderNewsToday (including their email blast), and Kindle Books & Tips (also sent via email). The day the BookBub ad was emailed, my sales rank, which, less than a week earlier, had been 200,000 (hence the sale), plummeted to 87 within 8 hours of the email blast. I sat in the top 100 books on Amazon for maybe 15 hours, then stayed in the 100-200 range for another day or so, even though the price was restored back to full retail ($3.99). Even today, 4+ days since the end of my sale, I’m still in the low 600′s. Not bad considering it was 200,000 when my sale first started less than a week ago. The sale was successful enough, and my book noticeable, that on the one day the ad ran (Sunday), for whatever reason, BookGorilla ran an ad for my book at full retail, and at no charge to me. I never requested an ad with them. So, I’m left to think the success of the sale had a lot to do with the timing of the ad and the additional avenues I used to get a few sales prior to the BookBub email blast, lowering my rank, and making my book more appealing than perhaps it would have otherwise. While I didn’t particularly like the copy they wrote for my ad, I have no complaints about my experience with BookBub. I do have indie friends who’ve applied and have been turned down repeatedly, which, I agree, is discouraging. It’s kind of par for the course in this industry. You have to be patient and pay your dues, accrue quality reviews, and keep applying. I don’t know about all the issues you’ve raised above, only my experience with BookBub, which was surprisingly good, and has paid off in spades, even as an indie who has to share most of my royalties with my small publisher.

  4. Nate says:

    Your math is off:

    4,720 / 770,000 = 0.0061298701298701

    That comes to six tenths of a percent, not six thousandths of a percent.

    Your result converts to 0.6%.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      That’s why I write lol. It’s still not a great conversion rate, especially for the price they charge.
      Thanks for catching that!

  5. Pingback: Is Bookbub Still An Effective Sales Tool? - The Digital Reader

  6. Thank you so much for putting this in-depth analysis on your site. I too have been questioning BookBub lately, and what especially rankles me is how I see the same authors getting ads just months apart while countless others are rejected again and again.

    I think this ‘king of the hill’s’ day will come in 2014.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      You’re welcome. It is a conundrum…a couple of my books get accepted no problem, I think because of the plethora of reviews. But as I state in the post, they turn down another in the series, but they really should take it. I think it’s all about money for them, and as Rob Guthrie says in his post, that’s a dangerous thing for them. But they’ll have made so much money, they won’t care.
      Thanks for the comment.

  7. Harriet Schultz says:

    I’ve had very good results with BookBub and have another listing scheduled with them for Legacy of the Highlands on Jan. 7. My books are always listed with them for $0.99 (reg. $3.99) and so far I’ve covered the cost of the ad and then some, especially once the book returns to its regular price. Mine run in a newish category for them, romantic suspense. Because this subscriber list is smaller, the fee is $140 so it’s easier to earn back the investment.
    E Reader News today’s bargain book listings are also a good choice because you’re only billed for books that sell through their links and they have a large readership.
    It seems there are more promo sites for books that are free than those with a price tag, but I’ve never been part of Select and have never priced my books at $0.00.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Some interesting points, thanks for sharing with us. There have been some good points on the digital reader about how even 99 cent books no longer give an author a ranking boost because of Amazon’s algorithms. Who knows, but if that’s true, I think it make the argument of selling elsewhere besides Amazon even more true.

  8. J. R. Tomlin says:

    You’re not paying for the clicks so why are you worrying about the click through rate? If they deliver the sales–and for me they do–then I don’t care what their click through rate is. It is totally irrelevant.

    As far as concentrating on traditional publishers, that means that when they advertise my book, I am seen as being in good company and there have only been three months in the last year when I haven’t run a BB ad–those because I decided to let up in advertising and hold off for the Christmas season. I just ran an ad with BB that did very well and it was the second time I ran an ad for that book, so I had limited expectations.

    I assure you that they haven’t stopped taking indie books and their promotions produce results. Results, sales, are all I demand of them. Would it be nice if they were cheap? Sure. But why should they be when they have people pounding down their door. They’re not stupid.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      The click-through rate is the way of measuring the sales, based off what we get from Bookbub. If anything, the actual sales number would be lower. I don’t know how BB is able to track actual sales numbers, but I used their numbers as a basis for the overall point, which is that the sales should in fact be much higher than they are for the price they charge.
      You should hop over to digitalreader.com and see what folks are saying in the comments, as some readers would disagree with you. Some feel the quality of books advertized at BB isn’t good. And many are speculating that BB is already losing value and will continue to do so. Who knows…only time will tell.
      Thanks for your comment and best of luck to you.

    • One thing that doesn’t get mentioned much is that readers don’t care if BookBub purchasers read their books.

      They just want downloads or sales. Many are happy to have hoarders, but this short-term thinking is a heck of a way to build an author platform or get 1,000 fans.

      Of course I expect every author to argue vociferously against that, but if Amazon put a ‘read’ column on their spreadsheets I don’t think it’d be viewed as the most important thing by many.

  9. Jason M says:

    If Bookbub is so desperate for money, why do they sometimes only send out two books in a mailing, instead of three? It seems to me that they are trying to CURATE, an important task in this new world of publishing, and if they can’t find someone to meet their internal criteria that day, they just won’t send anything at all.

    I used Bookbub last week for a free run. It was astounding: 42,500 free books taken. Sales of my other titles have leaped, and I’m watching the holiday period closely. If they’re buying email lists, then it’s working: that click-through rate on my free book was over 5%. FYI, they rejected me twice previously.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I’ve yet to have a mailing from BB without at least 5-6 titles on it (and I only ask for mystery, YA and I might have had one other category, I can’t remember lol). You should read Rob’s post as I think he makes a compelling argument for BB’s lack of curating (to use your word, which I like).
      On the free issue, I’m seeing more authors AND readers say that free is losing its value because people have hoarded so many books that they’ll never read (among other arguments). But the jump in sales of other books is great, if it happens. I have seen some authors say that hasn’t been the case for them. What I’m headed to is perma-free, as I don’t think being exclusive to Amazon is valuable anymore.
      We’ll have to see where things go with BB, but the fact that there are rumblings out there about them isn’t a good sign, in my opinion. I’ve even seen some predict that about quarter two of 2014 is when BB will begin to see a slow death. Who knows, certainly not me :).
      Thanks for your comment.

  10. Renee, I think your post brings up some excellent points. I’ve submitted several books to Bookbub and have yet to be accepted– “not what our readers want.” Okay, fine, that’s their prerogative, but I’ve seen them advertise some real dogs– typos, bad writing, bad reviews, few reviews. As a reader, this is really perplexing to me. Why recommend a book like that? And as you say, if they’re going to reject (sometimes as quickly as in a couple of hours!), it would be helpful to the writer to know why. And frankly, it seems that requiring a certain number of reviews to even be considered for listing is short-sighted. After all, I want to advertise my books in order to bring it to the attention of readers. Why advertise a book that already has 100 or 500 reviews? This seems backward.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I understand your frustration. Unfortunately, I’m sure BB doesn’t care.
      Thanks for your comment.

    • ReadingRenee says:

      I too don’t understand their strategy or acceptance. I know as a blogger so many authors turned down three and four times. That being said I don’t get their emails anymore and couldn’t care less what they recommend because it isn’t what I want. I’ve seen way too many bad books on there.

      • Renée Pawlish says:

        That’s interesting, and of course BB won’t share how many people drop from their lists (it would be helpful to know, and to know how many NEW subscribers were added so an author knows if they’re targeting the same people or not). From what I’ve been reading on other blogs, I think BB will slowly die out, it just remains to be seen how long it takes. And then it will be off to the next latest and greatest promotion tool.
        Thanks for your comment.

  11. I read your post with great interest as I’ve just finished another BookBub promo with fairly unsatisfactory results. Yes, I broke even. And yes, I sold another 500 copies of my book after the break-even point. But I expected more.
    So as not to break the bank I chose to place my book in the Women’s Fiction category, rather than the extremely pricey Contemporary Romance list. I did it for two reasons: to save a little money, and because I truly believe my book belongs in the Women’s Fiction category. (The stated amount of subscribers to each list is vastly different: upper 300,000 for WF, and over 700,000 in CR.)
    Two days before the BookBub promo ran, I used The Fussy Librarian with absolutely no results. Not a single sale.
    So, in defense of BookBub I’d have to say they do get SOME results.
    But you’re right. It seems the cost of advertising on BB grows exponentially each month, effectively pricing out the Indie authors because each time the list grows the cost goes up.
    My first BB promo (about 7 months ago) for the same book in the same category went well, although the end results were (again) a bit underwhelming considering the size of the WF list (at the time). For that particular promo I had a lot of beginner’s questions and had very good support from BB. On this second promo, not so much.
    Thanks for the post. I hope BookBub takes notice.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I wouldn’t give up on The Fussy Librarian, but rather let readers know about them. They need a bigger list and then authors will see results. I’ve seen BB ads online so they are spending money to grow their list. The problem I have with BB, as you’ve stated too, is that, for the price they charge, I expect more. Sadly, BB will not take notice until authors quit using them. And that won’t happen for a while I suspect, but I do wonder what the tipping point will be.
      Thanks for your comment.

    • Just can’t help but think BookBub is becoming the mouthpiece of traditional publishing, and those 1.8% of authors making tons of money like Greenfield said this week. Well, maybe we should round that up a bit. How about 5% to 8%?

  12. Jason says:

    I think this post displays the exact kind of analysis all authors should be engaging in when evaluating their advertising. We all have our own criteria for what constitutes a successful promotion, but it is surprising some of the assumptions that are made. It’s a given for most that a promotion should not only make a profit but make a BIG profit. That notion is unheard of in any other kind of advertising outside of Kindle books. If you look at Google, Facebook (for sending traffic, not getting likes), Goodreads, Twitter, Yahoo, or most other online venues, you can expect to pay $1 per click (at best) and then see the usual clickthrough rate. To be able to safely assume that you’re going to making more money than you spend on a single promotion shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s great to be able to do that, but you should also factor in momentum on Amazon/BN bestsellers lists as well as sales of sequels and other titles when gauging the full effectiveness.

    Realistically, there is no way that any of these sites or services can accommodate every author and still get results. There’s so little space that not all quality books will find a spot. Renee says that BookBub should take into consideration the acclaim of an entire series when judging a particular book, but you can be sure that readers for the most part won’t immediately take the time to look past the single product page. 5 reviews and a cover with a lot of plain black space isn’t going to provide the kind of irresistible draw compared to other covers, even if it speaks to the noir style. We are sensitive about our books and in most cases don’t want to hear if they aren’t amazing in every way (even if our sales numbers suggest otherwise), but we have to accept that Bookbub and other sites are trying to make the best matches with their audiences. Ultimately, it’s their business and their decision about who to accept. It’s our job to make out books as appealing as possible to readers.

    I am familiar with Fussy Librarian and have run spots there twice, once for free (10 downloads) and once at 99c (~0 sales). I’m on the authors list and hear about the incredible costs the guy has as well as how he has no time to do everything, and yet he has books scheduled for months without the prospect of making a single dollar in sight. The guy seems in over his head with only the lure of big BookBub $’s to push him on. Granted he’s still not able to produce much in the way of results and couldn’t charge if he wanted to, but his position is exactly where you end up if you follow the line of thinking in this article to the end: ebook promotional services that are incurring massive debt and are basically unsustainable attempting to meet author’s outsize expectations to perform as a slot machine that gives jackpots every time. We can all want that, but at some point reality is going to come crashing in on one or both parties.

    Advertising is inherently risky. Experiment and see what works best for you. Take the long view and make your goal building an audience you can reach on your own.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I disagree with you on a number of points, the big one being that BB is trying to the best matches for their audience. Based on numerous comments from both authors and readers on this site and many others, folks feel like BB is just going for the money.
      Thanks for your comment and best of luck to you.

      • Jason says:

        Oh, I don’t think there’s any question they’re in it for the money. But then that’s what you have to expect. You’re in it for the money. I am. Everyone is. I’ve seen them feature some terrible looking books that defy everything you see on their guidelines. But I bet people still clicked on them. Their interest in earning a profit hasn’t stopped them from getting results in the majority of cases.

        • Renée Pawlish says:

          What results? How are those measured? And in a majority of the cases – what is that based on? Those are assumptions on your part…

          • Jason says:

            Forgive me, but most people measure their results for book ads in book sales, and that’s quantified using numbers. I’d say the majority of cases has to do with the volume of repeat interest in using their service. Now not everyone is willing to sneeze at 500 sales of pure profit, as the commenter above said, but it just goes to show you don’t need to look farther than the comments here to get a sense of the typical reaction to BookBub’s service. They say they get over 100 submissions a day, so I don’t think I’m making an assumption at all to say that they produce a certain degree of results.

  13. Renée Pawlish says:

    Jason, I thank you for some lively discussion and I wish you all the best!

  14. Rob Guthrie says:

    Hi, Renee!

    Sorry it took me so long to comment on this; I actually read your fine post a while back (and thank you for the kind reference to my own blog on the subject).

    I read through the comments and have a couple of thoughts:

    As far as Kindle (and other e-reader) hoarders go, that’s all you get with most free sites. I have run numerous (20+) free campaigns utilizing over a dozen of the top “free-listing” sites, and while there is no question they DO help an author garner downloads (and rankings on the Amazon Free list), I have never—and I mean NEVER—seen those downloads convert to any significant sales whatsoever. How do I know? Because I would list each of the first books in my two series free and see no movement at all in either the first book post-offering or, more importantly, the second or third book in the series. When I advertised on BB’s “free-listing” (listing the book as free, NOT free for the advertisement), however, I saw over 100,000 downloads in a couple of days, and IMMEDIATELY started seeing significant sales for book two. In fact, the sales impact was so significant for book two in the series I have left book one perma-free and am still seeing steady sales on book two, months later (now I just need to finish book three!).

    There is no question in my mind that (for now; or perhaps better-stated: THEN) BB had a quality subscriber list (though I am in agreement with you regarding their supposed numbers; I understand they cross-count—meaning if I subscribe for three different genres, I am only one reader but am counted once in each genre). Whatever the case, I have never heard of them divulging how they reach their numbers nor any proof of said counts.

    The other comment that interested me was regarding “everyone” being in it for the money only. It may be true in BB’s case, and many others, but I argue that such a model (as with any business) is flawed and will allow only for short-term profit. For a business to succeed in the long run, it must cultivate and adjust to its clientele’s needs (and in the case of indie authors, I submit, partner with their goals) and therefore keep the attrition and turn-over rates at a minimum (and word-of-mouth advertising at a premium). BB has shown me that they have no care whatsoever for the independent author. In fact, I submit they are catering more and more to “names” rather than content. I have been accepted by their “editorial” staff more than once, and been rejected both for length (a 106-page “self-help” book for writers they said didn’t meet their 150-page minimum) and once because a new book—third in the series where they had accepted books one and two on several occasions—because it was “new” and didn’t have enough reviews. I have since learned that BB is an Amazon affiliate/partner and receives kickbacks—er, commissions—from the giant (that may or may not require certain criteria for Amazon reviews, rankings, etc.). I DO believe, according to FTC regulations, they are supposed to advertise the fact that they receive extra monies above and beyond the client’s charged advertising rate. I have been told they do not (advertise their extended receipts), but I haven’t confirmed that myself.

    Clearly every business’s goal is to “make money”. I argue that the best businesses do not focus on it myopically as their ONLY goal. BB has yet to convince me they have anything (or anyone) other than profit margin as their goal, and I agree with a previous commenter that they will experience the shortsightedness of their ways in 2014.

    Thanks again, Renee, for the mention and for the great post (and to the commenters for some truly thought-provoking additions to the conversation)!

    Happy 2014!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thanks Rob for a very insightful comment, and I agree with you. BB does have a far-reaching affect, more so than any other site I’ve come across, but as you and others state, this may be seeing diminished value in 2014. I too have a book that has just gone permafree, but as of yet, it hasn’t had an impact on sales of other books. Unfortunately, I can’t advertize it on BB for a few months (due to their six month regulation) but, as long as I read that it’s still effective, I will try them again. At least with free on BB, it’s not quite the gouge that it is for a priced book. I certainly hope other sites, like The Fussy Librarian, might give BB some competition, and a new audience, to help us find new readers at a more reasonable cost.
      Best of luck to you in 2014!

  15. Hello Renee,

    Just read your article and it makes some valid points. I requested a listing there this week for a book I spent two years writing and a couple of grand editing and it was unceremoniously rejected, even inside a two week window. I didn’t think much of it at first as I know they get a lot of request and have to turn down 70-80% of them. However, when I looked over the books listed for that day I ran into one that was basically a bad joke. I mean, really bad. Absolutely riddled with misspelled words and unforgivable errors of every kind. I did a post on it at my blog here: http://nathanieldeanjames.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/bookbub-talks-the-talk/

    I checked out the publisher (Good2Go Books) and it too was a joke. Some two-bit outfit in Brooklyn that boasts of a large circle of dedicated friends and family who will “review up” your books if you publish with them. Indeed, the book in question has over a hundred glowing 5-star reviews, all clearly written by this network. Then there are the 16 or so 1-star reviews that actually represent the book for what it is, unreadable.

    Don’t really know what to make of this. The experience is a lot like getting a rejection letter from an agent. But like you say, the figures are still compelling and I can easily fork over the $220 for a listing. I guess I’ll wait out the two week “cooling off” period and revisit the topic again. I’ll post an update here if you like.

    NDJ

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Your post is very interesting, and I would agree that, certainly of late, BB’s “selection” each day leaves a lot to be desired. They certainly are catering to Big Five publishers when possible, and the indie selections leave me scratching my head. Unfortunately, it still seems the best service out there, I only hope that The Fussy Librarian and other sites will grow enough to give BB some solid competition.
      Thanks for your comment, and I would love to hear about the listings on the day you wanted your listing.

  16. Roger says:

    I use a very cheap and useful service called Ebook Lovers. http://www.bestebookreaderlovers.com

    Here si the link :

  17. Rosie Dean says:

    Found this posting as a result of searching google for: ‘I don’t understand bookbub’s pricing’ because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

    I agree, I would want to more than break even on advertising spend.

    Just an update, The Fussy Librarian does now charge, but in my category (romantic comedy) only $7.

    Thanks, have bookmarked your site for further browsing.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thanks for your comment. BB is difficult to assess – I do think it’s helping me grow my following, but the cost is definitely hard to swallow. And it’s getting more difficult to get accepted and seems to be becoming about “bigger” names, so I’m not sure how much longer it will be something for lesser-knowns to utilize. I hope Fussy and others will gain traction.

      • Rosie Dean says:

        Being an indie author, the market won’t swallow high prices for my work, so making back the investment would be hard. At present, something like The Fussy Librarian is a much more accessible option.

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