Other Book Marketing

Results from BookBub free promo

I don’t usually share results of book sales/promotions here, but, having benefited greatly from information posted by Joanne Phillips and others, I thought it was time to contribute to the discussion. So, here’s what happened when I offered my debut novel for free, via BookBub.

Saving Saffron SweetingWhy did I offer Saving Saffron Sweeting for free?

It’s now over 2 years since my debut novel was published and sales have, understandably, slowed to a trickle. However, reviews are very strong (4.6 stars on Amazon US), so I figured it might be an attractive proposition to readers who’ve not yet discovered me. And, since I now have a second book (Secrets in the Sky) available, I have something to offer those who enjoyed the freebie and are willing to purchase more.

What did I do on BookBub?

Saving Saffron Sweeting (“SSS”) was free on Amazon worldwide from 11-14 June. I paid $70 for a BookBub promotion in their Chick Lit category, and submitted the deal to a few other sites (although I didn’t pay for further coverage). Plus, with help from my wonderful friends, I shared the deal online and to my email newsletter recipients. Then, I got slammed at my day job and didn’t do much else!

I chose BookBub’s Chick Lit category for two reasons. Firstly, their $285 price tag to promote a free Women’s Fiction book was simply too steep for me. I was, after all, going to be giving books away, not making royalties on the copies downloaded. And SSS really is pretty light reading. Secondly, I noticed that, although the Women’s Fiction list has far more subscribers, the Chick Lit deal recipients are proportionally more likely to take action and download a free book. Either this crowd really loves a freebie, or (my guess), this category is newer on BookBub so the list is simply fresher, with more engaged subscribers.

Results: free copies

For Chick Lit, BookBub’s site states they achieve an average of 8,900 downloads of a free book, with a range of 3,250 – 12,950. As mentioned above, reviews for SSS are strong, so I hoped to see the upper end of that range. Here’s the chart of free copies downloaded during the 4 days:

BookBub: Free copies downloadedThe total number downloaded for free was over 23,300. Yes, I was a happy bunny.

And yes, SSS achieved a pleasingly high position in the free Kindle charts:

UK free rankingUS free rankingFun fact: I was kept off the number 1 spot in the UK by the wonderful Joanne Phillips, whose excellent cozy mystery Murder at the Maples was coincidentally promoted by BookBub at the same time. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather bump into at the top of the charts!

Results: halo effect

Much has been written about BookBub’s ability to propel a book up the Amazon charts, which then allows others to discover it… which has its own knock-on effect, and so on. So, while it’s lovely to “reach” 23,000 new readers, it’s even nicer to find some new readers once the price returns to normal. And I admit I was hoping for a bump in sales to help cover the $70 cost of the promotion. Here’s the picture showing a couple of days of book sales (both titles) before the free promotion, during, and the week after:

BookBub Halo Effect: Paid copiesWhat was interesting to me was that sales of my second novel picked up even while SSS was free, suggesting that either some people read it very quickly and moved on immediately to purchase another (bless them!), or that somehow the second book got a boost in visibility too.

Other benefits

But wait, there’s more! In the past week, Saving Saffron Sweeting has received a small flurry of new reviews. While the UK reviews have been mostly complimentary, my target market really is an Anglophile living west of Cornwall – a long way west. So I’m thrilled that 11 out of 12 of the new reviews left on Amazon.com have been 5 stars, with the twelfth reader (4 stars) suggesting this would be a great starting point for a series set in the same village. I heartily agree! And there’s been a modest but significant uptick in subscribers to my newsletter, plus followers onΒ  Pinterest and Facebook.

I’m truly grateful to BookBub readers who, having received a book for free, are following through with those small things which make being an author so rewarding.

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16 Comment

  1. Reply
    Joanne Phillips
    June 22, 2015 at 8:33 am

    That’s so lovely of you to link to me, Pauline – and really fascinating to read about your results too. I think you played a blinder (as we say in Blighty) to go with the Chick Lit category, not only keeping it cheaper but also targeting the right readers. I went with mysteries – so funny that we ended up together in the charts πŸ™‚ – and paid $395 for the promo, which did make me wince. I made it back in after sales, like you, thankfully, but I’m not sure I hit my ideal readers in the main. My cozy mysteries are loved in the US and in the UK, but some of the reviews from US readers complained about the Britishness of the book – even so far as citing ‘bad grammar’ πŸ˜‰ Of course, the grammar is fine – but it is British English, not American English so I can see it’s not 100% guaranteed to satisfy. Congratulations on a well-deserved free promotion, and long may those books continue to find new readers. Jo x

    1. Reply
      June 22, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Yes, it’s so painful when people assume that a grammar or punctuation “difference” is a mistake. I took an early decision to write in British English, even though I believe most of my readers are from other countries. But although most people know about color/colour and so on, some of the differences are incredibly subtle.
      I see Flora is still high in the charts: congrats! So glad your investment paid off.

  2. Reply
    Connie Tucker
    June 22, 2015 at 10:34 am

    More Saffron Sweeting would be wonderful ! Joanne, read your book because of Pauline. More please . I am an Alabama girl who reads so many books set in the UK, I now say “cling film” and wished people a ” Happy ” Christmas last year. Of course it was really” Happy Christmas , Ya’ll” Keep those books coming !

    1. Reply
      June 22, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Connie, thanks so much for supporting authors like Joanne and me! And we appreciate your willingness to read in a slightly “foreign” language πŸ™‚ Hopefully that makes it more fun.
      And yes, I can confirm Saffron Sweeting #3 is in the works.

    2. Reply
      Joanne Phillips
      June 22, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks Connie, you’re comment has made my day! It’s just so reassuring for me to know that US readers are okay with the British English. I couldn’t do an authentic US language book – like Pauline says, the differences are so subtle – way beyond spellings and idioms. But if I’ve made you happy (and Flora #3 The Sign of Seven is on its way) then I’m happy πŸ™‚ And thanks to you, Pauline, for introducing me to Connie x

  3. Reply
    Heather Burnside
    June 23, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Well done Pauline on some excellent results and thanks for sharing those results. πŸ™‚

  4. Reply
    Shelly Hickman
    June 24, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Congratulations, Pauline, on the successful BB promo, and thanks for sharing your results! This kind of info is always helpful to other authors. πŸ™‚

  5. Reply
    June 24, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Oh WOW this was such a cool read! I’m so glad I found you from the bloghop. I also have a book that is a few years old, and I wondered if I should ever put fresh energy into it. Knowing how this worked for you I feel excited to try it one day. My book would be considered more women’s fiction, but considering the price difference, it seems worth a try to do the chick lit.

    Good for you for keeping going and taking charge of your dream! So many writers hit a wall and give up. What I really loved about this was your energy, and there was no complaining or begrudging the challenges of book promotion. I’m inspired!

  6. Reply
    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    June 24, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Pauline and Joanne, thank you for your continued support of both the reading and writing audience. Your insights into writing, publishing and marketing are so valuable to so many. And your books! My goodness, they are absolute gifts.

    Pauline, I loved reading this post. Loved reading it for what I learned and loved reading it because the success was happening to YOU. So happy for you. What a thrill it must have been to climb to the summit and find a friend with whom you can celebrate.

    I love happy endings!

  7. Reply
    Meredith Schorr
    June 24, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Wow – wonderful results! Thank you so much for sharing. So far, I’ve only done the 99 cent BookBub promotions but we are considering do a free one for How Do You Know? later this year right as my next book comes out. I hope to come even close to your success πŸ™‚

    1. Reply
      June 24, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Meredith, I attended a BookBub chat somewhere and they mentioned they really wanted to feature more free books. This made me think it might be easier to get accepted than at the 99c level, and my experience confirmed that.
      For an author with just 1 title, a free promo feels a bit more risky (will people still remember you when the second one comes out?) but for authors like you, with several books, I’d definitely say that paying to promote a free title can make good sense. The “halo” effect really is strong.

  8. Reply
    Tracy Krimmer
    June 25, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Congratulations on the BookBub! I’m trying hard to get in, making my third attempt next week. If you can get in, that’s awesome! Looks like you had great results.

  9. Reply
    Sandie Docker
    June 25, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Wow. That is interesting reading for a newbie like me who knows nothing about that sort of thing. Thank you so much for sharing and congrats on your success.

  10. Reply
    Sandrine Piat
    July 30, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Thanks for the info. I am so lost in all this marketing world and am having such a hard time trying to get people to buy my book so it always helps to read how others go about it. Congrats for the results πŸ™‚

  11. Reply
    August 9, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I am one of the lucky ones that snagged your book when it was listed for free on BookBub recently. I just finished Saving Saffron Sweeting last night on my Kindle and this morning I’ve purchased the prequel! I love your style of writing so much Pauline and can’t wait to read more. I’ve also joined your newsletter so that I’ll be notified when you publish more books about the lovely Saffron Sweeting. Thank you for sharing your writing skills with the world as you are very talented. I have read hundreds of books over my lifetime that are both fiction and non, so I think I know a good writer when I meet one! πŸ™‚

    1. Reply
      August 9, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Itaya, thanks so much for the very kind comment. Hearing from readers like you is always wonderful, and feedback like this really keeps me going. I’m hard at work on a third book, featuring Bella in the leading role, so I hope you’ll enjoy that one too.

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