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.
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:
And yes, SSS achieved a pleasingly high position in the free Kindle charts:
Fun 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:
What 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.
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 on 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.
Would you like a free 8-step Author Website Starter Kit?
With clear explanations and impartial advice, you'll feel ready to make decisions on the purpose of your website, choosing a platform, and the main content you need.