An update on an earlier post — two more iterations on this cover. Sometimes it is a long and winding road to a final cover…
An author client recently got in touch with ebook promotional giant Bookbub to discuss the disappointing performance of a paid ad posted on that platform. He received the following interesting response, worth reading in full for anyone considering using the service or applying for the oly grail of a featured deal (as with so many areas of the Internet, Bookbub is overwhelmingly dominant in its space):
Thanks for reaching out! I'm sorry to hear your recent ad campaign didn't produce the results you were hoping for. I'll note that it does require quite a bit of testing and tweaking to develop ad campaigns that get the results you're looking for. When getting started with ads, we recommend that partners spend some time committed to testing ads with small budgets of $5-$10. Generally, you're unlikely to see a positive return immediately out of the gate with no testing.
I'd encourage you to read through some of our blog posts to get more familiar with BookBub Ads. I've gone ahead and listed a few that I think you'll find helpful below:
- First, you can find a blog post on increasing your click-through rate here: https://insights.bookbub.com/increase-click-through-rate-bookbub-ads-campaign/
- Next, you can read about how marketing goals affect BookBub ad campaigns here: https://insights.bookbub.com/how-marketing-goals-affect-bookbub-ad-campaigns-infographic/
- Finally, you can view our ultimate guide to BookBub Ads here: https://insights.bookbub.com/ultimate-guide-bookbub-ads/#getting-started
If you want to learn more about BookBub Ads, I'd suggest that you read through some other posts in the BookBub Ads section of our blog here for more tutorials, campaign ideas, and best practices.
I'm happy to answer any questions your have around Featured Deals:
1.) Currently, we rarely feature new releases in our daily emails. We’ve found that books that have had a chance to build up their platform perform best and, therefore, make for the most successful promotions for our partners.
2.) Your promotion's length is completely up to you and your marketing goals. You're welcome to discount your book for just a day, or a whole week or more if you'd like. We happen to have a blog post that discusses what promotion lengths work best for different marketing goals here. I hope you find that post helpful!
3.) Critical reviews play a role in our editor's selection process, so it would certainly be helpful for your title to have some reviews associated with it. You're absolutely welcome to submit this book for consideration, but please note that, as mentioned above, we tend to feature books that have built up their platform. If you're interested, you can learn more about the editorial team's selection process here.
Many authors have never heard of Bookbub. The service is essentially a regular email offering selected discounted ebooks to a massive subscriber list. Most of the titles promoted therein are from major publishers, but a significant fraction are from independent authors and small publishers. Publishers and authors pay over $600 per title just to be considered for inclusion in their featured deals. They are extremely powerful in the world of ebook sales and massively profitable.
Peter Ralph has done a stellar job analysing the performance of bookbub and advising authors how to get one of the sought after featured deals. Other bloggers have useful posts about setting up effective ads for Bookbub, Others point out that while the sales spike created by bookbub is real and substantial, it can be rather short lived. This author suggests that the real benefit of being featured on bookbub is exposing the rest of your published work to a new audience.
In a world where bookstores, though gamely hanging on, represent a decreasing fraction of overall print sales (not to mention ebooks and audibooks), authors have to come to terms with the necessary techniques for online sales success, and letting the market know they even exist.
An interesting webinar staged by Reedsy on the dynamics/underlying principles of the Kindle webstore. With an astonishing 70,000 titles published per month (!) independent authors really need to understand the platforms to which they are uploading their titles. While it may be dispiriting to see one’s book chunked into tiny little categories and subject to algorithmic vagaries, there is also power in exploiting this really quite remarkable flood of sales data.
One of the distinctive aspects of ebook publishing is the willingness of authors and publishers to vary book pricing. Some of this may be an attempt to find the ideal price for a given book, but others are following a more sophisticated playbook, a little like the strategies employed by airlines with ticket sales. Kindle itself has Kindle Countdown Deals, though there are built in limits to the use of this particular tool. PublishDrive makes the following observation:
And WriteHacked has a long post on the topic spelling out all of the options and reasoning behind them
The ebook landscape is dominated by Amazon Kindle, but there is a world of ebook consumption beyond Jeff Bezos’ realm. Smashwords aggregates together a number of ebook selling services as does its newer competitor Draft2Digital. Kindlepreneur has done yeoman’s work in comparing the two services in detail, even going to the trouble of contacting their respective CEOs. Spoiler alert: Draft2Digital wins!
The book of the future was supposed to be an amazing digital, virtual thing, anticipated eagerly by every second futurist, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. An interesting article in Wired about how we got to the current ebook landscape (hint: involves an all conquering behemoth named after a big river). And print books are still a thing, thank goodness. And here’s an interesting quote for all the independent authors out there:
Peter Ralph writes fast-moving financial thrillers. Recently he wanted to bundle together three of his ebooks to sell as one unit. Though the books are packets of digital information, they are promoted online as physical objects, as if they were an actual ‘box’ set. So we created a graphic showing the three cased books in all their virtual/physical glory.
Bestselling author Peter J. Ralph has turned his considerable research skills to the secrets behind the most successful promoter of ebooks, Bookbub. Our cover was intended to illustrate the dramatic effect that being selected for the Bookbub newsletter can have on the sales of a particular title. Typefaces used are League Gothic and Marianina.
Four covers for the same publisher, each under the same imprint. All yellow backgrounds, strong, simple typography, minimal image content. There is much to be said for paring design back to its absolute essentials. Less clutter, less distraction, more emphasis on the content and the beauty of typography. Typefaces used include League Gothic, Clarendon Bold Condensed and Bell Gothic Black.
Printed books seem have unexpected staying power. The growth of the ebook segment of the market has slowed dramatically, and independent bookstores have experienced a modest expansion, both in terms of the number of stores and overall sales. Readers cite the tactile aspect of the printed word, along with the aesthetics of a good bookshelf. Not that the digital revolution hasn't changed the book trade — at least 40% of all book sales are now online.
From the ever-active folk at Open Culture, a very long list of free ebooks, many of them the greats of world literature and intellectual endeavour. From Wittgenstein to David Foster Wallace — a lifetime's reading awaits...
Dudley Sims is an unassuming man catapulted into a key role in resisting a rapacious land developer. His escapades and love interests are chronicled in The Confessions of Dudley Sims by Brian Smith. We wanted to capture the feel of the riverine landscape he defends in the story – the murky but beautiful Yarra River. Along the base of the cover parades a low-key protest, complete with dog.
Keeping small children safe is a full-time occupation for parents. The ability of a toddler to get into trouble involving sharp objects, flights of stairs, hot water, bookshelves, food, animals and so on is genuinely amazing. Michelle Fiddian has written a very helpful introductory guide outlining both strategies for protecting little ones and acting quickly if accidents do occur. Published by Jo Jo Publishing. We wanted to show the vulnerability of the very young, using crisp, clean type. Title set in Trend Sans, subtitle in Mostra Nuova.
A note regarding the preparation of your book manuscript for ebook conversion, from our preferred ebook converter, Warren Broom:
What can be done in the ePub format:
Firstly, to convert to the epub format, we require a print ready PDF. This must be single page single column. If not, all of the sentences that form each column end up shuffled like a deck of cards. We will also need an ISBN and a description and subject to place into the meta-data that shows up on the retail site. Descriptions should be kept to 2 to 3 paragraphs.
We prefer to take the images from the pdf as many have captions that we include in the image so that they do not get separated from the image. We do all images in colour for those reading devices that support colour but, of course, they will render in greyscale in those that don’t.
We can only do tables that are two cells wide as any more and the words start to get squashed up at higher zoom levels. Tables with more than 2 columns are done as images. Sometimes when table cross “pages, some of the text can separate but this is not usually a problem.
If the text is justified, some words break in two, utilising a hyphen. Once again, this is not really a problem but, if the author wants to avoid them, we can align the text to the left.
Table of contents:
eBook reading devices produce a digital TOC but we usually add hyperlinks to the TOC in the ePub for earlier reading devices that don’t. We can also link sub heading to the TOC but they are not really necessary.
Redundant in ePubs as all reading devises have a search function. However, if the author really wants to include an index, it should only include single word references as multiple words will link to all references in each of each word included within the entry.
We place all of the footnotes at the end of the chapter and can link the reference within the text to its’ corresponding footnote. I can also add a return link back to the text the reference is in. It should be noted that footnotes are very time-consuming and can dramatically increase the price of the ePub.
Fonts can be embedded but, many reading devices have a default font that overrides the embedded fonts. A maximum of 2 fonts can be embedded. It is also possible to add audio and video to an ePub but, this is very complex and dramatically increases the file size and also, the cost. Our recommendation is that that a hyperlink to an external website be employed to view or listen to these forms of content.
We asked successful ebook author Donna Usher for her thoughts on marketing ebooks online. She gives some extremely practical and achievable advice based on her own hard work and experimentation.
"When I published my first book I threw myself into social media as a means to market. I used twitter and facebook, and also lured people to my blog. In the first 11 months I sold 72 eBooks on Amazon and 1 on kobo. I also did a blog tour - paid $200 for it - and sold 8 books that month. It was pretty disheartening. The thing I realise now is that most of the people I network with on social media are not my readers. A few of them would be but most of them are writers. So now I think that social media is an excellent way to market once you have the readers that are following you. The trick is to get those readers in the first place.
So how do we get them to find us when out book is sitting at #350999 on Amazon? John Locke very cleverly managed to get his blogs to go viral, and then had his books for sale at the end of the blog for only 99c. But he had a lot of books published by that time. Would it have been as successful if he only had one book published? Probably not. So firstly I think the more books we have available, the greater our exposure, and the more powerful any successful marketing we do will be.
After the 11 months of watching the sales trickle in, and trying twitter and facebook and goodreads, I took my book off Kobo and signed up for KDP select. I figured I had nothing to lose by making The Seven Steps to Closure free for 5 days. I was hoping for maybe 1000 dowloads and expecting not to see any change in my sales for a while. In fact I was planning to release Cocoa and Chanel a few months later and was thinking perhaps some people might find it when I did.
I had about 42000 downloads in that 5 days and the sales took off immediately. I hadn't accounted for the exposure the book would have on the amazon site in the people-who-bought-this-book-also-bought-these section. Within an hour of the free days finishing I had more sales than I had the entire 11 months. Over the next two weeks it made itself up to #132 out of all books for sale on amazon. I sold over 1200 copies in the last 2 weeks of that month. It tapered off over the next two months so that I sold 300 copies in the month before I released Cocoa and Chanel. (By the way I put the success of my book's exposure largely down to my cover design. It's pretty and bright and not too fussy, and I've branded the two of them so they are obviously my covers!)
I made Seven Steps free again when I released C and C, this time for 2 days. I had another 12000 downloads and both book's sales took off. That month I sold 1786 copies of C and C, even though I didn't make it free at all. So the free days on Seven Steps was also selling C and C.
Since then I've played around with putting both books up for free and the number of days that I do it. Seven Steps is more effective than C and C as it is in a slightly different genre. It's women's fiction and romantic comedy. C and C is women's fiction and mystery/detective/female sleuth. So the genres that are more female/romance orientated get much better exposure.
This is backed up by two of my friends who each put their books free for 5 days. Kristy (who you know) had about 5000 downloads for her YA horror and another girlfriend of mine only had 400 downloads for a thriller over the 5 days. It didn't affect her sales at all.
I have a few theories on this.
- More women own kindles than men.
- More adults own kindles than kids.
- There are far more romance readers than there are thriller.
- The majority of men who read read non-fiction as apposed to fiction.
So I feel that the books with a greater chance of getting noticed are those aimed at the romance section. Hence my thriller writing girlfriend is now writing a romantic thriller.
Regarding the number of days that I place my book free. I find if I only have it free for 1 day it doesn't really increase the sales rate at all. So that's about 4000 downloads for 7 steps. Tomorrow I start 3 free days so I will be looking at how it effects my daily sale figures.
I have also played around with the price of the books. I put them down to .99c for a while, then up to $1.99, $2.99 and I know have 7 steps at $3.99. Funnily enough its ranking improved when I put it up to $3.99. I read an article that said $1.99 is a bad price point. At 99c people see it as a marketing price. Apparently they perceive $1.99 as being the price of a poorer quality book.
The other good thing about the free days is that I get a huge jump in reviews on my site whenever I do it. And good reviews sell books.
So how do I use Social Media?
Firstly I use it to set myself up as an expert. I interview authors and do author reviews on my site, which is a good way to lure potential readers onto your site. Random House has started using me to do book reviews on the books they are launching which is excellent as they allow me to link the review on their website back to my blog and the author interview I have also done. I write articles on writing and am publishing the How To book of Self-Publishing.
Whenever someone contacts me about my books I ask them if they would like to go onto an email list specifically to be used for letting them know when my books are released.
I believe that eBooks are the way of the future so am not terribly fussed about my print book sales at the moment. I will look at it in the future, but am actually hoping a big publishing company will approach me for the rights of the print books.
My aim is to get 2 eBooks published a year because the more I have out there the more effecive my free days will be. Imagine if I had had 10 books available when 7 Steps had the 42000 downloads. If only 10% of those people had liked me and bought all my other books that would have been 37800 books I would have sold off that 5 free days. That's powerful!!
So at the moment I intend to stay with Amazon. It is the most popular e-reader and I find that if people don't have the device they have the kindle app.