BookBub Explained

BookBub is a popular reader subscriber service where you can promote your book for a fee. They have four million subscribers. Its readers are 84% women, the majority over 40 years old. 37% are retired. 58% are empty-nesters. 59% read four or more books per month. The devices they read on? 49% Kindle, 26% Apple, 15% Nook, 10% Android. Most use tablets, then e-readers, and then cell phones. 29% read non-genre material. 32% read mysteries and thrillers; 25% read romance; 14% read science fiction and fantasy. 95% of readers have purchased a book from an unknown author because of an e-book promotion. 63% have gone on to order more books by an author due to a price promotion.

When a book goes from $.99 to $2.99, there is a 50% drop in sales. But 77% of subscribers will purchase full price books.

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Why feature a book on BookBub? Readers get hooked on your work and they recommend books to their friends. 65% of readers tell their friends about books they discover. What results can you expect? A spike in sales during the promotion. 381% was the average increase. Average downloads are 29,500. 91% of authors have an increase in sales after the promotion when their book goes back to the regular price. There’s an average 73% increase in reviews and 81% increase in sales of related books.

Mysteries have the biggest subscriber list. If your book is free, you’ll pay $320 for a BookBub ad. Under one dollar, you’ll pay $640. If your book is priced from $1-$2, you’ll pay $960.

Go here for pricing in other genres: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

To submit a book to BookBub, fill out the form online. An editorial team selects the titles. You will get assigned an account representative. If selected, your date and category will be confirmed. Make sure your deal is available across all retailers on the sale date.

Requirements include discounting your book by at least 50% off the list price. It must be a full-length book. This should be a limited time offer of 30 days or less. The editorial team will make sure this is the best deal available for your book and that the work is error-free. They do not feature new releases, because they look at the overall platform and pricing history. No novellas or short stories. Book lengths are specified on their site. The same author may submit a book once every 30 days. The same book may be submitted once every six months.

Next the book goes out for quality assessment. Here the team will look at reader reviews, professional cover design, and cover tropes. For example, dogs do well on covers but motorcycles and tattoos do not. They’ll also look at critical reviews, formatting, and author accolades such as quotes from other authors. This is all part of your platform. BookBub receives over 200 submissions per day. The editors will compare your book to others in the same category that come in at the same time. They advise you to study books in your category on BookBub to see the average number of reviews. Only 15% of submitted books get accepted.

Be sure to put your quotes from other authors on your Amazon author page as they will look for these. Or you can include author quotes in your comment box when applying. They’ll also look at sales data from an author who has applied there again to compare this title to other BookBub books, so you’re not ensured a spot even if you’re a repeater.

Eventually they may make stats available to authors. As for distribution routes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are currently more popular than Kobo and Google.

Trends in subcategories that do well are also examined. For example, in historical fiction, American history and World War II do well.

Regarding box sets, reviews on individual books are viewed, rather than the box set itself. Books can be older but the box sets can be a new release.

For the selection process, they compare books and pick the best price and platform. Spots for discounted books are more competitive than for free books. Make sure you have your book available at as many retailers as possible, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. This is especially important if you don’t have enough reviews or a bestseller status to tout your platform. Google Play subscriptions are growing.

60% of indie books and 40% of traditionally published books are selected. These have an average of 140 reviews.

Tips for submitting your book

Be flexible with timing. Be available whenever they have an opening. Sell yourself in the comments section with your reviews, author quotes, sale figures, bestseller status. Resubmit at different price points. Be open to different categories. Promote when your book is at its best. Optimize your product page. Add more retailers. Continue to submit and try again. The beginning of the month sees a ton of submissions.

If you get selected, set your prices as far ahead as possible. Notify Amazon about the date for a price match. BookBub will do permafree, but put it on sale first at a retail price to get baseline stats.

A UK edition just launched. You can add them for a 5% fee to your BookBub promotion. Soon you’ll be able to just get UK promotion and they have 100,000 + subscribers.

How to be successful

Determine your goals and choose a pricing strategy based on these goals. Price as low as you can to attract new readers. Time the promotion strategically, i.e., seasonal books. Make sure your book is discounted in time. Optimize the back matter in your books and include links to your other titles and your newsletter. Spread the word. Measure the results.

Follow @bookbubpartners on Twitter

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This is from the BookBub session at the Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach. Also please note that I have not used BookBub myself so some of you can chime in here about your experiences.

Novelists, Inc.

CONTEST ALERT! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

The Future of Publishing, Part 2

Session Four: The Future of Publishing, Part 2
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

If you have a better sense of what you have going in to your career, you have a better chance of coming out where you want. You should have an audio book, because people are busy and commuting.

Globalization means growth in market places around the world. There is a huge global market for English language books.

What’s coming? Specialization of content, shorter content, fan fiction, micro-content. People are reading but not necessarily a novel. They read blogs, Facebook posts, and other material. We need to figure out how to monetize these things.

Another futuristic innovation might be micro-transactions where the reader clicks a button to send a dollar to an author. There will be more collaborative efforts like ACX, translations, and author collectives. Another trend might be personalization in how content is served. We need to be ready to embrace change and accept opportunities as they arise.

There’s a shift of empowerment toward authors because of technology. This is the slowest the change will go as it is right now. But you, the author, must continue to produce the very best book you can, or nothing else matters.

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What authors need is data about what readers want and where to find them. The Book Industry Study Group collects book data. How do we turn this data into usable information for our careers? New retail models are coming. The digital disruption is going to be very destructive. Agents may go away [or they can be useful for subsidiary rights]. On the other hand, things are changing and that’s frightening, but they’re going to move forward.

When will there be an “Authors United”? Authors should use their scale to push our issues.

Brick-and-mortar booksellers have a disadvantage when a hardcover sells for nearly $30 and an e-book sells for $9.99. Retailers are concerned about surviving this price differential.

Windowing your release dates is crazy because readers will buy books in all formats. Your book should be released at the same time in e-book, paperback and hardcover. These are not different audiences.

We haven’t seen peer retailing emerge, and we need to be prepared. People communicate around the world in E-commerce. We need to be ready to sell directly to readers and to analyze the data on discount sales and on what platforms people want to receive their books.

Check out Wattpad, Payhip and Hugh Howey’s authorearnings.com

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

So what trends do you predict? And how are you preparing for them?

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Coming Next: BookBub

Rights for Authors

Session Three: Rights: Yours, Theirs and Ours
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

What will bring back the career authors who have more sales and control with indie publishing? “The job of the publisher is to provide the author with a platform. Print books are essential to this,” said one speaker. “It’s our job to help you amplify your voice to readers. Readers want to connect with the author. Finding a social media audience should be up to the publisher.” But another panelist said authors are often expected to show up with a platform.

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Publishers are reluctant to buy books previously indie published. There’s a price differential from a $2.99 indie e-book to a $7.99 e-book with a  traditional publisher, and readers balk at the difference. The customer is also different going from digital to bookstore. You’re selling to a completely different audience.

More transparency and true negotiations are needed to attract writers back to traditional publishing. What we need are term limits for authors to get their rights back. The out-of-print clauses for publishers are operated from a sense of fear that something they let go will take off and become a bestseller. Publishers need to brag about their good contract terms instead of being afraid of the competition. They need to show more transparency regarding the terms they offer.

It’s useless to get specific marketing promises from a publisher. Technology changes as you go along, and some of the activities promised may be based on sales figures. That type of legal detail is a waste of time and energy. But you should have these conversations outside of the contractual agreement.

Publishers are interested in what kind of future you, as the author, can project. They’re not interested in your backlist as much as your frontlist when they seek to acquire you.

The non-competition clause was discussed. Is it really necessary? Authors say it’s a career destroyer. They don’t believe they’ll cannibalize their own work as publishers fear. Publishers are worried about saturating the market. Print books need time to get into bookstores. They worry about quality control with self-published works that authors might offer in between traditionally published novels. Authors would love to be hybrids but not to the detriment of making a living if they can’t publish a new book for a certain number of months as per their contract.

The big five are pretty much not taking print rights only and letting authors keep their e-book rights. E-book royalties produce a huge profit margin for publishers.

Publishers are going to look at a successful indie author to see if she’s peaked. Could she benefit from transitioning to traditional publishing to pick up a new audience? You can’t assume your track record will carry over. It will not work for your backlist only. You need new books as well. How can the publisher use this backlist to carry you over from one world to another?

Regarding the 25% net royalty for e-books that is standard for traditional publishers—is the overhead in their fancy New York offices really necessary in the digital age? Publishers make a profit even before the author earns out an advance. Successful authors can still get a raise on their advances.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Coming Next: The Future of Publishing, Part 2

 

The Future of Publishing, Part 1

Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

The Novelists, Inc. (Ninc) conference is the only writers’ conference focused solely on the business of writing. To become a member, you must show proof of two published novels. This is not the place to promote your work, pitch to agents or pick up new fans. It’s primarily a learning experience. You go here to learn what’s new in the business, what’s to come, and how to approach the many aspects of running a small business in the publishing field.

Of course, meeting old friends and making new ones is the benefit of any conference and this gathering was no exception. People came from across the country, enjoying the perfect Florida weather and beachfront setting.

Photo 1: Nancy J. Cohen, Annette Mahon, Carole Nelson Douglas, Laura Resnick
Photo 2: Nancy J. Cohen, Terry Odell, Karla Darcy

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Photo 3: Donna Andrews, Carole Nelson Douglas, Nancy J. Cohen
Photo 4: Sophia Knightly and Nancy J. Cohen

Tradewinds Resort

First Word Thursday: The Future Of Publishing, Part 1

Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I will mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

Nine industry guests discussed the partnerships between authors, publishers, and agents. Journalist Porter Anderson moderated.

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A partnership is a power relationship. Consider where the power lies in each transaction. Ask yourself what your skills are, what partners have complementary skills, and who has the scale to utilize these skills to your benefit. Partnership implies equality, but at the end of the day, it’s your business and what you, as the author, have created. You want partners who can connect your book with a wide audience in new ways. Also, know the financial health of your potential partners.

One speaker was concerned that companies with enormous “scale” had their own agendas. They focus on profits rather than on promoting each title in a sustainable way. Publishers are making more profits today and more margin on e-books even when they say they’re hurting. Incumbents like the Big 5 are the least likely to innovate.

As an author, try to retain as much control as possible. Allow for new avenues to explore but examine them from all angles. With the advent of new technologies, look for shorter terms in your contracts so these new models can be tested and evaluated.

The key to partnership is mutuality. Traditional publishers must be more willing to let their writers go, because once your titles go backlist, you lose the mutuality. Print on demand and e-book publishers should not keep a book in print unless the author is making real money.

Competition drives innovation. Google could become a viable competitor to Amazon.

The most important relationship an author has is with his readers. What you write has to connect with your readership. Write consistently. Target your audience and determine how to reach them. Continuance between the author and reader is important whatever the distribution route. Unfortunately, often authors talk to other authors and sell to other authors. Focus on your readers.

Bringing back the mid-list has been the biggest benefit of digital publishing. However, there’s a glut of writers out there, so the solution is to increase demand. Society and culture need to make reading a valuable pastime. Let kids read fun books instead of classics in school. Every one of us should be involved in turning people into readers. How to sell books in a sustainable way is a critical issue.

One of the keys to self-publishing is for bookstores to open to indie authors. The recent deal between bestselling author Barbara Freethy and Ingram is encouraging.

BookLamp analyzed the contents of a book and gave recommendations to readers based on the text. (This startup has been bought out by Apple.) Authors collectively have power and should ask more questions about their data.

A discussion came up on the pressure for authors to produce more and faster in the digital age. Quantity should not be versus quality.

The author on the panel spoke about how iBooks is her number one retailer. She is totally self-published. After taking years to write her first few books, she put them all up at once. Now she’s a self-sustainable, bestselling author. She has an international Street Team that helps spread the word about her books. Her encouraging words: “You can make a living without being a household name.”

What do international readers want? Amazon is starting to look at the translator marketplace.

Coming Next: Yo! Here I am! Buy me!

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Laura Lippman

Lunch with Laura Lippman at SleuthFest

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Laura Lippman

Bestselling Author Laura Lippman discussed what it means to be a professional writer. Publishing has changed in terms of e-books, self-published writers and hybrid authors. “The conversation has become so charged and so vitriolic. I’ve yet to see any reliable numbers on either side.” The argument for traditional publishing is couched in money and control.

No one argues that self-publishing will lead to better books. This avenue can produce as good a book as traditional publishing. But where is the true masterpiece in self-publishing? “Show me a masterpiece that could only have come” from a self-published work.

Find someone you can trust to tell your dreams about publishing. What are you prepared to do to get there? Professionalism is taking your work seriously, and being respectful of other people’s time and expertise.

Laura calls indie publishing “a less precise euphemism” for self-publishing. The key is in doing the work and reaching a reasoned decision to self-publish but not for instant gratification. Is the work ready? Be a ruthless critic of your own work. The goal has to be to write the best book you can. Your words are your legacy. Make them precise. Make them good.

 

What is the Best Publishing Path?

“What is the Best Publishing Path?” with Marty Ambrose, Doug Giacobbe, Julie Compton and moderator Joanna Campbell Slan at SleuthFest 2014.

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

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Julie said, “What you think you want before you get published is different from what you realize you want after you get published.” What she really wants now is for readers to read her book whichever way she can get it out there.

Regarding self-publishing, Doug said that you have to get involved. “Get out there and push it. It takes a commitment to make things work. You’ve got to take the time to work it.”

Marty suggested you get an agent at the conference if you want to go the traditional route.

Regarding agents, Julie said to find someone who is forward-thinking and who will support you if you decide to self-publish.

“The whole game has changed in regard to agents,” Joanna advised. “This is your career and your book, and you need to be in the driver’s seat. Be wary of giving away your rights to gain a publisher, or it might come back and hit you in the face.”

Ask yourself why you want to publish your own work. Is it because your manuscript has been rejected? If so, you need to hire an editor.

Joanna mentioned that you might need three types of editors. First there is the concept or story editor, followed by a copy editor, and then a galley proofreader.

Doug cautioned that if you have a book, don’t just slap it up on Amazon. If you’re going to do it right, it takes time and commitment, and it will cost you.

Marty suggested you examine what it is about writing that you absolutely love. You can get caught up in the marketing, so go back to basics and rediscover what you love about storytelling. Regarding marketing, she takes the grassroots approach into colleges, the community, and women’s clubs where she collects names for her mailing list. She also does online marketing.

“It’s a business,” Julie said. “You are not just writing now. You need to take the time to learn the craft and business of writing. One of the advantages of self-publishing is that your book is available quicker.”

No matter which route you go, you’re going to have to learn marketing because you’ll do it either way.

Suggested blogs to follow: The Passive Guy, Jane Friedman, Hugh Howey, and Joe Konrath.

E-Book ABC’s at SleuthFest

SleuthFest 2014, Orlando

Third Degree Thursday opened the SleuthFest 2014 festivities at the beautiful Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort. I gave a presentation on “Writing is Revising” first thing in the morning, and then I listened to Neil S. Plakcy’s workshop on e-books. Workshops and panels follow. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Go there, Like my page if you haven’t already done so, then click on Photos. Next click on Albums and then SleuthFest 2014.

Revising Panel

E-book ABC’s with Neil S. Plakcy

Neil said to learn your Word basics in terms of styles, formatting and headers. Understand the difference between a hard return and a soft return (shift-enter). In e-books, don’t use tabs or headings. “Write the best book you can if you intend to self-publish.” Take classes and workshops; join a critique group; get a manuscript critique; employ beta readers; do multiple revisions; join the Sinc Guppies; hire a professional editor.

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To prepare your manuscript, proofread thoroughly. Check for page breaks and section breaks. A print version will need page numbers and headers. Don’t forget your copyright, acknowledgments, and dedication. The cover should be professional and eye-catching. Use royalty-free photos, and make sure the cover is readable at a small size. Hire an artist if you can’t do it yourself.

The jacket copy is the sales copy for online retailers. It is similar to the back cover copy on paperbacks. Marketing copy is to attract buyers. This may include endorsements. What is the hook for this book to get someone to want to buy it?

Metadata are keywords that readers use to search for your book. It may include terms relevant to the subgenre, location, subject matter, or theme. Go to Amazon and start typing in a keyword to see what pops up. This will tell you the most popular keywords.

Regarding file conversion, you could use the free Calibre software to save a Word doc as HTML. You want to use an Epub validator online to test before posting. Again, if you can’t do it for yourself, hire someone. Once your book is set, you upload it to the various sites. You may have to provide direct deposit information for your bank account. Often your book will be on sale within 24 hours. There is no cost to upload.

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Amazon has several programs available, such as their KDP Select, Matchbook, Createspace, ACX, and Countdown. Royalties are often paid monthly after a 90 day delay. You can check your dashboard for up-to-date sales figures. Neil discussed royalties for the various e-book distributors. To determine the price for your book, see how much other books like yours are selling for. Determine your purpose. Is it to make money, to promote your work, or to provide information? What are the prevalent rates on the market today?

Promotion is important. You want to get reviews from other bloggers, Amazon customers, and Goodreads members. “Bloggers are the new reviewers these days.” Keep up with social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Utilize photo sites like Pinterest and Tumblr. Promote your work at conferences, festivals, bookstores, and libraries when possible.

If you’re with an e-book publisher, they will likely have a list of reviewers, and this gives them an edge over self-published authors.

If you can, promote your work on sites like Book Bub and The Fussy Librarian. You need a minimum number of Amazon reviews for these sites.

Why give away free books? It helps gain readers. Use the sites above or run contests.

Neil uses Untreed Reads for distribution to various sites like Overdrive. You can opt out of the sites you don’t want them to do. They also sell through overseas vendors.

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Neil is the author of several mystery series including his latest title, Genie for Hire–a fun, magical mystery with a genie detective.

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Tomorrow, check out my post on “Writing the Cozy Mystery” at the How To Write Shop. Then stay tuned for a recap of Joanna Campbell Slan’s talk on “Seriously Series.”

Book Cover Design

Before hiring a book cover designer for your indie published book, you’ll need to consider several important factors. The designer will want to know what you have in mind. Here are the items you should determine before contacting a cover artist.

Tone of Story. Is it serious, scary, or lighthearted and funny? What mood do you want to convey with your cover? What tone should your designer take for your work?

Type of Image. Do you want a realistic photo or a cartoony image? Or maybe just a pattern or flower or geometric design?

Colors. When you look at images, what colors jump out at you? Are there any colors in particular that would enhance your brand? For example, I like bold, tropical colors since my stories take place in Florida, but maybe you prefer pastels.

Genre Conventions. If your book is a romance, you might want a clinch cover or flowers or a photo that conveys the era and mood. I go for paranormal elements in my romance covers to indicate this particular subgenre. Cozy mystery covers have a certain humorous slant which I’ll ask my designer to emulate. Examine the covers for your genre and see which ones tell you at a glance what type of story to expect.

Suggested Scene. If you are going to have more than a pattern or single image on your cover, think up a scene that might work. For Shear Murder, my heroine discovers a dead body under the cake table at a wedding. I thought it would be fun for readers to see the feet sticking out from under the table on the cover. The victim is wearing plum heels.

For Warrior Rogue, I wanted both the hero and heroine on the cover, but the emphasis should be on the guy since the Drift Lords are the main feature. But I also wanted to convey the paranormal element, hence the winged creature and planetary body in the background. Jen is a fashion designer so I wanted her to have a sleek look. Even the lettering helps brand the series, which includes Norse mythology.

Text Font. This feature can enhance the mood. The text font can convey a humorous, gothic, historical, or eerie atmosphere. Or as above, it can enhance a feature of the story.

Text Color. White or Black? Or a color? Blend of colors?

Name Placement. Do you want your author name at the top, along the bottom, or mid-range across the image? Do you want your name to be bigger than the title or vice versa?

Cover Sizes. If you are self-publishing, you’ll need a thumbprint image, a size for websites, a high resolution image for publicity, plus sizes to fit audio and print editions. For print, you will also need the spine and back cover. Consider your back cover copy and quotes before contacting the artist.

 

Release Form. You’ll want a release from the designer that says you own the image and can use it in any manner necessary for book promotion.

The more precise you can be about what you want, the less corrections down the road.

Choosing a Series Title

Choosing a title for your new mystery series is a critical factor. This title has to hook the reader, give an inkling what the series is about, and spark your interest for years to come. As the author, you’ll be living with this series umbrella title for a long time. You may build a logo around it, add it to your signature lines, and see it on every subsequent book that comes out in this series. Thus it should be a title you love and one that resonates in your mind.

Considering the above advice, I need help choosing a series title for my indie mysteries. I’m not going to tell you the main premise, because I want you to look at this as you might my front cover, where it says A XXX Mystery. Which choice below pops out at you and holds the most appeal? Discussion is welcome.