BookBub is a discovery platform for readers and a marketing platform for writers. It’s where readers go to discover new writers, and where writers can market their books to readers of their genre.
Before we dive into how to use BookBub Featured Deals for marketing your work, let’s talk about the platform from a reader’s perspective. Readers subscribe to the service for free. They tell BookBub which genres they like to read and which retailers they use to purchase ebooks. BookBub then sends them a daily email with discounted books in the genres they love, including links to purchase those books on sale at their retailer of choice (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, or Apple).
The daily Featured Deals email is prized as one of the best marketing tools available to authors anywhere online, and rightly so.
BookBub’s audience is about 20 million strong, and something like 10% of those subscribers read a book a day. Getting your book into a Featured Deals email is about as close to a “big break” as a self-published author can get.
You’re likely to sell hundreds or thousands of copies and exponentially grow your readership. You might even make a bestseller list as a result of the boost in sales.
Here’s how to land a coveted BookBub Featured Deal—and a few backup options to use while you wait.
#1: Understand the process
To submit your book for a Featured Deal, you’ll need to apply about a month before your preferred deal date.
A team of real live human editors combs through every submission, looking at your book through two primary lenses:
- Reader tastes: BookBub collects lots of data on what their audience clicks and ultimately purchases within each genre, so they know what their readers like. BookBub’s audience is unique, so they cater specifically to that readership and deliver content they know their readers will love. These preferences can change over time, so it’s helpful to subscribe to BookBub yourself as a reader in your genre. That way, you’ll get a feel for what kinds of books land Featured Deals.
- Factors that influence purchasing: This includes the cover, book description, and reader reviews (both the total number of reviews and the content). Quotes from editors, publishers, or other authors also fall into this category.
#2: Keep an eye on pricing
For a book to qualify as a Featured Deal, you’ll need to sell it for free or for more than 50% off the listed retail price (and usually more like 70%+ off). Your pricing also needs to be the best available within the past 90 days. BookBub wants to give their readers the best price, so trying for a Featured Deal at the same discount you’re offering elsewhere won’t fly.
To that end, be careful with your pricing if you’re trying for a Featured Deal.
Remember that Amazon price matches. If you’re publishing wide and accidentally price too low on one retailer or in one market, you could have a historical price that’s too low to qualify.
#3: Get creative with your genre
The most popular genres in BookBub fill up fast. Crime fiction, thrillers, and contemporary romance are the three categories with the stiffest competition. There’s space in BookBub’s calendar to support reader demand in each category, so there’s more real estate allocated to those genres.
But other genres fill more slowly. You might have a better chance of landing a Featured Deal if you submit outside the box. Get creative with how you market your work, and you might have an easier time getting featured.
#4: Use the full 30-day submission window
Let’s imagine that you’re aiming to run a promotion on October 1. It pays to submit your application to BookBob as early as possible—the full 30 days ahead—because there’s always a chance that a last-minute opening might pop up.
Give yourself the wiggle room just in case, and you might be able to slip in at the eleventh hour. Sometimes, BookBub editors do end up with unexpected space to fill.
#5: Be flexible
The willingness to let BookBub feature your book in a different genre or market outside your top choice could land you a Featured Deal.
BookBob will sometimes offer up international markets, even if they don’t have space in their U.S. email. As a bonus, the international emails cost you less, and you could reach readers in markets where your readership is currently small or even nonexistent. (Just make sure you have the rights for any markets you select.)
BookBub might also place a book in a different sub-genre than you’ve flagged for it. If the editors feel that readers of a specific sub-genre would like your work, they might pick a different category as an option for your book.
Of course, you have the first right of refusal. BookBub won’t blacklist you or look askance at future applications if you turn them down. But it’s worth keeping an open mind and being receptive if they come back to you with an alternative offer.
#6: Go wide
It’s in BookBub’s best interest to promote books that are available on as many retailers as possible so more readers can make a purchase. In general, they prefer to promote books that are distributed wide rather than exclusively with Amazon.
We admit, we’re biased—but using an aggregator like Draft2Digital makes the process of going wide incredibly simple and easy to manage. And gaining an advantage with BookBub Featured Deals is just one great reason to publish wide.
#7: Get reviews on multiple retailers
There’s no minimum number of reviews required to qualify for a Featured Deal. But the more reviews you have, the more readers trust that feedback—and the more BookBub trusts it, too. Accumulate as many reviews as possible across multiple retailers.
And if you can, get a few author blurbs, critical reviews, or awards. They’re like the gold star of reviews, and can get you a lot of street cred.
#8: Get a professional cover
Your book’s cover may not be the best way to judge its content, but it’s usually the first thing readers (and BookBub’s editors) see. A well-designed, professional cover goes a long way toward making your book competitive.
Check out the covers of bestselling books in your genre to get an idea of what works well for readers. Editors will likely pass on your book if the cover doesn’t meet reader expectations. And unless you’re great with design software, consider hiring a professional designer to do your cover.
#9: Fill in the comment field
When BookBub’s own Carlyn Robertson came on the Self-Publishing Insiders podcast, she told us that the comment field is meant for things that aren’t immediately obvious on your book’s retailer page. Don’t bother pasting obvious elements like the book description, because editors will see that already.
Instead, include things like blurbs from other authors. List any publication reviews or awards you’ve won. If your book was originally published under a different title, point that out in the comments as well.
And if the plot isn’t obvious from your book description, add that to the comments too. BookBub editors sometimes look for spoilers to ensure their readers will respond well to the plot. Saving them some legwork could just get you a leg up.
#10: Last, but not least—don’t give up
Remember: if it takes you a long time to get a Featured Deal, it’s nothing personal. BookBub receives hundreds of submissions every day, and can only accept a small percentage of those as Featured Deals.
So if they don’t pick your book for months, or even years, it doesn’t mean that BookBub’s editors hate you, or that they won’t ever feature it. It just means they’ve selected other books instead, for now.
Our advice is to keep submitting every 30 days. You never know when you’ll reach the right editor at the right time.
If you don’t get a Featured Deal, you still have options …
Even if you follow all the best advice on how to get a BookBub Featured Deal, it could take months or even years to succeed. We recommend that you submit every 30 days for the best chance, but that’s a lot of time to wait.
Luckily, you don’t have to sit and twiddle your thumbs between submissions. There are plenty of other great ways to market your work on BookBub.
Claim your author profile
You don’t need to land a Featured Deal or buy BookBub ads to do this. Any author who has an ebook published on a BookBub-supported retailer can claim their author profile for free. What does this mean to you? You can list all of your books on the BookBub website, including an author bio, photo, and anything else you’d want to share with curious readers.
Recommend books to readers
Once you’ve claimed your profile, you can recommend books to readers who follow you. If you have relationships with other authors in your genre, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’ll recommend you on BookBub—if they like your work, of course. Nearly ¾ of BookBub readers have purchased a book because an author they admire suggested it, so a little recommendation goes a long way. Just keep in mind that BookBub sends a Weekly Roundup email to readers highlighting recommended books from authors they follow, so one recommendation a week is a good number to shoot for. That way, you aren’t overwhelming your followers—or inspiring them to unsubscribe
Featured New Releases
BookBub also has Featured New Releases, which don’t require your book to be discounted. Of course, as the name implies, your book does have to be new. But don’t forget to try for a New Release slot if you meet the qualifications.
Buy a BookBub Ad
BookBub ads are similar to Amazon or Facebook ads, which many authors are using, but you only serve impressions in BookBub emails and on the BookBub website. The benefit? You know you’re reaching readers, not just someone shopping for new jeans or checking out their newsfeed. BookBub ads are more flexible than Featured Deals in a few ways. First, because there’s no editorial selection process, so anyone can run them at any time. You get to choose which regions and retailers you market to, so if you wanted to reach just Kobo readers in Canada, you could. And then there’s the best targeting opportunity of all: reaching fans of a particular author. For example, if you’re a horror writer, you could target just Stephen King or Mark Leslie Lefevbre fans.
What are your top tips for getting a BookBub Featured Deal? Let us know in the comments!