When BookBub Doesn’t Bite

When BookBub Doesn’t Bite
Posted by New Shelves Books on March 22, 2021

(Originally published as Do This, Not That on TheBookDesigner.com)

What We Did

We had a client, Anna, who wanted a BookBub featured deal. Badly. We applied to BookBub month after month, offering her $9.99 ebook, Eat Happy Too, to BookBub at the discounted price of $2.99. With heaps of praise, a previous book that has sold thousands of copies (and an impressive compilation of over one thousand 5-star reviews on Amazon) and endorsements from several celebrities, we thought this book was a shoe in for BookBub. We were wrong.

The author thought BookBub was the best opportunity to make sales and spread awareness of her book. Her marketing and pricing strategy was structured around the possibility of a featured deal and we got caught up in applying each month and the ensuing denial that crushed moral like clockwork.

We tried everything to make the book more appealing to the BookBub selection team including:

  • Offering a steep discount (Note that BookBub requires a 50% discount at minimum.)
  • Wide distribution – the book is available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble for Nook and more
  • Building up online reviews to show market appeal for the book
  • Tying the book to current trends in our submissions
  • Pitching the book marketability using reviews, endorsements and current sales as social proof

But month after month our BookBub applications were rejected.

What we did Next

The author and our marketing team were discouraged and ready to give up, but instead we got creative and decided to run our own ebook promotion.

We ran a successful promotion that resulted in:

  • 774 ebooks sold in three days.
  • Hardcover sales also tripled in that time. (No surprise as the book is a cookbook which tends to be more popular in print.)
  • Increased sales for the author’s first cookbook – both in print and digital versions, neither of which was discounted.
  • As book sales climbed over the promotional days, so did the book and category ranking.

The author ended her promotion with phenomenal sales, new readers and, a few weeks later, a rush of new reviews.

What We Learned

Should you apply for a BookBub featured deal? Absolutely. But, BookBub isn’t the be all, end all for ebook promotion. You can run a successful discounted or free ebook promotion on your own, using a number of available resources.

  • Newsletters

While BookBub is a well known and well-respected discount ebook newsletter, there are many other options out there. A few of our favorites are:


  • Social Media Awareness and Ads

Create a few dynamic graphic images using Canva to share on social media. Be sure to highlight the discount ebook price and when the promotion will run. Share to your author profiles and encourage others to share. Better yet, put some paid advertising behind the post (often called “boosting”) and target new readers through genre, categories and keywords.

  • BookBub Ads

While you must be selected for a BookBub featured deal, just about any book is eligible for paid advertising on the BookBub website. BookBub has established traffic of readers looking for discount ebooks and is a great place to invest in paid advertising during your ebook promotion period.

We have found that 1-2 day ads with an ad budget of $50-100 dollars tend to perform best for this site. Be sure to target your categories and author comps carefully. The best ads market to readers who are already reading and enjoying books like yours.


  • Use Your Own Contacts

Don’t overlook your own email and newsletter contacts. Send a quick update with the exciting news of your discount promotion, complete with links to each online store for easy purchasing.


Final Thoughts

BookBub is a wonderful company and opportunity for authors to showcase their work to a large audience. We highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the website and apply for a featured deal if you have an ebook with wide distribution that can be steeply discounted. However, if a book is not selected for a BookBub featured deal, it’s okay to run your own promotion. There are plenty of opportunities for authors looking to create buzz about their discounted ebooks. Don’t be afraid to use them to create an ebook promotion that fits your marketing schedule, budget and needs.

P.S. If you are looking for drool worthy gluten-free, grain-free, paleo or low-carb recipes, be sure to visit Anna Vocino's blog and check out her books, Eat Happy and Eat Happy Too.

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