After fourteen rejections, as I outlined on episode 247, I finally landed a BookBub Featured Deal. Once I tallied up my results, I had lost more than $4,000 running the promotion. I’ll tell you why, and why I’d still do another BookBub Featured Deal in a heartbeat.My BookBub Featured Deal Results
The breakdown of copies sold (across all countries):
The breakdown of revenue results (across all countries):
Overall ad spend results, broken down by network:
The Heart to Start ranked as high as:
#136 overall on Amazon
#1 in Self-Help/Creativity
#1 in Arts & Photography
#1 in Entrepreneurship & Small Business
#6 overall in Self-Help
#6 overall in Business & Investing
Three reasons my BookBub Featured Deal results were poor (financially)
The three main reasons I lost $4,000 running my BookBub Featured Deal are:
Word on the street is, to qualify for the Wall Street Journal nonfiction ebook best-seller list, you need to sell 3,000–5,000 ebooks in a week, in the U.S. Supposedly you need to sell at least 500 of those copies in a single non-Amazon channel to trigger reporting to the list.
I contemplated not trying for the list and instead reaping what profits I could, but decided to go for it. I felt The Heart to Start was a longshot, but was curious to learn so I could later apply what I learned on my then-upcoming-now-out book, Mind Management, Not Time Management (read about my BookBub Featured New Release results for my new book).
Despite spending more than $6,000 on the promotion, I did not break the 3,000-copy barrier. Here is my sales breakdown for U.S. sales (the above sales are worldwide):
As you can see, perhaps harder than selling 3,000 copies overall is selling 500 copies in a non-Amazon channel (for this book in this genre with my audience, anyway).2. I poorly allocated ad spend throughout the promotion
I broke my ad spend down into three buckets:
My ad spend results amongst these three buckets:
I do not recommend this allocation. Without much time to plan my promotion, I got overly-zealous, and spent way too much early on. By the time I got to the Last Day, I was trigger shy and didn’t want to spend more money.
If anything, this should have been reversed. The last day of any promotion will generally get you more bang for your buck. In the future, I plan to spend 50% of budget on the Last Day.3. I poorly allocated supplemental advertising spend amongst platforms
I ran ads on Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook. My breakdown amongst these channels:
(note, I spent $10 on Instagram ads, which went to Facebook thus the discrepancy from above “Facebook” numbers. I also paid $185 for promotion from Instagram influencers, which is not reflected in this report, for simplicity.)
I do not recommend this allocation. I spent too heavily on Facebook, and I especially did so during the Warm Up phase. I do not normally advertise on Facebook, and don’t aspire to build my skills in running Facebook ads.
I already run Amazon Ads regularly, but their terms and platform features make it impossible or impractical to advertise discounts, especially with “Last Day” messaging.
I think you get more bang for your buck on a BookBub Featured Deal by advertising on BookBub itself. Yes, you can target BookBub subscribers on Facebook, but it’s more straightforward to advertise on BookBub. Therefore, in the future, I plan to spend 50% of budget on BookBub Ads.The long-term results of my BookBub Featured Deal
Part of the appeal of a BookBub Featured Deal is not just the sales you make during the promotion. There are also long-term benefits.Amazon algorithm boost (and increased profits)
Word on the street is, Amazon has 30-day and 90-day “cliffs” on their algorithms. If your book has a big sales spike, you can expect to see a lift in organic sales for 30 days, and a less-pronounced lift that lasts for 90 days. I can tell you that once Seth Godin recommended The Heart to Start on his blog, my sales were lifted permanently.
In the five months before the month of my BookBub Featured Deal, my average monthly profit for The Heart to Start was $511.
In the five months after the month of my BookBub Featured Deal, my average monthly profit for The Heart to Start was $633.
I saw a 24% increase in average monthly profits after my BookBub Featured Deal. It’s impossible to say the deal caused my increased profits, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.New readers
It’s fantastic to get a shot of 2,500 new readers in a single week. The effects your book can have on someone can last a lifetime. It’s hard to measure the impact new readers can have on your author business, because new readers may buy every new book you publish for decades.Sales of other formats, or books
BookBub Featured Deals are discounts on ebooks, but readers who like your ebook will sometimes buy other formats. Directly after my deal, I noticed a spike of a few dozen sales of my IngramSpark hardcover version. I suspect readers who liked the book picked up “souvenir” copies. I make more than $8 per book of profit on the hardcover.
It can be worth losing money initially on a BookBub Featured Deal if your book is the first in a series. As a nonfiction author, I don’t string together my books into series – at least not as strongly as fiction authors tend to. It’s hard for me to say how the promotion affected sales of my other books. I was promoting a new book at the time, too, so there were too many confounding factors.More reviews
You need decent reviews to get a BookBub Featured Deal, but your deal also brings in a lot of new reviews. When I ran my BookBub Featured Deal, I had 275 Amazon ratings/reviews. After the deal, I quickly gained more reviews. Now, nine months after the promotion, I’m closing in on 500.Cheaper Amazon Ads
When you make more sales on Amazon, your ads run more. This also usually means you can run your ads more cheaply. As I reported in my June 2020 income report, I had a number of Lockscreen Ads set up on Amazon well before my BookBub Featured Deal. With my 18¢-per-click bid, they weren’t running. But once the promotion kicked in, suddenly I was getting cheaper clicks.
More sales on Amazon leads to cheaper ads, which can lead to more sales.Why would I run another BookBub Featured Deal?
My BookBub Featured Deal wasn’t pure gravy like my Kindle Daily Deal, but I would run another in a heartbeat. Why?
Because I’ve learned through experience that I should have allocated my ad spend better. If I spent ads more wisely on a future book, I may be able to hit that WSJ best-seller list. And if I didn’t try for a list at all, I’d be interested to see if I could break even for the promotion – which would surely be profitable in the long-run, thanks to the effects of a sales boost.Free budget calculator
To better plan my next BookBub Featured Deal, I’ve created a calculator. Enter your total budget and it helps break down ad spend according to phase of campaign and advertising channel.
Listen to the Mind Management, Not Time Management audiobook free with an Audible trial, or search for the audiobook on your favorite platform.Thank you for having me on your podcasts!
As always, you can see a full list of podcasts I’ve been here.About Your Host, David Kadavy
David Kadavy is author of Mind Management, Not Time Management, The Heart to Start and Design for Hackers. Through the Love Your Work podcast, his Love Mondays newsletter, and self-publishing coaching David helps you make it as a creative.
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