Author Topic: Post BookBub depression! :(  (Read 4422 times)  

Offline MikeyD

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Post BookBub depression! :(
« on: January 30, 2018, 08:52:10 AM »
I ran a special last week, discounting my one and only book (ASIN: B00KXDW82C) from $4.99 to $0.99. I kicked it off on Sunday Jan 21 with a BookBub, stacked the week (ENT, BargainBooksy, etc), and concluded with RobinReads on Sunday Jan 28.

The promo went well, I think. I far exceeded BookBub projections and more than paid for the entire stack on the first day. The best rank achieved on Amazon US was #51 overall and I finished the week around #1200. More than 20 new reviews came in on Amazon, plus gobs elsewhere. And I picked up more than a hundred email subscribers.

Then... I changed my price. Rather than going straight back to full price, I went to $2.99 per Amazon's generic "recommendation".

My sales fell right off the cliff. On the last day of the sale I sold more than a 100 copies. The very next day, 21. And I'll be lucky to do that much today. My rank is currently at #3200 and dropping like a rock. Soon, all of this will be for naught.

Should I have left my book at 99c? If for no reason other than trying to maintain rank, earning algorithm love? Should I go back and do that, right now?

At 99c, we only earn 35c. With so little coming in, I'd have to kill my AMS ads.

Or should I put my price back up to full, crank up AMS, add FB, Adwords, and maybe some BookBub ppc ads (I have an account but haven't used it).

Last year the book was $4.99 all year, except 1 week at $1.99. It earned about $25k, primarily from AMS alone. The vast majority came in the first 6 months, because I got busy with other things and did not renew ads that expired (I hate that they make you do that!).

I'm also now seriously considering going KU. The vast majority of Top 20 books in all my genres are KU. Most of the exceptions to that are big name and/or big pub works.

Clearly having KU reads count as "sales" is a huge boost to rank. Without rank, books lose visibility and fade into oblivion. Maybe I should... maybe?

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2018, 09:03:03 AM »
My sales fell right off the cliff. On the last day of the sale I sold more than a 100 copies. The very next day, 21. And I'll be lucky to do that much today. My rank is currently at #3200 and dropping like a rock. Soon, all of this will be for naught.

It couldn't have all been for naught, as you more than paid for the cost of promotion and picked up more than one hundred readers who liked it enough to organically subscribe to your mailing list. :) It's hard to say how much changing your price influenced the drop in sales, because you were going to see a drop in sales anyway, as the fresh eyeballs on your book from the promotion is a temporary effect. Maybe sticking at $0.99 for longer would've held it in place ranking-wise for longer, but, like you said, there's also a matter of how much you're earning in royalties at that price point.

Normally, the real benefit of Bookbub is sell-through to other books in your series/catalog... that's when you truly cash in.

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2018, 09:18:46 AM »
I would use BookBub CPM ads to float the book at good ranks for as long as you can. You will need to do AB Testing on ads (30 dollars a piece until you find the right ones), and then you'll need to make sure your target markets are good. However, @ 2.99, if your book is as good as it sounds, you should be able to maintain your rank, get focused also boughts and new readers in your target audience, and take advantage of the Amazon rank.

The best way to do AB Testing is to look through the number of followers in your genre on BookBub (e.g. epic fantasy here):
https://www.bookbub.com/discover-authors?feed=recommended&page=1&source=author_updates_feed_secondary&tags=525

Target larger audiences if you're trying to burn quickly (maintaining rank is all about velocity of sales) and understand that the first showing of your BookBub ad is usually the best CTR. After that, with each subsequent ad, you are likely to be presenting ads to many of the same readers who saw your ad previously. Over the course of a month, your CTR will go below 1.5 and maybe into the 1% area, even if your targeting and ad is on point. There simply won't be many new readers to target.

Online C. Gockel

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 09:46:14 AM »
Making $25K on a single book is amazing! Congrats.

... But ... that has given you a mistaken idea of what this industry is really like! Usually, you need more than one book to make that much. You really need to publish again.

But back to your original question: I think it was right for you to right to raise your price. 21 sales at $2.99 are worth what ... 126 sales? Leave it at $2.99 until you're almost back to where you were before, and then jack it up to $4.99.

Also, don't use BookBub CPM for a $2.99 book! BookBub readers are looking for *DEALS*, 99-cents, and FREE, not $2.99. AMS and Facebook, if it works for you, are better. Amazon shoppers aren't necessarily looking for a cheap deal, and Facebook folks aren't shopping at all, so they have no expectations.

But really, concentrate on writing that next book.


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Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 10:01:44 AM »
Making $25K on a single book is amazing! Congrats.

Whoa, how'd I miss that?  :o
Although results like that are most likely an outlier, it does make me wonder if holding off on spending money on my debut outside of launch, until the series has at least one more book, was the wisest idea.  ::)

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 10:32:55 AM »
Also, don't use BookBub CPM for a $2.99 book! BookBub readers are looking for *DEALS*, 99-cents, and FREE, not $2.99. AMS and Facebook, if it works for you, are better. Amazon shoppers aren't necessarily looking for a cheap deal, and Facebook folks aren't shopping at all, so they have no expectations.

I've been using nothing but BookBub CPM for a 4.99 box set and maintaining the rank in the 2k-8k rank for a set that had lots of reviews but no initial rank (I had to rebuild from the Pronoun closure thing). Here was the first 7 days at 4.99 with absolutely NOTHING but BookBub CPM targeting epic fantasy markets.



The first week I had to spend a couple thousand on this to rebuild the set's ranking and also boughts from nothing and a rank of over 4M in the store. This is all made back because the total CPC was around 0.57 and the conversion rate was enough to make a little bit more than the $3 revenue per sale. You just need to focus on good conversion rates on the sales page, once they come over.

The second week, I'm trying to keep the CPM ad spend to 90 per day (630 per week) with targeted authors to see if I can float the rank in the 6-12k range and try to relax the ad spend (I don't want to keep this up as the CTR has gone from 3.3-3.8% in the first weeks of 4.99 to around an average of 1.5-2.0% due to saturation of the ad market with my ad).



This is all at 4.99. There is no plan to ever reduce the box set to 0.99 again and it's only going to be up for 2 more months. After that, I'm putting everything I have into BookBub CPM for a new high fantasy series with layered ads that make sense during release week. I'll probably do a 0.99 release week so I can layer the typical ads, but after that, I'm raising the books up to 4.99 and targeting the also boughts with BookBub CPM. This is the first release I've ever tried BookBub CPM ads, so I'm still learning this, but I can say with certainty that this is the only advertising going on for the set and there does appear to be a large audience on BookBub willing to pay 4.99. This may still fall into the "deal" category since there are a lot of novels in the box set. However, I am working with several authors to show them how to replicate this, and they have told me that this is also working for their single titles, so *shrug*.

Offline MikeyD

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 11:33:55 AM »
Good stuff, thanks you guys! I'm chewing away on this, trying to sort it out.

I'm leaning toward sticking with Plan A ($2.99) until I bottom out. Then bumping back up to $4.99 and cranking up ads. That's when I'll try my hand at BookBub ads, I think.

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 01:25:18 PM »
Just be sure to ask if you need feedback or advice. I've found that the default ad creator can get me maybe 1.5-2.5% CTR if I target author markets correctly and have a really good hook, but it takes a bunch of practice to really get it right. I would really, really recommend using author targets that are similar or close to your book and not any kind of catch-all like "Fantasy" or "Sci-Fi". Those are going to be sub 1% CTR in almost all cases. If you can create an ad that has the same look and feel of the author targets you are going after, your CTR should go up.

I used the Case Studies as a guide to try to get the ad images right. Here are some of the ones I was using during my initial AB Testing.
https://insights.bookbub.com/promoting-a-new-sequel-with-bookbub-ads/
https://insights.bookbub.com/promoting-a-new-release-with-bookbub-ads-case-study/

This one talks about supplementing a BookBub featured deal, which may be helpful:
https://insights.bookbub.com/how-i-became-bestseller-coordinated-marketing-plan/

Daniel always presents pretty good advice, and I know he's using BookBub ads a lot because I'm constantly getting his ads in my daily newsletter
https://insights.bookbub.com/promoting-series-keep-readers-hooked/

I consider Mark's case study to be a low performer (1.2% would be an ad that I throw away or a target market I refuse to participate in again). However, he claims to have had good RoI, possibly because he set his bids so low. My averages have been more in the $9 effective CPM in epic fantasy, and I think over the next couple of weeks, I do plan to lower my CPM bids to the kind of ranges Mark was working with here.
https://insights.bookbub.com/promoting-a-box-set-with-bookbub-ads-case-study/

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2018, 01:34:16 PM »
Dude, write the next book. You and I had Bookbubs on the same day. I didn't exceed Bookbub's estimates and I was in a smaller category, but I'm still riding the high because people are reading their way through my entire trilogy. With one book, where do they go if they like what they found?

You obviously tell a story that people want to read, so get that next one out there. It'll (hopefully) attract those readers who spent $25K on your book last year which will drive you up the ranks and bring in new readers.


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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2018, 02:30:44 PM »
I've been using nothing but BookBub CPM for a 4.99 box set and maintaining the rank in the 2k-8k rank for a set that had lots of reviews but no initial rank (I had to rebuild from the Pronoun closure thing). Here was the first 7 days at 4.99 with absolutely NOTHING but BookBub CPM targeting epic fantasy markets.

I openly admit I have no experience with Bookbub ads. But it does strike me as worth asking if you've ever had a Bookbub featured deal on the set you're advertising? Because the OP has, and only just over a week ago from what he said. Surely that's going to majorly affect the success of Bookbub ads? When the vast majority of the interested Bookbub audience has just had the opportunity to purchase his book at 99c?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 07:41:21 PM by MelanieCellier »

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Online C. Gockel

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2018, 02:32:03 PM »
It's a 21 book box set in Kindle Unlimited, so you're also coasting on the other authors names and the page reads. Even without the BookBub CPM I would expect you would have gotten the ranking just from sending out a note to all your lists that it was now in KU.

I *HAVEN'T* heard of single authors doing well with $2.99 books, but I could be wrong.


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Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2018, 03:37:51 PM »
It's a 21 book box set in Kindle Unlimited, so you're also coasting on the other authors names and the page reads. Even without the BookBub CPM I would expect you would have gotten the ranking just from sending out a note to all your lists that it was now in KU.

I *HAVEN'T* heard of single authors doing well with $2.99 books, but I could be wrong.

"Coasting on other authors names and page reads" looks more like the typical rank curve that we've all seen with features (whether on ENT, BookBub or whatever) not a sustained rank. For an example of other box sets released the same day that went through the exact same situation with Pronoun, see the following:

https://www.amazon.com/Sirens-Scales-Limited-Fantasy-Collection-ebook/dp/B0794HTCB6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517354467&sr=8-1&keywords=sirens+and+scales
https://www.amazon.com/Sigils-Spells-Limited-Fantasy-Collection-ebook/dp/B0799PCSKH/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1517354584&sr=1-1&keywords=sigils+and+spells
https://www.amazon.com/Heroines-Hellions-Limited-Fantasy-Collection-ebook/dp/B0794J9HTB/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1517354610&sr=1-1&keywords=heroines+and+hellions

These sets have done minimal advertising with Heroines and Sirens seeming to be doing some. I'm doing experiments to float the rank, and I'm willing to help others understand what I'm doing.

As for the NL features for a 4.99 book, no. It would be a complete waste of time since all of our newsletters were saturated with advertising for the set at 99 cents. We have to find people outside of the newsletters.

So, to recap. No, it's not because there are 21 authors in the box set. There are plenty of large box sets, and they're not all just holding rank because of numbers of authors or novels or whatever. No, it's not because of our newsletters because those have been saturated over months of preorder and release week at 99 cents. No, it's not because of page reads. We get page reads, but those didn't start until after the BookBub advertising and we weren't in KU until this week.

All that being said, feel free to discount what I'm saying. I'm not forcing you or anyone else to do anything, and you're an author with a huge following who has written some really great works of fiction. You can say whatever you want about me.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 03:48:29 PM by Rex Jameson »

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 03:57:01 PM »
I openly admit I have no experience with Bookbub ads. But it does strike me as worth asking if youve ever had a Bookbub featured deal on the set youre advertising? Because the OP has, and only just over a week ago from what he said. Surely thats going to majorly affect the success of Bookbub ads? When the vast majority of the interested Bookbub audience has just had the opportunity to purchase his book at 99c?

No, we did not have a BookBub feature (I don't think we even submitted for a feature--which was probably not a good idea). I think we just assumed it wouldn't happen because at the time, we were in preorder, and we didn't have reviews.

Anyway, a BookBub feature does not actually saturate your market. I have done over 100k impressions in ads over the past two months to target authors that don't even have 10k followers on BookBub. There could be a million reasons why someone might overlook your feature or an ad on that day of the week. It just happens. You can't really know without some targeted testing.

You can potentially do AB testing at maybe 30 dollar budget (anything more than that is risky and anything less may not be statistically significant) to see if you have an audience available there. If you don't, and the ad sucks and your CTR is horrible or whatever, you can simply stop the ads and never do them again.

I'm just offering advice in good faith. That's all I can really do.

Online Nicholas Erik

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 05:39:48 PM »
OP: this is pretty normal. The sales curve for BookBub is about a quarter of the last day's results for the first 2 - 3 days, even if you keep the book at $0.99. Around Day 4/Day 5, this often (but not always) stabilizes around 30 - 100 sales a day if you leave it at $0.99 and also told BookBub that the deal price would last longer (which keeps it listed on BookBub's site). If you keep it at $0.99, you'll see a much more gentle decay that can last weeks or months. E.g. 40 days after a BookBub last year for a complete sci-fi trilogy (and 35 or so days after it was no longer listed on the site), I was selling 35 - 40 copies of the set at $0.99.

For the first part of the promo, here's what you can generally expect:

Featured Deal day - 2000 sales (depends on genre obviously, but we'll just use 2k as an example)
Day 2 - 500 sales
Day 3 - 125 - 200 sales
Day 4 - 50 sales
Day 5 - if back to $2.99/full price, 5 - 10 sales (e.g. 10% - 25% of the previous day's sales). If continuing on at $0.99, then maybe 40 - 45 sales, decreasing by ~5 - 10% until it hits an equilibrium point.

This is obviously if you're not running any ads on the days following a BookBub. That will skew the numbers - where you go from selling 50 books one day to 100 the next. Since you ran stuff like RobinReads after the BookBub, this is going to boost your sales back up above the "normal" expected tail.

There are exceptions, which receive a disproportionate amount of attention (because people post/blog about these career-making BookBubs, since they're exciting), but usually the sales decay looks like that. Nothing you did.

I wouldn't go back to $0.99 at this point. Since the book is no longer listed on BookBub's site, a significant source of traffic has evaporated, meaning that a return to $0.99 is likely not going to cause a big sales spike (just a big revenue dip). Instead, try to get some PPC ads running at $2.99, and see if you can get things going at that price.

The important thing to note: 40 sales a day sounds like a lot. If you have a series behind that volume, then it can make sense. But 40 sales at $0.99 is around $13. It's nothing. You can match that with 8 sales at $2.99. Sales volume is extremely deceptive. Revenue is what matters.

And I'll echo the other folks - get the next book out. That's going to do more than any PPC tweaking or price adjustments.

I openly admit I have no experience with Bookbub ads. But it does strike me as worth asking if you've ever had a Bookbub featured deal on the set you're advertising? Because the OP has, and only just over a week ago from what he said. Surely that's going to majorly affect the success of Bookbub ads? When the vast majority of the interested Bookbub audience has just had the opportunity to purchase his book at 99c?

This does affect the click rates of the ads. Based on preliminary results, you can probably hold off on running BookBub CPM ads around the same time you have a Featured Deal. It didn't work well when I tried it. That makes sense: they're both going to the same audience of BookBub readers, so it's kind of like booking the same promo site back-to-back. A few of the readers who were interested missed the first mention in the email, but not enough to make running them worthwhile without a bit of a recharge period. I'm trying it again this week with a different author and genre, so we'll see if that conclusion holds, or if the performance is different.

I *HAVEN'T* heard of single authors doing well with $2.99 books, but I could be wrong.

I had good success advertising a $4.99 box set (advertised as 50% off) using BookBub CPM ads. This was for launching the set back in November. Single author (e.g. me), complete series. Three books, four side stories. Urban fantasy. Not Kindle Unlimited. Here's the set in question, just so anyone can check it out. Definitely didn't make millions, but it was profitable, even with high bids ($8 CPM). Probably spending anywhere from $20 - $40/day.

I don't generally mention the price in the BookBub ad unless it's $0.99/free, though. My goal is to get them to click through, and then sell them via the Amazon page. Once they're on the page, I feel like I have a chance to hook them, even if the price is higher than might typically interest them. If you mention it being $4.99 in the ad, that might cause the CTR to crater. I have an ad that I ran for a different $2.99 set that performed a bit worse, but don't have enough of a sample to make a definitive conclusion that mentioning higher prices = lower CTR.

E.g. - mentioning $2.99 = $0.38 CPC/2.08% CTR
       - 50% off, no mention of price = $0.24 CPC/2.84% CTR

Same audience and bids ($8/CPM), but different images and box sets being advertised. 

Facebook was also good for advertising the set at $4.99. Before that, I really thought I needed to dangle the set at $0.99 for anyone to take a chance, but that's mostly a result of promo sites only accepting/performing with $0.99 books. Via PPC, $4.99 is still a huge discount, particularly on three books that retail for $3.99. So it blew me away in terms of how well it converted.

I think it makes more sense to start with Facebook if you have a higher-priced book to advertise, in any event. BookBub Ads are kind of a pain in the butt to design (since you can't use stock photos and the built-in ad maker isn't worth using unless you hate dollars), and they don't scale super well. The audiences are much smaller than Facebook, and there's probably a little bit more price sensitivity there, too. But they can be a nice supplement if you're looking for an additional platform to advertise your semi-full-priced launch on.

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Online C. Gockel

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2018, 07:39:44 PM »

As for the NL features for a 4.99 book, no. It would be a complete waste of time since all of our newsletters were saturated with advertising for the set at 99 cents. We have to find people outside of the newsletters.

So, to recap. No, it's not because there are 21 authors in the box set. There are plenty of large box sets, and they're not all just holding rank because of numbers of authors or novels or whatever. No, it's not because of our newsletters because those have been saturated over months of preorder and release week at 99 cents. No, it's not because of page reads. We get page reads, but those didn't start until after the BookBub advertising and we weren't in KU until this week.

All that being said, feel free to discount what I'm saying. I'm not forcing you or anyone else to do anything, and you're an author with a huge following who has written some really great works of fiction. You can say whatever you want about me.

Rex, I'm sorry, you're right I was being harsh. I'm glad you're finding the BookBub ads profitable, and if I have a $4.99 set of that size, I'll try it.

If I were you, I <em>would</em> hit your newsletters up again, especially close to the date you close the set. With 25 authors, in two and a half months, I would expect 62,500 new subscribers (25*1,000*2.5) if everyone is building their list.


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Offline MelanieCellier

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2018, 07:56:06 PM »
No, we did not have a BookBub feature (I don't think we even submitted for a feature--which was probably not a good idea). I think we just assumed it wouldn't happen because at the time, we were in preorder, and we didn't have reviews.

Anyway, a BookBub feature does not actually saturate your market. I have done over 100k impressions in ads over the past two months to target authors that don't even have 10k followers on BookBub. There could be a million reasons why someone might overlook your feature or an ad on that day of the week. It just happens. You can't really know without some targeted testing.

You can potentially do AB testing at maybe 30 dollar budget (anything more than that is risky and anything less may not be statistically significant) to see if you have an audience available there. If you don't, and the ad sucks and your CTR is horrible or whatever, you can simply stop the ads and never do them again.

I'm just offering advice in good faith. That's all I can really do.

I wasn't trying to be antagonistic, just participating in the discussion :)

And I didn't realize you were talking about a multi-author box set. I'm pretty sure Bookbub don't accept those. (I think it's only multi-author anthologies, or single author box sets.)

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Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2018, 10:27:17 PM »
Rex, I'm sorry, you're right I was being harsh. I'm glad you're finding the BookBub ads profitable, and if I have a $4.99 set of that size, I'll try it.

If I were you, I <em>would</em> hit your newsletters up again, especially close to the date you close the set. With 25 authors, in two and a half months, I would expect 62,500 new subscribers (25*1,000*2.5) if everyone is building their list.

Thanks for the reply!

There were some of us who tried NLs after we hit 4.99, but we got no movement whatsoever (there are something like 200k NL subscribers between all of us, but like I said, most of them have just been saturated). I have 8k, and I'm giving them all a rest :D! Maybe later, like you said, but authors were posting every week for months, and even more frequently to FB and Twitter. It's just saturated, and there was no corner I think that was unturned on those platforms. We might do another NL push, but we're pretty much at the breakeven point for making back all of our money--despite a truly ridiculous push in a 2 month preorder to hit 12k sales in release week that was essentially designed to lose 33% of the investment despite having a 70% royalty (Pronoun/D2D). It was just the nature of the price point and the focus on velocity.

Being in this set has benefited me in a lot of ways, and I never would have spent all of this money on BookBub without multiple people giving me advice. I would have been completely terrified that I was doing something dumb with my savings. I've spent well over 10k on BookBub, and for me, that's a LOT of money to spend on one thing (especially something that is really pushing multiple people--not just myself). And I'm making it all back, which is great, given that we released this month and I feel like I'm a lot closer to understanding how to spend effectively when I have a war chest. Any sales after this point is really just icing on the cake, so I don't expect to be spending 1k a week for much longer, unless I have other experiments. It is nice to still be acquiring potential readers willing to pay 4.99 for a book though, obviously. So I may continue to spend, since it appears to be making money, just to continue to build that type of readership (even if I don't need to make my money back anymore).

I'll share with you what I'm focusing on today in AB testing and how that plays into my next release. You can see what variations I'm trying and how it's looking, and when I get time, probably in March when I have a full story, I'll show some of the nearly 200 ad tests that I've done (whether varying target or the ads themselves) mostly tracked in spreadsheets because that's a lot of images to post. Today, my cover artist got back to me with 5 ads that I can try, and so I naturally said "heck, yes!" and showing just 6 images is a lot easier than many dozens of images.

I could have used these ads in some of my normal epic fantasy markets that I know would get 1.5% or more from the ad, but I instead wanted to try to see if I could sample what my cover and the set's cover looks like with a target of Terry Brooks. So, I've worked with my cover artist and with one of the artists in our set (Tara West does cover design), and below are the 6 ads I ran today in a market that I knew would burn the 30 dollar AB testing budget in hours.

Here are the ads I ran today and what the CTR was. First, a short preamble. If you target people like Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, or anyone with like 15k+ followers on BookBub (especially a trad pub author), you're not actually getting a focused epic fantasy target audience, from my experience. What you're getting is volume because on BookBub these kinds of authors are the types that a lot of people have tried to sample the genre with safely (e.g., an author that an epic-fantasy-loving friend recommends or critics recommend or a recently optioned movie/TV series/etc.) So, a lot of readers will like/favorite/follow George RR Martin on BookBub simply because of the Game of Thrones TV series, even though they may have never read a single book of his or tried but couldn't finish one. They're liking/following this major author because of external influence or because this was one of the only epic fantasy or high fantasy authors they've possibly ever read. He's just popular. The readers you end up targeting with a GRR Martin are unfortunately not generally as interested in epic fantasy as you would think. The best CTR targets are generally indies (if you're an indie), and they generally have 3k-10k followers. I ran Terry Brooks today as a target, simply because I knew the money would burn quickly, it was reasonably within my main target demographic, I had never tried him before, and I needed a control between all of the ads I was attempting. At the time of this post, these AB Tests were 50% done. These CTR numbers will likely change by the end of the run (later tonight or early tomorrow).

1. The Control Ad  (Target: Terry Brooks, CTR so far: 0.92%)


This ad plays to the set's strengths. It's not related to my book at all, but it has routinely gotten 3.5%+ on most epic fantasy targets (Wells, Jensen, Arenson, Salvatore, etc.). BTW, Salvatore is the only trad pub that has routinely given me 3.0% or higher CTR on one of our ads. When it was 99 cents, I had updated the image to say "JUST 99 CENTS!" or "DOWNLOAD 99C PREORDER!". But at 4.99, I do not put a price. Trad pubs actually use BookBub for 9.99 books, so it's not uncommon to do this for high priced books on BookBub. Wherever people are getting the logic that BookBub ads are only for 99 cents is not correct in my experience. And if you look at the case studies on the BookBub site, they recommend NEVER putting a price on an ad, but some of the case studies do it anyway, and it does work better to get clicks if it's 99 cents. That was part of my AB testing during preorder, and I did a LOT of testing on this and saying 99 cents on the ad (if this is a 99 cent book) worked better for me at that time.

Today, my cover artist gave me 5 new options to try, all based on my book but attempting to funnel into the set's purchase. I wanted to know some variations I can try with visual elements and I will continue to tweak the text until I have what I want. Then, when I release the novel by itself, I plan to use variations of these ads that worked well. I've already tried my own creations with GIMP image editor and my novel cover and was able to get 1.5% to 1.9% in my target demos (and I suck at ad creation). So, I gave some of these ads I had created (poorly) to my cover artist, and they got me some more professional variations. Anyway, the other ads I tried today.

2. Damonza Ad 1 (Target: Terry Brooks, CTR so far: 1.07%)


3. Damonza Ad 2 (Target: Terry Brooks, CTR so far: 0.90%)


4. Damonza Ad 3 (Target: Terry Brooks, CTR so far: 0.6%)


5. Damonza Ad 4 (Target: Terry Brooks, CTR so far: 0.98%)


6. Damonza Ad 5 (Target: Terry Brooks, CTR so far: 0.52%)


So, again, I went with a huge market, that I knew would get low CTR but I wanted a control test that would burn the 30 dollar AB test quickly. I didn't want to wait for 2 to 3 days for results. I wanted this done in 8-16 hours, so I could try other tests the next day. The Damonza Ad 1  based on my novel is performing better than our best performing ad for the set throughout preorder and release in this one case, right now (it might not be the same tomorrow). I would need to do more testing, and I'm sure I would get good ones and bad ones in terms of CTR. But what I plan to do next is use a good market for the Dragon 2 ad (e.g., Wells, Winter, Ploof, Rice, Arenson, Salvatore, etc.) and this time do another AB test for Dragon 2 and Damonza Ad 1. Whichever is the winner, I'll use that for the majority of the BookBub ads.

However, more importantly, I have a good candidate for the source visual elements I'll want to use in my solo release for my first novel in the series. And that's how I've been playing with BookBub ads in the box set (and why I'm focusing all of my marketing budget on the box set right now). Ultimately, this new novel will be released, and I will have confidence I did not have before I went into the set.

That's how I've been doing BookBub ads for the last 2 months. Just constant testing every day while simultaneously writing the sequels to the novel in the set and working my 9-5 job. That's also why I'm recommending other people to try it. I'm simply in the weeds of playing with this right now, and I see it working.

Edit: I am updating the CTR on the individual ads as the day goes on so CTR of the AB Testing is as accurate as possible for posterity
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 09:41:54 AM by Rex Jameson »

Offline Sati_LRR

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2018, 03:27:44 AM »
It's a 21 book box set in Kindle Unlimited, so you're also coasting on the other authors names and the page reads. Even without the BookBub CPM I would expect you would have gotten the ranking just from sending out a note to all your lists that it was now in KU.

I *HAVEN'T* heard of single authors doing well with $2.99 books, but I could be wrong.
Definitely wrong. There are MANY BB readers (especially those who like other platforms other than Amazon) that buy at $2.99 and higher. Besides $2.99 is still a great deal for a lot of books.

Offline MikeyD

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2018, 02:19:34 PM »
@Rex:
Thank you so much for all the information you've provided. I'm getting fired up about using BB ads, will be going through Case Study links you provided before doing so. And pouring over the wealth of info from your personal experiences.

And I really appreciate how methodical you are. That approach is what I attribute my AMS success to. Their reporting tools are awful, compounded by the fact that they are cumulative and provide no way to break down daily results... thus no simple way to check results of changes you want to test. To get around that, I made my own spreadsheets and got into a habit of downloading all AMS reports every morning. By stringing them together, I could analyze what was happening.

I actually started in on building a database so that I could connect all the data without having to jump from file to file.

Anyway, thank you for sharing all your thoughts/experiences. I will be digging for gold soon!

@Gockel, Cassie, et al:
I know, I know, I know! I need to get to cracking! I just haven't had the time to write. My little book has been out since 2014 and it went completely unnoticed for years. I was too depressed to carry on. When it did take off, I was just too busy. But I will fix that. Currently plan to have a new offering by this summer.

Thank you for the encouragement!

@Nicholas:
Clearly you been there, done that. Your numbers were a pretty good mirror. Mine skewed higher, but it was because of genre and stack.

I like your logic and agree that going back to 99c would be pointless. For a few months last year I was averaging 40 to 50 books a day at $4.99. Be nice if I could find my way back there again.

+++

Ok, might be too early to breath a sigh of relief, but it looks like my sales/rank are starting to stabilize. Since moving to $2.99, thru Amazon I sold 21 Monday, 19 yesterday, and 24 so far today.

Thanks to that, and all the input above, I'm feeling pretty encouraged. I'm in a much better position now than I was last January when I started my little run of earnings.

Moving forward, I'll go back to spend an hour or two a week grooming AMS to make sure I get on the right Also Boughts and don't let ads lapse. I'll get a little distance (2 or 3 weeks) from my BookBub promo, then start using their ppc ads. Between now and then, I'll sort out my Adwords and FaceBook campaigns (both are paused at the moment).

Regarding price, I'll take a wait and see approach. At $4.99, I was able sell 40+ copies a day. If I can do better than that at $2.99 over the next few weeks, I won't touch it. Otherwise I'll bump to $4.99 before trying BookBub ads.

And, *of course*, every spare moment I find will be spent lighting up the next joint! :)


Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2018, 05:01:23 PM »
Sure thing! You got a BookBub feature and that's a wonderful thing. Keep your head up, focus on the next book and maybe a little bit of advertising, and you'll do great. Best of luck!

Offline FFJ

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2018, 06:47:04 PM »
Was wondering how your BB did  :) Glad to see it was successful. It's a great book and I'm sure your next book will do even better.

Thanks to everyone in here for sharing their insight.

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2018, 09:12:50 PM »
Rex, thanks for the extremely detailed ad info. I checked out one of the BB CPM articles you linked, but I have to admit that a 14-day ad budget of $2,024 is simply too rich for my blood. Also, that same author had blurbs--in the original meaning of the term--by bestselling authors basically selling her books in the ads. Again, something I cannot replicate. Drat.

Online Nicholas Erik

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2018, 11:07:54 PM »
Rex, thanks for the extremely detailed ad info. I checked out one of the BB CPM articles you linked, but I have to admit that a 14-day ad budget of $2,024 is simply too rich for my blood. Also, that same author had blurbs--in the original meaning of the term--by bestselling authors basically selling her books in the ads. Again, something I cannot replicate. Drat.

Just an FYI, reviews from trade pubs, prestigious awards, and pullquotes from big name authors don't really help with BookBub CPM ads. I wouldn't worry about not having them. I've tried no-accolade ads and ones with accolades/quotes, and my best performing ads, by far, have been ones that included no mention of that stuff. Worth testing if you have them, obviously, to see if your experience/genre is different, but if you don't, you can still do equally well - or better.

ETA: just looked at all those BookBub case studies. A hat tip and thank you for anyone willing to share data. I don't think, however, most of those are what I'd call successful ads. Really expensive. Granted, if the authors made profit, that's great. But I think if you're getting above $0.30/click, you can find those clicks on AMS/FB for cheaper almost all the time. Genre dependent, obviously, but I was getting clicks the other day on Facebook for PNR, which is supposed to be a pretty competitive category, for $0.08. A key thing to keep costs down with BookBub Ads is to bid LESS. There's way too much focus on CTR; while important, even with a high CTR, you usually get smoked when you bid high. I have two ads targeted to the same audience; one has a 1.5% CTR, the other a 3.2% CTR. The first one is 7 - 10% cheaper.

Yes, if you have a launch and want clicks, bid the recommended amount or more. But if you're doing a drip campaign, dial it down, make sure the other retailers are selected (they're generally cheaper than Amazon), and let it ride out slowly.

The other thing to know is that BookBub does not scale super well. Their total audience is what, 5 million? 10 million? Amazon had 300m active accounts at the end of 2015. Facebook has 1.5+ billion users. BookBub PPC is a useful tool, but if you have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend - particularly quickly - those clicks start accelerating upward in price fast. I wouldn't try to spend $2000, or even $1000 over 14 days on BookBub. Facebook scales the best by far.

Nick
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 11:28:01 PM by Nicholas Erik »

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2018, 09:33:42 AM »
Rex, thanks for the extremely detailed ad info. I checked out one of the BB CPM articles you linked, but I have to admit that a 14-day ad budget of $2,024 is simply too rich for my blood. Also, that same author had blurbs--in the original meaning of the term--by bestselling authors basically selling her books in the ads. Again, something I cannot replicate. Drat.

Everything I'm doing is in 30 dollar increments for 1-2 days. I'm not entirely confident enough to put in 250 or 1k into a single ad concept yet. I also think some of the investments made in certain cases, such as Mark's, were bad investments at 1% CTR. The only time I'd put in 250+ would be if my AB testing (the 30 dollar ones)  did 3% or higher CTR. That's when you know you have both a winning ad and a winning target audience for your type of ad (and this changes from target author to target author).

Otherwise, I have no plan to put in that kind of ad muscle unless I'm really trying to float a book in a specific rank stratification, and I think the only time I would really think about doing that is during the first 30-60 days of release or if I find an almost inexhaustible target market with 3%+ CTR. With that kind of return, especially on a 2.99+ book, it seems like it almost always makes money. Then again, this is with the caveat that the sales page MUST have a high conversion rate. If the blurb sucks, this is never going to work, regardless of the CTR.

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Post BookBub depression! :(
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2018, 10:09:04 AM »
Yes, if you have a launch and want clicks, bid the recommended amount or more. But if you're doing a drip campaign, dial it down, make sure the other retailers are selected (they're generally cheaper than Amazon), and let it ride out slowly.

The other thing to know is that BookBub does not scale super well. Their total audience is what, 5 million? 10 million? Amazon had 300m active accounts at the end of 2015. Facebook has 1.5+ billion users. BookBub PPC is a useful tool, but if you have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend - particularly quickly - those clicks start accelerating upward in price fast. I wouldn't try to spend $2000, or even $1000 over 14 days on BookBub. Facebook scales the best by far.

I think for long term strats, this all makes sense. My experiments have been really about trying to keep a box set within a high paid ranking at 4.99. So, for these, velocity is more important than maximizing each click's revenue because every conversion is a high profit (the difference between profit of a 0.20 CPC and a 0.50 CPC or even a 0.70 CPC is negligible, especially given impact of velocity of sales driving more sales in the Amazon recommendations from higher paid rankings). So, I'm not playing with bids and just going full tilt. It's still profit so far.

However, my experience with FB has been ok but not great. I did try running FB ads, for instance, by themselves with no complementary BookBubs, and the clicks were registering great in the FB promotional interface but in that week, the sales/conversions seemed about a quarter to half what I was expecting. The next week, I went with bitly links to track where the clicks were going in an FB boosted post. The FB promotions were showing 2x the clicks I could actually track in the ad with bitly. I still have no idea where FB was getting the other 50% clicks. It may have been a post expansion click, but it definitely wasn't going to the book. That's for sure.

Have you noticed significant differences between clicks reported in the FB promotional interface and any kind of link trackers you've used within a FB ad/boosted post? My tracked clicks on FB have always been half of what the FB interface reports. That's with roughly 1600 in FB boosted post spend over maybe 8 weeks of focused spending in the 140-280/week range which I found to be a sweet spot for impressions per dollar spent in that particular market (was focusing on Nook / B&N customers at the time to hit USA Today requirements during a preorder).