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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's always interesting to watch American or European writers do a Bookbub report where they watch on tenterhooks through the day; for an Australian, you go to bed and then remember around 10.00am "oh yeah I had a Bookbub last night" and open your browser to check whether it was a hit or a flop.

So here's my August 3 US-only international Bookbub, on a two and a half year old 6-book box set which is pretty much the only thing I have out. This was a Kindle Countdown deal i.e. only available to American residents, or at least people using the US store. Bookbub horror costs $270, and I ran this alone - didn't stack it alongside any other promos, partly because I suspect they're irrelevant alongside a US Bookbub and partly because I thought this would be a useful test to see if that's true. For contrast, here it is alongside the last 90 days:



That's 752 sales netting $2,146 in a day. Something about this seemed off to me and I realised that $2,146 (there's a handful of other sales plus KU reads etc but 99.9% of this is box set sales) divided by 752 sales = $2.80 per sale even though the book is priced at 99c. And at first I thought it must be a Book Report error and my stomach sank, but on closer inspection, the Amazon dashboard reports the same royalties and some other websites seem to suggest that during a countdown deal, Amazon pays you the regular amount of royalties you'd get per sale regardless of the actual sale price. So Amazon is basically paying me the shortfall here? To... get customers on the site? Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but if anyone knows more about this, do tell.

You may notice a small spike in June prior to this US-only Bookbub. Here it is zoomed in - I made $77 one day, $72 the next, and then it dropped back down to pre-promo levels with no appreciable tail.



Here's the shocking thing about that one - it was a stack of Fussy Librarian, Robin Reads, BargainBooksy and a non-US Bookbub. It's impossible to tease out what was most/least effective, but the international Bookbub cost $86 and the others were collectively $147, for a total of $233 - i.e. within spitting distance of the price of this US-only Bookbub which has seen astronomically greater returns.

(Although: this was me manually changing the price rather than a Kindle Countdown. So for every sale I was getting, I guess, 30% of 99c rather than 70% of $2.99? Still a hugely stark difference.)

For final comparison, here is the only other US-only Bookbub I've ever had (apart from one where I made the whole thing free, which I didn't think was good ROI; I got a KU tail scraping above $100 a day for a fortnight but not much else). This was about 6 months after the box set was published in the first place, and it was December 24, 2018:



And for a final comparison, here is my entire publishing history, bearing in mind that it's the wee hours on the West Coast and this most recent August 3 Bookbub has just wrapped its first day:


upload

I was enormously pleased with my Christmas Eve Bookbub 18 months ago (and as you can see it had an enduring influence on my income), but this one has blown that out of the water, even before considering the KU tail I hope to see across the rest of August.

Food for thought: why was this one more successful than the last one, when in the past I'd considered diminishing returns on backlist to be fair enough?
- Christmas Eve; people are travelling/distracted
- Pandemic, although my impression as a foreigner is that American lockdown is over and nobody is isolating anymore
- Summer vs winter; people read more in summer, right?
- Bookbub has more subscribers now
- My box set has a lot more reviews now, courtesy of the first Bookbub
- I released the newest book (in a different series) a few days ago; can the algorithm tell?
- Kindle Countdown deal royalty difference (IIRC I manually adjusted the price on the Christmas deal to try to appeal to non-US customers too)

And an indisputable observation: an International-only Bookbub deal is not a waste of time (at least not if you're in KU), but a US-only Bookbub is an entirely different ballgame.

Anyway, that was my day and my observations, I hope that's useful in some way to everyone!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh, two other things I forgot to mention:

- My high point (at least after I was awake around 5pm California time) was #2 in horror, #2 in post-apoc sci-fi, but only around #150 in fiction
- This box set is huge enough that it scrapes past 3000 KU pages and I earn more money from KU reads than actual sales, even at full price, which is why the KU tail has been so profitable in the past
 

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Shane, Amazing results. Congratulations! Looks like the Bookbub deal experiences in recent days have all gone very well.

Also surprised at this royalty stuff - so if your regular price is $9.99, how is it $2.80 - shouldn't it be closer to $6.50 (for royalty)? Are you saying that if I have a $4.99 book, put it on kindle countdown and run a Bookbub, then I get my regular royalty even though the book may be 0.99 (what if it's free? even then?)

Guess I have to take this Bookbub business seriously...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
jm2019 said:
Also surprised at this royalty stuff - so if your regular price is $9.99, how is it $2.80 - shouldn't it be closer to $6.50 (for royalty)?
Yes - that just makes it more puzzling. I would have expected royalties at either the usual amount, or the 35c you get for a 99c book.
 
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Just to clear up how the system works, if your book is on a countdown deal, you receive 70% of the *countdown* price, not the normal price. (That would be too good to be true, and open for lots of abuse. You can imagine all the people who would put a non-performing book up to $9.99 for a month and then run a massive 99c countdown promo on it to rake in the royalties.) Also, since your book is still on the 70% option, you also lose the delivery fee, so you're actually making less than 70c per copy sold. Although hopefully it should still be higher than 35c!

As for your reported royalties, the only thing that makes sense is that you must have actually put your book on a $2.99 countdown. Have you checked your dashboard and the product page to check what price it's at?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It was definitely on 99 cents on August 3 - I triple checked that because you don't want to screw with Bookbub. Though it is now set to stagger back up to normal price across the remainder of the week - $2.99, $4.99 etc.

I only ever really use Book Report (numbers and data are not my strong suit) but here's the pure Amazon data:





I do not understand this at all; it says for example that I sold 756 copies on August 3, yet the Excel spreadsheet indicates I only scraped past 600?

Either way I'm happy that Amazon itself appears to confirm, one way or another, I made a shade over 2k on the 3rd.
 
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I believe the dashboard and the report (the excel) are often misaligned because I think one counts on when the order is made and one when the payment is processed? Something like that. The report is the more "official" one than the dashboard, and I think from memory aligns with month-to-date (thus why month-to-date will often be out of step with the dashboard as well.)

As to the royalties, it definitely seems to be an error. You can see in your sales of Vampire of the Orient Express what should have happened. It's marked as a Countdown deal which gives 70% royalty minus the delivery fee, so you've been given approx 65c per sale. For some reason, with your box set, there seems to have been some sort of bizarre error. They have it marked as a Countdown deal but also as 35% royalty instead of 70%. Then they have the regular list price and the deal price it sold at, but they're paying you 35% of the list price ($3.50) rather than 35% of the sale price (35c). Do you have 70% or 35% selected in your dashboard? If you manually lowered the price to 99c anywhere outside the US, that would have dropped you to the 35% category everywhere, which might explain how you've got a countdown deal going but are in the 35% category. Paying royalties on the full list price has to be an error, though (at least according to Amazon's own explanation of how payment for a countdown deal works and based on the example in your report of your other countdown book).

My advice to anyone else reading this thread would be not to assume something like that will happen to you. If you run a 99c countdown deal on your book, expect to get 70% of 99c minus your delivery fee. For OP, personally I wouldn't count on that money until it was actually in my account at the end of October. I have no idea what sort of processes Amazon runs during those two months before we're paid, but we've seen instances of people having page reads stripped during that time because Amazon decided they weren't valid and therefore were never paid (among other things). So if this is some sort of random accounting error (and I don't see how it can be anything else), that may get picked up and you may find they make a correction before payments are made. (Not to be a downer! If someone else has some way to explain it, I'd love to hear it!)
 
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Another quick follow up thought. I think you said you had an international only Bookbub a couple of months back and manually lowered the price. When you manually raised the price again, did you definitely click back to 70% royalty? Just raising the price won't do that, you have to select it again. (It allows you to have 35% royalty selected for higher price points in case you're publishing something with so many color pictures, etc, that the delivery fee means you're better off with a flat 35%.) That would explain how your box set is at 35% royalties. (And you can see on the section of your report you posted that your non-countdown sales in other regions are being paid at 35% royalty, so it does seem your box set is on the 35% category. That's painful as it probably means all your full priced sales since your last Bookbub have been paid at 35% and also that if Amazon realizes the error on these countdown sales, it will correct the royalties to be 35% of 99c, not 70%.

Again, sorry to be a downer, but this is definitely worth checking on your dashboard so you can get it back to 70%.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Don't apologise for being a downer - thank you for pointing this out! It appears that I did in fact leave it at 35% royalties after the recent international Bookbub; I'll check what the damage on that was in a moment, but hopefully not much, since it was relatively recent and most of my income is derived from KU anyway.

I will definitely not be counting any chickens until I have that money in October, though; or even after that, since for all I know Amazon may notice an error (if that's what this is) months and months down the track and decide to adjust future payments accordingly. That is a bit more of a bummer, since by that count 750 copies will have netted me about $260 - less than the cost of the Bookbub. Which would surprise me also, though, because that would be the first time I've heard of that a US-only Bookbub hasn't even recouped somebody their overheads?
 
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Yes, thankfully that 35% won't affect page reads! And it makes sense for a box set of 6 books that the reads would be the bigger earner in the normal course of things. As far as the Bookbub, of course you've also got the tail, and since it's in KU, the page reads especially. So hopefully no matter what happens, it wouldn't end up being a loss. I have heard of people having Bookbubs not earn out, but it definitely seems to be the exception. But then I think most people do include the tail in their calculations and page reads (if they're in Select). And I'll admit I don't have any experience of the horror category specifically.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
OK, yep, I had the royalties set wrong since the last Bookbub. 15 copies which went for $3.50 each, so I cost myself about fifty bucks through carelessness - no biggie, since I make most of my money off KU anyway.

However the royalties are crunched, that last Christmas Bookbub I sold 1,912 copies over December 24/25/26, whereas the three days of this promo I've sold only 772. Here is Book Report over the past couple years, adjusted to only show paid units and only for this box set:



So I guess my initial expectations were correct and you do in fact see diminishing returns on a two-and-a-half-year-old box set - and, in fact, stacking the international-only Bookbub I had two months ago with other newsletters probably did make a difference.
 
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That is interesting. Again, with no specific knowledge of the horror category, I would definitely expect a US Bookbub to net far greater results than an international only one. I think you said on the international one you lowered the price everywhere and that's why you ran the extra promos, right? What happens to the numbers if you exclude the US from the number you sold in the last promo. (Since those sales didn't come from Bookbub.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I wouldn't say I have any specific knowledge of the horror category either, since I've never published outside of it and thus have nothing to compare it to! I really need to get my sci-fi book out one of these days.

The most recent Int-only/stacked promo looks like thus. Box set only, all marketplaces/without US/only US respectively:





Roughly equal, to my eye? Which I wouldn't read too much into because it's not a simple USA/international split, given that Bargainbooksy/Fussy Libraran/Robin Reads presumably also have non-American subscribers.

Incidentally, I'd forgotten I apparently ran a US-only Bookbub in September last year (the spike between the original Christmas Bookbub and this latest anomaly), which saw a similarly low number of sales but a good KU tail:




Which doesn't necessarily apply to everyone, though, since my box set has more than 3,000 pages and therefore gets me the maximum possible earning of around $12 per read - i.e. much more than if someone actually buys it.
 
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Ah ok, I think I got mixed up. So the biggest spike from the Christmas Bookbub was a full Bookbub, not just an international one. That makes a lot more sense. And if you actually had a second Bookbub in the middle there, then that makes this one your third Bookbub on the same box set in just over 18 months? (For US readers, anyway.) And there was a free one in there somewhere too? That probably makes more sense of the results. Especially when you add in that by and large Bookbub seems to be getting diminishing returns across the board. And if you roughly halve the sales during the international only promo (and then take a handful more off for the stacked promos), it's probably starting to look about what you'd expect next to the US deal you've just had.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yep - Christmas was the first and last that was both international and USA. Because they operate on different "streams," getting one knocks it out of contention in that stream for six months; so after an international I'm still submitting monthly for the USA, and vice versa. So it's unlikely they match up again. But I'm tempted to decline any future international Bookbubs; they pay for themselves, just, but that doesn't seem worth the bother, whereas it might work out very well to do another simultaneous one.
 
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