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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all, this owes a debt to these threads: C. Gockel's + Post Run Analysis, Michael Ploof's, Angela Quarles's, T.A. Grey's

This information is still relevant, and the core bones of the strategy I used. My run was more expensive than those (such is the reality of book advertising in 2018), but I still turned a profit. Anyway, I thought a guide would be helpful for those who didn't have time to read 20+ pages of forum posts, or have concerns that the info might not be relevant in 2018 (it is; I just used it, but I know people are anxious about potentially dropping $2k on three year old info). So I distilled everything into a 3,000 word guide. I'd copy and paste it here, but eradicating those little "?" marks drives me bananas, and it has a ton of bullet points that translate poorly to the forums.

And thanks to anyone who answered my questions, and to the creators of those past threads who provided the blueprint for my run.

Mini Guide: How to Hit the USA Today Bestseller List


Nick
 

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Congrats!

Time of year also helps, btw. Less than 6k sales counting toward the list would not list most likely in busier release months, so timing there is key, too.
 

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IMO it all stands or falls with how big your Bookbub ends up being, which is a vagary outside your control. Also where your readers are. I missed out on USAT last year with 10k sales because half of them were in the UK.

Bookbub is the elephant in the room, and it could end up being a small elephant, or a big elephant, and you can't do a single thing about it.
 

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Nice work, Nick.

And great write-up. Thanks for taking the time to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Annie B said:
Congrats!

Time of year also helps, btw. Less than 6k sales counting toward the list would not list most likely in busier release months, so timing there is key, too.
Thanks! Yeah, I mentioned that in the full-length guide, but it needed to be emphasized more, so I added a few more lines. Time of year is a critical factor. I was surprised to hit 101, which seems high, even if you assume all the Kobo/iBooks sales were in the US and reported (that would've put me at 6,928).

Patty Jansen said:
IMO it all stands or falls with how big your Bookbub ends up being, which is a vagary outside your control. Also where your readers are. I missed out on USAT last year with 10k sales because half of them were in the UK.

Bookbub is the elephant in the room, and it could end up being a small elephant, or a big elephant, and you can't do a single thing about it.
There are no guarantees in indie publishing, obviously, but there are best practices and ways to tilt the probabilities in your favor. That's all this is about. You can absolutely maximize the impact of your BookBub and boost the tail through a well-designed promo stack; I have enough data over 18 runs comparing the two that it's clear stacking prior to the BB outperforms just letting the BB go off by itself, on both a sales and ROI basis. Most of the time, that pre-stack means booking the other heavy hitters (ENT, Robin Reads, FreeBooksy, if it's a free book) and maybe a couple others, and then leaving things alone. In this case, I went all out with 20 sites, and it did have a bigger impact than when I usually keep things small, although that meant I sacrificed a decent slice of ROI in the pursuit of sales.

I also got a minimum of 1200 sales (1150 US) from sources outside BookBub. Probably more, since that's just counting the two days before the BookBub. That 1150 alone likely put me over the top. So BookBub is clearly a huge piece (and you can hit the list with it alone), but to maximize your chances of hitting, the other sites and elements are critical. I wouldn't have hit without them.

Anarchist said:
Nice work, Nick.

And great write-up. Thanks for taking the time to do it.
Cheers! Appreciate the kind words.

Nick
 

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Thanks for the info. I'm too small right now to use it, but I'm bookmarking. Maybe once I actually get three to four books out, I can give it a try.  :p
 

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First, congratulations, Nick. And second, thank you so much for this posting. It's extremely helpful and encouraging.
 

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Thanks for all the great info, Nick. I've got my first BookBub on the 19th of this month, so your post couldn't have come at a better time. I've stacked ads where I could (I just found out on the 7th they had chosen my boxed set), and I'm in the process of reaching out to all the authors I do mailing list swaps with for an extra bump. Facebook has been really hit or miss for me - great for mailing list sign ups, not so great for sales - but I'll run some ads anyway. I'll try to make the USAT list, we'll see what happens, lol. Thanks again!
 
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Fantastic, thank you Nick, always such useful stuff!!

I did a promo stack for a new release, 99 cent, recently (2 months ago), very similar to this but absent Bookbub. I spent some $1200 on all best ad sites and a good chunk on PPC, earned 1000 sales and around 300,000 reads so far, so well into profit. Good to know the leap to USA Today might not be that far away!!
 

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Thanks Nick, congratulations, very happy for you. Great info there.

I am in the middle of a USA Today run as well this week for my first Box Set, and I've used a similar strategy -- and getting similar results. You have a much bigger mailing list (mine is only about 900) and you used PPC more extensively. I spent about $250 on Amazon AMS, but was having lots of trouble with Facebook and eventually abandoned it -- they said the ad was approved yet I was getting zero reach. My larger concern though was my BB feature ran Thursday, it's luck of the draw there, but so far I've gotten a terrific response over the Thurs-Fri threshold.

Question for you Nick (or anyone who might know this) -- did you use D2D or work directly with B&N, Apple and Kobo? I don't believe I can see if D2D breaks out US vs International, it appears to be lumped together. I can see it for Amazon and Google, but that's only because I've gone direct with those two. Is there any way to do this on D2D?

I did have a hiccup on my BB day when I learned Amazon discounted the price and converted the $0.99 in every country -- except the UK. I double-checked all the retailers the day before and the price had been reduced everywhere in the US, but I did not think I needed to check each country. Got a gut-wrenching wake-up surprise on Thursday when I learned I would not be part of the BB UK mailer. Even though I manually went in and immediately fixed the Amazon UK price -- and called Amazon at 6:00 am PST to plead for help in expediting the change -- it still took them 4 hours to get it right.

This won't affect my USA Today run, but it did cause me to lose a lot of UK sales. Amazon made the mistake, but I paid the price and I recognize we can't  assume things will always work as they should. Lesson learned. Next time I check EVERYTHING.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Glad it was helpful, everyone.

VLH said:
Thanks for all the great info, Nick. I've got my first BookBub on the 19th of this month, so your post couldn't have come at a better time. I've stacked ads where I could (I just found out on the 7th they had chosen my boxed set), and I'm in the process of reaching out to all the authors I do mailing list swaps with for an extra bump. Facebook has been really hit or miss for me - great for mailing list sign ups, not so great for sales - but I'll run some ads anyway. I'll try to make the USAT list, we'll see what happens, lol. Thanks again!
Since your BookBub is on Monday, you have to decide between the pre-BB boost from a promo stack on Sat/Sun - which won't count toward your numbers - or putting the promo sites after the BB to get an extra 500 - 1000 sales counting toward the list. Check out Michael Ploof's thread at the top to see how he structured his - his BB was on Monday, too. You might not even need that many other sites, because the tail over the week could do the work. Definitely make sure you change your price before the weekend, especially on other retailers - Barnes and Noble doesn't push price updates through over the weekend.

I might split the difference: schedule a few sites for Sunday for a ranking boost (which should also help prolong/boost the tail), then schedule the majority of them during Tuesday/Wednesday etc., to bank the sales toward the list #s.

David Chill said:
My larger concern though was my BB feature ran Thursday, it's luck of the draw there, but so far I've gotten a terrific response over the Thurs-Fri threshold.

Question for you Nick (or anyone who might know this) -- did you use D2D or work directly with B&N, Apple and Kobo? I don't believe I can see if D2D breaks out US vs International, it appears to be lumped together. I can see it for Amazon and Google, but that's only because I've gone direct with those two. Is there any way to do this on D2D?

I did have a hiccup on my BB day when I learned Amazon discounted the price and converted the $0.99 in every country -- except the UK.
You should be fine with Thursday; I think at least one of the threads above had a Thursday BookBub. Sucks about the price change not going through in the UK. I always check the regional prices at least twice, usually three times before any BookBub. Also, if you're on D2D, always make sure you set the regional pricing manually - things like Australia default to $1.99, I believe, when you enter $0.99 for the US price.

I actually asked the same question about D2D last week, since I use it to go wide. No one really had a definitive answer then, but I do now: there's no way to break out the US vs. International sales on D2D. That means your iBooks and Kobo sales are a combination of US and other regions. Barnes and Noble, however, only exists in the US (online for eBook purposes, that is), so all those sales are from the USA. If you have 500+ on B + N, you're good to go. I had 500+ there, and on iBooks, but I couldn't count on the ones from iBooks all being from the US. I've heard, but can't confirm, that iBooks only requires 250+ to report, however.

Anyway, good luck with the run, David, and let us know how it goes.

Nick
 

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Nicholas Erik said:
Sucks about the price change not going through in the UK. I always check the regional prices at least twice, usually three times before any BookBub. Also, if you're on D2D, always make sure you set the regional pricing manually - things like Australia default to $1.99, I believe, when you enter $0.99 for the US price.
Is that price okay on the day of the BB? Or does it literally have to be $0.99 in every region?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
VLH said:
Is that price okay on the day of the BB? Or does it literally have to be $0.99 in every region?
It has to be whatever price you told BookBub it would be. Or lower. If it's higher, they won't run the deal.

So if you told them it'd be $0.99 in Australia on all retailers, but it's $1.99 AU on Nook, iBooks and Kobo, those retailers in that specific region would be excluded from the deal.

Nick
 
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