SPS-428: The Bookbub new release – Rocket boost.

Join James and Carlyn Robertson from BookBub talking about what’s new at BookBub and what BookBub can offer.

Show Notes

Show notes:
– What is BookBub and BookBub’s blog
– BookBub’s Featured Deals and what it can offer
– New Release Tool
– Growing your fan base on BookBub
– Weekly new release for less email
– BookBub at SPS Live

Resources mentioned in this episode:


PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page


Speaker 1 (00:03):
Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch (00:19):
Hello and welcome to the Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch. Happy Friday to you. Full disclosure, I'm recording this a week early. We normally record it a few days early. This is a whole week early, so it's the Friday of the previous week for you. So a couple of announcements. First of all, thank you very much to everybody who applied for a free ticket for the Self-Publishing Show. At a quick glance, I'm pretty certain we are going to be giving away those 10 tickets from the applications we've received so far today. So that's us trying to help people who otherwise couldn't afford to go to the live show. Now, if you would like to come can afford it, we might find a way of doing something cheaper next year. Maybe doing it on one day because I'm aware that money is tighter than it used to be.
Cost of living and all that and hosting a conference in Central London is cripplingly expensive. I mean, it is eye watering. If I told you how much it costs to do coffees, you would go, what? So that's kind of where we are and we had to add VAT, which is really, really boring. But if you do want to go and you can afford a ticket, it is learn self-publishing dot com slash sps live. Okay, one more thing to mention. It's going to be a reasonably brief episode this week, recording a week ahead. Got a fantastic interview for you in just a moment though with one of the stars of the book promotion scene. The other thing to mention is that launchpad, Self-Publishing launchpad is open for enrollment. So you can check that out at Everything you need to know is there.
You can hear from previous students read about what's in the course and so on. Don't forget, we do a 30 day money back guarantee as well. So no risk for you if you want to check that out. This is the course that I use to set everything up and I'm enjoying my writing at the moment because my books are profitable and that always makes everything a bit more interesting. So it's not huge amount. It's actually 365 pounds last month, which I know is not five figures a long way from it, but I've only got two and a half books, two novels on a novella, and that was largely because of Germany for me. Germany is doing really well and I've got my next two translations in from the translators, two different translators I've used this time. So my second novel and when novella both come in and they are currently going to copy edit and Stuart Bass is going to do the covers for me and I'm going to get them up as well.
So I'm very excited about Germany and I'm doing translations following a lot of the tips and tricks that we learned from Bella Andre in her course, but also I'm doing it a little bit cheaper than probably Bella has done it in the past using people of Fiverr, but also using a copy editor. And I'm using Claude AI for things like the copy lines of copy and about the author on what's coming up next in the back, the front and back matter is what I'm trying to say. It's really good to have AI there and actually Claude's very good because it probably chat GPT is the same I suspect, but Claude will say to you, right, here's the answers, and by the way, here's some notes. So I've used the informal here, you might want to use the formal et cetera for Germany, and I changed this phrase to this phrase because that's more common in Germany and so on.
So you're learning a little bit about the sort of things to say and when you're writing all those familiar phrases like next in series and so on, what they would say in Germany. So yeah, so look a little bit about my writing and I've actually started writing again. So book four, my Spine novel, which I got 23,000 words into and then stopped about six months ago, is just about starting, although I am a word count of minus 177 so far this week because the first thing I did when I opened up the work in progress, as I said in my email last week, was to change something, which meant I had to do a lot of rewriting. But there you go. I will press on at this point Now, I promise you I'm going to press on just to get to the end and then we can do changes when we get there.
Okay, have I mentioned everything I'm going to mention, I think I probably have, I say kind of cheap and cheerful episode this week, but we have Carlyn Robertson from BookBub and Carlyn does a lot of the outreach stuff. So he is very much the face of that organisation. The BookBub, if you don't know, is a promotion. Servicer has a huge email list of readers. When I say huge, we're talking 20 million, something like that. And so if you get a spot on one of the emails going out, happy days for you because you will get a gazillion downloads and that should lead to a lot of read through in your series. But they have lots of other things that are available. Those slots on featured deals they're called are difficult to get hold of. So a lot of this interview is about the other stuff they do, not ads, actually, we didn't talk too much about ads, but other things that are promotional opportunities for you, particularly with new releases that are a little bit easier to obtain than a featured deal. So well worth listening to if you are on that promotion cycle that most of us are as part and parcel of our marketing campaign. So here is the wonderful Carlin and I'll be back for quick chats at the end of the interview.
Speaker 1 (05:23):
This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer,
James Blatch (05:28):
Writer. Hey, Carla Roberson, welcome to the Self-Publishing Show. We've had you on before, but some time ago. I think
Carlyn Robertson (05:35):
It's been a while. Yeah, it's great to be back. Thanks for having me.
James Blatch (05:38):
In fact, you've become a mum in the time, which is a life experience we should congratulate you on.
Carlyn Robertson (05:44):
Thank you. Appreciate it. Yeah, it's been wonderful. Exhausting.
James Blatch (05:48):
Yes, I remember that. Well, mine are the leaving home stage now, but you never forget the sleepless nights. It is amazing that people have more than one child. I mean, we did. I've got friends who've got four. There's something about the human system just says, do it again, do it again, punish yourself. But anyway, it's a lovely thing and well done on that front. But we're here to talk about book more specifically and you should perhaps introduce yourself, Carlin say what your role is at BookBub.
Carlyn Robertson (06:17):
Absolutely. I am a leader of our marketing team at BookBub. Basically what that means is my job is to make sure that every author, publisher, book marketer who wants to use BookBub's tools, knows which tools to use at which time to promote their books, how to use them as effectively as possible. So you'll see me on podcasts like this one back at conferences later this year, and I help manage our blog as [email protected], which is filled with wonderful tips, examples, case studies and advice on how to use BookBub's tools to promote your books and lots of other marketing channels as well.
James Blatch (06:53):
Yeah, it is a good blog. I can recommend the BookBub blog. It was quite hard to say the BookBub blog, it's like blah, blah, blah, if you remember.
Carlyn Robertson (07:00):
James Blatch (07:01):
If you remember Arrested Development. Okay, I know we have to talk about featured deals. It is like the headline event for BookBub and they're sought after. They're quite hard to get and they can really move the needle on your sales featured deals. Just explain how they work for the one person listening who has not yet applied for one.
Carlyn Robertson (07:19):
Yes, featured deals are the main promotional tool that BookBub is known for. It's also what brings most readers to BookBub. We with millions of readers who are signed up to get daily emails from us with discounted books in the genres that they most like to read with links to purchase at whichever retailer they use to buy their eBooks. So Amazon, Barnes and Noble, apple, Cobo, Google and authors and publishers can submit books to be featured in those emails. And we have a very competitive selection process. Every book that we feature is Hand-selected by a team of editors to best match up the books that authors and publishers want to promote with the interests of our readers in each of our different genre categories. So our goal is really to make sure that every book we feature has a fantastic chance of getting a lot of sales and engagement from our audience and our editorial team are experts in our readers unique tastes.
Often our genres don't necessarily line up with what might be a standard in the wider reading world. We do have a unique audience of subscribers that we are trying to serve. So feature deals are a fantastic way to generate a really high volume of sales in a short time, whether you're doing a free deal, which really maximises visibility or 99 cents, 1 99, 2 99 maybe for a box set or a longer collection. But they're fantastic ways to boost sales, gain reviews, get readers to follow you on BookBub, sign up for your newsletter. Just a fantastic way to bring attention to your books.
James Blatch (08:54):
And that reminds actually the last feature deal we had for a Vinci Books book was Kerry Donovan's on the Run, and it's always been in thrillers. It was selected for action and adventure, and it's done really well for us because it's just a new audience perhaps haven't seen the book before where we have had featured deals a couple of years ago with that book. So that was, I wasn't sure what to make of it actually. It's been moved to Action Adventure. I wouldn't necessarily place the book there, but new audience and we've seen that it's done really where the rankings in the states were fantastic, so we were delighted with the results.
Carlyn Robertson (09:25):
Great. Yeah, the category selection is a really important part of the process, and often it's the case that a book could be a good fit for multiple categories, and sometimes in that case, if we switch from what we've done in the past, maybe we do want to see if a different audience within our larger reader base is going to respond better. Sometimes it might also just be a matter of the space that we have available. If there's a day where a month when you've submitted where there's a lot of really competitive thriller submissions and we think that your book could also be a good fit for action and adventure, maybe there are fewer submissions for action and adventure at the time that you submit and we decide to give it a try to that different list. But our goal, again is always just to make sure that every book is going to get to the readers who are going to be most excited to want to read it.
James Blatch (10:10):
And I think that's focusing on the readers is the right thing, and it's the reason that it's such a good valuable asset for us authors, and we should also, the big question I know you get all the time is how do I get a feature deal? How do I get a feature deal? Because you apply and you don't get any reply to again, then you get one, and I know you've said before, basically keep applying. Perhaps use the notes field can be useful to say if there's a red jacketed or anything like that. I always put some information in there if I can.
Carlyn Robertson (10:37):
Yes, I know that that's not the most exciting advice to just keep trying, but it really is the best way to increase your chances of getting selected. Again, as I hinted at with the category switch, every single time you submit your book, it's up against a completely different pool of competitive submissions. And since we have a set number of spots on our calendar, the other books that your book is being compared to at that time is a really important part of the process that you have no control over and that we can't even predict which books we're going to get submitted at any given time. So every single time you submit and you can submit each book once every 30 days, we absolutely encourage that. It's not a bother to us to see your book come back in. It's what we would recommend. But every time you submit each month, it's going to be a different pool of submissions that the editors are considering. Depending on the volume of submissions we've gotten, there might be more or less space available in our deals calendar. So don't get discouraged. Definitely keep trying and I hope that we have a chance to feature everyone's books that's interested in having one featured.
James Blatch (11:37):
Yeah, it's an exciting day when that email comes in saying that you've been selected. Okay, let's talk about, so it's not just featured deals, that's like the headline that everyone goes to with BookBub, but there are lots of other ways of promoting your books in BookBub. We've talked about BookBub ads platform quite a lot in the past, but I'd like to focus on new releases. I know there are a couple of options there that not everyone might be aware of.
Carlyn Robertson (12:01):
Yes. So feature deals actually can be used in a roundabout way to promote a new book. If you run a deal on a backlist book, that's a great way to draw attention to that new book. But we have a couple of other tools that are dedicated to getting attention for your new releases. Two are targeted just to an author's own followers on BookBub. Any author can claim their profile and start growing a following. Anytime you release a new book, we will send a new release alert email, which is a dedicated email just to an author's followers who are based in the US letting them know that that book is available for purchase. We will do that automatically for free for every new release. We have a couple criteria we check for to make sure that it is in fact a newly published book, brand new content.
But that is a fantastic way to let your fans on BookBub know every time you've got a new book coming out. And then for authors who have over a thousand followers, you unlock the ability to send pre-order alerts as well, which is another dedicated email to those followers, your biggest fans on BookBub. And that one of course lets them know that you have a book up for pre-order, so you can send it any day of your choice before release date. And you can actually now send two different pre-order alert emails. So if you have a six month pre-order, you could send one email as soon as the book goes up for pre-order, and then another as release day approaches. And we just actually announced the ability to now send pre-order alerts to our international readers as well. So we were really excited to make that available because similar to new release alerts, the pre-order alerts used to be only for our US readers, but now authors who are sending those can also reach their fans in the uk, Canada, and Australia where we have readers. So just in the last couple of weeks we launched that. So we're really excited to be able to expand to the ability for authors to promote those new books to their fans all across our entire global audience.
James Blatch (13:54):
That's great. And what are good ways of growing your fan base on you do require to get to those levels to unlock some of those options?
Carlyn Robertson (14:06):
Yes, great question. I would direct people to our blog because we've got a couple great roundups of ideas and case studies from authors who have shared the very specific tactics that they've used. But you can add links to follow you on BookBub to your own website, to your newsletter, encourage your fans on other social media platforms to follow you on BookBub. Some authors are adding links to the backs of their books, so when someone finishes reading, they're prompted not only to sign up for that author's newsletter, follow them on social platforms, follow on BookBub as well. And there are also platforms that do giveaways and other group promotions that are designed to help drive followers on book web. I believe book sweeps is one of the most popular ones that does that. So there are some third party tools that you can use to help grow your audience as well. And running feature deals and book web ads can also help. So getting your books in front of our readers through our promotional tools is a really fantastic way to grow your following as well.
James Blatch (15:10):
Yeah, great. Some good tips there. Thank you, Carlin. Now, I dunno if you are not coming to London or are you?
Carlyn Robertson (15:16):
I personally am not, but two of my team members are, yes, Danielle and Audrey will be there and they're very excited.
James Blatch (15:22):
Great. And Audrey I think is going to be on stage?
Carlyn Robertson (15:25):
She is, yes. So she's going to be talking about our BookBub ads platform and specifically how to use BookBub ads to promote new releases as well. So I mentioned new release alerts and pre-order alerts, which are targeted to an author's own fans, but if you want to reach a wider audience of readers with your new book, BookBub Ads is the best tool that we have for that because it's available for any author to use at any time. You have total control over your budget and the audience that you want to reach. So Audrey has a fantastic workshop to share three different strategies that you can use with some great case studies of other authors who have promoted new books with book of ads with great results. So we're really looking forward to that. And then the last tool that we have for new release promotion is our weekly new releases for less email, and that one is basically the way to get the broadest exposure for a new book.
So similar to featured deals, it's a curated newsletter where we're sending new books out to fans of a particular genre, and this email is limited to new releases that are priced $7 and under. So not necessarily as good of a deal as a featured deal, but definitely trying to highlight the new releases of the authors that we work with that are still a really exciting price for the more deals conscious price conscious readers in the BookBub audience. So that tool you can submit to, and because it's limited to books under a certain price range, it actually can sometimes be easier to get selected than for a featured deal because there's simply less competition. It's only the books that fall into that price range that are eligible and the books that are getting released within a certain time window that are eligible as well. So if you want to get really broad exposure and visibility for your new release on BookBub, I would recommend checking out that tool as well.
James Blatch (17:10):
Yeah, no, that sounds really good. Definitely one I should be more aware of than I am. So this is a bit like the featured deal, but it's for new releases and new releases are the price competitively, although frankly for most indie authors, less than seven is going to be easily achievable. Can you place it for free on that list as well, or does it have to be a 99 P at least, or no sense?
Carlyn Robertson (17:32):
I believe you can. Most authors are not typically discounting their new releases down to free. One strategy that we've seen is you can schedule that up to one month after the release date. So some authors will launch at full price, submit their book for new releases for less, and then drop the price down to 99 cents, 1 99, 2 99 just for when it's going to be going out in that email. It was designed to be for the higher priced books. Again, we know that often for a new release you want to drive full price sales, but there are some authors getting creative with the prices around that as well. If sales volume is more important to you than just getting that visibility and exposure of your cover to the BookBub audience.
James Blatch (18:14):
But like I say, I mean less than seven bucks is generally full price for a lot of indie authors, so they wouldn't even have to discount if their books say 3 99. Typically we might charge for an ebook that would qualify for that. So this is good information, Carlin, because not only it's a bit like the feature deal. You can think, okay, I'm going to apply future deal within my 90 days, get my five free days with her from ku, et cetera, but you need to plan this one. This is a release schedule, part of your release structure. And I would imagine this would be a good thing people listening, including me, mind wearing to make this a part of the release plan.
Carlyn Robertson (18:51):
Yes, you can submit books while they're up for this tool. We do ask sometimes that you send, if your cover's not yet on retailers, if you can send the cover for our editors, the book description, any information you have to help them assess. Obviously very different for a new book that doesn't have any reader reviews yet. The last day that books are eligible to be submitted for that is on release day. So if you're not doing a pre-order, you can submit on release day and still be eligible for that tool. But definitely make sure that you don't forget that deadline.
James Blatch (19:20):
Yeah, that's great. And do you see how people are using it? Are people trying to time it for their release day or they're going to use it for a boost two or three weeks after release because you say you get up to a month to get a second shot at a sort of a new release?
Carlyn Robertson (19:34):
Yeah, it's a great question. I have seen both. It really depends on your particular new release marketing plans, whether you want to concentrate everything in that first week or like you said, delay it a couple weeks so you can keep up the momentum if you had a lot of other promotion planned for that first week. So both of those strategies work really well, so it's really up to a personal preference in your personal marketing plans for that new book.
James Blatch (19:59):
Well, Colin, I'm going to have to write a book again and book number four is taking a long time to come out of me, but I'm going to get writing so I can take advantage of this other aspect of my release strategy. Yeah, good stuff. And so the talk itself going book ads, but you say there will be a chance to chat about whatever aspects because you'll have a presence there in the FOIA next month in London, so people want to have a chat in person. That would be the right time.
Carlyn Robertson (20:28):
Yeah, Danielle and Audrey are really looking forward to being there. This will actually be our first time having anyone attend the live show in person. We had to cancel, so the pandemic a couple years back and I was having a baby. There was some other stuff going on on the team personally. So they're really thrilled to be there and absolutely would encourage you to find them and stop by and say hello and ask any other questions you have about BookBub.
James Blatch (20:50):
Yeah, and I can confirm Daniel and Audrey are approachable and friendly people to speak to from past experience. Yes,
Carlyn Robertson (20:56):
James Blatch (20:57):
In fact, last time I was in Boston, we had a bit of breakfast together, I think, which was fun. Although the rain, it was like being at home, it just poured with rain all day. And I thought Boston, America, I thought it was only Britain at Pauls with rain, but of course you are not there anymore. Are you? You've moved out from the east coast?
Carlyn Robertson (21:12):
Yeah, I'm in Minnesota now
James Blatch (21:14):
Where it gets really cold.
Carlyn Robertson (21:16):
Yes, we are finally out of that. It's raining today, so it's looking pretty miserable outside, but summers are beautiful. No one ever talks about how lovely the Minnesota summers are. They're just focused on the six months of
James Blatch (21:28):
Winter, minus 20 whatever you get in the winter. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Okay. Well, it's a shame that you're not coming over Carlin. It's been a while since we've seen you, but I know you are busy with lots of other things, including being a human at some point. But we will definitely look forward to seeing Daniel and Audrey in London next month. Yeah, so it's been a useful chat, actually, particularly on the new releases front. So yeah, thank you very much.
Carlyn Robertson (21:55):
Speaker 1 (21:56):
This is the Self-Publishing show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch (22:02):
There you go. Always lovely to chat to Carlin Robertson, and it always makes me smile to remember that she's Jenny and Nash's daughter, Jenny and Nash is also a regular on this podcast, and we haven't spoken to Jenny for a long time, so I must definitely get Jenny back onto the podcast because I, for one, will be grateful forever for the way that she got me sorted with my first novel and it was a complete hot mess as Lucy Score would say that first draught. And she asked me some key questions that allowed me to rewrite that draught and make it a novel that people seem to like. So a great editor, always fun talking to her. Huge experience. So yeah, how did we get onto Jenny? Really just be talking about Carlin. People always used to talk to me about my mother, but there you go.
It's not a bad thing. Right? I think that's it. Just to remind you that Self-Publishing Launchpad is open for enrollment for another 10 days or so. I think it's something like that when this goes out and you can learn all about it at Learn Self-publishing dot com slash launchpad. See if that's the foundation you need to get your book sales going and become a full-time author. That is the aim. Anyway, that's it for this week. Thank you very much indeed for tuning in. We have an episode next week where we are going to be talking about story and editing. It's a double-headed interview and it is going to be worth listening to. I promise you, as all our interviews are. Thank you very much to Catherine Stewart and everybody else who helps this podcast go out. And thank you to Carlin, of course, for being our guest. All the remains me to say, is this a goodbye from me? It's a goodbye
Speaker 1 (23:42):
Get show notes, the podcast and free resources to boost your writing career at self-publishing Join our thriving Facebook group at self-publishing Support the [email protected] slash self-publishing show. And join us next week for more help and inspiration so that you can make your mark as a successful indie author. Publishing is changing. So get your words into the world and join the revolution with the Self-Publishing Show. I.