7 BookBub Basics If You’re Doing it Yourself

Doing an e-book promotion campaign such as BookBub is expensive, and judging whether to do one, or judging its success, depends on a number of factors. What your goals are, the timing of the campaign, and how you price your book are factors you can control. What you can’t control is what else might be happening in your genre, and in the book promotion world in general, as well as how much information you are able to access in real time about your sales.  A number of She Writes  authors have now done BookBub campaigns, and many more are interested.  I'm sharing my experience to date, having just finished a campaign, in the spirit of contributing to the body of knowledge others shared with me - Kamy Wicoff, Jo Ivester, Lene Fogelberg, Tammy Hetrick, Sande Boritz Berger, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, Rebecca Coffey, J.Dylan Yates. I hope even more She Sisters will add their wisdom.

Since I'm only a few days past the end of my campaign, I don't have hard sales data, but what I do have suggests that the campaign was successful.  My goal for the campaign was to gain e-book exposure for Even in Darkness, to boost e-book sales, while making back my investment on the cost of the campaign. I didn’t have high expectations for additional income. I sold enough books so that over the course of the campaign,  the Kindle ranked  #1 in 3 categories on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K, and rose to #31 for all paid books in the Kindle store (and stayed in the top 100 for four days). The sale also boosted my print book  and placed me in the top hundred author ranking on Amazon in 5 categories over the course of four days. Those effects persist, though they are tapering 3 full days after my 4-day campaign ended. I saw major increases on other platforms as well.

In contrast to authors who publish directly to Amazon, and therefore have immediate access to their exact e-book sales figures, SWP authors do not.We ordinarily can't see our exact sales figures for months after a sale, so I am limited to comparing before and after Amazon rankings, and waiting for BookBub to post a report on my campaign. (Which they will apparently do a week from now.)

The table below is a summary of what happened to Even in Darkness from Dec. 2-7 (Campaign was Dec 3-6)

Amazon Ranking for Even in Darkness e-book and Print during BookBub Campaign


German Historical Fiction


World Literature Jewish


Genre Fic Hist.



HF Jewish


Religious Inspirational



Lit/Fic World Lit









Day  1







Day 2







Day 3







Day 4







Day after








For many of you, this may be enough about BookBub and Even in Darkness!  However, if you're interested in a timeline how-to, here are some BookBub basics, and I expect they might be valuable for other book promotions as well.

1. What you need to know and do before you apply:

Sign up for your promoter’s newsletter and read the instructions for applying. Watch the newsletter so you get an idea of the genres, number of days for campaigns, target audience, (Including different countries), the different platforms (retailers like Amazon, Amazon UK, Kobo, Barnes and Noble) etc. 

You also should read every blogpost your promotional site offers about determining your goal for your campaign, including pricing. Do you want sales income more or exposure, or a balance of each?  There are posts on BookBub’s blog about setting your price, promoting on social media, foreign sales, etc.

See if you can get some reviews on Kobo, Amazon UK, and Barnes and Noble so that when your book goes on sale there, you have something for customers to read.

BookBub is selective about the books they take.  I took other writers' advice about waiting until I had a sales record and some platform (particularly reviews) to show before applying.  Even in Darkness was released in April and I waited until late October to apply to BookBub. 

Choose a price for your book. I decided to price my book low, at $ .99, because part of Bookbub's decision to accept a book depends on the price point you set- they know readers will more likely buy a book if it's free or very low cost.  I toyed with $1.99 or $2.99, but went with .99, because I wanted more downloads.  I thought that my breakeven point would be selling 2,000 books, and from others' experience, I thought I could do that.  The campaign also costs more if you price your book higher.

Get the instructions from your publisher for BookBub style promotions.  At SWP, you need to notify the Press at least 10 business days before your campaign about the price changes.  Other publishers may have different time lines. If you're entirely self-published, you will have to explore each of the retailers' requirements yourself.  There are a lot of steps.. give plenty of time.

2. Two weeks before the campaign

Prepare your social media posts,

Prepare an announcement on your website- this announcement should include the  dates of your campaign, e-book price, and have links to each of the sites for all the retailers.  (note that not all publishers have a relationship with all the retailers so check on this.)

3. Four days to one week before campaign

Send a newsletter to fans and create any other email blast to your networks to announce your campaign.  Ask them to share your announcement to those they think might be interested.

4. Three days before..

If you haven’t done it, get your announcement with all the links up on your website. Post your first FB and twitter blasts- key your posts back to your website post with all ebook links or to the BookBub page with your campaign.

Start tracking your book’s ranking on Amazon (as if you aren't already!) and other retailers and your Author ranking (I didn’t even know there was such a thing, because I wasn’t ranked until this sale!) so you have a baseline from before your campaign starts. Copy and paste, or take screen shots.

Do the same for your print book so you can detect whether there’s a shift in print sales that might be related to your campaign both during and afterward. 

5. Day before the campaign

Check to see that price reductions are working on all links – some (like Kobo UK) we can’t see ourselves so if you know someone in England, ask them to check!

Post quick reminders on social media

6. During the campaign

Create different social media posts with different slants and have them track back to your website, your BookBub page and/or to retailers’ sales pages.

Track your book rankings on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.  It’s fun to see the response!  Take screen shots when your book achieves a high ranking, e.g. Top 100 paid in Kindle, or top ranking in any of your listed categories.  Look to see your author ranking. Share the excitement!

7. After the campaign

Continue to track and record data for evaluation for another possible promotion



  • This was my first experience with an e-book promotion and I did it on my own; all assumptions and interpretations are also my own.
  • My sense of the data may be slightly skewed by Even in Darkness having been named a top Historical novel for 2015 by a book blog with many followers  on Day 2 of my BookBub campaign.  I don’t know how much effect that had…
  • Actual sales figures may change my assessment, especially if the actual numbers don’t cover all the costs of the campaign!
  • None of us really know what a week of a strong presence on Amazon really means in the life of a book, but it sure was Fun!


Here's where Even in Darkness - kindle was, the night before my campaign

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,428 Paid in Kindle Store

(Here's where the print book was...This was the lowest print ranking I’d seen in months, so the bounce was pretty dramatic…)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

My book peaked on Day 2, mid-day, both in the UK and in the US

UK  Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

U.S. Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

The print book also jumped in rank

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Amazon Author Rank 

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  • Elaine Ambrose

    I recommend a BookBub ad and have purchased two in the last year. My last one resulted in more than 4,000 US ebook sales for Midlife Cabernet, and the ebook rose to #1 in Humor and #1 in Kindle ebook sales. The print version also increased sales. I don't have the final count for foreign sales. I also purchased a Twitter ad campaign and ran it during the BookBub campaign. My sales have covered all advertising and promotion costs and resulted in extra income. It helps to be on multiple platforms: I'm on Kindle, KOBO, Nook, Google Play, and Ibooks.

  • Dorothy Thompson Writing

    This is great!  Thank you for this!

  • Lene Fogelberg Writing

    A great summary of what is needed for the Book Bub! 

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    This is great, Barbara!

  • Barbara Stark-Nemon

    Thank you, Diana Y. Paul, and Irene Allison. Best luck to you both!

  • Irene Allison

    Barbara, this is really interesting and very helpful. Thank you so much for laying it out so clearly! And bravo for having such a successful campaign! That's really exciting. (I've got your book and looking forward to reading it once my crazy schedule slows down a little.) Thank you!

  • Diana Y. Paul Writing

    Fabulous data, Barbara!  After I digest the process as you have outlined it, I may private message you for other advice.  So much information here. And I love your timeline--planning for a BookBub campaign six months after pub date sounds very smart to me!