“It’s sort of miraculous,” one of my author friends said late last year of BookBub, a website/newsletter used to promote quality e-books with temporarily (and drastically) slashed prices. She had moved from traditional publishing into the world of hybrid-publishing—still accepting contracts with publishers but self-publishing older books that had gone out of print. When she decided to run a sale on one of her self-published books, decreasing the price from $4.99 to $1.99 for a few weeks, she contacted BookBub and was accepted for inclusion in a one-day email promotion. Sales increased once the price of her book dropped, she said, but truly spiked once BookBub’s e-blast reached its subscribers. The benefits didn’t end there; her numbers remained boosted for months after the end of the sale, and she began to sell more of her other novels as well. “It’s a whole new world,” she said.
I’d heard from other friends about the potential impact of BookBub, too, and so when my publisher decided to put the eBook of my latest novel on sale and utilize BookBub to get the word out to over 500k women’s fiction readers, I took a keen interest in the event. Sales for the eBook of THE MOON SISTERS had never really taken off. Though I didn’t hawk over my numbers, the best ranking I’d noticed on Amazon was in the range of 10k for the e-book. Nook numbers were similarly meh at Barnes and Noble. If the $10.99 price point—standard for an eBook when the bookshelf-book is a hard cover—repelled the e-book audience, would the $1.99 sale make a difference, and if so, how much of a difference?
May rolled around, and the two-week sale of the e-version of THE MOON SISTERS began. Though the BookBub announcement wouldn’t release until midway through the sale, word-of-mouth (and Facebook and Twitter) did a lot, and numbers quickly improved on the sales front. The day before the BookBub, numbers for the eBook of THE MOON SISTERS on Barnes and Noble were in the 900 range, and were in the 2k range on Amazon; a huge improvement.
I woke early the morning of the BookBub promotion and turned on my computer, full of anticipation. But nothing significant had changed. “Hang in there,” a friend coached. “My BookBub email hasn’t even arrived yet, and it’ll take a while for sales numbers to be reflected online, too.” Her reassurances made perfect sense, but I did spend a few hours wondering if I’d become the anomaly.
And then, boom. Just when I’d about given up, a friend sent a note saying The Moon Sisters was ranked #64 for the Nook on Barnes and Noble, and predicted with confidence that its numbers would continue to improve. She was right. By the following morning, the eBook of The Moon Sisters was ranked #10 in Nook books at Barnes and Noble, and #1 in the Mothers and Children fiction category (and #2 in the Psychological category) on Amazon.
All of this happened over six weeks ago. Though sales numbers changed yet again when the promotion ended, the BookBub seemed to act like a defibrillator to the pulse-poor heart of my eBook, and helped to establish a healthier normal. It’s unquestionably true that thousands of new readers have a copy of THE MOON SISTERS because my publisher decided to run a sale. That’s a great thing. That those readers may love the book and in turn tell others, who may in turn decide to take a chance on THE MOON SISTERS is equally great.
Now it’s my turn to say it, when someone asks me about the turns of this industry and the impact of the eBook: It’s a whole new world.
About Therese Walsh
Therese Walsh’s second novel, THE MOON SISTERS, was published in hardcover on March 4th, 2014 by Crown (Random House). Her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009, was nominated for a RITA award for Best First Book, and was a TARGET Breakout Book. Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a site that’s visited daily by thousands of writers interested in the craft and business of fiction. Connect with Therese on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.