Out of the Red with a BookBub Promotion

Take Charge of Your Author Career

by Megan Haskell

Last month, I told you about my new plan to take my series out of Kindle Unlimited and exclusivity with Amazon, and “go wide”.

Part of that plan was to run a free promotion of Sanyare: The Last Descendant (The Sanyare Chronicles, Book 1) and promote it with BookBub. I had hoped the promo would be a solid launch for the non-Amazon platforms, increase my visibility, and ultimately bring me a profitable month.

It exceeded my expectations.

What is BookBub?

In case you don’t know, BookBub is the single biggest promoter of free and heavily discounted books. Readers select the genres they’re interested in, and each day BookBub will send an email with what they consider to be the best available deals in that genre. Their subscriber list is in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of readers across all genres.

Obviously, as an author, you want to reach that super targeted list of active readers. Who wouldn’t?

But BookBub is highly selective. They don’t blast any deal that comes across their inbox. Authors submit their upcoming promotions to BookBub for consideration, and BookBub has pretty stringent criteria for what they will or won’t promote—not that they’ll say exactly what that criteria is, of course. But, at a minimum, you need to have strong positive reviews, a professional genre-targeted cover, and a quality edited manuscript. It also seems in recent months/years that they increasingly prefer wide titles.

So I submitted to BookBub and got my very first promo almost immediately after going wide.

The Details

On February 12, Sanyare: The Last Descendant was promoted to the BookBub fantasy subscribers.

On that day alone, I had over 30,000 downloads of the free book across all ebook retailers.

Of that, 79% downloaded on Amazon, 10% on Apple, 7% on Kobo, and 5% on Barnes & Noble.

Clearly, Amazon is still far and away the biggest ebook retailer in the biz. No big surprise there.

But then I got more good news. I was also going to be the “Editor’s Choice for Free Fantasy” on their free book promotion page the week of February 19! That meant I would have top level placement and a special highlight of my book on their website for an entire week.

Then a surprise note in my inbox: another email promotion I hadn’t even applied for decided to include my book in their daily newsletter on Wednesday, February 20. I didn’t even have to pay for that one!

Data Tracking and Spreadsheets

Anyone who has taken one of my classes has heard me talk about my love of spreadsheets. I used to work in an industry where I used them every single day, and I built rather complicated workbooks to run all sorts of calculations and data analysis. And I loved it. So when I have an opportunity to create a cool spreadsheet for my writing business, I jump on it.

In this case, I tracked my daily sales across all ebook platforms for two weeks, covering the dates of the BookBub through the entire Kobo promotion, plus a couple of extra days for good measure. If you feel like it, you can download the pdf of the spreadsheet below.

The highlights, however, are that overall, in the last two weeks, I had over 48,000 free downloads of Sanyare: The Last Descendant. Of those, 2.5% (or 1,201) readers went on to purchase the second book in the series, Sanyare: The Heir Apparent. So far, 427 people have read through the entire 4-book series.

In two weeks, I’ve earned over $6,000 in total gross revenue, and after taking out my expenses for the BookBub Promo, Facebook Ads, and Kobo Promo, my total profit is almost $5,500, which means I have a return on my investment of 805%.

The Non-Quantitative Wins

But here’s the thing: with this promo not only have I increased my revenue this month, I’ve found a new audience for my books, a new set of fans that—if I do my job right—will come to know, like, and trust me enough to stick around for my next new release.

In fact, one of the biggest benefits I’ve seen has been the positive feedback and reader engagement I’ve received since the promotion. I’ve had more people find me on Facebook, or reach out through email, or leave reviews on the various websites in the last two weeks than I have in the entire previous year!


I don’t write this to brag, and I certainly hope no one takes it that way. My aim is to show you that it is possible to make money as an indie author, even in today’s competitive climate.

Do I think this will continue forever?

Of course not. Sales volume will fall (it already has) and I’ll need to spend more on ads to keep up even a small percentage of the visibility I’ve had in the last two weeks. Eventually, my revenue will decrease and I’ll have to rethink my plan. Again.

But if nothing else, this wide experiment has proven that you can’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. You never know if the next thing you try will be the thing to bring you out of the red and into the black.

Legend has it I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I am the award-winning author of The Sanyare Chronicles, a fast-paced dark fantasy adventure set in the nine faerie realms, and Program Director of O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors, located in Orange County, CA. To find out more about me and my books, visit my website at www.meganhaskell.com!

13 thoughts on “Out of the Red with a BookBub Promotion

  1. Wow, you sure chose the right way to do this — talk about a successful promo! You go!!! Of course, I know how wonderfully organized you are and how well you plan everything out, so I’m not at all surprised.

    Thanks for the details about how the whole process works, too; that’s super useful for those of us thinking ahead on these things.

    1. Thanks Joy! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is all an experiment, all the time, but that’s the fun of being indie: I get to change my mind whenever I want! 🙂

  2. I love your analysis. This was awesome and useful. I am thinking of going Indie, and you made it very doable. Thank you for taking the time to walk us through this. Oh, and congratulations. Very happy for your success.

  3. Thanks Megan! It is awesome that you are sharing your data. During the time period in your spreadsheet, where did your FB ads drive traffic? Amazon?

    1. I used a universal link from Books2Read.com, so it would take the reader to a landing page where they can choose their preferred retailer, and once set, it automatically redirects all future traffic from that person.

  4. Very encouraging! Congratulations on your success – and remember, none of it would have happened if you didn’t first start with a well-written book. I’m glad you are finding success, as it is obviously well deserved.

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