Why I’m a failure at BookBub ads. I think. #WriterWednesday #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #BookBub #WritingCommunity

As an indie author, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get my books in front of new audiences (and therefore increase my book sales and revenue). Amazon and Facebook are the most obvious ways to advertise books. Amazon is the biggest bookseller in the world and Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. But what about BookBub?

BB_LogoGetting a BookBub Featured Deal is still considered one of the best ways to sell your book. (A BookBub Featured Deal means being included in the email BookBub sends to its hundreds of thousands of subscribers.) But getting a BookBub Featured Deal is a dream that doesn’t come true for many of us indie authors. It’s also very expensive and doesn’t fit the budget of many. Personally, I’ve given up on trying to get a BookBub Featured Deal as I’m exclusive to Amazon.

Thankfully, BookBub also offers paid ads. Are BookBub ads the next great advertising platform?

In a word, no. At least not for me. I’ve tried BookBub ads on various occasions during various times throughout the year. I’ve tried them for my cozy mysteries and for my romantic comedies. I’ve tried them to help with new releases and I’ve tried them with sales. All to no avail. I just can’t get the ads to make money.

Before you go and tell me I need to do more testing, let me say I’ve taken my quest to master BookBub seriously. I’ve taken two courses. Both of which were not free. I learned all about using CPM, finding similar authors, graphics, etc. What I apparently didn’t learn is how to actually make money using BookBub ads.

So, what went wrong and is there a way to correct it?

Amazon Exclusive vs. Wide  My books are exclusive to Amazon. Unfortunately, it appears BookBub ads work best for wide authors. I’ve searched and searched but I can’t find any actual data regarding what platforms BookBub subscribers prefer. I imagine BookBub keeps this information private and I can’t blame them. A search of several Facebook author groups, however, reveals that wide authors have better success with BookBub ads.

Romance vs Mystery According to BookBub, the vast majority of their subscribers are mystery readers with only 11% of their readers enjoying romance. This is evidenced by my very best BookBub ad which was for one of my cozy mysteries.

BB ad 99 cents

Cost Result
$ 84.48 Over 100 pre-orders

Considering the price of this book – 99 cents – 100 pre-orders did not come anywhere near to paying for the nearly $85 in advertisement costs. This was book 4 in the series and I did eventually make up for the cost with read-through of the previous three books in the series.

Deal One thing all of the BookBub ad experts agree on is the book you are advertising must be on sale. BookBub subscribers expect a good deal. My very best cost per click for a BookBub ad was 34 cents. (This is considered a good CPC for BookBub) With a CPC of 34 cents, it’s impossible to earn the cost of the ad back as the royalty on a 99 cent book is around 33 cents.

Should you still try BookBub ads?

Based on my experience I suggest the following:

  • Go wide.
  • Use a book in a series to ensure revenue from read-through.
  • Try a $1.99 deal instead of $ 0.99 deal.

Let me know how it turns out!


This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox! Just click on the graphic to take you to the list.

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  1. This is interesting. My books are wide and I have one first in series free and run ads to that all the time. With the read through for that series though I make a little bit, but not a lot. I do like the BookBub ads though, they are so easy to set up and run.

  2. I’d recommend it – I watch my ads carefully and turn off retailers individually if they get too expensive, and whole ads again if too expensive, but I can get clicks for as little as 2 cents. I set the limit as 30 cents.

  3. Thank you for always freely sharing your experience to help keep the rest of us from going down a path we don’t need too. I always take notes when I read your blog post. Now, I have to go look up Bookbub. As always, thank you for the teaching.

  4. I really enjoy your posts and everything you do as a successful author. You always open my eyes and I can’t wait to be at a point to try this fantastic way to advertise.

  5. Are Bookbub ads different from being featured in the email to subscribers? I’m really surprised that the majority of Bookbub subscribers are mystery readers. Do they publish stats on that?

  6. I’m wide and have attempted Bookbub ads with no success. Though I am targeting that apparent 11% you mentioned are the romance readers. I haven’t taken any courses on how to make the ads better perform though. What I did attempt to do is take what little I learned from the Amazon Ad class I did do as far as ad copy and that sort of thing. My ads are a flop in both places LOL

  7. Welp, I’ve added another one of your posts to my “book PR” bookmarks folder. You’ll have to turn those posts into a book someday and NOT advertise it on Bookbub. 😉

  8. I looked into Bookbub, but I guess I’m a tightwad. I can’t see how I’d make money with the expensive ads. But then, perhaps it’s worth the exposure to so many readers. I have not tried any ads. I experimented with FB when they gave me credit to use. See? I told you I was a tightwad! Thanks for the info.
    JQ Rose

    1. You can make the ads as cheap or as expensive as you want – as little as $1 a day. I think if you’re wide they might be worth trying. But they are more expensive than FB for sure. At least I can make my FB ads make money (or at least break even)

  9. I have to agree with J.Q. I can’t get past the price for their services. I have heart palpitations! Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed post.

  10. I’m subscribed to BookBub but, I have to admit, I’ve never really thought about the mechanics behind it so this made for some interesting reading. Thank you.

  11. Indie seems so hard! I’ve published a couple of short stories indie – not expecting sales just wanting a few publications out there so I don’t look like a one-off when my novel comes out.

    Thinking I might try traditional publishing first though for the novel.

    I’m so confused!

  12. I may be unpopular with this view but I do not discount my books. I worked hard to create a narrative over months/years and want to be ‘paid’ for that time. Saying that I know it does have advantages to discount – so choose your own path.

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