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View Full Version : Publisher balks at BookBub Freebie?



Kingson
03-13-2018, 07:49 PM
I asked my publisher, Alibi (PGH imprint) if I could submit the first book of my 4-book series for free as a Bookbub promo in the crime-fiction category. I would pay for the promo. Bookbub stats claim an average of 52K downloads. Alibi responded with, "We can't do a free promotion. Free has always resulted in only a sliver of conversion to paid books, which is why we do not do free. But we'll keep submitting your books each month to Bookbub."

I find this hard to believe. Even a tiny sliver of 52K downloads will be a lot more than the 3 or 4 books I sell a week with Alibi doing nothing to promote them. WTF?

WriterBN
03-13-2018, 08:21 PM
"Free has always resulted in only a sliver of conversion to paid books, which is why we do not do free."
They're not wrong.

ETA:
The point is, it's their brand and reputation on the line, not yours. If they don't want their brand associated with freebies, it's their decision.

If you had self-published and wanted to run a freebie Bookbub, that's a different story.

cool pop
03-17-2018, 08:05 PM
Yep, most publishers, especially a big five, isn't going to take author suggestions for pricing or discounting a book unless you're a top author. A smaller house might but even then it's rare. When I was with publishers I'd sometimes suggest discounts. Most times the answer was "no" but very rarely a pub would try it for maybe a week or so. Never asked any publisher to do free though. This was just me asking if we could do a sale and many would not agree, which was their right but didn't hurt asking.

Now, I publish my own work and can promote any way I want. :) I understand how you feel though. If you have a series especially, making your first book free can do wonders for the rest of the series in the books especially if you're lucky enough to get a Bookbub or Freebooksy.

I have seen many pubs make books free temporarily but it was for huge authors. I'd see them on the free charts on Amazon and would be surprised their books were free.

Also, your publisher claims it doesn't work for them, which is probably true. Free doesn't work for publishers the way it does self-published authors. If you are self-published and selling on all retailers making the first book in a series free can do wonders for an author. It works so well for some authors they just do permafrees and no other advertisement. If you hook the readers with the first book they will go on to buy the rest.

Maybe you can ask if they will let you do a sample on Instafreebie and maybe that can draw more people to try your series.

Kingson
03-17-2018, 11:10 PM
Maybe you can ask if they will let you do a sample on Instafreebie and maybe that can draw more people to try your series.

Nah, I'm done. PGH is owned by a multi-national media beast that doesn't give a damn about me. Soul-crushing is their business plan.

BenPanced
03-18-2018, 02:25 AM
I...can't even. They're trying to give your book the best coverage and trying to generate actual sales. Think about it: if you're sell a max of 4 books a week, how much would you be losing in royalties once word gets out to potential readers you're giving that book away? Your publisher has put in too much time, effort, and money for them to just give it away. Yeah, maybe if you have a giveaway where everybody who signs up for your newsletter is entered into a drawing for a free copy of the book but apparently it's too much for them to even consider protecting their investment in your work.

lizmonster
03-18-2018, 04:41 AM
FWIW, my publisher has done 2 (maybe 3? can't remember) BookBub promos for me, but not freebies - $1.99. I've no idea if it bumped sales, but apparently at that price point it was worth it to them.

You could always see if they'd be open to a deep discount rather than a freebie.

BJ Bourg
09-08-2018, 05:00 AM
I asked my publisher, Alibi (PGH imprint) if I could submit the first book of my 4-book series for free as a Bookbub promo in the crime-fiction category. I would pay for the promo. Bookbub stats claim an average of 52K downloads. Alibi responded with, "We can't do a free promotion. Free has always resulted in only a sliver of conversion to paid books, which is why we do not do free. But we'll keep submitting your books each month to Bookbub."

I find this hard to believe. Even a tiny sliver of 52K downloads will be a lot more than the 3 or 4 books I sell a week with Alibi doing nothing to promote them. WTF?

I asked my publisher, Alibi (PGH imprint) if I could submit the first book of my 4-book series for free as a Bookbub promo in the crime-fiction category. I would pay for the promo. Bookbub stats claim an average of 52K downloads. Alibi responded with, "We can't do a free promotion. Free has always resulted in only a sliver of conversion to paid books, which is why we do not do free. But we'll keep submitting your books each month to Bookbub."

I find this hard to believe. Even a tiny sliver of 52K downloads will be a lot more than the 3 or 4 books I sell a week with Alibi doing nothing to promote them. WTF?

The short answer: you are correct and your publisher is wrong. Advertising a free book with other sites might not move many paid books, but a free Featured Deal on BookBub will absolutely move sales--and I've got the sales to prove it. I've had six free FDs on BookBub since last year and I've never made less than $10K during the month of the deal. My highest month of earnings was June, in which I earned over $17K. In fact, thanks to three free BookBub FDs, this will most likely be my first six-figure year as an author, and I'm in my second full year of self-publishing (my first full year was in the very high five-figures, thanks to three free BookBub FDs and one paid FD). In the eighteen months prior to self-publishing, I barely made $1500 with two publishers. The best thing that happened for my writing career was one of the publishers shut down and the other quit publishing crime fiction, which forced me to self-publish.

Oh, and I respectfully disagree with the poster who said it's the publisher's brand and reputation. My name is on my book, so it's MY reputation and brand. If Penguin publishes a book by Author A and the book flops, people will stop reading books by Author A. They will NOT stop reading books published by Penguin. In fact, most readers have no clue who publishes what books, and they don't care. They follow authors, not publishers. Take Stephen King as an example. He's his own brand, just like we are all our own brand. If Stephen King left one publisher to go with another, his readers wouldn't even notice because *he* is the brand. That's why fans of his can't wait for the "next Stephen King book".

"I can't wait for the next Penguin-published book!" said no one ever, lol.

Anyway, that's my take on it.

amergina
09-08-2018, 05:13 AM
Kind of a tangent, but free BookBubs work astonishingly well if you're in Kindle Unlimited, because many of those folks will still read a free book through KU and not click to buy at $0. And you still get paid for page reads.

Arpeggio
09-10-2018, 11:32 PM
I've had six free FDs on BookBub since last year and I've never made less than $10K during the month of the deal. My highest month of earnings was June, in which I earned over $17K. In fact, thanks to three free BookBub FDs, this will most likely be my first six-figure year as an author, and I'm in my second full year of self-publishing (my first full year was in the very high five-figures, thanks to three free BookBub FDs and one paid FD).

So although you'd have not made any money from giving free downloads, you did made money in other sales that resulted from the exposure? Most intriguing. I'm considering making an eBook perma-free (with broad appeal which can lead on to my other books) and putting on Kobo, Google Play and anywhere else with decent traffic, not BookBub specifically but hopefully to similar affect because (unless I'm mistaken) I can't see what would be different with BookbBub's audience than any other if similar size.

Polenth
09-15-2018, 04:41 AM
So although you'd have not made any money from giving free downloads, you did made money in other sales that resulted from the exposure? Most intriguing. I'm considering making an eBook perma-free (with broad appeal which can lead on to my other books) and putting on Kobo, Google Play and anywhere else with decent traffic, not BookBub specifically but hopefully to similar affect because (unless I'm mistaken) I can't see what would be different with BookbBub's audience than any other if similar size.

There are so many free books that the chances of someone just happening to find it are slim. BookBub is an advertising option which will direct people to the free book. A book shop and a promotion service aren't the same thing. They're complementary things.

Arpeggio
09-17-2018, 12:32 AM
There are so many free books that the chances of someone just happening to find it are slim. BookBub is an advertising option which will direct people to the free book. A book shop and a promotion service aren't the same thing. They're complementary things.

I agree but it seems my circumstances are different. My genre is technical non-fiction and I've done this twice before. Once a few years ago on free eBooks sites and another time on Google Play. One a particular free eBook site (some years ago) I got 10,000 downloads in 1 month and mostly positive ratings. More recently made an eBook free on Google Play for 1 week and it got 110 downloads, another 5 star rating and another rating on Goodreads (assuming the GR review was due to that and not a co-incidence). In both cases the eBooks I did for free were ones I would only make free temporarily.

Recently a particular eBook was intended as an incentive for people to sign up to my mailing list but it turns out that is against EU GDPR (believe it or not, even though lots of people do this even in the EU still). Anyway, the other option with this eBook (that was going to be free anyway) is going as wide as possible with perma free, partly out of curiosity and partly out of the marketing / exposure it should get.

Of course there are other sites out there (which I have used) similar to BookBub but it's a numbers game I suppose. I think I recall a former post by BJ Bourg in which he got 100 or so resultant reviews from a BookBub promotion of 80,000 or so downloads. I'll apply to BookBub in the future.

cool pop
09-17-2018, 08:15 AM
Bookbub is KING. I can't say that enough and you won't find many to disagree. What's different with Bookbub is that for some authors it has taken them from selling in the three digits to making a living writing. No joke! One Bookbub feature deal can make you thousands back and if you do one for a book 1 permafree, if your series is good, shoot you could be well into the six figures with a BB. Even if you don't do that well, trust me, if you get a US Bookbub especially you will be glad you did. It will definitely increase sales for you and open you up to more readers which will stay with you for the long haul if you produce good books. Bookbub is powerful. Right now there is NO other promotional outlet like it. That's why it's so expensive but it's worth every penny. Some would sell their souls to be accepted by Bookbub.

Get Bookbubs for your permafrees if you can. I've had about four Bookbubs and two were for permafrees. I can't tell you how much that has helped both series. One is an older series but the current series I am doing is a spin off of that series. I have four series and three permafrees. I am a wide author meaning I am not exclusive to Amazon. BB seems to favor wide books and permafrees on their own can do great for a series even without a BB.

It makes no sense to put a standalone free but for the first in a series, definitely try it. If your first book is good and people enjoy it they will snatch up the rest of your series. Permafree is a tool that can do great for a series if your book 1 is good enough for people to want more.

Permafrees have helped my income increase for the last two months at Google Play especially. I wasn't moving hardly anything there at first. Another thing about permafrees is not only does it lead people to your series but to your back list. I know I've gotten sales from back list books unrelated to my permafrees because they got the freebie and liked the book.

Of course, to do permafree you want to have at least three books in the series or it won't do much. Don't just put up book 1 for free from the start, no. Do it after you've got at least three books in the series or when the series is done to get the best ROI. The goal of permafree is not to just be giving away books. It's to funnel readers to your other books. THAT'S where that freebie helps you make your money.

Arpeggio
09-19-2018, 11:33 PM
Permafrees have helped my income increase for the last two months at Google Play especially. I wasn't moving hardly anything there at first. Another thing about permafrees is not only does it lead people to your series but to your back list. I know I've gotten sales from back list books unrelated to my permafrees because they got the freebie and liked the book.

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to getting my perma-free out there soon. Are you using Kobo and iBooks for perma-free? I think they allow it. Eventually I will be looking into how many retailers out there allow this.

There are also lots of websites out there that have free eBooks, which aren't retailers as such, like free-ebooks.net. I'd be curious to know if they have a similar effect as your Google Play example. I suppose if an eBook is to be perma-free it's not going to hurt to find out, even if to no effect. That said, if no sales come as a result, I will still have a little bit in the back of my perma free eBook suggesting social sharing, book marking or linking to my website (if they have a site or blog) if they like the book / online content.