Writing the Ride

Candace Carrabus Books


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f (5t +/- 1) I Learned During a BookBub Promotion

On the advice and urging of my friend and fellow author Tom Carpenter, I decided to try a BookBub promo. You can read the details of that in this previous post. The dust is still settling, but all in all, it’s been a great experience.

First, my objectives for investing in a BookBub promo:

  • On the Buckle in the hands of as many readers as possible (that is, on their Kindles)
  • Reviews
  • Exposure for my other titles
  • See how BookBub works
  • A residual bump in sales for the free title
  • Develop fan base

Well, that has been accomplished. Or, it’s starting to be. On the Buckle was free for three days and during that time it was downloaded over 46,000 times worldwide and bounced up and down several Kindle bestseller lists.

As of this writing (9 on Thursday evening), this is how OTB ranks:

Prior to the promo, my “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” was higher than 2 million.

The interesting thing about this ranking is the categories. And that’s the first thing I learned.

1. Categories are not entirely your own. I had chosen Humor as a category for On the Buckle when I first uploaded it. I wanted to add Mystery and Romance as well, but KDP allows only two, and at the time, I couldn’t get a second category to stick. So, I moved on and promptly forgot about it. That is just like me. After the promo started, I realized I had never gone back and updated. I did that on Monday. But the category I put it in was Women Sleuths. Do you see that category listed up there? No? Me neither.

Did you notice there are three listed? Yes? Me too. Once OTB was #1 in the Kindle store–at the very top of the Top 100 Free list, Amazon–apparently–started doing their thing. I understand they get behind a title once it starts doing well on its own. I read up on this phenomenon a little and the magical Amazon algorithm, but I do not pretend to understand. Sometimes, I’m just along for the ride, too.

OTBatTheTop2. Bestseller lists. It never ever gets old seeing your title as #1 of anything, even several levels down in a subcategory. It’s all about discoverability, and if your book gets into the top 6, it will be seen on the first screen of a reader’s Kindle. Maybe this depends on which model you have, but that’s how it works on mine. It appears that the speed with which your book is getting downloaded is as important as the number of times it gets downloaded as to where Amazon puts it on any given list.

3. The reviews will come. Just because your title is getting downloaded doesn’t mean it’s getting read but some people read really fast and post a review right away. The promo went out Monday and OTB already has five new reviews. I was surprised by how quickly they started popping up and how good they were. Okay, not really. On the Buckle is a well written, fun read if I do say so myself. Anyhoo, it’s all great until a not so good review comes in. You can’t please everyone, I know that. The risk of putting your book in so many hands is that some may not like it. That’s okay. Don’t take the bad reviews any more seriously than the good reviews, right? Do you like every book you read? No? There ya go.

I would like to thank every reviewer and there are a couple I’d like to hug. Really. But readers are just people and sometimes they get the details wrong and post that as part of their review. One of the reviews of OTB says there is a rape in the book. There is not. Absolutely not. Maybe this reviewer had read another book at the same time that had a such a scene. He or she still gave OTB 5 stars. Which is kinda weird.

Weird is the new reality in the Amazon jungle.

4. People WILL look at your other titles. So, you better have the descriptions and categories and keywords up to date for those, too. Both Raver and The Man, The Dog, His Owner & Her Lover have been on sale for 99 cents since Monday. Almost sixty copies of Raver have been purchased and over twenty of The Man, The Dog, His Owner & Her Lover.

5. A bump in sales does come after the free title goes back on sale. On Thursday, OTB went back on sale at 99 cents and over 70 were purchased by the end of the day. Three were returned (??) and two were borrowed. But all three titles are on in the top 100 of a bestseller list. And, I have several new Twitter followers and “Likes” on my Facebook author page as well as some of the same on LinkedIn.

6. I should have been better prepared. This opportunity came up more quickly than I expected and I didn’t really have all my ducks in a row. But I went forward anyway because I was curious to see what would happen. I’m a panster in my writing style and in life. There are lots of sites that will post your free book for free. But you have to give them some notice. Very few will do it on the same day. I should have had those categories and keywords figured out ahead of time.


Still, given the number of downloads I got out of this, I’m not complaining. I’ve heard that BookBub’s results can be spotty, but it worked for me. Would I do it again? I plan to. Will I expect these same results? No. This number of downloads is WAY outside the range BB provides on their site. I don’t know what perfect storm of timing and other factors went into my success.

Besides all this, a fellow horsewoman from way way back saw On the Buckle on the free list, recognized my name and touched base. A FANTASTIC side benefit I had not anticipated.

I will update this with any new useful info that comes out of this.


I find it helpful to read real experiences and numbers. Did this help you?



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2 Responses to f (5t +/- 1) I Learned During a BookBub Promotion

  1. Margo Dill says:

    Thanks, Candace. Does BookBub only work with ebooks?

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