Promoting literary fiction on-line
Bookbub promotion: a wise investment?
Jane Davis recently ran a Bookbub promotion. Jane is a successful indie author and member of ALLi whose first novel, Half-truths and White Lies won the Daily Mail First Novel Award in 2008. She has written six further novels, each of them in the genre of literary fiction. They have earned her a loyal fan base, especially after An Unknown Woman was named Self-Published Book of the Year 2016 by Writing Magazine and the DSJT Charitable Trust. But like all authors, she has to market and promote her books.
It is well known that Bookbub is the most effective of all promotion sites. Thousands of downloads follow the one day of a Bookbub listing, but getting a book listed is notoriously difficult. And expensive. It costs hundreds to donate a book – even free – to a potential thousands of readers. No wonder that millions of authors turn to other promotion websites. There are myriad on-line writer advice sites recommending that authors do this, with a consequent rise in websites providing promotions. Not surprisingly, with multiple sites promoting the full gamut of genres, the result is lower effectiveness and fewer sales.
Despite Jane’s existing success, it took several attempts before Bookbub accepted Funeral for an Owl for promotion. Often book promotions are for genre fiction. Would Bookbub work well for literary fiction? This was Jane’s question. Her partial answer she generously shared with fellow ALLi members: the results of her Bookbub promotion: costs and benefits. (One of the advantages of membership of ALLi is the access to this inside information.)
Jane’s results are particularly useful because:
- many website posts that quote results are averaging outcomes from several genres among which literary fiction may well be the least represented.
- Those ‘sold a million after promotion’ success stories often relate to self-help books (often about self-publishing!);
- FREE e-books are now expected, encouraging myriads of downloads that are never read. Jane’s data inlcuded the number of reviews that followed: i.e. proof that the book had been read.
Once or twice I have looked up the ratings for books cited by promoters as examples of phenomenal sales after exposure on their site. Once the sales day is over, the rating has slumped to very low. This does not seem to be so severe a case with Bookbub, probably because the audience is already targeted to its preferred genre. For instance, two weeks or more after the promo on Amazon.co.uk Funeral for an Owl’s best rating was as follows:
- #99 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Urban
Yes, it would be nice to be at number 1, but it is sales that matter and these are by no means all that Amazon use to decide on ranking. One of Jane’s goals was to increase the number of people on her mailing-list, people who would be interested in buying her books. This goal was achieved as result of the Bookbub promotion.
It seems to me that literary fiction is the last to benefit from on-line promotions. This may be because its readers are those most likely to prefer a physical book and most likely to keep it, re-read it, lend it, pass it on. Jane has her books in print too . . .
Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey and is the author of six novels. The Bookseller featured her in their ‘One to Watch’ section.
You can find her at:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JaneDavisAuthorPage
Or get an eBook of her novel, I Stopped Time, by signing up to her mailing list at www.jane-davis.co.uk/newsletter