Author Business & Publishing, Writing & Publishing Articles

The Fussy Librarian vs. Bargain Booksy

I’ve recently taken my first crack at the world of paid advertisements for The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1). And in the indie publishing spirit of transparency and helpfulness, I thought I’d share my results in case any fellow authors were interested in the same or had their own experiences to add.

In short, both The Fussy Librarian and Bargain Booksy are email newsletters that provide subscribers (readers) with a daily list of discounted books, curated based on their reading preferences. The best-known (and apparently best, period) of these services is BookBub, but they’re not interested in tiny fish like me. Therefore, I thought I’d test the waters with what I’ve been told are the next two best options.

As you’ll see below, I tried to keep all factors within my control the same. Obviously, there are dozens (read: thousands) of factors outside my control (whether all the subscribers check their inboxes, the other books featured in my genre that day, perceptions of my cover/description, etc.).

The Fussy Librarian

A screenshot of my Fussy Librarian promotion

Date Promotion Ran: Tuesday, February 16 (between 9 am EST and noon)

Genre and Subscriber Count: Science Fiction, roughly 103,000

Price to advertise (based on genre): $16 USD (via PayPal)

Price of my book: $2.99 USD

Description: A shortened version of my standard sales description.

Retailer Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Limitations: I had to include that my novel contained adult language and sexual content.

Return on Investment: $4.69 (sold 7 copies on Amazon, 1 on iBooks, 1 paperback)

Other factors: The other Science Fiction book promoted that day was free, which may have taken sales away from my book.

What I liked: Low price, customizable advertising, wide range of retailers included, showed my Amazon ratings

What I didn’t like: Free books included in the newsletter (tougher competition)

Notable perks: When you place your advertisement, there is an option to send yourself a reminder after a specified date range (21 to 90 days). If you do this, they give you a discount on your next promotion. Likewise, when listing in two genres (at any time), the second genre is half price.

You can see full details on how to run your own Fussy Librarian promotion HERE.

Bargain Booksy

2016-03-21 (1)
A screenshot of my Bargain Booksy promotion

Date Promotion Ran: Tuesday, March 15 (between 9 am EST and noon)

Genre and Subscriber Count: Science Fiction, 68,500

Price to advertise (based on genre): $35 USD (via PayPal)

Price of my book: $2.99 USD

Description: They pull your book description straight from Amazon, without your HTML formatting.

Retailer Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks

Limitations: None

Return on Investment: None, loss of $22.44 (sold 6 copies on Amazon)

Other factors: My book also received a feature on the Bargain Booksy website, which did allow me to customize my book description. However, because Bargain Booksy allows several books in each genre to be listed each day (as opposed to the Fussy Librarian, which limits it to two books per genre), there was a lot of competition, some of which was on sale for $0.99.

What I liked: Website feature, no free books advertised

What I didn’t like: Higher price, crowded newsletter, less customization

You can see full details on how to run your own Bargain Booksy promotion HERE.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, I took the post-promotion survey Bargain Booksy offered and reported my results and criticisms. After reviewing my case and confirming that I did receive below-average results, they issued me a full refund (without my asking).

A screenshot of my Bargain Booksy website promotion
A screenshot of my Bargain Booksy website promotion

Would I advertise with these email newsletters again?

Because of the Fussy Librarian’s low cost and proven ability to create a positive return on investment, I have scheduled a second promotion for April, during the Brain to Books Cyber Convention. While I won’t be able to test the newsletter’s effectiveness perfectly (as I will be doing other promotions and have my book on sale), I believe it is a worthwhile investment due to the discounted rate and my larger promotional plans.

As for Bargain Booksy, I wouldn’t try it again at this point in my career. With only one book available (and let’s be honest — a book that I’m still trying to figure out the best way to market), I don’t think it is worth the risk. Perhaps when I have more in the series, a book that is not cross-genre, or a free book (for which I would have to use the partner site, Free Booksy), I will try it again.

Have you used either the Fussy Librarian or Bargain Booksy? I’d love to hear if they worked for you. Also, if you have any questions that I didn’t answer, feel free to ask them in the comments!

37 thoughts on “The Fussy Librarian vs. Bargain Booksy”

  1. An interesting post, Kate 🙂 I’ve tried Bargain Booksy as well with not much success, so I probably won’t be going with them again either. I have a Fussy Librarian promo scheduled for next month, so am interested to see how that goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The best paid advertisement I’ve used is Ereader News Today, but when I’ve done that, I’ve also had the book priced at 99 cents (or free after I had several books out). At 99 cents, I had a $15 return on investment when only book #1 was out. If I remember correctly, I had a $40 roi when I had multiple books and set book 1 as free. ENT is the only place I’ll use. I tried Fussy Librarian in the past before the free books were in the same newsletter and still only sold about 2 copies.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for sharing your results. I’ve had very disappointing results with Bargain Booksy and The Fussy Librarian. Unfortunately I don’t have precise figures to share. Digital Book Today, Choosy Bookworm, eReaderGirl and BookGorilla were also pretty dreadful. The best results came from EReaderNewsToday (ENT). The first promotion I did with them cost me $25 and I sold 150 books priced at $0.99. The second time I used them the cost had gone up to $35. I think I sold a similar amount as the first time, but it was hard to tell because I had another promotion (BookSends) running on the same day. Kindle Books and Tips got me 67 sales at a cost of $25. I haven’t yet managed to land a BookBub in the US, but I did once get a BookBub just for the UK. I sold 150 books via BookBub UK but the cost of that promotion was $60, compared to $25 or $35 at ENT for the same result. I’ve always done promotions at $0.99 so I was interested to see that you kept your price at $2.99. I’m taking a step back from paid advertising at the moment and I’ve put The Sleeping Angel back into KDP Select.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing what you’ve tried, Margarita. It sounds like you’ve had pretty good luck with a few of the platforms. And to my pricing strategy, I know keeping my full price was probably a harmful move, but I wanted a baseline so I could compare when I ran future ads at a discounted price (and it allowed me to make a positive ROI with many fewer books sold).


  4. As an author, I’ve had decent success with Fussy Librarian and pretty good success with Ereader News Today. Kate, for your book I would definitely recommend discounting to $.99 for your next promo and submitting to FL, ENT, and also Robin Reads, Free Kindle Books & Tips, and Book Barbarian (Book Barbarian specializes in sci-fi and fantasy).

    Also, I started a book deals newsletter with a fellow author, called BookStar. We don’t currently accept sci-fi but perhaps your readers who write in other genres would be interested in submitting to us! We focus mainly on books by women or for women, so if any of your readers have books that might fit, here is our website:

    Good luck to everyone on their promos!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We tried a free promo on Fussy Librarian for the first book in our sci-fi series, and got only about 100 downloads out of it. Our free promo for the same book on Book Barbarian and Sweet Free Book netted about 900 downloads. We will not be using Fussy Librarian again.

    A discount promo with Ereader News Today was disappointing; 16 sales at $0.99, which lost money.

    We have not tried Bargain Booksy, but our research into them has book been encouraging (including this article), at least for sci-fi.


  6. Wow, Kate, finding this article is timely for me…I have a Fussy Librarian ad running Wednesday, May 25, and a Bargain Booksy ad running Thursday, May 26. I’ve submitted a different book to each site, they’re both crime fiction, and I kept the regular price of $3.99 on both of them. If it’s cool with you, I’ll comment with my results afterward.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kate,

        I have to apologize, because I got my ads mixed up. I have a KB Featured Book ad on Wednesday, May 25. The Fussy Librarian ad is running on June 13–it was the earliest I could get.

        I also ran a KB Book Discovery promo on May 20, which cost me $15.00. I didn’t sell a single book that day, nor have I sold one since. The last sale I had before that date was on May 18.

        I went on my own less than two months ago with novels previously published through Amber Quill Press. Since then, I’ve sold 23 copies over three different books. The most I sold in one day was five books, and all five were of the same book, JAMES 516, and the sales came right after a public announcement that it had won the 2016 EPIC eBook Award for Best Mystery.

        I put one of my novels free for five days the week before Mother’s Day and had like 966 free downloads. Since then, I’ve seen an increase in KU pages read (which I’m happy about), but not much in sales.

        So, if I see a bump in sales on the date of one of the ads, I’ll know it’s from the ad.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My $35.00 KB Featured Book ad for JAMES 516 that ran yesterday, May 25, 2016, resulted in 0 sales. I kept it at its regular price of $3.99.

        My $50.00 Bargain Booksy ad for BUT NOT FORGOTTEN that ran today, May 26, 2016, resulted in 9 sales so far (I don’t expect much more from it tonight). Like my other book, I kept this one at its regular price of $3.99. The sales got me to #16,875 in the Kindle Store and #315 in Store>eBooks>MTS>Mystery>Police Procedurals. 9 is the most sales I’ve had in one day since going on my own at the end of March and this is the highest I’ve been in the rankings.

        While I didn’t make back all of my money, I got back half of it and moved some books. I will definitely use them again in the future.

        Take it easy!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for sharing your results! Be sure to be honest about them when Bargain Booksy sends you their follow up email/survey They confirmed that I had below average results during my promotion and gave me a full refund. Since you didn’t break even either, they may do the same for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. First off, I don’t lie about anything…ever.

        Second, I wouldn’t want a refund. I went into it understanding it was a risk and that not all results would be similar. It moved more books in one day than I ever have before, so I’m pleased.

        Lastly, and most importantly, the ad is still working. I sold two more copies this morning and I had 1106 KENP read already today, which is a single-day record for me. 1064 of those pages were from the book I promoted through Bargain Booksy. That brings my total earnings from this one ad to about $35.00, meaning it cost me $15. That’s about how much I spend on my Friday lunches.

        I’m so pleased, I shelled out $85.00 for a Free Booksy ad for one of my other books to run next week.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’m glad you’re pleased with your results. I apologize if you took offense to my comment. I didn’t mean to imply that you were a dishonest person or anything of the sort.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hey, Kate,

        I just got back from a five-day cruise, so I wasn’t able to respond earlier. You know how it goes with written messages–it’s hard to measure tone–but I wasn’t offended at all. 🙂 I think what you said needs to be said, because there are a lot of people who lie (for one reason or another–none of which I understand or would agree with) and you don’t know me yet, so your advice was warranted.

        While I was away, I ran a Freebooksy ad. I didn’t have access to the internet (and I knew I wouldn’t), so it was basically a “set it and forget it” ad. When I got close to the port, I checked my KDP dashboard and was very pleased.

        On the date of the ad, which was the 4th of 5 free days on Amazon, 4,294 copies were downloaded, 2,414 KENP (a new personal record) were read, and 1 of my other books were purchased at regular price.

        The day after the ad, which was my last free day, 1,041 copies were downloaded, 1,902 KENP were read, and 4 copies of my other books were purchased at regular price.

        Today, 2,144 KENP were read and I sold 5 books at regular price.

        In addition to having a large pool of new potential readers, I made about $56 back of the $85 spent. I’m thrilled. :-)))

        Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. That’s fantastic! You definitely achieved some fantastic results, and it seems like Freebooksy is a great option for authors running a free promotion. Thanks for sharing your results yet again! I know they’ve been helpful to me, and I’m sure other authors will benefit, too.


      8. It’s a pleasure, Kate, and I really appreciate your original post that opened the door for this conversation.

        As an update, more than 2,485 KENP were read today and I’ve sold 15 digital copies and 1 print copy of my novels. My totals so far for the entire promo were 5,903 free downloads, over 7,696 KENP read, 21 eBooks sold at regular price, 1 print copy sold, and 3 new 5-star reviews. I’ve now earned more than $9 above the $85 I spent on the ad, making this a huge success in my book.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I sold 75 kindle copies for a $25 ad through Robin Reads. Those were actual sales because I hadn’t gone through KDP yet. Price was at 0.99.
    Planning on using them again next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m a year late to this great post(!), but since we’re information-sharing, I’ll jump in with some autumn 2017 feedback. I love The Fussy Librarian and am running an ad for a free title in October 2017 and an ad for a different, paid title ($1.99) in November 2017. I have used TFL for a couple of years for my historical fiction, with a recent addition of modern lit. One of the reasons I’m a fan is that TFL gives brand-newbies, with just a few ratings, a place to begin, an entry point. The customer service is great, and I usually see profit, even if it’s small. And, I’m hoping to gain readers who specifically seek the genre and may leave reviews. The detail in the tailored ads allows the author to make it clear what the reader is getting. If the reader sees that detailed ad, clicks through, reads your retail page, AND buys, you’re likely getting someone who appreciates your genre. I’m grateful to ANYONE who even reads the ad, let alone clicks through and purchases, but, certainly, if you want a happy reader, a better-targeted ad will help with that. TFL allows the most control over the ad verbiage, with a generous character-count limit. In the end, you may not get a zillion sales, but five quality readers who may leave reviews is a great thing. (Also, I don’t mind having to state explicitly that my book contains violence. I think readers actually gain respect when they see you put it out there.)

    That said, I also like Bargain Booksy and have run several ads with them. Sometimes the results are mixed, but I usually make a profit, and I think they provide everything I just said about TFL regarding a well-enough targeted ad that you’re hopefully drawing readers who will be happy with your work and maybe leave a review. I’m running a Bargain Booksy ad the same day as my November TFL ad for the $1.99 book, with a Freebooksy ad set to coincide with my TFL ad for my free title in October.

    Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve had good results promoting book one in my murder-less psychic mystery series on Bargain Booksy at 99 cents–about 50 to 80 sales each time. I tried a 99 cent sale on book two in the series this month and only sold 30. I’ve never had more than 25 sales with a Fussy Librarian promotion, but a lot of them tend to be on the non-Amazon sites, which means a better royalty on a 99 cent book. I look for the profit in sales of the rest of the series, If I get 200 sales of book one, I expect ten people to follow through and buy the other five books. People buy a lot of bargain e-books they never read and many buy books that they find aren’t a good fit for their tastes. I have to reach a lot of people to find the five percent that will become my fans.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have a post-apocalyptic novel, If I Let You Go, that I’m struggling to market. Paid promotions haven’t helped me so far. The best thing I’ve done is build organic connections with other writers on Twitter.


Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s