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
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.
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
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).
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!