Does Bookbub work for children’s authors?
I asked my friend, and bookbub expert Andrea Kamenca to chat with me and tell us all the answers!
The author of 22 books, Andrea has had SEVEN bookbubs in the past two years. If you’re interested in learning about this book promotion strategy, you’ll want to listen to what this powerhouse author shares!
Joining me for the first time? Start at the beginning HERE
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Get Connected with Andrea!
Find Andrea’s books and website HERE
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Laurie: Hello writers. Welcome back to the Writer’s Way podcast. I’m here again with the fabulous Andrea. How are you?
Andrea: I’m great. How are you?
Laurie: I’m good. It’s Sunday. The sun is shining. So I’m good.
Today we’re going to talk about BookBub because you are the only children’s author I know of personally who’s had so many. But for people who maybe didn’t listen last round, what was it like a year ago? I think you were on?
Andrea: Even longer. Maybe a year and a half.
Laurie: Okay, so for people who don’t know you and your books. Just give us an intro.
BookBub, what is it?
Andrea: So my name is Andrea Kamenca, but I go by Andi Cann. And I have about 22 books. Several have done really well. You know, it’s like everything. There’s a range.
And actually what completely started me on my author journey was BookBub because the very first book that I created. I wrote and then had illustrated. I’d heard about this thing called BookBub. And for those of you who don’t know, it’s Bookbub.com and BookBub is. It’s almost like discovery/a service that helps you understand what is available to you in particular genres.
And then they provide you not only with the opportunity to see these books, but also to get them sometimes for free or at reduced cost. And so they keep these very carefully curated lists of both subscribers, which is free. And also books. And they work with indie publishers as well as big publishers to promote various books. But they’re all very carefully curated. So people know when they when they subscribed to BookBub that they’re going to get quality books.
And so I’d heard about BookBub’s. They heard everybody, oh, it’s really hard to get. And then my very first book. I got the BookBub and I was like, wow, okay.
Laurie: Not that hard.
Andrea: No, I didn’t think. It wasn’t that hard.
It felt like such a. Because, I was writing nonfiction at the time and a kid’s book. I was looking for signs in the universe to tell me which direction to go in. And I got the BookBub and I’m like, it’s a sign. It’s a sign. So I put my book for free.
It was “Mr. Hoopeyloops and His Amazing Glass”, and I think part of the reason why they chose it was because it has a really inviting cover. It was professionally done. Very inviting. Very colorful. And very unique. It’s about a gentleman who is. Nobody knows what he does in town, but turns out he’s a glass artist. So I think that also was interesting. Got a lot of attention cause it wasn’t sort of the same old, same old. Anyway.
And so I put the book for free. My husband’s like, why are you doing that for free? I’m like, it’s supposed to work.
BookBub first time results!
Anyway, what ended up happening was. It’s about if you do both national and international. It’s about $121 which is a lot less than adult BookBub’s. Adult BookBub’s can cost as an author up to $1,200 but so I did it and I had almost 9,000 downloads.
And what I also found was it kicked off, not only did I end up getting an Amazon, like a KDP bonus for authors that month and the next month, because all of a sudden people started reading it on their Kindles and the KU. They kicked off some paperback sales. And then I got a lot of reviews that were very positive.
And so it was so validating. It just was so great. And so this ripped me into gear and I had a couple of other. I put a couple other books in that series. They’ve all had BookBub. There’s another book that I’d had that has not gotten BookBub series. I did almost at the same time, but then I’ve had, and so, so it was very good from that perspective.
The BookBub effect
Then what really another game changing moment came for me also through BookBub, which was I put out a book called “The Magic of Friendship Snow”, two years ago, April. And literally do not sell ones you would copy. Like not one copy. And I was like, it’s such a good book. It’s such a great cover. I couldn’t believe it cause it was.
Anyway, so I applied for a BookBub and I got one in November of 2018. And it was crazy. I mean it had 13,000 downloads. And it completely blew the lid off that book and it has been a consistent seller. It’s been my number one seller ever since. Got like 137 reviews. Now I sell, pardon me,
Laurie: Does that one sell year round? Cause I was, I was thinking maybe
Andrea: It does sell year round. It definitely sells more in November through March.
Andrea: Actually I have a second BookBub on it coming up February 12th and 13. So, then another interesting story about BookBub is I have another book called “What to Do When You’re Feeling Blue”. I expected it to be similar to “HoopeyLoops” or “The Magic of Friendship Snow”. It would be between 8,000 and 12,000 or 14,000 downloads. I had 45,000 downloads on that book.
45 Thousand downloads
Laurie: On a children’s book.
Andrea: And I think though it’s because there’s a lot of concern about mental health and depression. And in the book addresses. It’s more whimsical and it’s my only book that rhymes. But it consistently. I give away a lot of it. Interestingly, it doesn’t convert to sales very well.
I have not sold a lot of paperback. I do. They do read it in KU, but I don’t sell as many paperbacks in that book. But it’s perpetually. Whenever I give it away, people love it. And it’s a good book, I get great reviews on it, you know? But so that’s interesting. I’m actually this year, I’m working on it now, I’m going to put out a journal to go with it. So that people, if they have it on their Kindles and they want to work through “What to Do When You’re Feeling Blue”, they can write in the journal. So that will probably be coming out sometime in February, March.
Laurie: So for people, just for clarification, it didn’t translate necessarily to paperback sales. But you do because it’s enrolled in KU , is that when enrolled in KU? So it does get page reads when you have 45 thousand.
Tricky things to learn about BookBub
Andrea: It does. It does. And this is the tricky part about BookBub. That’s really challenging. BookBub really prefers books that are wide, not exclusive to Amazon. So that’s not to say they won’t choose it if it’s exclusive to Amazon. I’ve had two of them be chosen.
One I screwed up and they let me slide because I thought it was wide and it wasn’t. And anyway, they let me slide. The second one, my “Magic of Friendship Snow” recently I took it out to put it wide. And it just tanked on Amazon. And so I put it back in. And in the meantime, I applied for a BookBub and when they said it was selected. I’m like, okay, but if this is no longer relevant to you, then that’s fine.
And they said, no, we’ll go ahead and do it. But they prefer books that are wide. And it was explained to me, they have an audience on all the different devices. Not just Amazon, but AppleBooks and GooglePlay and Nook and Kobo. And so they really prefer books that are wide. So, you know, one way to do that is to put the books wide and then apply for the BookBub.
So some of my process is I start getting reviews in Amazon. Then I put it wide. Apply for the BookBub. Let it be wide for a while. See if it takes off wide. If it doesn’t, I put it back in KU. Others I’ve maintained. I’ve kept them wide because I feel like it’s an introduction to who I am as an author. But they’re very, it made me, it’s a game changer in terms of because of the reviews that come in.
Caution Children’s Authors!
Now, the one thing I’ll caution people, and I’ve actually expressed this to BookBub. Cause I’ll have now seven. Seven BookBub’s in a year and a half, which is pretty. I feel very, very fortunate and very grateful to them. I feel like of everything they’ve really helped my author career so much and I really appreciate them. The one thing that I’ve struggled with is most of my books I give my illustrator, even though it’s work for hire, I give my illustrator credit on the cover. And my first series, “Mr. Hoopeyloops” the illustrator who I paid and does not pay for marketing or anything like that. His name comes before mine in the alphabet, and so what they tend to do with collaborations is they just alphabetize the two people on the cover. And the person that’s higher in the alphabet and gets the billing.
So when it went out, it was new BookBub by Fabrice Bertolotto. And so, and this happened three times, all three books.
And so I ended up building his BookBub following by 50 or 60 people. He would have like 45 and I’d get three, even though I’m the one that paid the money. So it’s really kind of frustrating. And the last time I thought we had it all resolved, because I contacted them after the second “Mr.Hoopeyloops”. And nope. The third one came out the same way. Anyway, so yeah. So that was frustrating cause he’s not even like a regular illustrator guy. I mean he was somebody I just picked up. Anyway. He’s in France. So he’s got like 60 BookBub followers.
Laurie: And doesn’t ever use it probably.
Andrea: Yeah. Just be careful if you do have an illustrator on the cover. Make it really clear. I thought I made it very clear, but
Laurie: How do you make it clear? Like do you talk to the BookBub people before?
Andrea: It’s hard to talk to them. I did. I have one person’s name. I’ve sent emails. And they just say the same thing. Like we just.
Laurie: That’s just how they do it.
Andrea: Both people are on the cover or they get equal billing and, but I tried to explain like it’s different with kids books. You know, illustrators aren’t, sometimes it’s a joint venture, but oftentimes in the indie world, the author is buying the work and it’s work for hire.
And I own the copyright to the images. And, and I’m, because the thing is, is that many books, especially the “Hoopeyloop” series. The artists already has made far more money than me. Because, he gets his money up front and it’s not unsubstantial. I mean, I paid good money.
And so I take the risks. So he gets his money. He has no risk. He just delivers a product. I take the risks. There are books that I’ve paid a lot of money for that have not taken off. And there are others that I haven’t spent as much on that have done really well. So, that’s the disappointing part.
But I gotta believe eventually they’ll figure it out or they’ll work through it. I think we’re very small. The kids’ book is always a very small piece, but they do have 660,000 people on their children’s book a mailing list.
Laurie: Oh, that’s good.
Andrea: So when you put, when it’s submitted out to their audience, your book is put in front of 660,000 people. That’s a lot.
How important are BookBub followers?
Laurie: How important is it, because you got the page reads and you have that follow through from people. How important is it to try to get those BookBub followers on BookBub? So where you said he had got 50 and you got three
Andrea: that’s a good question. I have like 115 now, which is nothing compared to others. I believe, and I don’t know anything special, but I believe that the more BookBub followers you have, the more likely you are to get additional BookBubs because you’ve got people following you.
But there are people that are authors that have made a concerted effort to, to build followers on BookBub, and there are things that you can do, like providing recommendations and other things. I have not been as consistent about it. I’ll do it for a little while and then I’ll move in other areas.
It’s a terrific organization and they’re well funded and they’re very professional. They do really, really good work. I really respect them. I’ve done.
The second one I really like is Fussy Librarian. They’ve also done a really good job for me, but nowhere near the reach
Help with distribution and audio books
Laurie: Yeah. 660,000. Can I ask, do you put your own eBooks wide through each platform or do you have a distributor?
Andrea: I use Draft2Digital.
Laurie: Did you find that pretty easy?
Andrea: Very easy. They’re really good. They’ve got a good infrastructure. Yeah, so I use Draft2Digital. And recently moving into audio also with my books and I noticed that Draft2Digital, FindawayVoices, I’ll probably put my books there.
As far as distribution on audio books. I’ve been really surprised. That’s been another big shocker and it’s not a lot of money, but it’s really surprising to me. I mean, I have four books right now. I’ve six more coming, seven more coming in audio, and they sell. I was shocked. I didn’t think people would buy audio books, kids books audio.
But they do. And so it’s kind of fun.
Laurie: So where are you selling your audio books right now?
Andrea: Right now, I’m just selling them through Audible on Amazon. But I did select nonexclusive option. And so I just have to load it onto FindawayVoices who I believe distributes not only to other audio, but also to libraries.
So that’s a way. I feel like it’s good for discoverability. People will discover me as an author. And some of my books do translate okay into audio. You don’t need the pictures. And sometimes if you get that book in audio, it’s kind of fun because with one exception, most of the audio artists that I’ve selected also add some fun sound effects and things like that.
So it makes it more of a more of an audio adventure rather than just a simple read.
Laurie: Yeah. It definitely adds to the experience as opposed to once upon a time. That’s really cool. I had questions and people asking about, could I do a show about audio books? So thank you for adding that in, and then maybe we’ll devote one too.
Andrea: Yeah, no I’d be happy to. I encourage everyone to go to acx.com and there’s others I know Findaway and few others. ACX does a really nice job of matching you. You just put a little snippet of your book up there, and then you get people who are interested in auditioning. And you get auditions. And then you get to pick who it is that you want to do your book. It’s a fully automated process. It’s pretty, it’s pretty great.
Review Requirement Rumors
And one thing I did want to mention on BookBub is when I first started, there was sort of a rumor that you had to have at least 10 reviews in order to get a BookBub. That was not the case for me. There were books I had that had 10 reviews that did not get selected. And there are books that I had that had no reviews. Like not one review that was selected. Reviews help. If you have more reviews, like you could get one no problem is my guess. I mean, if you wanted to do one for one of your main books. You would be because with all the reviews that you have and everything, you would my guess, is you would be selected. I don’t know. I mean, I can’t.
Laurie: Yeah, I did apply. The years sort of blend together, so I don’t know if it was one year or two years ago. I applied once or twice and didn’t get it. And it’s a hard system if you go in not knowing what to expect. Not really knowing what to write in sort of that pitch.
And then not really being told we didn’t get you because of the reviews. Or because sometimes it’s just they have other books scheduled for the time you pick. So if we had a little bit more feedback, I feel like then you’d, Oh, okay, I’m going to apply again in a month or I’m going to try a different book, or try one with reviews. Or try one wide. So
Andrea’s Top Recommendations
Andrea: And that’s another thing I would recommend. One of the things I would recommend, because there was somebody who actually spoke at one of the conferences.
First of all, make sure that you have your BookBub author profile up. And make sure all of your books are on that profile.
Second thing is when you actually apply for a BookBub, there’s a text box at the very bottom that says, do you want to say anything else or other notes or something like that. It’s pretty generic. Always use that to explain why. Either has a lot of reviews. Or it’s been really successful. Or it matches well with the season. Or whatever that gives them something to go on.
Laurie: Oh, smart.
Andrea: Yeah, so that helps a lot. And there’s certain times a year, it seems to be easier to get them. And I would say that I think that’s why my original one I had got in February because I think February, March. April. They’re not high book buying months as far as for kids’ books, and so it’s much harder to get them. But the other thing you can do is you can apply
Laurie: You mean easier to get them? Do you mean,
Andrea: Sorry. Easier to get the BookBub. Harder to, yeah. Easier to get the BookBub. Sorry. The other thing is that some people have asked about free versus 99 cents. Most of my books are because the images are so big, I can’t take them down to 99 cents. And so I just always do free. And I found also that BookBub’s seems to prefer free over the 99 cent ones.
Laurie: So I think the rules are you can apply at one price point and then right away apply at another one if you don’t get selected. So a lot of people apply for 99 cents, if they get not selected, then they apply right away for free or vice versa.
But in my opinion, as a BookBub consumer, if I get any books that comes out and I have to pay for it. I turn it off right away. I delete the email right away. Unless like I don’t think I’ve ever, ever been interested enough to go. Because to my mind, the book pub equals free.
And you know, like my dad’s on there, and so he’s not reading children’s books, but he’s delighted because, Hey, did you know I could get these free books? And they send me an email once a day. And I’ve heard other indie authors say, people aren’t on there to pay 99 cents. They’re not going to pay
Andrea: That may be true for some people, but I can tell you that for myself. Some of the, I read some of the traditionally published authors personally, adult books. And thrillers and things. And if there’s normally a book from Ian Brown regularly, it’s $9.99 for a Kindle book and they have it for the $1.99 I just snap that up. But you know what I’m saying. So I think the traditional publishers have done a pretty, they’ve pretty much kept their prices very high which has provided an opportunity for indie authors.
Yeah, I would say the one thing is I did have a BookBub three days before Christmas. “Mr.Hoopeyloops Saves Christmas”, and not only did it have the feature Fabrice Bertolotto, but also it was such a busy day that I only got like four reviews immediately. Couple of them were not good. I was so devastated, but since then, and I kept telling myself to wait.
Since then, I’m up to like 37 reviews now or something. And, that’s really another component is as an indie author. It’s really the long game that we’re playing. And so the more reviews we get. I think anybody who writes a book, a kid’s book, and expects to make a lot of money right away is not being very realistic.
There are of course there was always, the unicorn out there. But it’s really the long game. And so the way I look at it is the more reviews I get that are positive. The more I get exposure. And building a brand. And I’m building an experience of if you have an Andi Cann book, this is the kind of book you’re going to get upbeat, positive, intelligent, all those things, colorful.
Laurie: And you know, just from a sales perspective, the more times people see your stuff. See your name. They say like up to 15 touches now, 17 to 15 sort of times that people see it.
So even if they don’t necessarily buy the first offer from their BookBub, maybe, they’ll get it a second or third to keep getting them. That’s fantastic. Yeah.
Andrea: The other thing too is I’ve tried both stacking BookBub with other promotions. I tried BookBub alone. Like nothing else. Like no other stacking. And when I say stacking, people do a BookBub and they’ll do a Fussy Librarian and then maybe they’ll do something else. I’ve tried it just BookBub. BookBub plus stacking. BookBub plus social. BookBub plus email.
And the ones that have been the most successful have been the ones where I’ve done all of it. BookBub, stacking, media, and email. Those are by far been more successful. More conversions for paperback. More reviews.
But it’s still a matter of, is it a book people want to read? Is it written to market? Is the timing right? Cause December 22nd the timing, was not right. I probably would not do that again.
Laurie: Okay. In regards to the downloads on that day, it wasn’t really worth it?
Andrea: Yeah the downloads were lower by lot. Like I think it was 6 or 7,000 I think it was 6,900 which is the lowest I’ve ever had which is still a lot.
Laurie: It still sounds like so much though.
Andrea: But if I’m looking at it, the 6 or 7 I’ve had so far. It’s the lowest. And the lowest amount of reviews. And very low conversion. So I probably wouldn’t do one again on Thanksgiving or the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas or few days before Christmas. And I feel bad because somebody in the group asked me cause she had an opportunity to do it on Christmas.
I’m like, Oh yeah, you should totally do it. I feel bad now. I don’t know what her results were. But she paid only $29. So I’m guessing she’s in the UK and she only pays local and she only does the UK or international, because the US $121 is broken out into two things, it’s like $100 or $99 or whatever for US, and then it’s an additional like $29 or something like that.
New BookBub Service alert!
It’s almost $100 for the US and then it’s like an additional $20 for international. So if you just do international, which some people do. I don’t. But if you just do international, that’s another. And BookBub is also starting to get into audio because they have their Chirp service. Which I don’t know much about yet. But, I don’t know if they’re doing giveaways or whatever. But I know that they are promoting audio books on their service called Chirp.
Laurie: Okay, cool. Which sounds like the children’s magazine Chirp. So that their audio give away service as opposed to Ebook.
Andrea: I don’t know if they’re giving it away, or if they’re just distributing. I haven’t really looked into it. But it’s something. It’s new for them and or new ish. I think within the last year or so, maybe longer. But I’ve been hearing about it more from Joanna Penn and I heard about it briefly at one of the conferences I went to.
Laurie: Okay, cool. So in your experience, just to summarize, worth it?
Laurie: But to varying degrees based on your book and the time of year and all that stuff. But usually
Andrea: And what your objectives are. If your objectives are to make a lot of money. It may or may not do that. If your objectives are to get reviews, it will absolutely give you reviews. No question. Yeah. There’s a mix. Like always. It’s still so hard. I mean, after all the books I’ve written, I still hate the one and two star reviews, especially when they seem ridiculous. You know, it’s part of the gig. You know? You just have to deal with it.
But it’s worth it. It’s a way to build your brand. It’s a way to build discoverability. It is absolutely. Potentially you can make money because of the bonuses, the all start bonuses,
Laurie: And you do get paid for the page read, right?
Andrea: Yes. It takes a lot of page reads to make $100. I get like 24 cents a book or 35 cents a book.
Laurie: I’m just thinking of that 45,000 download day.
Laurie: I’m wondering if the page reads alone would have,
Andrea: Yeah, they were good but a lot of people just downloaded it and some people have not read it. I think it was. Not everyone realized it was a kid’s book. And so I think that they don’t, because the cover is…
Laurie: Well, yeah.
Andrea: Yeah. It’s not necessarily, but it’s fun and it’s great for kids who are struggling with depression or anxiety or you know, that kind of thing. So
Laurie: It’s a square cover, right?
Andrea: Everything’s square
Laurie: To me a square cover indicates
Andrea: kids. Yeah. But no, I don’t think everybody that, yeah,
Andrea: There are books. They are the same size as Instagram. By the way follow me on Instagram, AndiCannbooks.
Laurie: I’ll put that in our show notes. I think for these show notes. I’m going to try to do a little bit more than I usually do. Usually I just kind of throw the transcript in there to be honest, because it takes a lot of work. But I’ll try to summarize what we’ve talked about and
Andrea: Did I talk too much?
Laurie: No, no, not at all. I feel like people don’t really read the transcripts and then it’s also not the best read cause it’s like Laurie. Andi. I’ll try to summarize it in a more interesting way. And it’s one of my goals this year with the podcast. So anybody listening please, leave a comment and let me know if that’s a yay or nay. I think it’s worthwhile doing, but it always helps, like you said, to have that validation. So just to summarize what you said and you know,
Andrea: If I can help you with that at all, let me know.
Laurie: Oh, thank you. That’s,
Andrea: Yeah, like I said, for everybody it’s a really great way. And they’re a great organization. Very supportive of authors. And not just traditionally, but indie authors. And, they are almost impossible to reach except through email.I will tell you that.
When they released the thing, and I tried to reach them that day. See if they would release it again under my name. I literally scoured the internet trying to find someplace else. My husband found one which was good, and I called it. It goes right to voicemail. I texted them. I messenger them on Facebook. Unfortunately they didn’t. But yeah, I still feel like they’re just great, great organization. And it was
Laurie: Interesting, but that’s good to know. That’s a good heads up. Be prepared so it’s not shocking. You know, you’ve been waiting and waiting and finally get accepted and your book comes out and your name gets second billing.
Andrea: Well, no, doesn’t even show up. Like when the email comes out, it’s like, a fabulous free release by blah blah blah. It’s not even on here. Oh,
Laurie: We’ll make sure everybody is prepared for that. My last name is a W so I’ll be last. Oh man.
Andrea: Maybe, like I said. Hopefully if enough people talk to them about it though, they’ll make some adjustments. But I still appreciate them.
Laurie: Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you. I appreciate you for coming on here and sharing your knowledge and your experience. Congratulations.
Andrea: There’s so many great indie authors out there, yourself included and many other great ones. Stacy Bauer. I mean, there’s so many great people out there that are writing. Just Mary Nhin, great books. So I would urge everyone to check out all of them. Because just means you’re indie, doesn’t mean you’re not a contender.
Laurie: Yes. Here, here. Here, here. Well, thank you. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and I’m sure I’ll talk to you again.
Andrea: Yup, take care! Bye!
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