My Wild Weekend as a Bestselling Author

To answer the question I raised in my last entry: Yes, BookBub is well and truly worth it. 

If you’ll recall, I’d taken the advice of several sites and bought ads in a few different newsletters to promote the 99 cent eBook sale in advance of my Sunday BookBub deal. 

I tried to keep my expectations modest. All these promos were dropping on a holiday weekend in the US and while I didn’t know what kind of effect that might have on sales, I figured it was unlikely to be helpful. 

Friday: The Fussy Librarian Promo

The eBook started Friday at #17,308 overall, #102 in Gothic Fiction, #137 in Occult Horror, and #154 in Occult Fiction in the Kindle store. Even after the Fussy Librarian promo dropped early that afternoon, the book stayed at the same rankings all day. Later that night, things started to move: #9,686 overall, #60 in Gothic Fiction, #65 in Occult Horror, and #84 in Occult Fiction. This was the highest these numbers had ever been, and the first time the book’s overall Kindle ranking was a four-digit number. 

Saturday: Robin Reads + Bargain Booksy Promos

On Saturday morning, my Amazon eBook rankings were back down to #10,608 overall, #66 in Gothic Fiction, #83 in Occult Horror, and #93 in Occult Fiction. These were still much higher than they were on Friday morning. 

Late Saturday afternoon, a few hours after the two promotional newsletters went out, my Amazon numbers took a big upswing and by Saturday night, they were at #6,036 overall, #37 in Occult Horror, #40 in Gothic Fiction, and #49 in Occult Fiction.

By this point, I was willing to pronounce the ad-stacking strategy going into Sunday’s BookBub newsletter a success. 

While this was going on, I was probably driving my social media followers nuts because I posted about this sale a lot, especially on Twitter. Did someone ask authors to drop their promo links? I was there! I made new sale graphics via Canva (which I prefer to BookBrush, though I know that’s not a popular opinion) and tried to keep the momentum up. If someone posted something nice about Tidepool, I retweeted it as soon as I saw it. As the song says, I was not throwing away my shot. 

Sunday: Boom Goes the Dynamite

My numbers on Amazon did not drop appreciably overnight, which I was happy to see. On Sunday morning, they were at #5,814 overall, #38 in Gothic Fiction, #42 in Occult Horror, and #49 in Occult Fiction. In fact, the overall ranking ticked up slightly, which I found interesting.

At 10 am, the BookBub email landed in my inbox. It was showtime, and I was wildly excited—this almost felt like the book’s second launch day, as Tidepool would be reaching a lot of people who didn’t know about it. 

I hit all my social media networks with a sale promo graphic and blatantly stole Mike Chen’s idea of promising pet pictures in exchange for retweets of my BookBub day Tweet. Posting a cat picture for every retweet got a good number of retweets. 

I also tried not to break my refresh button on all my devices, since by now I knew that any changes in the sales rankings would not show up until later in the afternoon. 

And show up, they did. 

No sooner did I leave my laptop to go shower than my husband texted me with “Take that, Dean Koontz.” Tidepool had jumped to #966 overall, #3 in Occult Horror (where I’d overtaken Koontz), #5 in Occult Fiction, and #11 in Gothic Fiction in the Kindle store. 

And this was when the BookBub effect in the international stores really started showing up. 

Amazon Canada was the first site to give me the coveted #1 Bestseller banner. The book eventually hit #123 overall, #1 in Occult Fiction eBooks, #1 in Occult Horror Fiction (Books), and #3 in Paranormal Fantasy.

Thank you/Merci, Canada!

In Amazon UK, Tidepool eventually hit 611 overall, with rankings of 1 in Occult Horror (Kindle Store), 1 in Horror Fantasy, and 1 in Occult Horror (Books). They awarded me my second #1 Bestseller banner. 

Love you too, UK!

Australia joined the BookBub Tidepool party later on, with rankings of 521 overall, 2 in Occult Stories, 2 in Occult Horror, and 5 in Gothic Fiction. I never saw much movement in Amazon India (which I’d heard was usually the case). Can’t win ‘em all. 

And in the US, Tidepool eventually reached #243 overall, #2 in Occult Fiction, #2 in Occult Horror, and #3 in Gothic Fiction.

While I couldn’t quite overtake the mighty writing team of Douglas Preston & Lee Child to earn a #1 banner in the US Amazon store, I got a BESTSELLER flag in the Barnes and Noble store and rocked Kobo at #1 in Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror, and #1 in Fiction & Literature, Horror. And Tidepool held its high rankings well into Monday. 

Some authors get very pissy about someone calling themselves a bestselling author based on Amazon rankings, which can be pretty ephemeral. It doesn’t help that authors sometimes deliberately list their books in extremely obscure categories (“Underwater Basket-Weaving Zombie Romance”) so that even a few sales will earn the book a #1 Bestseller flag. 

Well, too bad. The NYT bestseller list isn’t an option for Tidepool because the book doesn’t have physical bookstore distribution. And while the USA Today list is a vague possibility, I doubt I’m going to rack up the necessary sales in the time period I’d need to get there. So I’m celebrating the milestones that are available to me. 

I don’t think Occult Fiction, Gothic Fiction, or Occult Horror are ridiculously narrow categories, and I’m proud that Tidepool was so competitive there because I was up against big-name authors like Leigh Bardugo and Deborah Harkness in addition to Preston, Child, and Koontz. And Tidepool has continued to hold its high ranking; it wasn’t a “sneeze and you’ll miss it” bump. My rankings at 8:30 on Monday night are still #499 overall, #2 in Occult Fiction, #2 in Occult Horror, and #5 in Gothic Fiction. 

My publisher got the book accepted for a BookBub promo and I did what I could to drive attention to the sale, but we couldn’t force people to actually buy the book. Readers bought my novel all on their own. Why shouldn’t I be happy? 

Conclusion: If you and/or your publisher can afford it, a BookBub featured deal truly is the promotional Holy Grail everyone says it is. Established authors use BookBub right along with newbies, but it really gives a leg up to those of us who don’t have big marketing departments or name recognition working in our favor. You may not make a lot of money, as you’re going to have to heavily discount your eBook or give it away to qualify for a listing. But your book will get in the hands of lots of people who might never have seen it otherwise. And to me, that’s as important as the money is.

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