5 Steps to Growing an Audience on BookBub
With a community of over 20 million book lovers, BookBub is a great place to expand an author’s audience beyond their existing fan base. BookBub offers lots of marketing tools and resources to help you connect with these readers, and you can get started no matter the size of your following on other online platforms.
Wondering where to begin? Here are the first few steps you can take to establish an author brand on BookBub and start driving visibility right away, including tips and examples from authors who have found success growing their audiences.
Step 1: Claim an Author Profile
Your very first task is to create a public profile on BookBub.com. This is the main place readers go to learn more about an author when searching for their next great read on the site, so think of it as your home page. Claiming an Author Profile can start to drive exposure in a couple ways. First, claimed profiles are eligible to be shown as a suggested author throughout BookBub’s platform, including the Discover Authors page. And when readers follow your profile, they’ll automatically get notified whenever you release a new book or have a Featured Deal.
So, how to make your profile enticing enough to follow? We’ve found readers are more likely to follow if the author suggestions they see include a headshot, up-to-date books, and a bio. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for writing an engaging author bio, we recommend:
- Appealing to readers’ interests by mentioning subgenres, themes, or tropes commonly featured in your work.
- Including anything that lends credibility to your work: bestseller status, awards, features in recognizable publications, or work experience in your niche.
- Conveying personality. Use your distinctive voice to make new readers feel like they’re getting to know you!
- Adding personal details like your locale, family, hobbies, interests, or things that inspired your writing or publication journey.
- Using line breaks or paragraphs to make the text readable and approachable.
Including URLs to your website, social media profiles, and/or newsletter subscription so new readers know where else to find you for updates.
- Looking to other authors for inspiration. Browse the profiles of other authors in your genre or check out these examples of great author profiles!
To claim your Author Profile, create an account at partners.bookbub.com and navigate to “My Author Profile” in your Partner Dashboard. Start by searching for your author name.
Once we’ve verified your identity and approved your profile claim, you can upload a photo, edit your bio, and start adding your books by navigating to the “My Books” page of your dashboard. All of the books listed here will appear on your public profile.
Step 2: Engage with the BookBub Community
Now that you have a presence on BookBub, you’re ready to engage with the community. The primary way to do this is by recommending books. With our Recommendations tool, we’ve created a positive community for readers and authors alike to share the books they love. And authors have a lot of influence in helping fans discover new books — 76% of BookBub users buy books after getting a recommendation from an author they like, so recommending books on BookBub can help build trust as well as visibility on the platform.
When you post a Recommendation, we’ll share it in a few different ways throughout our platform. Your followers can see all of your Recommendations in their feed on BookBub.com. We’ll also send them an email every time a book you’ve recommended has a live deal.
In addition to engaging current followers, your Recommendations can also help you gain new followers. Any reader who lands on a book’s page will see your Recommendation in the book’s list of reviews. And because we want to encourage our readers to follow authors who are active on our platform, authors who recommend books are more likely to appear as suggested authors. In addition to boosting authors who post Recommendations in our discovery algorithms, we also specifically highlight top recommenders on the Discover Authors page.
To get the most out of this free tool, keep these best practices in mind:
- Recommend books your readers will enjoy. Your followers are likely to be interested in books similar to the ones you write, so try to suggest books in your own genre or a comparable one. You’ll want to be authentic, so these should be books you truly enjoyed too!
- Leverage Featured Deals. If you see a book you loved in your daily deals email, that’s a perfect time to post a Recommendation — if the deal is still available the next day, we’ll email your review to your followers.
- Post often! Consider posting a Recommendation whenever you finish reading a book. The more Recommendations you’ve posted, the more likely it is that we’ll feature one of the books you reviewed. We’ll email your followers about deals on any books you’ve recommended in the last five years.
- Engage with your readers. Your followers may comment on your Recommendations. Feel free to respond to these comments! Similarly, consider liking or commenting on Recommendations readers (or other authors!) post for your books. Readers will be excited to interact directly with an author they follow.
To share a Recommendation, search for the book you want to recommend. Don’t forget to check the “I recommend this book” box!
Or, you can go to any book’s page on BookBub.com and click “Write a Review.” Use this space or your Social Feed to like and comment on others’ reviews.
After you post a recommendation, you can share it on social media!
If there’s a deal on the book, we’ll highlight the deal price so your followers can easily snap up the discount.
Step 3: Submit an Appealing Promotion
BookBub readers sign up specifically to receive great deals on ebooks. You can appear in their inbox and get featured on BookBub.com by submitting a book to one of our editorially curated emails: Featured Deals or New Releases for Less. These promotions are sent to every BookBub member subscribed to the featured book’s category, getting the book in front of hundreds of thousands (and in some categories, millions!) of relevant readers beyond your existing fan base.
While both tools are designed to help you find new readers, each provides value in different ways.
Featured Deals is primarily a tool for promoting backlist ebooks that are free or deeply discounted. Authors primarily use Featured Deals to drive sales and revenue, boost a book up a bestseller list, get readers hooked on the first book in a series, or generate awareness for an author brand in the lead-up to a new book launch.
When author Juliette Banks made the third book in her series free for a limited time and ran a Featured Deal, she drove sales of both the third book and the first book in the series. “You don’t need to have a big backlist to recoup or do very well on BookBub. Here I only had two books generating income plus a preorder. I got my investment back in six hours and had over 40,000 downloads. Both The Vampire King and The Vampire Protector hit the number one and two spots on Amazon in two of their categories and stayed there for weeks.”
New Releases for Less features newly-published titles priced under $7. Unlike Featured Deals, we don’t require deep discounting of these titles — as such, a large part of the value of New Releases for Less is in exposure. While these promotions don’t generate the same volume of sales as Featured Deals, their value is also rooted in the attention they can help drive for a title early on in its release, which can lead to increased awareness from a wider audience.
Author Marilyn Barr used New Releases for Less to break into a new genre. “It was easy for me to get my book in front of a wide audience, without a lengthy author interview or blog post. This was my first book in Monster Romance (Paranormal Erotica), so I was almost an unknown (my usual books are vampire romances). My book rose to #2 in this super hot category and was under #2500 on all of Kindle paid books. Amazing. I’m still seeing Kindle Unlimited page reads from this deal almost two weeks later.”
To submit books for these promotions, navigate to the “Featured Deals” or “New Releases for Less” page of your Partner Dashboard and start by choosing the book you want to submit. Fill out the form to let us know the book’s category, price, retailer availability, and other details. Be sure to use the Comments field to share any additional information that’s not otherwise available on the book’s retailer pages.
Step 4: Create Eye-Catching Ads
Another way to start promoting your books is with BookBub Ads, our self-serve ad platform. Unlike Featured Deals and New Releases for Less, there’s no submission or selection process to run Ads, and you can promote any book — or a bundle of books! — at any price point. Plus, BookBub Ads’ targeting options let you target fans of specific authors as well as categories, so you can reach a narrow, relevant audience. Running Ads is the most flexible way to reach readers on BookBub.
It’s also a great way to build your audience. Any BookBub member who clicks on an ad for one of your books will be added to the audience of readers you can reach with future ad campaigns by targeting your own author name. Targeting your own fans (which includes anyone who has followed you on BookBub, clicked on your deals, or wishlisted your books) can prime interested readers for any future campaigns.
When author R.J. Blain promoted her new release to fans of herself and similar authors, it hit the USA Today bestseller list. “I ultimately get better advertising on a warmer audience. The general rule of branding is it takes people 18-20 times to become ‘comfortable’ with something due to exposure to it. So, by using an off-the-wall ad with a very limited audience, my self-target becomes a hive of people who are interested in what I have to sell. They’ll click more often AND buy more often.”
Author Danny Knestaut also found success targeting the audiences of himself and his coauthor. After running one campaign promoting a series to generate high click-through rates and attract new readers, he was able to retarget those new readers with a sequel series. “We had enlarged our audiences a good deal, so I wanted to hit our newest readers right away, while we were still top-of-mind, and let them know there was even more.”
We have a full tutorial on how to create BookBub Ads, but here are the basic steps:
Navigate to the “BookBub Ads” page of your Partner Dashboard and then to “Create an Ad.”
At the top of the ad creation form, you’ll be asked what type of readers you’d like to reach: either ebook readers on BookBub or audiobook readers on Chirp.
Next, you have the option to search for the book you’ll be promoting. This is to assist in automatically filling out your book data in the following Ad Creative and Click-Through Links sections.
We have a simple ad creative builder right in the ad creation form, but many advertisers have success designing their own images using tools like Book Brush! There are many different elements you could include in your ad design — the book cover, a tagline, a five-star review, a quote or blurb, series information, and more. We recommend picking just a few elements to focus on so that the most important information stands out. You can run tests to figure out which elements will best hook your ideal readers.
These are great examples of ads created by Book Brush’s Hourly Concepts that make the most of just a few elements. The tagline and call-to-action button stand out clearly against a clean background that matches the mood of the book cover. Simple but effective!
After adding your image and click-through links to retailers or other websites of your choice, you can follow the prompts in the form to set your ad’s targeting, schedule, budget, and bid, which determines how your ad will compete against other ads in the BookBub Ads auction to reach your target audience. You can find more in-depth instructions on each of these ad campaign elements in this tutorial.
Step 5: Invite your Existing Community
Now you’ve explored some of the marketing tools available on BookBub for growing your audience, but don’t stop here! You can invite your existing community to follow you on BookBub and let them know it’s an easy way to stay up to date on your new releases, price promotions, and recommended reads.
Here are a few ideas you can use to encourage follows:
Promote your BookBub presence on social media. Update your profiles with a link to your BookBub Author Profile and share the link every so often in a post or tweet. You might want to consider creating a custom graphic for these posts to catch readers’ eyes, like in this tweet from author Shannon Stacey:
Add a link to your Author Profile to your books’ back matter. The back matter is the perfect place to let fans know they can get dedicated updates about upcoming releases or deals on the next book in the series. In the back matter of her book Stryker, J.C. Cliff includes BookBub as one of a few places to follow her for updates.
Add follow buttons to your website and newsletter. You might already be linking to each of your social media profiles here, so you can simply add a BookBub button to your existing icon set. New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak added BookBub follow icons to the footer of her website and newsletter.
Run a giveaway! Many authors run contests to encourage fans to subscribe to their newsletter or follow their profiles. Some authors even run joint giveaways to cross-promote their profiles to each other’s audiences, which is a great way to widen your reach. Fifteen suspense authors recently joined forces to run giveaways of their books, yielding more than 2,700 entries each worth a BookBub follow for each author!
We hope these ideas shed light on how to use BookBub’s tools to build an audience, why your audience should follow you on BookBub, and what they can get out of it. Start building your community by creating a BookBub account here.
Article by AJ Yee
AJ is a content marketer on the BookBub Partners marketing team, where she manages the Partners Blog and enjoys researching and sharing how authors and publishers can level up their marketing.