Advertising and Marketing

BookBub Ads – Part One: Getting Started

By: Ginger on March 5, 2021

Our Hidden Gems guest author for today.

By: Ginger on March 5, 2021


When it comes to advertising, Amazon isn’t the only game in town.  Facebook is still a familiar favorite for those trying to drive traffic to their books, and some authors have even ventured into using YouTube and TikTok to promote their work. But have you given Bookbub a try?  Once just a hard-to-get newsletter promotion, Bookbub now allows authors to place ads in front of their large readership. In this first installment of a three-part series, Ginger gives you the lowdown on the Bookbub advertising platform and what you need to know to decide if it’s right for you.


One often overlooked but surprisingly effective advertising platform is BookBub – with many authors unaware they even run ads. For most self-published authors, getting a BookBub ‘deal’ is the only feature they’re interested in – often considered the Holy Grail of book promotions.

But for a fraction of the cost, you can chip into that same audience without having to score dozens of five star reviews or muscle out the competition to score that highly-competitive ‘deal.’

BookBub actually allow self-serve ads on their platform; offered in a format similar to Amazon’s cost-per-click model, except with dynamic content similar to what authors post on Facebook. Ads can appear in a variety of spots; and with over 10 million book-loving members, that’s a fantastic audience to promote to.

Additionally, BookBub makes targeting appropriate readers incredibly straightforward (but not easy – I’ll explain shortly.)

Unlike Facebook, you have a huge variety of authors to target when you’re producing ads; including not-so-big-names that nevertheless drive very effective traffic to your product pages. You can get really granular with the readers you target without having to spend hours gleaning keywords and creating bidding protocols like you have to do with Advertising on Amazon.

The costs are similar, too – with clicks costing between $0.41 and $0.70 which will be familiar to most authors who advertise on Amazon.

So, if you’re looking for more advertising options, maybe BookBub could be exactly what you’re looking for – and in this three-part series, we’re going to tell you everything you need to get started!

Are BookBub ads right for you?

The first thing to consider, though, is whether BookBub ads are right for your books? Well, the answer is as frustratingly vague as it is for advertising on any other platform – maybe.

Remember, advertising does nothing except get your book in front of people. It’s getting your product page right which actually sells your books. If you haven’t fixed that yet, getting a positive return on investment no matter which form of advertising you use is going to be difficult.

But I think there are a few cases that can be made for BookBub which really make it stand out from other platforms.

  1. The audience love books. BookBub is a book-driven website, so one clear advantage it offers is that the audience you’re reaching out to are almost certainly able (if not willing) to take advantage of what you’re advertising. Given that Facebook and Twitter are general websites, you’re immediately gaining an advantage by targeting book lovers specifically.
  2. Your creative can make an impact. Facebook don’t let you use (much) wording in your ads. Amazon ads don’t have any flair to highlight readers to sales, or deals. BookBub allows you to do both; with 300×250 pixel ad images that give you a surprising amount of creative license. If you’re running a deal, a sale, or want to chase an aesthetic rather than a generic book cover, you’ll have that opportunity.
  3. You can gain a following. Again, because BookBub is a book-focused website, the dynamic there is different to Facebook or Twitter. According to BookBub itself, 95% of readers tried a new author for the first time based on discounts featured in an ad, and 74% of BookBub readers say they’ll buy further books in a series they like; meaning it’s a powerful way to ‘hook’ a new audience. In some ways, it combines the best features of GoodReads with the convenience of Facebook advertising; and yet has the focus of Advertising on Amazon.

Bookbub also offers an incredibly detailed list of resources for getting your advertising up and running, to the point that they almost seem as invested in your success as you are!

That being said, the whole interface is deceptive in its simplicity. It’s easy to jump into BookBub ads without a plan or strategy and immediately lose money – I speak from experience!

So, let me explain some of the subtleties that can make all the difference in whether or not this platform is right for you.

Getting started

It’s a proven fact that special offers, discounts, and ‘deals’ are what move the needle on BookBub, so it’s definitely a good idea to start your advertising experiments by pushing a book on a free promotion or discount.

Obviously this might impact your return on investment; but half of advertising is learning what works (and what doesn’t) and trying to sell a book at a discount will attract more engagement than a full-priced book.

That’s not the only thing you can advertise – you can also drive traffic to Chirp, their audiobook provider – or get creative in terms of building a subscriber list, or even promoting an entire book series.

This should be your first step in the process – deciding what your ‘offer’ is going to be, and then how you’re going to measure whether or not it’s successful. Just like Facebook, there’s no way to directly track which clicks ‘convert’ into sales – so figuring out whether your advertising moves the needle on your book catalog is a challenge.

For example, I recently found I was getting as many sales for Book One in my series as Book Eleven, which was the book I was advertising – meaning that you could be making sales you can’t even track thanks to the power of BookBub. Go and check out my blog post here and you can find out how to compare pre and post-advertising sales and get a better grasp on what’s working (or not.)

But focusing on those ‘deals’ can help with this – especially if you’re pushing your book during a free giveaway promotion. If your metric for success is how many free downloads your books get, it’s pretty easy to compare the results based on one day without advertising in comparison to one day with.

But before we can even do that, there are two important things you need to figure out first – who you’re going to target for your ads, and what they’re going to see in terms of a sales message.

Hold your horses!

I said earlier that BookBub was ‘deceptively simple’ and that’s because it seems really easy to get started – but there are some subtleties that you need to be aware of.

In Part Two of this series, we’re going to look at the ability to create custom creative (which Advertising on Amazon doesn’t provide) and to have words on it (which is frowned upon by Facebook.) While this can work to huge advantage if you get your creative right, it can also make your campaign fall flat if you don’t; and requires a little talent for design.

In Part Three, we’ll look at the other wildcard – how to target your advertising. Specifically, how to find out which readers will respond to your ads, and which readers won’t.

These two things will make or break the success of your advertising campaign – so it’s worth learning about them before you start throwing your money at BookBub. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, remember that Hidden Gems offers 1-on-1 consulting on advertising and marketing that includes making the most of platforms like BookBub. If you want some direct help with getting your campaigns up and running, check out all we have to offer on our author services page for more information or to get started.

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About the Author

Our Hidden Gems guest author for today.

Ginger is also known as Roland Hulme - a digital Don Draper with a Hemingway complex. Under a penname, he's sold 65,000+ copies of his romance novels, and reached more than 320,000 readers through Kindle Unlimited - using his background in marketing, advertising, and social media to reach an ever-expanding audience. 

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