Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ten Days of KENP with BookBub Boost

So this was unexpected.

First, some background. Because I've been devoting my time to other things, I haven't published a solo novel in over two years.

Whiskey Sour was my first legacy pubbed novel, and the hardcover came out in 2004.

In 2010, I got my rights back and self-pubbed it.

This was my first book in the Jack Daniels series. It has remained one of my best sellers for me, and in June under KU 1.0 payout of $1.38 per borrow I loaned out 362 copies and earned $500. I also sold 215 copies and earned $589.

So in June I made $1089 from Whiskey Sour in KDP. Not bad for an 11 year old that I haven't advertised in a long time.

Then Amazon rolled out KU 2.0, which paid according to pages read rather than per download. Again, I didn't do any promos, or release any new work.

In July, under new terms, I had 204,295 KENP borrows at $0.005779 per page, which equals $1180. I also had 602 sales, earning $1648.

So in July I made $2892 from Whiskey Sour. I can understand why I made more in KU--this book has gotten over 1400 reviews, and people seem to like it. That means they tend to finish it, and I benefited more from being paid per page than I had being paid per borrow.

I can't figure out why my sales also went up. People who borrowed it liked it and bought it? Someone the ranking went up, so it became more visible and sold more copies? The jury is still out.

So the next step was to try a BookBub for Whiskey Sour, which I did on August 13. I reduced the price to $0.99 on August 12, and the Kindle Countdown ended August 17. The BookBub ad cost $800 for the Mystery genre.

I'll be honest here; while I've never lost money on a BookBub deal, I was a little concerned how it would work out with KENP. Has KENP become so popular it would hurt my sales? Did BookBub send their email ad to a lot of KU subscribers who would borrow it rather than buy it?

I needn't have worried. Here are my sales and page reads for those days.

United Ordered:
On August 11, prior to the BookBub and KDP Countdown, I sold 10 units at $3.99
Aug 12 - 118 (first day at $0.99)
Aug 13 (BookBub) - 5593 (I reached #11 in the Top 100)
Aug 14 - 1091
Aug 15 - 619
Aug 16 - 482
Aug 17 - 376
Aug 18 - 349 (back to $3.99)
Aug 19 - 78
Aug 20 - 78

KENP Read:
On August 11, prior to the BookBub and KDP Countdown, there were 4444 page reads
Aug 12 - 6325
Aug 13 (BookBub) - 7551
Aug 14 - 20,456
Aug 15 - 21,793
Aug 16 - 35,131
Aug 17 - 49,682
Aug 18 - 51,007
Aug 19 - 54,156
Aug 20 - 55,803

So, thanks to the BookBub ad and KDP Countdown deal, I made $5550 on $0.99 cent sales from August 13-17. As of this writing, Whiskey Sour's ranking is #170, which helped me earn another $1383 from August 18-20. $6933 is a pretty good return on a $800 investment.

But that doesn't include KENP. From August 13-20, Whiskey Sour has had 295,582 KENP reads. At $0.005779, that's an additional $1708.

Plus, remember that a rising tide lifts all boats. People who like Whiskey Sour go on to read more of my books. On August 20th, I had 167,942 KENP reads across my backlist. So I made $970, in a single day, just on borrows.

Your mileage may vary. In fact, your mileage will vary.

One of the problems with any sort of promotion is the inability to repeat results. There are so many variables and factors, and no experimental control. I'm sure some authors can blow these numbers away. I'm sure other authors won't do as well. Many authors tell me they still get denied by BookBub. For the record, I also get denied by BookBub. They say no to my titles that don't have enough reviews, or haven't been out long enough.

I'm sharing these numbers to show that, in this case, with this book, BookBub worked for me, and the boost it gave my KENP for both Whiskey Sour and my backlist is obvious.

  1. I'm a lucky SOB. 
  2. I'm grateful for these opportunities, which didn't exist a few years ago. 
  3. KDP Select Countdowns are a good way to gain exposure. 
  4. When coupled with BookBub, the results can be very impressive. 
  1. Writing novels that people tend to finish and enjoy leads to big KENP numbers. 
  2. KENP also works better than being paid per borrow, both with and without BookBub. 
  3. Having a series might also help boost sales during a promotion, as other titles benefit from the one being advertised.
  4. I looked up my last BookBub, which was May 8 of this year for another Jack Daniels title, Cherry Bomb. The BookBub ad drove 3142 Countdown sales, and 488 at full price, earning $2678 for that month with that title. There were also 488 borrows, which earned me $586. But when the BookBub ended, the sales and borrows went down. With KENP, when the BookBub ended, my sales went down by KENP numbers are still continuing to rise. I'm writing this at 3:26pm on 8/21, and I'm already up to 120k KENP reads for the day. I expect it to get near, or surpass, my all-time high of 168k reads yesterday. 
That means, for my particular situation, a promotional effort has longer lasting KU benefits under KU 2.0 than it did under 1.0. Seems like I've hooked a few people on my series, and they're burning through them.

I wrote this post a day early because I'll be out tomorrow, but I'll check in with an addendum to let everyone know what my final KENP reads were for the 21st. I'm curious to see if they keep rising, plateau, or begin the inevitable decline.

8/22 Addendum - I had 166,746 page reads yesterday, so I dropped by 1000.

8/23 Addendum - Spurred on by a free ebook, Endurance, and a BookBub ad for The Complete Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland, I hit a high of 203,688. It is 10:14am CST, and my KENP is already 125,185.

8/24 Addendum - 234,026 KENP reads. That's $1352 in KU for a single day.


ABEhrhardt said...

Quite an endorsement of Bookbub.

Congratulations on the wonderful success. If ever there was an affirmation of the value of the long tail, you've just written one.

'Keep writing - and keep promoting the older works.'

And thanks for sharing detailed numbers so we can see exactly how the innards work.

olga said...

That's great news.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Well done you! :)

Geoff Jones said...

Whiskey Sour is a good read. I read it this summer. If you haven't checked it out, you should.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations. Whiskey Sour is one of my favourite books.


gniz said...

Bookbub is still delivering great results, and congrats on having a book that you released a long time ago performing like a hot new release! That is dang exciting.

No doubt that KU 2 is going to be a goldmine for those like yourself who write novels and have a big backlist for people to churn through with page reads...

Enjoy your time in the sun and make the hay, Joe. This will be a wild ride for some of you, just as KU 1 was a wild ride for me and many other short form authors.

Interesting to see where we are in 6 months -1 year with KU and how the program matures...

ML Banner said...

Joe, one thing that's happening, but hasn't been reported with KU, is that book borrows are still impacting your BSR, on the day they're borrowed. However, Amazon doesn't report this (would be a great number to know), only the KENP reads, which of course would be delayed from time of download. We all buy during a promotion, but don't necessarily read the book right away.

I would think that you'll probably see a slow decline in KENP over time as all those who have borrowed during your promotion and now while the BSR is still high, will actually start to read. And it's obvious, over time, your KENP payout results will be many times better then they would have been with the previous payout-per-borrow system Amazon employed with KU.

Regardless of what's happening and what's reported, thanks for sharing your amazing results and congratulations!

Selena Kitt said...

I can't figure out why my sales also went up. People who borrowed it liked it and bought it? Someone the ranking went up, so it became more visible and sold more copies? The jury is still out.
The latter. Ghost borrows and the KU visibility boost. This is the "unfair" punishment - or the Amazon incentive - you get for going into KU. Without it, rankings drop like a stone.

KU 2.0 is the novelists hey-day. Especially if you write thrillers and page turners! I predicted this outcome as soon as KU 2.0 began.

Now everyone is trying to figure out how to increase their (wildly inaccurate and very much NOT "standard") KENPC.

Serials still work but not like they did in KU 1.0. Once a reader has your book in hand, you want them to just keep turning pages til the very very end. Back matter is increasing. Authors are adding "treasure hunts" to get readers to page through looking for a symbol to click that will take them to a free read. Other authors are adding long excepts, short "bonus" stories and some, even entire novels, at the end of their books.

Amazon's still got a lot to iron out. KENPC isn't fair by any means and if shorts writers were "gaming" Amazon's old system you can believe they'll game this new one.

That said, I'm glad your book/Bookbub did well! :) Prepare for a saturation in the thriller market soon though. It comes w the territory. People are leaving my genre like some mass exodus and thrillers/page turners are going to get the next big influx. Good news is I think most will cross pollinate to romance, so it will be more direct competition for Ann than it will for you and Blake.

But make that hay, Joe! Seriously, it's time for a new novel or two, KU and Amazon's algos LOVE it shiny and new. If you think you did well with an old book? OMG. Wait til you toss out a new one!

Can't wait for that post! :D

gniz said...

I echo Selena's sentiments.

There is going to be a lot of people putting out various bundles and making work longer or combining various works, because the money for page reads on long work will be fantastic. And then you can still price the bundles decently high to make good sales money, or you can choose to do 99 cents to get even better visibility while making up for the sales shortfall with KU bonus money...

A lot to shake out still, but you can bet everyone is figuring out how to make the most of this new system.

Selena, I personally like the mass exodus from the shorter works. I am still making good money, despite having pulled my work from KU and jacking up my prices. My readers seem willing to pay a premium for my work and that suits me. I no longer am getting the super high visibility anymore and rankings have tumbled, but in the end--cash is king. And I am still making a lot of it, as I'm sure you are too.

In the end, those who can adjust their strategies--both in writing and the packaging of that writing--will do the best in the longterm. I don't wait around for someone to adjust their program so that I can make money.


And that's the difference, because most writers are still waiting around, hoping for lightning to strike.

JA Konrath said...

And that's the difference, because most writers are still waiting around, hoping for lightning to strike.

There is a lot of reacting, but I don't see much acting.

The biggest benefit of Amazon is one a lot of newbies seem to take as a given, when in fact it's revolutionary: the ability to adjust your business.

This didn't exist pre-Amazon Kindle. We were at the mercy of our publishers, who controlled our rights. We couldn't bundle, or change prices, or put work on sale. All we could do was hope.

The next gen of writers has developed being hands-on and able to change. But how many actually experiment? We should all be trying new things and sharing data.

Selena hit on a new topic; gaming the KENP system. There's a thread on KBoards about uploading mobi vs. MS Word files to Amazon and getting different KENP page counts.

I warned Amazon about this before they launched. We'll see how it plays out.

gniz said...

Hey Joe,

There is a lot that is already starting to happen, as Selena mentioned. For bundling, it will make a lot of sense for series authors to only have the newest book available in a bundle as opposed to standing alone. This will allow for more visibility on the bundle, get extra page reads and you don't lose anything the way you used to in the old system.

Some people will game it, some will be more judicious--but you can bet there will be a lot of "experimentation."

For me, I am diversifying my approach. But right now, my stuff is out of KU because I don't feel like being forced to write longer and I found that I can actually make more money by charging higher prices. So Amazon has forced me to up my game and improve, which I suppose goes towards Joe's point...

Sigh, I hate admitting I'm wrong.

gniz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gniz said...

And finally, Amazon needs to fix the glitch which supposedly counts all pages read even if a reader simply skips to the final page of the book without having read the rest of it.

Not sure if the glitch is completely confirmed but so far, I've heard that it is real.

Thus, you can be assured the gamers will soon begin placing "treasures" at the very end of the book to ensure people "read to the end" even if they don't really enjoy the book very much.

Authors will make sure they get those page reads no matter what--and that is a major loophole the Zon needs to close before too long...

Anonymous said...

Amazon's still got a lot to iron out. KENPC isn't fair by any means and if shorts writers were "gaming" Amazon's old system you can believe they'll game this new one.

Selena, from day one of KU2, I heard people discussing ways they had heard others come up with to game the new system, and I think no matter what Amazon does, someone always will. The best we can hope for is changes to make it harder to game.

Joe, right now, I can only hope one day to have numbers like you. Thanks for reporting them and being honest enough to say individual results WILL vary. One thing that always rubbed me was the people touting the way that worked for them and spinning it as something that will work for everyone and in the end just making money off those people.

Guy Anthony De Marco said...

Honestly, I don't think anyone should be worried about the folks gaming the system. It's an eternal whack-a-mole game, just like fighting ebook pirates. Pretty much anyone who comes here and peruses the comments is familiar with the mantra of shut up and write. The gamers won't interfere with how your work is perceived and purchased. Your work will stand on its own, and hopefully it will provide a steady income. Let the gamers tilt at Amazon's windmills while your work rises on its own merits.

David Lang said...

I can easily believe that people can 'game the system' to make their book have more pages.

but that's very different from getting people to read those pages.

If Amazon bases things on 'last page read', they have a gaping hole in their system, but I thought the early info on this included things like a minimum time spent on a page.

Since there are no software updates to the older e-readers, it may be that people reading on those just use 'last page read' as that was already being provided (to allow you to pick up where you left off on another device), but people reading on the kindle app have some different metrics.

Alan Tucker said...

I did a promo for my scifi series from July 29- Aug 2 (first book free and countdown deals on the next two). I wasn't able to get a BookBub, but the freebie was listed with ENT and several of the other smaller sites. I'd had almost zero page reads before in July, so I was hoping to get a few from books 2 and 3 as people read the freebie and moved on to the rest of the series.

Yet, surprisingly, I started getting page reads from the freebie. The only thing I can figure is that people saw the ad, then clicked the button, but instead of "buying" the free book, they borrowed it instead (either on purpose or accident). My numbers are a tiny fraction of yours, but they have been climbing since the promo, even three weeks later now. We'll see if everything falls off the 30 day cliff after next week, but the additional page reads were an unexpected bonus from the promo.

Joe Flynn said...

Like Joe, I got a big bump in page reads when I did a BB promo last month for the No. 1 book in on4 of my three series. The discount price for that book was 1.99. Next month, I'm going to do another BB for a No. 1 book in a second series and us a .99 price point, looking to see how that might affect the numbers. So far, KU2 has bumped my monthly revenue from the four-figure range back into the five-figure range. I think it helps that the characters in my different series all live in the same world so they can visit each others books. That way if a reader likes one series he or she will likely give the others a try.

Unknown said...

I wish I understood the lending thing better. I've only been out with my MG series for two weeks and I've done no promotion but the books are being read....not as good as Konrath's but you've got yo start somewhere. I am just hoping to get some sales.

Mark Asher said...

Seems like books that hook the reader and make the reader want to get to the conclusion, in other words books with a strong story-line, will make more money with KU.

My guess is literary fiction won't do as well with KU page reads as plot-driven stuff like detective novels and mysteries.

My own personal experience as a reader is that I will often get tired of the writing in a plot-driven novel and start to skim to get to the end to see how it turns out. If I get tired of the writing in a more literary novel I will usually just quit reading.


Congrats again on your success Joe. I've been trying to get one of my DenMark Chronicles novels into BookBub for a while now and keep getting denied. I guess its because I don't have enough reviews, which sucks, but there are other avenues for now. Good insights as usual. Looking forward to any new novels you might be putting out. The idea of a book series is a sound one. I seem to catch readers with my OzValt Grant Collection as well as the DenMark Chronicles and the Logos Books. Here's hoping success across the board for everyone!


Joe do you know if Kindle Worlds allow us to Bookbub?

rjbucchia said...

Bryan, I doubt you could get a Bookbub ad for a Kindle Worlds Book. I have a novella in Kindle Worlds which is too short for Bookbub. Also, if you don't discount a book Bookbub won't take it and I don't think Amazon allows Worlds discounts.

rjbucchia said...

I also recently ran a Bookbub on my mystery thriller triple pack. Had great downloads, excellent sales afterwards, and was happily surprised at the KENP at 300,000 and still rising.


Good advice. I have a trilogy of Jack Daniels/OzValt Grant novels I think would do well with a Bookbub boost. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I just got my trilogy out but can't get any reviews. Bookbub only allows for books withnreviews. Any thoughts?


I know the feeling. I've had the same issue. I have many books in eBook and paperback version. They have been endorsed by many in the industry from Joe Konrath, to Hugh Howey to the legend William "Bill" Thompson, (who helped discover Stephen King), and writing great Joe R. Lansdale has agreed to read my Horror/Comedy novel Pizza Man. The problem is these thumbs up don't translate to Amazon reviews which kind of screw me. I am thankful that so many like my work. I realized a long time ago that you learn from the best but then personalize your goals, follow your own path, keep an eye open for the different signs along the way and go with your gut. (I know its not much.)

Alan Spade said...

Sean, I would advise seeking readers who like ebooks in the same genre as yours on Goodreads and asking them for a review. You can also run a giveaway with a paperback and then ask the people who participated but didn't get the book if they would like to read and review the ebook.

You can also identifiy ebooks reviewed on Amazon in the same genre then yours and click on the reviewers one.

There's someone named The Mad Reviewer, for example, that gives [Full disclosure] of the ways she got the ebooks in exchange for a review.

Sometimes, the ebook reviewer lets her blog address, and you can contact her. As the email of the reviewers don't appear on Amazon, I don't know how to contact them by other means, though.

Alan Spade said...


Alan Spade said...

Just an update about The Mad Reviewer. I just noticed she has a blog with a review policy that says: "Anyone who submits a review request to me while I am closed will be blacklisted from my blog in perpetuity".

She's closed to review requests until further notice.

By the way, it's very important to read and follow the review policy of each blog. That's the first thing I do when checking a reviewer's blog.

rjbucchianeri said...

Sean: I'd suggest bundling the first three books of the series into a triple pack. Discount it a dollar or two from the individual book prices so in your case around 6.99. Under editorial reviews you should be able to leave excerpts from the positive reviews you received on the paperback version of the first book. I'd leave it there at the bundled price for a couple months while trying to get more reviews. After that period of time try offering it free for a Bookbub ad. With just a few decent reviews on it and your editorial reviews Bookbub might just take such a heavily discounted package.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"Prepare for a saturation in the thriller market soon though. It comes w the territory. People are leaving my genre like some mass exodus and thrillers/page turners are going to get the next big influx. Good news is I think most will cross pollinate to romance, so it will be more direct competition for Ann than it will for you and Blake."

You might be right, Selena. The thing is, the author needs the reader to finish the book, not just to read 10%. To that end, my new direct competition might find this post helpful.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the help!

Unknown said...

This is awesome, and thanks for sharing. I wish Amazon provided better statistics though. I would like to know how many people are producing my KENP numbers for Fast Draw.

Unknown said...

THANK YOU! for these hard numbers. As a newbie who's trying to get a BookBub, having stats and info to develop a plan forward is so very helpful. Now, to get enough reviews to qualify for BookBub. It's a tough cycle, isn't it? Or can you even see this struggle in your rear view as you leave the rest of us in the dust? ;)

Thanks again, and congrats!