An Interview with Aaron Paul Lazar
I'm delighted to welcome to MB4 our very own Aaron Paul Lazar, co-founder of this illustrious blog and award winning and bestselling mystery author of over twenty novels, including The Seacrest, his first heartwarming romance, and his newest mystery, Lady Blues: forget-me-not. Aaron just finished a promo run with BookBub, the latest trend in book marketing services. In his interview today he tells us what the buzz is all about, explains the what, when and how, and addresses the question that we're all wondering about: Does BookBub really work?
Welcome home, Aaron. It's great to have you here. Can you tell us what BookBub is all about?
Hi, Dora! Thanks so much, it’s always a pleasure to chat with you. ;o)
Now, on to the questions!
BookBub is a free daily email for book lovers, which consistently keeps members informed about discounted book deals. Authors can buy a spot on the daily email if they qualify. You can see the requirements here: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/submission-tips.
Let's start at the beginning: How did you learn about BookBub?
I don’t exactly remember, to tell the truth, but I’m pretty sure it was from word of mouth through my writer friends. I do remember specifically asking Michael Prescott (bestselling thriller author) about BookBub after I’d become interested in it. He told me one of his writer friends ended up on the New York Times Best Sellers List by listing one of her books on BookBub, which was pretty exciting. Since then, I started saving up for it. ;o)
How did you go about submitting The Seacrest for consideration?
The first time I submitted The Seacrest, BookBub gently rejected me. I was trying to sell it for 99 cents, discounted from $3.99. I’m not sure if changing the price was what made a difference, but the second time I submitted, I changed my submission to offering The Seacrest Kindle eBook for free, and they accepted me.
I asked for a range of dates about a month in advance (4-4-14 through 4-6-14) and they assigned me 4-5-14. Prior to this, I needed to remove all my books from Smashwords (which feeds many other channels like Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.) because in order to properly do a “free” offering at Amazon, one must be in the Kindle Select program, and you can’t have your book offered for sale or free in any other venue.
Kindle Select allows 5 free days within a 90 day period. It can take up to 6-8 weeks to get your eBook down from the other channels, so be prepared! You cannot be enrolled in Kindle Select unless you are selling exclusively through them.
What happened next?
Next, I submitted The Seacrest to Kindle Books & Tips for one day before the BookBub feature, on 4-4-14. Fortunately, Michael Gallagher accepted this date and I was now primed for a great “pre-sale” day that would hopefully push up awareness and accelerate the rank. Then, I waited and worked on a few promo ideas with my publicist. Mostly it was just a Facebook posting with a nice graphic. ;o)
What were the benefits of using BookBub for the writer and for the reader?
First of all, by investing in BookBub, my book was seen and downloaded by over 59,000 readers in two days. How many will actually read it? It’s hard to say. (For example, my wife and I have tons of freebies in our Kindles that we haven’t actually read yet.).
Let’s say 10% read The Seacrest. That’s 5,900 readers who’d never heard of me before. Maybe 1% of those will post a review. Reviews are always welcome, so I might see 59 reviews on The Seacrest’s Amazon page some day soon. So far, just a few days after the special promo, I’ve seen thirteen new reviews pop up.
Let’s say half of these readers absolutely love the story…maybe 50% of those will buy my other books? I have a lot of books out there and I’m hoping it will encourage sales in all of the series. So I could see several thousand new fans from this effort.
The only downfall is I offered this book, a contemporary romance, without having other books in the same genre for my new readers to buy. Yes, there is plenty of romance and similar lush scene setting in all my books, but they are billed as mysteries. Romantic mysteries, yes, but mysteries, nonetheless. So, ideally, it would have been better to have a few other romances sitting in the listing for them to purchase.
Are there any disadvantages to using this service?
Although the service is costly (the only “disadvantage”), so far, it seems well worth the money. I’m still tracking actual sales that come from what BookBub itself calls “The Halo Effect,” meaning sold books after the free period. As of the writing of this interview, I’ve made back the money I invested ($280.00 for BookBub and $25.00 for KB&T) twenty-four hours after the free period ended, and am hoping to see a little profit as time goes on.
One other item authors need to be prepared for is opening up your book to “the world” and the types of folks who might download it even if it isn’t really their “cup of tea.” You will definitely get a lot more reviews, but you also reach a much wider breadth of readers than you might typically target with your genre. For example, before this free promo of The Seacrest, I had 41 reviews, all four and five stars. Now I’ve got 54 reviews, and four of those are “3 stars.”
But that’s okay. If you look up every famous author and their newest book, you’ll find a wide range of star ratings, including plenty of 1’s, 2’s, and the like. Usually there is a pretty normal distribution, and it’s almost a badge of authenticity for an author to have a scattering of 1’s and 2’s – it means you’ve “met the masses” and they either loved you or hated you, LOL.
Overall, would you recommend BookBub to your fellow writers?
Absolutely. But first, I recommend one’s book be as perfect as it can possibly be. After your editor or critique partners help you cull the major errors, be sure you run the near-final manuscript through a dozen sharp-eyed Beta Readers.
You need a startlingly beautiful cover, too. Hire this out by someone whose covers you adore.
Work as hard on the synopsis as you’ve ever worked on a paragraph in your entire life. This synopsis must SING. It must DRAW in potential readers. It must get their pulse beating faster! If you are lousy at writing synopses, hire someone to do this for you. (I have a person I recommend if you need someone excellent to hire.)
Next, you need to go get a lot of quality reviews before BookBub will consider your book. Work hard on Virtual Book Tours and spend a month, if need be, networking with reviewers and bloggers. Do lots of giveaways – these always get you more reviews from “real” readers who have no axe to grind in any direction. They are usually very genuine and from the heart, even though they may not be eloquent.
I found that planning for BookBub about six months after I released The Seacrest worked out well for me. Also, before you get up on BookBub, be sure your eBook file includes links to other books in your stable. Double check that all your websites, blogs, and contact information are easily accessible at the back of the book.
Following is the chart of number of downloads vs. day/time. You can see that setting up the book with Kindle Books & Tips on Day 1 (4-4) resulted in about 2,000 downloads. By the next day, when the BookBub email went out, we had reached about 20,000 the first night. This already propelled The Seacrest to #1 in all free Kindle eBooks, fiction and nonfiction. After that, it was just a matter of time for the downloads to nearly triple, and I believe this is because the book was “out there” on that Kindle Best Sellers front page. (I also think that there was an overall appeal re. featuring lovers, horses, and the beach on the cover of a love story – that factor can’t be ignored.)
Awesome, Aaron, thank you so much for sharing all of this fantastic information and your entire experience with us. We really appreciate it!
Thanks for asking about BookBub today, Dora! If anyone has questions, feel free to ask!
Aaron Paul Lazar
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming SPIRIT ME AWAY (2014), DEVIL’S LAKE(2014), and VIRTUOSO (2014).
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers, and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and three very opinionated cats.
To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.
For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.