Why BookBub Won’t Accept My Book

BookBub has been called the latest and greatest thing in eBook advertising. The only problem is, they won’t accept my book. Maybe they won’t accept yours either. Here’s what I’ve learned in my first two attempts.

I initially read about BookBub in an article by Lindsay Buroker. For those of you that don’t know her, she’s a steampunk fantasy author who has been able to make writing her job. By most measures that’s a success in the world of indie ebook publishing. She writes about how BookBub does wonders for sale and recognition, but she also designates the service as a temporary wonder–much like I’ve read that KDP select used to be (I missed the boat on that so called “gold mine”). The reason it won’t last, she states, is because authors will catch on, too many will use it, and what has happened with Kindle Nation Daily will begin to happen to it: there will be a flood of content, sometimes at the expense of quality, because BookBub will want to clean up with massive profit. Fortunately, and unfortunately for me, that doesn’t seem to be the case just yet. Here’s the second refusal e-mail I received from BookBub in response to my request for them to promote the first book in my epic fantasy series Darkin to their 400,000 genuinely-interested-in-my-genre readers:

Hi Joseph,

Thank you for placing an order with BookBub!

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to approve your listing at this time. In order to preserve a consistent experience for our subscribers, BookBub employs an editorial team to review all listing submissions and approve those they feel are the best fit for the daily deal email. They said that while your book may very well be fantastic, they just couldn’t find enough verifiable “critical acclaim” from the sources they check to be sure, and since they can’t read every book that is sent to us, they weren’t able to move forward with this listing.

I’m sorry about this, and I wish you luck with your promotion!

Best regards,

Rick Ardman
BookBub Advertising

So there are some sources that they look to for verifiable critical acclaim. I assume that means the accumulation of Amazon reviews doesn’t really cut it. I am working quite hard to develop a following of readers, but it is by no means a quick or easy process. I’ve employed various methods of advertising, such as Kindle Nation Daily and Kindle Fire Department, YouTube, and Goodreads. Beyond those areas, I’ve been working on the social media front (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), looking to find my audience. And it is slowly developing. I just hope BookBub maintains their high standards long enough for me to achieve the critical acclaim they desire, so that I may reap the reward of their service. I am always looking for novel ways to promote my book. Here is BookBub’s listed criteria for accepting a book:

BookBub Listing Guidelines

BookBub is an “advertorial” newsletter, which means that although it consists of paid advertisements, only those that our editorial team feels are the best deals for our subscribers are accepted and published.

The approval process can be a bit subjective, but our editorial team generally accepts digital book deals that best meet the following criteria:
Free or Deep Discounts:

BookBub promotes books that are free or at least 50% off their usual digital price. It’s rare for us to feature books with a deal price of more than $3.99, and the greater the discount, the more likely we are to accept a listing.
Top Quality Content:

BookBub promotes books or authors that have received critical acclaim, whether it be from respected reviewers, prestigious awards, or at the very least, a significant number of high-scoring reader reviews. The more renowned the book or author, the more likely we are to accept a listing.
Limited Time Offers:

BookBub promotes books that are discounted for a limited time, usually not much longer than a week. We generally do not accept listings for deals that are always available, nor do we typically accept a listing if a better deal was recently offered.
Professional Presentation:

BookBub promotes books that have a high-quality cover design, are well formatted, and don’t elicit complaints from readers about technical issues, including excessive typos and grammatical errors.
Full-Length Books:

BookBub promotes books that are full-length works, so we do not typically accept listings for works under 150 pages or roughly 50,000 words.
Appropriate Targeting:

BookBub promotes books that fit into our member interest categories. Unfortunately, we don’t accept listings outside these selections, although we are continually adding new categories so we can feature a wider breadth of deals in the future.
Diverse Offerings:

In order to maintain a diverse member experience, BookBub will not feature the same book more than once a quarter. Nor will we feature the same author more than once a month. Books by different authors that fall into the same series may also be rejected if our editorial team believes they feel too similar.

And here’s their current pricing.

I would love to know if any of you have also had success or rejections by BookBub, and if you have succeeded, what were your sources of critical acclaim?

15 Thoughts on “Why BookBub Won’t Accept My Book

  1. BookBub recently accepted my book…I think what helped is that I had been on blog tour with good review results. I also have some good reviews on GoodReads. They might be checking there, as it’s harder to “fake” reviews on a site like GR, since it takes more effort for an account to look legitimate. Unfortunately, a few bad apples damaged the legitimacy of Amazon reviews, so having reviews on GR or Library Thing (or well-known, respected blogs) could help.

  2. I just had my listing rejected–no explanation why. Just a form letter. I assume they’re being plagued with thousands of submissions, just like you mention. That said, it seems that their only real criteria is “critical acclaim” because I subscribe to their email service and a large number of the covers that make it into my inbox look like total crap–like they were designed by a second grader who understands MS Paint. I checked those books out and what they have in common is over fifteen reviews on Amazon.

    Anyway, I’m pretty bitter about it–like you, I’m working my tail off to get fans and an audience, and reviews. I have a book blast coming up on the day I wanted Bookbub to list my book as free (Mar. 27), and then a blog tour to follow. I’m sure this will increase my review count, but I was sincerely hoping to blast my book up into the super high rankings on Amazon with the free downloads, but now I worry that it won’t happen. So, again, what happens is that the lucky few who utilized these services before they became huge, are out of my reach–like you, I’ve missed the window here, like I missed the first months of the Kindle free window. 😉 Ah well! It’s an uphill battle.

    I feel your pain!

    Hey, you should start a competing email listing service like Bookbub. Why has no one else done this?

    P.S. Your cover is cool!

    • josephturkot on March 11, 2013 at 1:26 am said:

      Hey Nicole,

      Thanks for commenting. It is beyond frustrating to get rejected because you don’t have enough reviews when you need a service like Bookbub to generate those reviews. I recently tried again, and was still rejected. The reason I gave it another shot is the reviews have been trickling in.
      I guess I’ll give the blog tour a shot, as it seems many others are doing it. What service are you using for your blog tour? I recently received an email from Orangeberry and am considering them.

      • I’ll try again at some point as well. I wasn’t going to do KDP select again and instead get the book I’m promoting now up on all the platforms. But I may give it one more go and do my free days all at once after I get over 25 reviews, and try to get Bookbub to list me. Yes, it’s very frustrating.

        I think at this point I won’t renew KDP select on my other titles and maybe make one book permanently free on Smashwords or something and see how that works out.

        My blog tour is with I Am a Reader, but I’m also going to do one in June with Prism Book Tours. I haven’t looked into too many other sites that do the tours. I’ll see how it goes. I’ve heard positive things about I Am a Reader, which is why I went with them first.

        I’ve read some of your other posts here. I appreciate the write ups on your experiences with advertising. At some point I might try Buyads.

      • Hi Joseph,
        A good – and rather inexpensive – way to get book reviews is a giveaway on Goodreads or better several giveaways. Half of the recipients write reviews.
        Plus Goodreads is a great way to find lots of readers. They have communities for every genre.
        I wrote a lot about Goodreads, just type this word into the search function and find lots of blogs how to be successful as a member and promote your book there.
        BTW you can set up your blog (RSS feed) easily on Goodreads as well.

        Good luck,

  3. Well, the “critical acclaim” are your rankings at Amazon and the number of stars/reviews. They seem not only to charge for ads, but I assume they are in an affiliate program with Amazon, Kobo and B&N, which gives them between 7 and 12% for every book sold. This way they could cash in on every sale and are only interested in books that are about to be good sellers. Business model for all of these advertise companies. People who want to order the books have to click on a button on their page / newsletter. No one copies and paste the book # and goes directly to Amazon…

    A good business practice is to state the fact on the website to belong to an affiliate program.

    Did anyone ever ask them for a verification of their 1 million subscribers??? We did – and we never received an answer to our question …

    We were about to advertise, but wanted it done correctly. When you advertise at a newspaper or magazine you get the verified numbers of subscribers (from an outside source, NOT the newspaper, usually from Nielsen).

  4. I would try I.o book tours or http://www.candacesbookblog.com/.

    The first one doesn’t necessarily increase your ranking, but when you ask them (in advance) to have people post on goodreads, amazon and b&n they do.

    I was recently accepted by book bub and I think all the reviews that I got from blog tours mad it happen.

    For your free days, you should use pixel of ink. I don’t believe in free days, so not an option for me, but I hear they are good.

    As to someone who mentioned orange blog tours, i signed up for their promotional blast, for my book the exemeus which goes down to .99 cents the week of oct 21st so I’ll see how good they are.

  5. Pingback: Joseph A. Turkot | Indie Authors Find Readers On Goodreads

  6. Pingback: How To Get A Bookbub Promotion | Joseph A. Turkot

  7. One “take” from BookBub; two “rejections.” And frankly, I don’t find that it makes a lot of sense.

    Both of my books are memoirs; not exactly the most successful genre in indie book publishing, I understand. But I have done pretty well. And both books have won awards.

    Accidental Lessons – a story about a teaching experience – was accepted immediately. Probably because it related to “teachers.” I had good reviews from readers and media. Not a lot, but solid enough.

    Any Road Will Take You There – which won a “book of the year” award from the Chicago Writers Association, has been rejected twice. It has the same number of reviews and even better media reviews. So, that to me is a little confusing. And I frankly don’t buy the “your book doesn’t fit our readers” approach to the rejections. Personally, I don’t think BookBub knows anything about memoir or how to sell it. Yes, I’ve seen memoirs on the site, but usually ones from BIG publishing houses. Not all, but many.

    I don’t have a grudge with BookBubI think. I’m certain BookBub has worked for some, and even been quite successful. But it it NOT for everyone or every author.


  8. Jon Ronnquist on April 27, 2014 at 10:51 am said:

    BookBub wants books with 5-star reviews. The more, the better. How they were obtained is largely irrelevant. Just look at some of the garbage they send out in their daily emails. They sure as hell can’t read everything they receive, so they’ve opted for this as a kind of failsafe. This is why a good, or even great, book will be turned down while many unreadable books will be featured. I doubt it will last. These little empires tend to go the way of Rome, albeit faster. Ironically, the next big thing will probably be brought to you by the same people under a new name. Very savvy they are, very savvy.

  9. In an inegrity and standards way it does seem a bit odd that Amazon reviews are Bookbubs criteria, while in a financial way it doesn’t seem as odd.

    Apart from a few people think they can spot them (like walking away from a quizz thinking you’ve won before the actual answers are given, and in the case of fake reviews they are never given) fake reviews work, therefore for more books will sell.

    Providing Bookbubs readers are discerning and are looking for certain standards, then in the long run this might be a bad thing if they start to get fed up of all the 5 star mediocre / rubbish.

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