In today's episode, I talk about how authors can use BookFunnel to reach more readers faster without spending a fortune!
Your action step for today is to check out BookFunnel's website and do a little research. Do they offer what you're looking for?
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Sarina: Hello, and welcome to The Writing Sparrow Podcast. I’m Sarina Langer and this podcast is all about writing, publishing, and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started.
Good morning, friends and Sparrows! It’s the 7/6/21, this is Episode 39, and today I thought I’d tell you a little about BookFunnel!
Before we start, I just wanted to quickly mention that you can now support this podcast and my new podcast for readers, The Reading Sparrow, on Patreon. You get a lot of benefits in return, such as a suggestion box for future episodes and guests you’d like me to talk to, priority to come on as a guest yourself, the chance to submit questions for every episode which I will no longer do via social media, free books, tea, hugs, and lots of fun stuff like that. So, if you’d like to help me keep these podcasts running or even help shape them, check it out at patreon.com/sarinalanger. The link is now also in the show notes.
NOW, onto the topic of this week’s episode! What is BookFunnel? It’s not a publishing platform or a sales tool like Amazon Ads, for example, but rather a promotion tool. Having said that, some group promotions are sales focussed, so they’ll ask either for books in KU or for books that are discounted on a certain day or a date range. I’ve now also seen one that specifically asked for books that are wide, so available on other sites beyond Amazon. These don’t work as well in my experience because the offered books aren’t free, but this is the same everywhere you’ll promote just because free stuff is less of a risk for readers who don’t know you yet – but I’m getting ahead of myself!
BookFunnel isn’t free to use, but there are 3 options to choose from. Which one you use is entirely up to you. The cheapest option is $20 a year, and that’s perfectly fine if you just want to test it and see if it’s for you. You can also change plans or cancel anytime. I’m on the midlist author plan because it makes the most sense for what I want to get out of it, and that’s $100 a year. I’ve linked to BookFunnel in the show notes, so I recommend you click that and read up on what the different options can offer you; otherwise, we’ll be here a while, and I don’t imagine me just reading out three lists would be very thrilling.
One more note one the pricing though: I paid extra on my midlist author plan to get direct email integration. This means that when people subscribe to your mailing list via a BookFunnel promotion, you don’t get sent a list of names and email addresses that you then need to copy and paste onto your mailing list. Instead, new subscribers join directly via BookFunnel, which saves you the extra hassle and makes the process smoother for your new subscribers. For me, it was worth it for that, but it’s not necessary.
I started using BookFunnel for two reasons: I wanted to share my mailing list sign-up freebies in an easy and reliable way, and I wanted to get my books in front of as many people as possible. I wanted an extra advertising platform, basically. I used to use another platform to share my mailing list freebies, but that was a while ago and I don’t remember the name or why I swapped… it may have been cost-related. I don’t remember. When I swapped to BookFunnel, several subscribers got in touch with me to say that it’s much easier for them to use and they prefer the overall look of the landing pages as well, and I do too, because it’s clean, looks professional, and I have some control over the layout, colours, and wording, so I always match the colours to the freebie. It just makes it more consistent. BookFunnel also keeps track of how many people have downloaded what, and if you’re into stats, like me, you’ll appreciate that insight! Once you’ve created a landing page for your book or freebie—which is very quick to do, by the way—you get a link to share with your subscribers, and that’ll get them to the download page. It’s very easy to set up.
Joining group promotions is also very easy, although most of them will have requirements. For example, it’s not uncommon for them to not allow erotica at all--unless you’re joining an erotic romance promo, of course. Many allow some steam but not naked man chests on the cover. I think every promo I’ve joined so far has required me to share the promotion with my mailing list at least once, and in my experience, social media shares are appreciated but not necessary. When you apply for a promo, you can usually pick the date on which you’ll share it with your mailing list, but some need all participating authors to share on the same day. It’ll be clear when you join what they want you to do. BookFunnel keeps track of your shares, because it tells the next promo organiser how much average traffic you’ve contributed to previous promotions. If you have a reputation of not sharing the promos despite it being mandatory, for example, you likely won’t get into future ones because you don’t uphold your end. I’ve seen some promotions that require you to have a certain average, but most don’t, at least not in my sci-fi and fantasy category.
Now, the most common concern I see about sites like BookFunnel is that the people who subscribe to your list from those promos aren’t real subscribers, that you’re effectively going for quantity over quality. To some degree, this is true! But BookFunnel now allows you to make joining your list optional for anyone who downloads your book, and I do this with every promotion I join. That way, the readers who really aren’t interested aren’t forced into signing up, and the ones who do join did it because they saw the option and wanted to take it. Of course, they might then read your book and hate it, but this is true with everyone who reads your book no matter where they got it from. BookFunnel just allows you to reach more people faster, so of course the numbers are higher. I’ve had subscribers from BookFunnel promotions who ended up reading all my books, some have joined my reader group on Facebook, and quite a few have left reviews too – a big thank you if that’s you! Without BookFunnel promotions, I might never have reached those readers. If some of those subscribers unsubscribe again instead, that’s fine too – your mailing list isn’t for people who don’t like your books, so you’re not really losing anything by them unsubscribing. I do recommend, though, that you keep your list clean, meaning you kick out those subscribers who never open your emails. Doing that keeps your list healthy – I’m with MailerLite and they make it super easy. But I’m getting off track.
The other common concern I’ve seen is that people will download your book but not read it. Again, this is true no matter where they get your book from. If you’re telling me that you don’t have at least one book you’ve had for years that you haven’t read yet, I don’t believe you. With e-readers it’s especially easy to download loads of books and then not read them for a while, and I think most readers are guilty of that. I’d be lying if I said that I immediately read every book I buy or download, but I do read them eventually and I think most of us do. I’ve had a hardback copy of Circe for years that I haven’t touched since I bought it, so the same applies to books you buy in a physical shop. It might just take a while. Also bear in mind that your book isn’t special to a new reader because they don’t know you yet. They have no reason to prioritise your book before others, so just be patient and write another book.
I had a question from @authorrhiannewilliams on Instagram before I set up Patreon, so I’ll allow it. She asks ‘How is BookFunnel different to StoryOrigin?’ The boring answer is that I don’t know because I haven’t tried StoryOrigin. From a glance at their website, they sound pretty similar, but since I haven’t tried StoryOrigin, I’m afraid I have no first-hand experience to share. If you have used StoryOrigin and know it well, get in touch and maybe we can arrange a chat. So, erm, sorry @authorrhiannewilliams for that pointless answer. I don’t have a better one.
So, to summarise: is BookFunnel worth the investment? Well, it depends entirely on what you want to achieve. If you want as many sales as possible, this may not be the platform for you – but consider that if you promote a free book with them and have published several other books, then you might see readthrough. In fact, I have seen some readthrough. If you, however, want to reach as many readers as possible, then BookFunnel could be a fantastic way of doing that. You effectively pay once a year—or monthly, if you prefer—and then run as many group promotions as you want in that time, so how much you get out of it is up to you, and the cost is much lower compared to other sites. The downside to that is that sites like BargainBooksy, for example, have dedicated mailing lists full of readers in your genre, whereas you don’t really know where all those other included authors sent your books. If it’s a sci-fi and epic fantasy promo, for example, and you’re an epic fantasy author, then some authors will send the link to readers who love sci-fi but don’t care about fantasy. That’s not really a risk though, at least I don’t think it is, because you don’t pay anything extra for those readers. And, of course, which promotions you join is entirely up to you!
I’m worried I forgot something. If there’s anything else you wish I’d mentioned that I haven’t, please get in touch and I’ll answer your question then.
Thank you so much for listening, have a great day and a fantastic week. Bye.
If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the Subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course, on my website at sarinalanger.com. You can also support this podcast at Patreon on patreon.com/sarinalanger. Until next time, bye.