Queen for a Day – the unexpected excitement of a book promotion

On a complete whim, I applied for a BookBub promotion for Life in a Hospice a few weeks ago and, much to my surprise, got it. I thought they were interested in crime or romance books – not serious books about end-of-life care. But happily I was wrong.

For the uninitiated, a BookBub promotion means you pay them (BookBub) a not trivial amount of money ($142 in my case), lower your ebook price to 99c/99p on one agreed day and wait to see what happens. Sounds crazy, but it can work (and it did in my case). It is very easy to apply (and no charge), but not everyone gets accepted. Among authors, it is seen to be a great honour to get it.

You can apply for the US (but it costs a lot more), so I took the less risky route of applying for the promotion to take place in the UK, Canada and Australia. I lowered the price for a week beforehand – and did what I could to tell potential readers I had done so. I sold about thirty before the actual day.

The actual promotion day is very exciting because you can clock Kindle sales in real time. Two hours after it  had started, the book was already up to 60+ sales, then a bit after it was over 100 and on and on. I did take plenty of time away from my computer, but it was very compelling to keep having a peak. Sales on the other channels did not show up immediately and were a delightful surprise when they were displayed the next day.

BookBub said I could expect 300 sales (presumably, an average for the category) during the one-day promotion. In fact, I sold 401 books, mostly through Kindle but 76 via Kobo/Apple. Most were sold in the UK, but c 100 were sold in Canada and c 50 in Australia.  With an additional twenty or so sold in the days after the promotion at the normal price (presumably by people who don’t get their act together quickly enough or who respond to a friend’s recommendation), I sold about 450 copies altogether.

It doesn’t make a lot of money, as you pay for the promotion, and you make only 35p from each sale at 99p. My break-even point was 300, so I made a small profit.

BUT what I did see, which I had forgotten about, is a huge jump in the Amazon rankings. The book went up to #1 in three categories in the UK (including ‘nursing’ and ‘death & grief’), listing for the time as ‘#1 best seller’, and very high also in the US (although the book wasn’t officially on sale there, I had reduced my price in case people were looking). And the overall ranking (eg of ALL kindle sales) jumped hugely. My favourite was that the book was ranked #8 in Canada of ALL kindle books. I thought it was wonderful that a serious book about hospice care could be so high in any such list! It fell quite quickly, of course, but I did feel like Queen for a Day.

So if you are a writer, it is well worth applying, especially as it is free to do so. I am told that if you are turned down, you can apply again. I know one man who applied 12 times before he got it. Good luck.

If you want to buy Life in a Hospice, it is available on Amazon at 


or on other channels at




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