If you’re a reader/author, you’ve probably heard of Goodreads. But have you ever heard of BookBub? (If not, you’re missing out!) If you want to finds out more about BookBub, or you’re just trying to decide which of the two platforms you should use, this is the post for you!
(For those of you who want the cliff notes version…I really love BookBub. And if I had to pick just one of the platforms, Bookbub would win hands down. But I actually use both. If you want to know how the two platforms compare, and why I’d bother having an account with both of them, read on.)
What are Bookbub and Goodreads anyway?
If you aren’t familiar with either of these platforms, let me start by giving you a super-quick description. At their core, they are both designed as a way to keep track of the books you read and want to read, review books, and follow authors and other readers you are fans of or friends with, etc. Kind of like a social medial platform entirely centered around books.
But sheesh. Who needs yet another social media platform? I mean, we’ve already got Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, etc, etc…right??
Well actually, that’s one of the reasons I like BookBub best. I DON’T need yet another platform to “socialize” on. But BookBub keeps the socializing fairly minimal and is mostly just about the books. I’ll get into that more in a second. The point is, BookBub and Goodreads are both free platforms geared specifically toward authors and readers. Goodreads has been around for quite a while, BookBub is a bit newer. But they are based on the same basic idea.
Reasons I love BookBub as a Reader…
There are lots of reasons I love BookBub best. Some of them are specific to being an author (read more about those further down) but a lot of them have more to do with my experience as a reader. So let’s start there:
1. Cleaner Website Design
Ok. I love vintage clothing, vintage hats, and vintage movies. But I don’t love vintage websites. (And when I say vintage here, I don’t mean vintage-themed. I mean vintage. You know. Just…old.) I know this is a personal preference thing, but I like the design of the BookBub website better. It’s newer, cleaner, and more streamlined. I find it easier to navigate and figure out new features. This isn’t a huge deal (after all I do still use Goodreads just fine) but I definitely prefer the BookBub website as a user experience. When I started using Goodreads, it took me awhile to figure out how it actually worked. With BookBub, I didn’t have nearly as much of a learning curve.
2. Less “Social” more BOOKS!
Like I said above, I really don’t need yet another “social” platform. And Goodreads tries way too hard to be one. This is connected to the website design as well. When I go to my homepage on Goodreads, I see 3 columns of information. On the left side is a bunch of my info (books I’m currently reading, my wish list, “bookshelves”, etc). On the right side are various adds and info I’m rarely interested in, and in the middle is the social feed. You know that endless list of posts you can get sucked into scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, etc? Good news! You can get sucked into yet another one on Goodreads. Whoopie.
And you know how Facebook seems to encourage people you give you WAY too many updates on their personal life? (Like what they had for breakfast, where they are shopping, when their kid is having a meltdown, etc)? Well, Goodreads is set up to prompt people to give you WAY too many updates on their reading life. The system encourages you to create an update when you start reading a book, when you make progress on a book, when you finish the book, and THEN of course you write a review of the book. Which comes out as a completely separate update from the “finished” update.
I mean…really? Why would I want to know all that? Why would I have the time to record all that info for other people to scroll through? I enjoy reading book reviews from people I trust, but I don’t need to know every detail from their reading journey. Certainly I don’t need to get a a progress update letting me know they and are now at page 276 instead of page 155. I mean…why????
In contrast, when I go the my homepage on BookBub, you know what I see? Books. First some on-sale books specifically recommended for me (based on genres I enjoy), then further down, a general list of books that are on sale in certain price ranges. Next, books recommended recently by people I follow on BookBub. It’s just books. All the way down.
Now, Bookbub does also have a “social feed”, but it isn’t on the home page. So I have to navigate to it if I want to see it. Which means…guess what? I pretty much never see it. And so I never get lost scrolling mindlessly through endless posts I don’t actually care about. Score!
When it comes to reviewing books myself, BookBub is super simple to use, I just go to my profile, and click the “reviews tab” then I just search for the book I want and write a review. There’s no expectation that I should announce on BookBub whenever I start, finish, or make progress on a book. I just, you know…review them. Or even just rate them, if I don’t feel like writing a whole review. And that’s it. Nobody expects me to give them any further details.
3. Completely Customizable Emails/Alerts
This is probably my very favorite feature of BookBub. Part of the reason I never bother using their social feed, is that I have completely customized my email preferences so that BookBub sends me an email alert when, AND ONLY WHEN, something I’m actually interested in happens.
I can update these preferences any time by going to “my account”, and then navigating to “Email Subscriptions”. On that page is a list of over 20 different types of emails I can opt in or out of. I don’t like a lot of emails, so I have only a few boxes checked. Basically I only get an email when an author I follow releases a new book or has a sale, when a book on my wish-list goes on sale, or when someone comments on one of my updates or mentions me in a comment. That’s it.
But if you want, you can get emails about deals in your favorite book categories, featured new releases, articles, tips, and a bunch of other stuff.
I LOVE that I can choose exactly what information is important to me, and be notified only about those things. Which ties into #4…
4. More Authors, Fewer Mailing Lists
Ok, so technically, as an author, I should be encouraging readers to join author mailing lists. A mailing list is one of the best tools an author has to connect with their readers, and they can keep using it even if any and every social medial platform shuts down or changes their policies, or whatever. A good mailing list is one of the most powerful career tools any author has. PLEASE JOIN YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR’S MAILING LIST!
But, as a reader, I know darn well that I already get FAR too many emails, and there is simply no way I am going to want to subscribe to the mailing list of every author I enjoy. There are very few authors that I care enough about to want to be part of their “inner circle”. I don’t really want to read all their newsletters, and get all their special deal updates, I just want to know when they write a new book!
And that’s where BookBub comes in.
I can follow authors I enjoy on BookBub, and then I can customize exactly what info I want from them in the preferences I mentioned above. Do I only want to hear about deals? New books? Recommendations? Preorder opportunities? All of the above? No problem. Just click or un-click a few boxes and it’s all customized. I love this so much because it means I can still support authors I enjoy by buying their books when they come out, but I don’t have to actually subscribe to all their mailing lists and read (or ignore) all their newsletters. When I consider how many authors I’d be willing to follow on BookBub, vs. the small percentage of them that I’d be willing to subscribe to a mailing list for…I would say it’s kind of a win-win situation. A lot more authors actually get my support this way.
Reasons I love BookBub as an Author…
On top of all the reasons I love BookBub as a reader, there are a couple of features they have for authors that I also really appreciate, compared to Goodreads. I’ll cover them briefly below before finishing up with the two reasons why I still continue to use Goodreads.
1. Self-Serve Ads
I love it that BookBub has a self-serve ad program. Goodreads used to have one, and I used it for a few months before they shut it down. I’m not entirely sure how many sales I got from it, but it was cheap and easy to use.
I was annoyed when they got rid of it. Especially since I was then dumb enough to follow their advice and pay one of their partners to to design and run a Goodreads ad campaign for me. Spoiler alert, it was a HUGE waste of money. (I literally paid thousands, yes THOUSANDS of dollars for somebody to design and run the adds, and saw basically ZERO sales spike from any of it. Ick.) It was my own choice and inexperience that allowed that to happen of course, not necessarily Goodreads‘ fault, but I would never have tried that option if the cheaper, self-serve adds were still available.
2. Featured Deals
And then of course, there is the “holy grail” of Indie author advertising: the BookBub Featured Deal. They are kind of expensive, and require you to meet some fairly high standards to be chosen for one, but if you DO get one, oh boy do they WORK! (I actually managed to get a slot for an international deal back in December.)
Basically, BookBub has a huge list of people who subscribe to their “deal” emails in certain genres. And they send out regular emails to those subscribers, with a few carefully curated “featured deals”. It’s a very “warm” audience, full of people who trust BookBub to send them great deals on great books, and want to purchase them. So that’s why it works so well. In contrast to my Goodreads flop, when I spent thousands of dollars and got basically zero sales in return, with my BookBub International Deal I spent a few hundred dollars and got THOUSANDS OF SALES. (To be clear, I combined this sale with a bunch of other advertising at the same time, so I don’t know exactly how many came directly from the featured deal, but it was definitely a significant chunk of them. I even hit a besteller list on the UK Amazon site.)
If you can manage to get a featured deal as an Indie author, it’s totally worth it!
Why I Still Use Goodreads Too…
1. A Bigger Selection of Books
Probably because Goodreads has been around for longer, they seem to have more books in their system. I have never read a book and then been unable to find it on Goodreads to leave a review. However, this has happened to me at least once with BookBub. You can put in a request to add that book, but I don’t know how long it takes them to do it. It’s annoying to enjoy a book and then be unable to leave a review for it on your preferred platform. This isn’t a super big deal though and probably wouldn’t be enough to keep me using the platform if it wasn’t for #2…
2. Connecting with More Readers
Again, probably because BookBub hasn’t been around as long, there are a lot more people using Goodreads than there are using BookBub. Especially middle aged and older readers who turn out to be the ones most interested in my genre.
As an author, I want to connect with as many readers as possible, so it would be hard for me to walk away from a platform that, at the moment, has a lot more of my readers on it. I’m hoping more people will move over to BookBub eventually (maybe some of them will do it after reading this post!), but for now, I’ve compromised by writing all my reviews on BookBub, and then simply copying and pasting them into Goodreads. I don’t bother with all the extra updates, and I try not to get sucked into the scrolling trap. I mostly just post the reviews and then run away as fast as possible.
As you can see, the main reason I still use Goodreads at all is simply because there are more people there. So let’s fix that, shall we? If you’re trying to decide which of the two platforms to use, I hope I’ve convinced you to give BookBub a try!
And if you DO set up a BookBub account after reading this article, don’t forget to follow all your favorite authors there! (Especially if one of them happen to be me. Lol.)