Friday, March 18, 2016

How Big Is Your Book Marketing Wallet?

Authors – and publishers – desperately want their books to succeed.  However, what isn’t clear is how much money or resources should be allocated to properly market and promote a book. Here are some things to consider when pondering the size of your investment:

1.      You Need To Do Something
Sure some books “get discovered” and sell from “word-of-mouth,” but even those situations need something to precede them.  Some level of time and money needs to be applied properly so that the media, retailers, libraries, and consumers know you exist. Doing nothing is not an option.

2.      Budgets Can’t Be Dictated By Emotions Or Production Costs
Authors set budgets based on hope, ego, or fear and desperation.  None of that should play a role here.  Similarly, just because you already spent thousands to edit, produce and ship your book, now’s not the time to shut the wallet.  Promoting your book is more important than writing it.

3.      Diversify Expenditures
Think of your book as an investment and as such, you want to diversify your portfolio.  Divide your budget into PR and marketing.  PR is the securing of media and speaking events, while marketing is advertising, direct mail, and sponsorships.  Most of your budget should go to PR.  When you get the media to interview you, write about you, or allow you to contribute content it comes off as a third-party endorsement.

Within your PR budget, consider hitting at least two types of media, such as radio and online.  There’s also print and television. There’s local and national media, newsletters, industry trades, and social media. Put your hand in more than one pot.

4.      Experiment But Give It Enough Time
If you do something you want to know it works, so you test it.  But too many people make too much out of a small sample. It would be like looking at the primary returns and trying to predict a winner with just 1% of the returns in.  Monitor what you do, but give it enough time to judge its performance.

5.      Find Things That Are Free
Plenty of PR is free but time-consuming.  How much time will you budget to solicit bookstore signings, guest-posts on blogs, or handing fliers out at an event?  Still, do the things you have the time to do while you pay others to do the things you have less time, knowledge, or even a desire to do.

After you make your initial expenditures and add up the wins and losses, you’ll reach a critical point where you ask yourself:  Should I spend more money and if so, on what? Should I stop?

The answer depends on two things:  What’s been working and how many opportunities exist in that area? You also need to go back and look at what you’re trying to accomplish.  You need clear goals to serve as your metric to define success.

For instance, you may want to promote a book to sell more books. If what you’re doing is not profitable, you may decide to toss in the towel.  However, if your objectives involve other goals, such as branding, influencing others, or selling something else, then you need to see if you are in fact succeeding in those areas.

Branding oneself simply means to build up one’s profile and to look good when someone Googles you. If you are getting some media exposure, keep at it. are you increasing your social media follower totals?

Influencing others has to do with getting your message out and helping others to see a different viewpoint and to be aided by your words. are you getting feedback that your message is being heard and felt?

Selling something else could involve other books, videos, seminars or services. You may use the PR and marketing campaign to draw people to your website and then once there, you can monetize their visit. Are you seeing an increase in website traffic?

The old rule of thumb in publishing – and this goes back more than 25-30 years – was to spend one dollar for every book printed on promotions. But the way books are printed or sold digitally, along with a different economic scale, make that budget outmoded. I think authors and publishers have an overlapping goal to sell books but authors have additional reasons to promote and market themselves.  Some of this is speculative, as there are few certainties with PR or marketing but you should expect to stretch your budgets in order to break through.

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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