Marketing: It should be an investment.

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

An author should expect to put time and money into marketing a book. The publisher has a marketing plan and budget for a book release, but the author is expected to market to his or her circle of influence.

I think it’s a good idea for an author to take time before a book release to plan and budget his or her own marketing much in the same way a publishing house would. Set aside a certain amount of money (comfortably within your budget!) and write out a plan timemoneyof what you will do with that money and with the time you have to put into marketing as well. The key to planning successful marketing is to remember that what you put out should be earned back with interest through increased sales. Marketing should be an investment, so you should focus on what payoff your efforts could have. If you spend $20 on gas and food to drive to a book signing in another town, how many books are you likely to sell by doing this? If we estimate the royalty at $1 per book, I think you’d need to sell at least 40 copies for the $20 trip to be worthwhile.  That doesn’t even take into account the time that was spent on the trip though. A full day is worth a lot.

It’s extremely hard to know what the actual monetary gains will be from a marketing effort. For example, if you are able to gain a few new readers for one book, they are likely to buy other books from you in the future, and they might tell their friends about your books. I suggest estimating your return at the lowest possible payback for your efforts so that you are sure your marketing dollars are being spent well. The extra sales that might come from your efforts will just be icing on the cake at some future date.

If, for some reason or another, your marketing efforts don’t end up paying back what you put into them plus interest, you can console yourself with knowing that your money spent on marketing is also a tax write off.

How do you estimate your investment returns on marketing efforts?

Do you enjoy marketing your book? Why or why not?


Lit. agent @rachellkent shares her thoughts on making the most of time/money spent on book marketing. Click to tweet.

Do you enjoy marketing your book? Why or why not? Via @rachellkent. Click to tweet.

Book marketing tip: Marketing should be an investment. via lit agent @rachellkent. Click to tweet.

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  • I haven’t had a new book out in years, so, I’ve been focusing on marketing my re-released e-books. Do I enjoy it? Not really. Why? Because it’s effort and I have no idea how much return I’m getting on my investment. It’s not like when people buy my book on my Kindle that they’ll email me and say, “I saw the ad you places XYZ place and decided to buy the book. Or, I’m friends with you on Facebook and decided to buy your book.” I feel my efforts are not really working, so, it’s hard to focus on something that doesn’t appear to be working.

  • Well, toss in the math word problem and totally mess me up.
    And if marketing means talking about me, my book and anything related to my book, which includes me, I am good to go.

    I cannot focus. I’m prepping for my first conference and I can’t remember my name right now.

    But…I can manage to talk about myself. ‘Tis a gift, really.

  • Thank you, Rachel, for making it so concrete, even down to money for gas. I think I need a second notebook in my purse now to keep track of expenses. :)

  • Jill Kemerer says:

    Oooh! I’m bookmarking this. Smart strategies! Thanks!!

  • Alex says:

    I hear you, Rachel! I try to insert some extra cash I have into doing some ads online and giving my time to talk to local school. It’s amazing how marketing is almost a part time job, and balancing all of it can definitely be a challenge.

  • Sarah Sundin says:

    Great topic – and one that’s come up a lot in chats with author friends lately. We’ve all gritted our teeth and accepted the fact that we must spend a high percentage of our earnings on marketing/publicity – but that doesn’t mean we should throw our cash around after every little trend. However, it’s almost impossible to calculate Return On Investment. Some events/opportunities seem like piddly investments…but end up netting all sorts of connections and sales. And others seem like giant whopping opportunities…and yield nothing.

    Sigh. Wish there really was a formula :)

  • Because I’ve worked in online book promotion for years, it’s not intimidating for me to do it for my own books. That said, I’m still waiting for my fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and make my books bestsellers. :)

    But seriously, I find in person events much harder and scarier than online promotion. I simply haven’t done enough of it to impact sales. Bad author. Bad author.

  • Even if I don’t sell a lot of books at events I usually enjoy doing them – a lot. It’s great to connect with fellow bookaholics and even ‘normal’ people. But, you’re right, it is important to calculate if the cost in time and money is worth the investment.

  • Karla Akins says:

    I haven’t made money writing yet because all my dollars have gone into marketing which include giveaways and ads. As you said, I look at it as investing in my brand, getting my face out there. Do I enjoy it? Not really, but I accept it as part of the job. I do enjoy it as far as meeting new readers, though. But don’t we all wish we had a publicist to free up our time for creating? Still, it is what it is. A necessary part of being a writer in today’s market. And I’m grateful I have something that I must market!

  • Lynn Hare says:

    Rachel, practical & thought-provoking post. As a first-time book author, I recognize the importance of getting my name & presence out there. So I’m planning to invest time, energy, & money for a couple of years, including unpaid speaking engagements, before seeing much of a financial return. The investment, I believe, will pay off long-term. The other aspect of investment is putting in personal network time to draw alongside others and genuinely listen to them & hear their stories.

  • Karen Sweet says:

    Rachel, you remind us of the practical reality: writing is a business. I appreciate how experienced authors equate marketing as enjoying meeting their readers. Readers see the author as a mentor/role model and want to engage. I hope to read ‘Marketing Your Novel for Dummies’ soon! ;-)

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