A Publisher's Conversation with Authors: Advertising Your Book -- If You Have Money and If You Don't


It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side.

Today's topic addresses advertising, i.e. spending money on getting your book enough attention for it to soar, or at least to fly. There is no end to advertising opportunities. The question becomes then, where do you best spend your money if you have it and what do you do if you are broke.

I have money. Good for you! You have options, depending upon how much you have and want to spend.

    • There are print-based ads that can cost a little or cost a lot. Some (but far from all) include
      • Catalogues: Book World Dealer is one example.
      • Book magazines: Foreword Reviews is an example. If you cannot afford a part-page ad, they offer small announcements with book cover and info for $305 (may be a little higher now). 
      • Most lucrative would be to advertise in the journals of professional organizations related to your book topic.
    • There are social media ads that look like they cost a little but can cumulatively actually cost a lot.
      • An example is Amazon ads. One successful author says he pays $2K-$5K monthly for Amazon ads. The cost is the downside. The upside is that they can be quite effective because they are highly targeted. There are all kinds of ways of advertising on Amazon (influencer, sponsored, display, video, custom, and more). If more than one kind would apply to you, test the waters one at a time. There is also the pay per click option, but make sure you calculate your full cost of acquisition so that you do not lose money.
      • Another example is Instagram, where you can promote your book for very little expense.
      • Yet, another example is Twitter. For $99 a month, you can get an advertisement to an awful lot of people.
      • If you really have bucks to burn, hire a publicist. Publicists have the inside track.
      • There is, of course, the flashy stuff, which is very expensive, but if you can afford it, can pay off because of the high distribution of these magazines and shows:
        • Radio and television ads
        •  Major magazines like Readers' Digest
        • Major newspapers like the New York Times

    I don't have money. Well, that's okay. Put on your creative hat and see what you can do for free.

    •  Social media is great for getting the word out without money. Tweet, post to Face Book and Instragram, and otherwise interact with the social media platforms. Yes, the free posts will not reach nearly as many people, but you can grow them organically, and remember, it is not the total number of people you reach or the number of followers you have that is important but the number of people who engage with your posts.
    • Word of mouth is very inexpensive and very effective. Start blabbing about your books. Also take every opportunity to make presentations on your topic and your book, to be interviewed, to interact with influencers. Offer grist for your local paper; often, these get picked up by the national big guys.
    • Write articles about your topic; mention your book.
    • Exhibits are often free; there are competitions with low fees; reviews can be free, too, and the best ones are. Seek out these venues.
    • Think creatively. There are more opportunities than can be listed here.

    The bottom line is that there are many opportunities to flaunt your money if you have it with major advertising campaigns. Such campaigns can bring results; they can also lose you a lot of money. Approach with caution; watch for the scams and, even for legitimate opportunities, do a cost-benefit analysis before you invest even a dime. If you have money but want to use it sparingly, consider some of the free options and buffer with paid ads. And, if you have no money, don't despair. Use the free tools to get your book known.

    Lesson for today's Tuesday talk: Buyer beware. Do your research before buying. And, if you buy, look for targeted advertising and watch your bottom line. Mix in free with paid. And you starving artists, go for the free stuff. Often it can be as valuable as the paid stuff.

     Read more posts about publishing HERE.

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     (Publishing for Smarties: How to Find a Publisher available from MSI Press LLC; discount of 25% with coupon code FF25; currently on sale for $5, but that offer will not last forever).


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