If you’re like me and decided to self-publish, you might come across some promo pitfalls. Self publishing a book requires marketing savviness and putting together a strategic plan beforehand, which may seem daunting. And even then, after you seemingly have all of your ducks in a row, you have to also be financially prepared to deal with unexpected costs you’ll incur.
Whether you chose to self-publish a book or go through a publishing house, promoting your work falls into your hands. Let’s face it, raising awareness about your book involves a lot of self-promotion. Where do you start? First there’s building a website for your book and next you might turn to social media or online media marketing. After you’ve exhausted these efforts, meaning you’ve outfitted your website with a blog and amassed an enviable social media following, you’ll have to start to get creative and that creativity costs.
We’ll start with the basic costs–your website, business cards, book cover design, and social media platforms. You will inevitably incur multiple costs setting up your website, though they’re nominal at best. There’s a small fee for reserving your domain name, usually under $20, especially if you go through Go Daddy or Sustainable Domains. If you don’t have hosting in place, you’ll also need to get a monthly subscription to a hosting site like Bluehost. Fees for hosting are around $10-15/month or you can pay upfront for the full year and receive a discount.
Business cards are the next essential when it comes to publishing a book. Similar to costs for having a website, purchasing business cards shouldn’t break the bank. With sites like Vistaprint or Moo, you can order 100s of cards for around $50 or less and that should last for months.
Hiring a book cover designer is another must for indie authors. A great cover design can set your book a part, which should be a feat most authors strive for. To avoid having a poorly rendered cover, invest in an experienced graphic designer. I put book design (or visual design for that matter) under basic expenses, because with tools like Fiverr you can get amazing graphics for your book promo campaign for under $20.
Setting up and posting on your social media platforms are, of course, free. Yet when it comes to increased engagement and driving brand awareness, paid options are available. This may be the best route to go for a few months, especially if you’re a new author. Costs for promoting or boosting a certain post on Facebook ranges anywhere from $5 upwards, whereas if you want to promote your page or create a targeted ad, costs can vary. For Facebook, generate a spending a cap and maybe start with $100/month if you’re low on funds.
For Twitter, you can also pay to have certain posts promoted, or have your entire account promoted. Once again, set a spending allowance and gage accordingly to how many followers and post engagements you’re receiving.
When it comes to self publishing a book, it’s natural to invest in more pricier promotion tactics. To drive more awareness, you’ll have to spend a little bit more. Things to consider are entering writing contests, running a promotional giveaway, and giving books away for free.
Entering book writing contests, I’ve found, can easily drain a budget. Not only are there entry fees, you also have to account for purchasing your own book to submit (unless you have an ebook), and the shipping costs.
Depending on how many writing contests you want to submit your book to, you’ll have to budget accordingly. Entry fees can vary from free to $90 for one book submission. However, if you want to submit your book under different genres or if you have multiple titles, there are additional fees.
Other moderately expensive costs include running a promotional giveaway. Signing up to run a giveaway through woobox.com or rafflecopter.com isn’t too pricey. However, promoting the giveaway through ad placements, purchasing the prizes and having them shipped can all add up quickly. Make sure to have an idea of which websites you want to promote your giveaway on and how much it will cost before running a promo.
Lastly, an expense that may be overlooked, is purchasing your own book to give away for free. This can easily offset your weekly or monthly budget. Think about how many copies you will need for a certain period of time, including books you’ll send to book writing contests. Are you going to send books to certain media influencers, previous professors, book store owners, candidates interested in doing a review, etc? Invest in Amazon Prime for free shipping if you’re going to continuously purchase your book throughout the year.
Costs that can really cause some damage if you’re a new author on a budget, like myself, may include purchasing and distributing press releases using PRWeb.com, buying advertising space, and having your book displayed nationally at different expos like Book Expo of America.
Preparing a press release isn’t too pricey, especially when using the aforementioned site Fiverr to help. However, submitting a press release through an industry-standard, credible site like PRWeb.com can be cringeworthy when keeping in mind finances. To submit one press release with a link (and of course you want to have the option to link back to your site), comes in at around $250. If you submit a press release per quarter, you’re already looking at $1K. Or more importantly, if you’re hosting events or a newsworthy promotion on a frequent basis, you can easily end up spending more.
When organizing your event, giveaway, or promotion, make sure to factor press release creation and distribution into your budget.
Purchasing ad space is also significant and important to increase exposure of your book, heighten brand awareness, and drive sales. With virtual ad options available through Google or on relevant sites using buysellads.com or blogads.com, you can except to spend upwards of a few hundred dollars. And that’s just online. Considering flyers, posters, pedicabs, or even a billboard? Expect your spending to increase even more.
Last but not least, having your book displayed at large national expos or conferences can be crucial to get your work in front of industry professionals. If you can’t afford to attend these expos in person (a trip to Book Expo of America can run around $3K-5k for airfare, hotels, booth arrangement, having books on hand for a giveaway, etc), you can opt to have your book displayed without you being there. For BEA, display costs are $300. Plus you have to ship them your book.
Self publishing a book can be stressful. From constant self-promotion to setting a financially solid budget to market your latest work, being an indie author requires savviness on all fronts. With the guide above, map out a blueprint of what and when to spend money on for additional publicity.