I enjoy giving self-published authors advice on marketing their books.
Writers like to write, and the type of personality that makes someone want to be a writer is often the antithesis of the qualities required to be a successful book promoter. As a result, the backroom process is often handled with atomic clock-like precision, but the public stuff…well, not so much.
Typical Publishing Costs
Just look at the typical budget for a self-published book project. Certainly, some authors just throw the thing together and publish on Amazon, but those books give all self-published authors a bad name and generally don’t sell many copies. The serious authors recognize the need to spend some money, and at a minimum, it looks like this:
- ISBN number: $125
- Professional Editing: $2000
- Professional Books Cover: $500
While some may try and cut corners—you know, a girlfriend’s mother studied English literature in junior college, which makes her a qualified editor—most self-published books benefit greatly from proofreading and editing. To grab the reader, a professional book cover is a must, and an ISBN number from Bowker provides a variety of important benefits.
Publishing costs over $2500 may seem like a lot when the average self-published book makes less than $500, but it’s really just a down payment on the success of your book. In fact, it’s the book marketing and promotion that gets expensive. The costs can add up quickly, so where do you spend your dollars to get the biggest bang for the buck?
Book Promotion Costs
Let’s look at some of the most popular promotion services:
- Paid Reviews: $425 for services like Kirkus, but there is no guarantee you will receive a positive review.
- Facebook Ads: $500
- Google Adwords: $500
- Print media: $1000
- Professional Marketing Services: $2000
If you’re stomach has clenched, you’re not alone. A minimal book promotion budget can easily run $4000 or more. When added to the book production costs, the total budget can easily exceed $7500. Unfortunately, with the current available book promotion avenues, you will have to pay to for the exposure. Frankly, with the exception of the Kindle KDP Select program, free giveaways and other efforts to promote your book without incurring any expense are unlikely to work.
When Your Budget is Limited
In most cases, new authors have a hard time promoting their books because of cost. It is very important to maximize free and low-cost options that will help your book gain visibility without breaking the bank. Goodreads, for example, may help you sell more books without draining your bank account.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
William E Edwards (author) on April 28, 2016:
Robert--Not necessarily...The expenses that are really critical are a quality book cover and professional book editing. So, you have a minimum investment of $2500, and the rest is elective. While ads are really helpful, you can mount a successful marketing campaign by substituting elbow grease for money
Robert Sacchi on April 28, 2016:
Good information. From the numbers it seems almost impossible to break even going the self-publishing route though.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 28, 2016:
So, so true that book writers need to be book marketers! Good review of some of the costs that could be incurred, depending on the self publishing platform chosen.