Platforms like KDP and Kobo have really opened up the market. Publishing a book is no longer for a few elite but for us all. But getting your book out there is one thing. Selling it, a totally different one. And what are the costs of promoting your book?
The cost of promoting your book can easily rank between $0 and $15,000. This depends on the choices you make as an author. Free options include book blogs, promotion sites, and virtual book tours. For authors with a budget, paid advertising, book trailers, and promotion packages will also become optional.
Traditional publishers belong more and more to the past. Indie authors are taking the market by storm and doing a pretty good job. I have spoken to authors that make more money now that they sell their books via online platforms than they ever did when writing for a publicist. They even let me on a secret: when you are with a publishing house, you still have to take care of promoting your book yourself.
So why not stay in charge during the whole process?
When you start from scratch
When you do not have a following yet, but you have written a kick-ass book, it might feel quite daunting to put it out there. Where do you start? What do you do? Can you just put it online and be done with it? All these and other questions will run through your head.
When I started researching this, I found that every writing site and blog gave the same advice:
- Get yourself a website
- Post on social media
- Interact with other writers
And that is just the top 3. I am sure that you know what I am talking about. But let us be honest: they are stating the obvious. Yes, you will build an audience with your website and social media. But where do you start when you do not have that.
How do you promote your book, and how much will it cost you? Well, the good news is that it is all up to you.
Promote for free
Let’s start with the free options because they are out there. Well, you have to invest your time, but at least you do not have to throw money at it. It also does not require you to have a following, social media, or spam other people’s pages.
Use promotion sites
One of the best options is book promotion sites. These sites come with their own followers. They will put your work in the spotlight, post it on Facebook, and send it out via emails. That way, you reach a broad audience without them knowing about you just yet.
Now, be a bit careful because not all of them are free. Some require you to buy advertising space or promotion costs while others might ask for a discount for their readers or freebies. But there are also decent ones that promote books which about to come out.
Create your own book tour
It might take a lot of your time, but going on your own personal book tour is great fun. You work on building your audience, and you get direct feedback from them. Just go where your target audience is.
Options are high schools, libraries, local book stores, restaurants, locations that play a role in your story, and so on. Give readings, tours, or workshops around your book and sell it at the spot. You can sign it too. It is not only an amazing feeling but also a great selling point.
Creating a good book tour does take some planning and scheduling. You might even have to travel a bit (but at least you get to see the country) unless you choose to go digitally. But you will gain a following of readers that will feel connected to you. That are willing to promote you. After all, you are that author they saw and spoke to. That is magical.
Visit book clubs
If it feels a bit daunting to go out to people who have not read your book yet and ask them to buy it, visiting with book clubs might be just the thing for you. It is really a win/win situation. You offer the readers a free copy of your (e)book and a visit to their club in return for honest feedback on your story and a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or what other platform you prefer.
Book clubs often exist of people with different sorts of backgrounds, but one common passion: reading. They will have finished your book before you visit and bombard you with questions about it.
Be prepared to talk in-depth about your characters’ backgrounds, the themes that drive the story, and the hard choices you had to make. Readers love understanding how a story comes to life. You have a chance to offer them a bit of that insight.
Besides building strong connections with new readers, book clubs also offer you an insight into your weaknesses and strengths. The feedback you will receive will tell you what worked and what did not. Where people got confused and where they got really excited.
A lot of the book clubs went digital during the pandemic, so you can even plan to visit them from the comfort of your home. Maybe that makes it a little less daunting.
Throwing a little money at it
Sometimes going cheap will actually cost you. Depending on your book, target audience, and your experience, it might actually be beneficial for you to throw a bit of money at your promotion. If you are more settled and already have a (small) following, you want them to know your new work is out.
Of course, you will promote this on your website, send emails and bombard Facebook, Insta, and Twitter with (paid) ads. But here are some other things you can try as well.
Create a book trailer
Yes, it is true. You can create your own book trailer for free. There is plenty of stock footage out there, and you can do a lot with the camera on your phone nowadays. But let’s be honest. Unless you know what you are doing, it will have an amateur feel to it. That might turn people off from reading your book, so if you are new to filming and editing trailers, you might want to throw a little money at it.
Now do not get me wrong. You do not have to get a popular artist (like Zendaya) to star in your book trailer, although it will help. You just want to tease your audience a bit. Create a certain vibe to tickle their curiosity.
If you want to hire an official production company, the trailer can be quite costly. Do not be surprised if they ask you for $15,000. Money that goes to actors, settings, clothing, editing, and all that. Now, I do not mind spending money on this, but $15,000 does make my head reel a bit. Luckily there are alternatives.
I recommend spending some money on Fiverr and having one made by an animator, editor, or other creative people. Prices go from $10, you can read reviews from other users, and there is often a little video attached so you can see what skills they have.
Besides Fiverr, you could also go to a film school or theater academic. Students are often looking for an assignment to train their skills. It will not cost you much, besides the costs of the equipment and maybe a pizza or two. In return, you can create the trailer the way you want. Win-win.
All in all, you can throw as much money at it as you want. A book trailer will range somewhere between $10 and $15,000. You decide.
Give away freebies
I do not know about you, but when I finish writing a book I know exactly who I want it to read. But getting it to the right audience is not always an easy task. Sometimes you need to have a way in. Gift packages and freebies might just do the trick.
There are several ways to go about this. For example, give away five books among all the people who sign up for your email list before a certain date. That way, you grow your audience, gain traction and awareness of your work and get the books out there. You can get back to the people that received the freebie and ask them for some feedback. So it might cost you a few dollars, but you get great things in return.
Another way is to offer people a freebie in return for an honest review and a share on their social media. If you pick a popular book blogger, you will get word to mouth out on your book to their audience. Book bloggers often have a trusty following, that follows their advice. You can even offer them a live interview if they enjoyed the book. Get your face out there and make some connections.
Last but not least, you can run certain periods in which people can get your book at a discounted price or for free on platforms like Amazon and Apple Books. It serves you better if a hundred people read your book for 99c than if one person reads it for $10.99. Be smart about it.
Giving away freebies will cost you somewhere between $5 and $45.
Create a press kit
Before you publish your book, make sure you have a booming author press kit. This is not just a little note saying when and where your book will be published but also has an excerpt of it. It has several picture sizes of the cover (banners, posters, you name it), a good headshot of yourself, the book trailer, and all your basic information.
You can post this press kit on your website, but I advise you to send it to several media stations. Do not just think about local newspapers, tv-channels, and radio stations either. YouTube channels and podcasts are incredibly popular with both writers and readers. Reach out to some of your favorite hosts, and offer them a freebie if they like what is in the press kit. Of course, in return, you would like to feature on their show.
This marketing technique is as old as days for very good reasons. To me, this is the least sexy option of them all, but paid ads do get the job done. With options like Amazon ads, Google ads, and Facebook ads, it is the easiest way to reach a new audience.
The best thing about it is that you can set the parameter to your preferred settings. In other words, you can really target your readers.
As I said, I do not find paid ads a sexy option. I am not good at it, and I have no idea how to handle that. That is why I recommend that, if you want to run a good campaign, you invest some time in learning the right strategies, or you let somebody else do it for you.
Programs like Bookbub will help you on your way. It is convenient and leaves you some extra time for giving another podcast interview. Advertising through Bookhub will cost you between $115 and $4,026, depending on the genre and price of your book.
It is important to remember that promotion is not something you only do before the release. It is an ongoing game, and it would be smart to play it steady. Yes, it will result in a higher cost of promoting your book all over, but your sales will increase too. So let me sum up the various options for you once more:
- Use promotion sites
- Create your own book tour
- Visit book clubs
- Create a book trailer
- Give away freebies
- Create a press kit
- Paid ads
Promotion can cost as much as you please. In this article, we discussed prices between $0 and $15,000. But all types of promotion will definitely cost you time. And you need to put that in steady. That way you will slowly build your audience and create a stream of income. That way, you can work on the best post promotion there is: writing a new book.
Writing a new book will make your readers enthusiastic, keep them engaged, and let them know you are the real deal. You can build on a solid following now. Which makes the next promotion even more fun.
So what are you waiting for? Start building your audience. Go, go, go!