Let’s begin with an assumption: Unless touted as the new mega-seller, whose first novel sold at auction for an astronomical, news-making advance, the average new author probably is not rolling in bucks. Agreed? We would all like bigger advances and lots of publisher perks (like an unlimited publicity budget), but the reality in the publishing world generally mirrors that in the business arena–you start at the bottom and work your way up. That in mind, getting the most for our PR dollars is of utmost importance. Determining how much you can spend without breaking the bank should be foremost in your mind.
Because everyone’s situation is different, I can’t give you a definitive dollar figure on how much you should spend. Instead, take the following things into consideration:
What type of book did you sell?
Is it one that will stay on the shelves indefinitely, or a category romance with a shelf-life of six weeks? Take this into account when planning how much money you will spend, and on what.
What is your royalty rate?
In simpler terms, how much will you make on each book sold? If you are making 25 cents per book, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense spending 50 cents per book on promotional items. Even if each person who receives a promotional item buys a book, you didn’t make much money from the sale, did you? Just to play devil’s advocate, though, remember to think in the long term. If you are publicizing to build long term name recognition, sometimes you have to invest money up front before getting anything back.
How much do you realistically have to spend on your promotion?
That doesn’t mean, if you feed your children Ramen noodles and ketchup soup for six months and forego electricity, then how much can you realistically spend. The amount of cash you devote to promotion should fit comfortably into your family’s budget. Really. Your book is going to sell even if you can’t afford too much promotion. There are all kinds of things you can do on the cheap. If you can’t swing gizmos and giveaways this time around, life will go on. Remember that.Really take the time to look at your finances and goals and set a workable budget before you start. It will save you time and heartache (and money!) in the end. Set a realistic budget ASAP, then stick to it. Remember, if you can’t afford to do any self-promotion on a first book, don’t sweat it. The world will keep on spinning, and plenty of successful authors don’t do one whit of self-promotion.Even if your budget is almost zero, you can be effective. The tradeoff, as if most things in life, is that if you don’t have any money to spend, you will probably end up spending more time. And while we’re on the subject of time,
Budget your time as well as your money.
Self-promotion can be a huge time eater. If you have a family, a job, and another book to write, you may find yourself losing sleep and driving yourself crazy trying to steal time for self promotion. So be realistic about how much time you can devote to self promotion. If it’s one hour a week, then mark that hour on your calendar and commit to it. And don’t kick yourself for not spending five hours a week. Do what you can. The techniques I’m going to discuss in this workshop will help you make the most effective use of your time.