To launch your book properly, it’s a good idea to sit down and start writing a detailed book marketing budget. The budget is a preliminary task that you should complete before you spend a dime on publishing your book. Some small publishers make the mistake of jumping right in and spending on their newly finished books before they get a full view of how much it will cost to properly release the title. Start typing out your new book marketing budget in a blank Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Here are a few key categories that you’ll want to address in your budget.
Book Editing and Design Costs
Once you finish writing your book, brace yourself. Before your only investment was time and thought—now you have to start spending money to get the word out about your unique creation. You now have to hire a few people to get your book ready for printing and publishing:
- Book editor
- Cover designer
Book Printing Costs
A major initial outlay for a self-publisher is your book printing expenses. The traditional method is to purchase a set of books (about 250 to 1000 to start out) and then order more when you run out. The costs when you speak to a book printer include:
- Book printing costs
- Prepress fees
- Shipping costs
You can also use a POD service like the one offered by Createspace to print your books on demand. I’m liking the POD option more nowadays because I sell most of my titles online. However, keep in mind that printing with a book printer may give you a lower per-book rate and also open more doors to potential distributors and brick-and-mortar bookstores to carry your book on shelves.
Book Advertising Costs
In 2010 and beyond, I believe self-publishers and small publishing companies will find the most success advertising online. But when you go on book signing events and the like you’ll need some other advertising materials. So be sure to include the following possible costs in your book marketing budget:
- Putting together and publishing a professional book website. You can simply use a web building tool offered by your web host, choose a professional template, and add your book details, but you may want to hire a professional to handle this (I discuss book websites in my eBook series).
- Building a newsletter list and using email newsletter services to get the word out about your book
- Creating postcards, bookmarks and business cards for your book to distribute at events
- Creating flyers and large mounted book posters to display at your events
- Hiring a designer to prepare book marketing package materials (like your sell sheet and letterhead)
- Buying radio ads can be useful for certain types of books
In addition to basic book advertising expenses, don’t forget to list the cost of putting together sales packages for potential reviewers, distributors and small bookstores who may want to carry your books. You’ll have to print professional materials and send them via an express mail service to your intended recipients.
Book Traveling Expenses
When you publish a book that gets some attention either locally or nationally, you’ll have to budget for trips to book signings, festivals, fairs, and other events. That includes:
- Airfare, rental car, hotel
- Vending table rental fees (if applicable)
- Display tables, stands, tents and other supplies for your books if you’re planning on attending book fairs
- Outfits for your book signings (you’ve got to look good!)
- Cost of placing a few radio or newspaper ads in the other cities where you plan to visit to promote your books (people who may be interested in your book need to know you’re coming and why—they don’t know who you are yet!)
Book Selling Helpers
One mistake I made when I just started out selling my own self-published books was to try to do everything on my own. I probably could have made longer strides more quickly if I had just hired a few part-time people to help me out! You don’t have to hire on full-time employees as a self-publisher—obviously you can’t afford that just yet. Consider the following ideas for getting book selling helpers and add the cost to your budget:
- Hire independent contractors, like virtual assistants, online (such as on Elance)
- Talk to an administrator at a college nearby to see if there is an intern program you can join
- Pay your working age kids or their buddies to be your helpers
- Consider the cost of hiring a book publicist to help you get the word out about your book
Before and after you self-publish a book it is very important that you read up on the process in detail. Gathering knowledge of self-publishing helps you gain an advantage in the self-publishing world. This is a small segment of your book marketing budget, but worth adding:
- Invest in resources that teach you the basics of self-publishing a book
- Invest in resources that teach you the specifics of how to sell and market a book
- Attend seminars at book publishing fairs and major events to hear from other successful self-publishers and network
Use these suggestions as a starting point – obviously you’ll have more items to add your book marketing budget in the near future.