Weighing Marketing Costs Against the Benefits: Things to Consider

Sunday, July 06, 2014
Have you ever seen an author run a contest promoting a new book and offering a $100 Amazon gift card? The entries skyrocket--everyone wants to win that prize. $100 is a steep prize--will sales cover the cost of the gift card?

Or how about an author who has an expensive book launch party with free food, drink, and entertainment? It's well-attended, of course, and books are sold, but how many books do you have to sell to make up the cost of the party?

Maybe I'm one of the only authors in the world to think like this, although I know I'm not--there are many, many business savvy authors these days. I also know that to make money, you have spend some money and work hard--I'm not against either one of these. But I do think you can be smart about your marketing dollars and still meet your marketing goals, which are most likely something like, "People will know that I am an author and the title of my book (s). Readers will think my book sounds interesting and buy it (or get it for free--depending on the promotion). Readers will like my book enough to leave a review or tell someone else about it."

I'm getting ready to have a sale for my young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses, which has the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs as one of the events in the plot. The week of July 14 is Major League Baseball's All Star Break, when the all-star game is played. I decided this would be a perfect time to have a sale on CBTC and a contest to win a $25 gift card to a popular restaurant and a free edit from me. My goals are to get the word out about CBTC, now that it has more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and to hopefully sell a few copies--books in hand!

Since Rocking Horse Publishing only has ebooks on Amazon, as an RHP author, I can take advantage of Kindle marketing plans, too, using the Kindle Countdown Program to correspond with the All-Star game.

So, as I was putting this all together, I had to consider a couple things:
  • Am I okay with getting fewer royalties to get books in hand? (YES!) 
  • How could I offer a gift card prize without spending a bunch of money? (EASY! I have points on a credit card, and I can use these to get a gift card for "free"!) 
  • How can I get the word out about the all-star sale and celebration without spending big marketing dollars? (BookBub is great if you are offering a free book, but it's expensive, and even more so if your book is even just 99 cents instead of free. So I decided not to do that. Instead, I googled ways to advertise Kindle Countdown programs and found a couple that were inexpensive--one I found is $10 to be listed on sale days and one is based only on sales that come through), and I figure if I get no sales--I have little invested. Also, my friends and family have signed up to help me like crazy, so I will have major blasts going out all over the Internet from people in my life!) 
The bottom line: this sale will cost me:
  1. Time, although I love doing this kind of thing, (time is invaluable, but I am enjoying myself).
  2. Most of the reward points on my credit card
  3. $3.99 to buy an ebook for a blogger/social media person who wins the contest for helping me get the word out about my sale
  4. A free 3000-word edit (which is about a $50 value--but could get me a new editing client or a referral!)  
  5. Royalties--although I'm hoping I'll sell more books than I would have, so this will even out. 
  6. $10+ for advertising (depending on how many sales I get)
Margo & her daughter
I feel like these costs are low and worth getting the word out. How about you? How do you decide what to spend your marketing dollars on? Any tips for our published authors? 

Margo L. Dill is the author of Caught Between Two Curses. If you want to help get the word out about the sale, you could win a free ebook from Rocking Horse Publishing. Go to this site to leave your name and email next to the social media you use (it's so easy, takes less than 5 minutes) and receive an already written blast about Margo's book sale, or you can go here for more information.

Dollar sign photo by Donkey Hotey http://www.flickr.com


BECKY said...

What?! I'm the first person to leave a comment?? Yes, I am a few days AFTER this was posted, but still?! I'm putting the blame on it being posted during the 4th of July weekend. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Anyway....Thank you, Margo for this wonderful post! You did your research and gave us some important and unique advice about marketing! Thanks much!! And best of luck with ALL your promotions! See you on MY blog on July 16th...the day after the All Star Game!

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