A $100,000 or $10,000 Marketing Budget

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Russ, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. Russ

    Russ Istari

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    So Malik's blog got me thinking.

    If you had a $100,000 marketing budget for your fantasy novel how would you spend it?

    And if you think that is too much money, if you had a $10,000 budget how would you spend it?
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    I'm not sure of prices, but here are my expense priorities.

    A cover artist
    An illustrator who can work with historical maps
    Web designer plus programmer who can spiff up my web site
    Someone who can show me around MailChimp
    Editor
    Proofreader

    Even if I assume one novel a year, ten grand should cover it.

    If I had the larger sum, I'd spend part of it to go to southern France and the Pyrenees, where my next novel is set. I'd hire a guide to take me into the countryside.
     
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  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Oh, I'd try and create some kind of web event for sure, and prepare some kind of supplemental content, like merchandise or a game. Also, get an artist to put together a half dozen memes.

    That's after the things Skip mentioned were already covered, as well as some kind of strategy for approaching reviewers.
     
  4. Russ

    Russ Istari

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    It's funny that SK talked about a travel budget. I was thinking of going to visit a site that is very important for my WIP and that I don't think I know well enough to do it justice in the book and it is a key component of the tale.

    Also, I think is an author is at all personable they should travel and take every chance to speak about their work that they can. Even if it is self pub there are lots of speaking/signing opportunities at conferences and I believe the pay off.

    Our office adopted mail chimp recently for our e mail marketing, it looks pretty simple to use.
     
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The thing about travelling is that the costs are high and the reach is usually low. It should have the highest response rate among the people that you reach, but I think whether it covers the costs or nets you a good ROI is often in doubt. It depends on how well attended the conference is, how prominent your position there might be, whether you have much stage presence, and how costly it is to get there (was the entry fee waived because you're a speaker? for example). Even navigating the logistics can be a burden.

    Then again, I'm a metro ride from Manhattan, and there's a number of events I could probably make without much of a budget. I'm also a decent, but out of practice, public speaker. Hrm.

    Regardless, I don't mean to speak against travel, especially if you choose to go for the experience. But when devising a marketing budget I think most people should put it pretty low on the list. The costs are high. The returns are iffy. And it takes a type of skill that's pretty different from writing a book. If you have that skill even a little, can go without too much expense, and aren't counting on making a lot of sales, it's for sure worth doing. Just don't invest in it like it's going to be your break out marketing moment.
     
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  6. Russ

    Russ Istari

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    Devor you make some very interesting points.

    Firstly, I have to say that for many forms of marketing that figuring out the ROI is really, really hard, unless you spread them out and do them electronically only, and hope no other factors intervene. There is some good data out there on how readers find out about books and what makes them buy, but it can be hard to get your hands on.

    When it comes to marketing, I think many people, especially indy authors, underestimate the value of building personal relationships. Meeting potential readers, editors, fellow authors, bloggers, influencers, book sellers, etc in person. That takes time, and often takes travel but can really pay off. Although we spend a lot of time sitting behind our keyboards and looking at our screens I would suggest that meeting people and talking to them can produce even better results.

    I can think of some examples off the top of my head that I know work.

    Firstly, my wife and I got to be friends with many authors over the years from going to conferences, signings, readings, cons etc. This has been invaluable for my wife's first book. Firstly she got a large number of those people to blurb her, before she sold the book. Her agent was able to use those blurbs (which several editors called the best package of pre-pub blurbs they had ever seen) to help sell the book. Even if you are indy, blurbs help sales. Getting blurbs from people with good names is hard to do unless you have some sort of relationship with them.

    Secondly, you get to meet booksellers when you go out to conferences, or bloggers, or reviewers, etc or you go to their stores. If you like them they will try and help you, and will become your advocates from time to time. That kind of support is hard to engender with just a e-mail.

    You can also build allies among successful authors by getting to meet them, playing poker with them, drinking in the bar with them etc. You can form associations, get them to do joint events with you, etc and that all helps build your brand and hopefully helps you share fan bases or at least gets you access to theirs!

    Direct sales in person I think is just secondary to the other benefits of travelling to conferences or book tours. But you can sell a good number of books if you do it right. And hopefully if you book is good those readers will tell a friend or two or even post a review or talk about their positive experience on the web.

    I do think you need to be realistic about your skills. If you can't carry on a conversation with people and make a bad impression in person, you need to take that into account. I know of one guy who killed his traditional publishing career because of his bad personality. But I think that is pretty rare. Most people can carry on a half decent conversation and be polite, and if not, some basic social skills can be learned.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    First, you're not wrong, by any means. And I for sure wouldn't question your own experiences.

    The kind of networking that you're talking about (I wouldn't really call it marketing, but that's semantics) is one of the hardest things to pull off, and that's true in every single industry. I could point you to a dozen articles about how 1) This is the best thing ever to do and 2) Many people try really hard and invest a lot of money to do it and get absolutely nowhere with it.

    There's a quote from a billionaire, somewhere, where he says that if he were penniless and jobless, he'd sleep on a bench, look for whatever mediocre part-time job he could get, save up for a suit, crash a few top-notch parties, and be back on his feet in no time.

    I mean, it's definitely a real thing. But I think you're massively underestimating the level of skill involved, which is easy to do for a skill that you personally have. As you yourself said, your wife had the best set of pre-pub blurbs they'd ever seen - that's not because she's the only one trying to get them. Something like that only happens because she's good at it.

    I think what many people forget when talking about best practices and giving others advice is that there's a baseline of what you should do, but then you push beyond that wherever your skills are. Networking in the way that you're describing is a high cost, high skill, high risk-and-reward activity.

    In my experience, networking online can be taught and learned, and can be quite effective. Networking in person can be far more challenging, and absolutely daunting for many - even most - people.

    I'm certainly not going to tell anyone not to do it. But it's important to manage expectations. It can get you nowhere - or everywhere - based on a skill that's really hard to get a good grasp of.
     
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  8. Russ

    Russ Istari

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    You certainly got me thinking here Devor. Let me bounce a few points off you for discussion.


    I agree outstanding results like that are rare. But let's say that her results are 100 points worth of blurbs. Is the less personally gifted writer not better off with say 15 points worth of blurbs than none? Is it not worth the effort?

    Funny, I find that people are better in person than online. Your comments got me thinking about it. I work in a profession where social skills are really important. Maybe I have a view based on my atypical environment. Then I got thinking about it. I still play sports and go to the gym and hang with people from a variety of different backgrounds. Over a beer I find the vast majority of people I encounter have pretty good social skills.

    I am not equally as impressed by people's social skills on the internet. And I actually think there is some pretty good literature there showing that people don't behave as civilly on the internet than they do in person.

    But at the end, I think you are right. I think the aspiring writer needs to make an honest inventory of their strengths and weaknesses (no easy task!) and then plan their marketing accordingly.

    The advice I would also give in this regard for the aspiring writer would be when you meet industry people would be for them to ask lots of questions and really listen to the answers. People love to talk about themselves and their industry and even if you can't sell yourself or your work, you can learn a lot about the industry you are trying to succeed in.
     
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  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Well, I mean, that's kind of it, though. Social skills online are scarce, which makes it easy to learn how to make a good impression. Social skills in person are found in abundance, which makes it very difficult to figure out how you can stand out.
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I ran across this in my feeds today. It's a study in your favor here, Russ.

    A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful than an Email

    ^ It's not really that definitive, as a personalized email would remove a lot of the suspicion people would use to disregard a survey request like the one they tested, but I thought it was worth adding to this old discussion.
     
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  11. pmmg

    pmmg Scribal Lord

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    Honestly, I am not ready for marketing, so I would just hold onto it and create some more stuff. I have had a few friends who have had success. One has been around to conventions, on her own dime I am sure, and peddled the crap out of her book. I would not call her success epic, but it was mild, and she got her foot in the door. Another submitted and submitted and won in some important competitions. You could find them on the web if you. A few others have gone the indi route, or teamed up with a friends small time publishing company, but there are creating a fairly large volume of work and getting their name out there. I don't know what will work for me. I think everyone's path to success is always unique. But when I watch it happen, I feel I can do it too.
     
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  12. Russ

    Russ Istari

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    I think this is am important point and agree with you totally.

    I don't see any reason why one cannot be successful at this stuff, and a positive mindset is important.

    When I meet with a successful author and talk with them, I am usually impressed with their intelligence etc, but I find I am usually not completely blown away to an extent that I think "that person is just way smarter than me." They put their pants on one leg at a time, and I don't see why almost anyone who studies and works at it can't be quite successful.
     
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I have a very serious question here that I have been wanting to ask for years . . . .

    Am I really the only person who puts my pants on two legs at a time?
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    At some point I need to have an intelligent fantasy creature who declares that he puts his pants on six legs at a time, just like everyone else.
     
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  15. Russ

    Russ Istari

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    Just you and Don Corleone.
     
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  16. Incanus

    Incanus Shadow Lord

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    It's a funny expression when you think about it. I contend that absolutely NO ONE puts their pants on one leg at a time literally: they would rip. That, or you'd hurt yourself.
     
  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Moreover, unless the pants are on both legs, they're not truly on, are they?

    It's just barely possible we have wandered off topic. :)
     

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