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How much do you spend?

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by skip.knox, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I realize not everyone's going to be comfortable answering this, and that's fine, but for those who do: how much did you spend on your last book? Or, if you have several, about how much per book?

    I'm talking the cost of all editing, cover art, interior illustration, marketing.

    I spent about $300US on Mad House, a novelette, just for cover art.
    I spent about $600 on Goblins at the Gates, mainly for the cover art, plus the map.
    I spent more like $1,200 on A Child of Great Promise because I added the cost of a copy editor.
    For the next book, I'm looking at around $2,000. More expensive copy editor, plus something called an "editorial assessment" (in lieu of developmental editing, which would run the cost way too high). At least this one doesn't require a map, but it will require some additional cover design costs.

    This is becoming a bit expensive as a hobby, especially since I recover only a trivial amount in costs. You will note I've invested nothing in marketing, beyond a one-time outlay for a website design, so cost-per-book could easily go a few hundred dollars higher.

    I know responses will be all over the map, from zero to thousands. But I'd still be interested to hear.
     
  2. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    I don't think I have spent more than $50 on marketing (talking about advertisements here). My back list is not where I want it yet, and I prefer to be making a small profit before spending mega money on advertisements.

    What I have done, however, is networked with other authors and done newsletters swaps + joined in on new release & sales notifications. This has worked nicely and I have jumped in at every chance possible so long as the marketing was geared towards readers of historical romance. I have also worked with Pinterest, Wattpad, and FB groups a lot. And always, improving my craft has been the greatest boon.

    Cover + editing + formatting: probably spent a few thousand here.
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    So far, I've spent very little. On the actual creation of the books and stories.

    I do the formatting myself, and I've had covers and editing done by friends and family. I gave my editor $50 as a symbolic gift for doing the proofreading on Lost Dogs #1. I expect to be spending a bit more on the covers for the rest of the Lost Dogs books, provided I get them in time (which seem doubtful at the moment).

    I spent perhaps $200 on promoting Emma's Story, which I didn't make back in sales.

    What I have spent money on is making sure everyone who helped out with the books got a copy of their own. For Emma's Story I gave away something like 25 copies in that way. For Lost Dogs #1 I'm giving away 5 copies.

    I've spent stupid amounts on coffee, booze, and food that I've consumed while writing. I also took 3 months off from work to write, which dug a large hole in my savings account. This is indeed an expensive hobby, but I'm also having a great time with it - so far. :)
     
    Laurence likes this.
  4. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    It's totally expensive if you want it done right. The good thing is that packaging a professional product can be done pretty cheaply, too. I got lucky in that I got injured at my job right around the time I started seriously publishing & was therefore able to put a lot of money towards my books because of a settlement.
     
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    SvrtnsseSvrtnsse brings up another expense--buying your own books for distribution. That added ... somewhere between $50 and $100.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Don't feel too bad about it. Many people spend ten or twenty thousand buying copies of their own book in order to drive themselves up the sales lists.
     
  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Aye, I didn't mean to imply it was cheap - rather that I've been really fortunate in being able to get it done for free.

    I know my covers aren't living up to genre expectations, but for now that's something I'll just have to accept. ;)
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I would not for a moment suggest that there is a "right" amount to spend. The formula is so complex, one cannot generalize from any one solution. Rather, I am merely interested to hear the range, the outliers, and the unique considerations.
     
    Chessie2 and Svrtnsse like this.
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    All told... I've put in 5k, the biggest part of that was a full blown story-editor. First book, I wanted to go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Was it worth it? I had the cash at the time, so sure! LOL. There are days I want that back, but so is life, heh heh. She helped bring out a few points (and damned good ones, but she lead me to them, by asking questions, she didn't say "do this!") but I wouldn't pay that a second time unless I hit the lottery... and don't get me wrong, the woman is good. Very good. But, she ironed out my wrinkles and while my writing and story-telling style won't fit everyone, it's kind of set in stone now with the release of book #1, LOL. So, I will go with "edit lights" from here on out.

    Cover $700ish. Plus banner art and other add-ons. To be blunt, worth it. When I hear about what other authors are paying per click on FB ads (Now I don't believe everybody, but one guy said an average of $0.40?) I have it down now where I'm questioning its value if the ad is more $0.20 per click. Some ads have run for days at .13, and I think the lifetime on my US banner ad (women targeted) is $0.15. Some of this depends on scale and the vagaries of a particular day. I have a UK ad running lifetime at 0.18 and its hit .42 on some days... no idea why. I credit a lot of that click cost to the banner art using the book cover. A weird aside... 3 digital sales in the UK today after never selling more than one in a day... go figer!

    I dropped money on Kirkus, because I'm stupidly confident in my writing, LOL. And my editor helped build that stupid level of confidence by being confident in the book, heh heh. That worked out well, with a good review. I give the Kirkus Review headline and the banner a lot of credit for driving clicks and their cost down. Plus, I use Skip's comments on my book, that has to be worth a few clicks right there.

    FB ads I'm well over 500 on by now, around $750. I'm not looking at these as profit loss right now... in my previous life in small business I assume advertising money is Red Ink in the short term, it's all about putting yourself into the public consciousness. That's why AMS ads where I've spent $23 for 140k impressions is Cool... and okay, technically, that's barely in the red, 5 paperbacks have sold via AMS + I've no idea how many KU downloads. For an unknown author, repetition is key. I always wonder how many times I see a a book ad and think"I've heard of that somewhere" that somewhere was actually just another ad. But they build on each other.

    Let's see... BargainBooksy upcoming... $40.

    I spent some money on Bookbub ads before I decided those were crap. I will try them again a bit during a .99 promo, however. See if I can get the clicks down. Got another $80 into another promoter, the name of which escapes me right now.

    Now, all of this is building toward a run at BookBarbarian, Fussy Librarian, and the grand daddy: Bookbub this fall. If I get into those, then obviously, I'll be spending more. But presumably, once you get a Bookbub, you make money. So... heading into book 2, I could see dropping another couple k.

    I will judge income from ads after 2 months... I hope to recoup about half of what I spend in advertising... depending on how crazy I get, and how the countdown deal goes, LOL.
     
    kennyc likes this.
  10. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    My goal has been (and continues to be) to spend as little as possible on actual marketing until my backlist is strong. I have and do splurge on covers/editing because yeah, those things are important. I hired out for blurbs at first and that was a disaster, so I learned how to write my own and save there. When I have two more completed series I might (might) start advertising. Truth be told I'd like to have at least 2 more completed series and a 4th one started before I start spending real money on getting a Bookbub, etc.
     
    skip.knox likes this.
  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, do everything you're able. I ended up conning my daughter into finishing off a map, LOL. And I learned InDesign to layout the paperback... but I have a background in layout and design with Quarkexpress back in yon olden days... So, that worked out well. There is an editor/typography geek hiding deep within me, I suspect.

    I might even be able to b&w my digital maps from Photoshop I did, so I doubt I will spend a dime on maps.

    EDIT: And I probably could've written a million words in the time it took to do those maps, so I better use them somewhere, heh heh.
     
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  12. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Total side note: No way those 3 sales in the UK are from FB ads, must be an Amazon email or some such promoting the book... EoS' rankings were tanked in the UK, barely spending on FB ads, and now got 5 sales in a day (+ unknown KU) and a rankings spike to 8500 overall, and jumping up in the categories anywhere from 70 to 140 slots.

    So!

    Behold the power of Amazon... and quality also boughts.
     
  13. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    It cost me $500 (NZD) to self-publish a book. I sold a grand total of 20 books and gave away another thirty, mostly to libraries. It was a disaster but it was a very valuable learning curve. I've since met other self-published writers who sell enough copies to put some extra money in their pockets but the New Zealand market is simply too small for all but a privileged elite with friends and family in the right places to make any money out of writing.
     
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Assuming fiction instead of something nonfiction and geared toward NZ... why make NZ your prime target? I mean, I’ve liked every Kiwi I’ve met, but I’m not spending much money promoting to them, LOL. I’ve learned something over time... being local means diddly-squat. Although I did love the spikes in Aussie-Amazon rankings, small markets are fun for that. Thing I’ve found so far is that I get spikes in small markets, but it’s harder to get people’s attention after an initial burst, while in larger markets like the US and UK, the book’s numbers move slow but are oddly less frustrating over time. Basically, promos run longer and cheaper and more effective in the larger markets.

     
  15. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Geography is not the prime variable here, still less national boundaries. It's language. My market--and yours as well, Miles LaceyMiles Lacey--is the English language market. In fiction, crossing over to another language market is a major deal, requiring fluency in both but really needed a professional translator. But within a language market, it doesn't much matter where in the world that English-speaker resides. Sure, there are some irritating glitches that make it more difficult to market in certain countries, but for the most part our primary market is international.

    Or am I missing something?
     
  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'm thinking a lot of the physical book promotion, as well as person to person and word of mouth promotion happens in the local or very local market.

    Once I have a few more titles out I'll start attending local conventions. I will have a table set up to sell some books and meet people. In my case local means Irelan (all of it). Hopefully that will then spill over into word of mouth and reach further than just the people I meet myself.
     
  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Yep, IRL promoting is another cost. I haven't done that yet, though I'd love the opportunity. At minimum it would be a couple of pens, several copies of the book. A cushion for the chair. :) Travel costs.

    When considering cost recovery, we have to look beyond the one book. The more books we publish, the greater the marketing burden. The greater the return, one hopes, but it's not like I can say I'll spend two grand on this book and then there will be no more expenses associated with it. This business of breaking even is rather trickier than it first appeared.
     
  18. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Lol when we were still living on the Olympic Peninsula (horrid, horrible place ahem) I was invited by a lady at church to sell books at a writers' fair. Twice. Both times my social anxiety kicked in so both times I said 'maybe' and didn't go. Also my books have sex and I thought about church ladies reading them and got all twisted up. Honestly, at some point a rl event would be worth it but I just am not there atm. I rather write and hide behind a computer screen. That is all. -_-
     
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  19. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, almost went to thrillercon, and a couple others, but those were mainly for publishing contacts... which I probably wouldn't make because I am anti-social, heh heh. I'm usually fine when I get somewhere, but getting me there is a B.

     
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  20. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Yeah, hell no don't ask me to talk about my books in person. I blush! :giggle:
     
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