Anyone who publishes a un curso de milagros is soon going to be flooded with mail and email from people and companies seeking to help you promote your book. These people will tell you how to get on TV, how to sell truckloads of books, and how to place ads that can result in thousands of sales. Authors with big dreams will want to jump at these chances, but every form of book marketing does not work for everyone, and it doesn’t make sense to spend large amounts of money on marketing if you can’t have some certainty of the results.
Let’s take a couple of examples of big book campaigns that might not be worthwhile. An author I know was recently approached by a television show looking to have authors on the program. It was a morning talk show on one of the cable networks. The producers wanted several thousand dollars to be on the program. First off, most television shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, will pay your travel expenses and pay for you to be on the show, not have you pay them. Even so, if you feel you’ll sell enough books to make it worthwhile, you might consider it. If your book profit after printing costs is $10 per copy, and the producers want $4,000 to be on the program, you will need to sell 400 copies just to break even.
You need to determine the likelihood that you will sell that many copies. How do you determine your likelihood of making a profit? Ask some questions about the show’s demographics. If the program’s viewers are predominantly middle-aged women and your book is a novel about street fighting, you probably aren’t going to sell enough books to make it worth your while. If it’s a sports show on Spike TV geared toward young men, then you might have great success selling your book on the program.
A lot of people are willing to get you an ad in the “New York Times” for a few thousand dollars or in other major publications or even create television commercials for you. Your ad might be seen by thousands of people, but is the audience of that publication or network composed of the type of people who will read your book?
If you just ask around a little, you’ll hear stories of authors who spent thousands on such campaigns and only sold maybe two books. Sure we all want to go big, but sometimes it’s best to start smaller or work toward more conservative but likely results.
Whether it’s an advertising campaign, a radio or a television appearance, selling books at a festival, or any other form of marketing, here are a few key factors for determining whether you should take the risk, or if you prefer, invest in the opportunity.
Find Out the Costs and Requirements
What does it cost for the ad, booth, or placement? Make sure you find out the total amount. Sometimes book fairs will want $100 in advance and then 10% of book sales later, or a similar arrangement. Make sure you know exactly what the cost will be ahead of time.
Calculate the Return on Your Investment
If you’re going to spend $500 on this promotion, how many books do you need to sell to break even, and how many to make it worth your while? Some authors may be content just to get the attention even if they only sell a few books. Others are content to break even, while others will feel it a waste of time not to earn at least $200, or $1,000 as a return for the investment. Determine what results will make you feel happy or at least comfortable with your investment.
Calculate the Return on Your Time
Time is money. Don’t forget to analyze the return on your time. If you sell $100 worth of books but the event is eight hours long, plus an hour to drive there and another hour back, and another hour to load and unload your car, that’s eleven hours you spent to make $100. Is a $9.00 an hour return worthwhile for you? Is spending all day Saturday at a book fair worth it to you when it means missing your son’s birthday party.