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A few months ago, we released an episode called The Starving Author: How to Market Books When You Have No Money.  But After the episode aired, several authors asked me a similar question: “What do we do if we do have money to spend?” You see, not all authors are starving. Some writers have spent years saving money, and they want to know how to get the best return on that money when they invest it in book marketing. What does big-budget book marketing entail?

So, how do you supercharge book sales if you have money to spend?

Step 1: Create a Sellable Book

Write a Book Readers Want to Read

No amount of money can make someone read a book they don’t want to read. 

The most common mistake wealthy authors make is writing the book they want to publish and then expecting to be able to buy readers later by spending money on marketing.

The first commandment of book marketing still applies to authors with large budgets: “Love thy reader as you love thy book.”

You can’t change people with marketing. Marketing can’t turn a person into the kind of person who likes the book you wrote. Effective marketing tells people about the availability of a book they already want to read.

Find your Timothy, and then craft your book to thrill Timothy. Creating a sellable book is imperative. If you don’t write a book that your target audience already wants to read, your marketing money will be wasted, and you will see few sales. 

Get the Little Details Right

Sometimes, overlooking little things can torpedo your sales. Make sure you research and spend time getting the following right: 

Buy Three Covers & Test Them

Having a good book cover makes every marketing effort more effective. A bad cover makes every marketing effort less effective. If you can afford it, I recommend getting three different cover designs and testing them with Facebook ads. The cover with the highest clickthrough rate in your test is the cover you should choose. 

Don’t ask fellow authors for feedback on the covers. The goal of a good cover is not to impress fellow authors but to get potential readers and buyers to click on the book cover. Listen to the hard data from your test ads and not your own opinion or the opinions of other authors.

For more on split testing, see my episode on How To Split Test Your Book Title Ideas With Facebook Ads.

I also have many episodes on book cover design:

Offset Print a Hardback Book

Offset printing your book will lower the cost per unit, opening up brick-and-mortar retail options. If your book is available as a beautiful hardback, influencers, critics, readers, retailers, and distributors will take it more seriously. 

You can also make it available as a paperback and ebook, but a nice offset printed hardback with that split-tested cover will set you up for success.

Step 2: Form a Publishing Company

Avoid Hybrid Publishers

Most hybrid publishers are more effective at separating authors from their money than selling books. They tend to be staffed by pushy salespeople who make big promises. Before you even speak to someone from a hybrid publisher, please listen to my episode on hybrid publishers

Create a Named Publishing House

For some of the big-budget promotional options we’ll cover below, you will need to be “traditional passing,” meaning you’ll need to present yourself as a professional, active company that knows the business. Some marketing methods will require you to take calls, answer emails, and reply to DMs. If a promotion company thinks you are self-published, they will assume you don’t have the budget to work with them.

But if you do have the budget to work with them, you must present yourself as a business, and one way to do that is to operate as a publishing house. 

Most indie authors form an LLC at some point, but you want to form yours sooner rather than later. Choose an LLC name that is not connected to your name, pen name, or book title. 

Create a publishing company name that’s more akin to ACME Publishing LLC. Then, create or pay a graphic designer to create a logo for your publishing company. That logo will be printed on the spine of your book. 

Create a simple publishing house website. Use the words “boutique” and “exclusive” in your web copy. The website doesn’t need lots of pages or complexity, but it should include a contact form and some corporate jargon. Gatekeepers will mostly be checking to see if your publishing company website exists. They’re not typically looking for specific information on that site. 

To learn more about building websites, see my free course on How to Make Your Author Website Amazing.

Get a Mailing Address

Get a mailing address other than your home address. I recommend getting a box at your local UPS store. A UPS box is better than a PO box because UPS boxes can receive mail and deliveries from UPS, FedEx, and USPS. PO boxes only receive USPS shipments. 

Aim for Profitability

Sometimes, wealthy authors “just want to get the book out there.” They don’t care much about profitability, but that is a mistake. If you can turn a profit selling your book, you’ll have money to pay for continual marketing. Over time, your book can become not just a bestseller but an evergreen seller. 

A profit motive will actually help you sell more books over the long run. 

Create a Budget

One key to long-term profitability is to maintain a budget. You probably already know a lot about budgeting, but if not, I have some guides:

Measure Your Marketing

Some marketing expenses will be a waste, but others will give you a great return. The key to long-term profitability is to measure your marketing. You’ll never know which methods are working unless you measure the results. 

Check out the following episodes on measuring your marketing so you can cut your money-wasting activities and focus on the profitable ones.

Step 3: Form a Bestselling Team

Now that you have your book and company in place, the next step is to build your team. Working with professionals who have published before is one of the biggest advantages of being cash-rich. 

Hire Three Editors 

You will want to hire three editors to give your book the best chance for success. A developmental editor will help make the substance of your book more appealing to your readers. The copy editor will tighten your sentences and look for correct usage. Your proofreader will ensure that no typos sneak into the final typeset pages. 

Do not skip or skimp on the editing process. 

To learn more about hiring an editor, check out our episode on How to Hire a Good Editor.

Hire a Webmaster

A skilled webmaster can build you a better website than you can create on your own. We have a job board at AuthorMedia.social where you can find a great webmaster. 

Hire a Marketing Coordinator

I recommend hiring a savvy indie author rather than a marketing firm. The savvy indie will give you more hours of work for the same money and often has more specific skills. Experienced indie authors have more insight into the tools and opportunities indie authors need. 

Hire Assistants

A good author’s assistant will keep your writing, marketing, and publishing organized and help you maintain high quality in all those areas. Authors typically hire one (or several) of seven kinds of assistants. Find out what each type of assistant does in my episode on How to Find and Work With a Virtual Assistant.

Step 4: Get in Front of Readers

ARC Influencer Campaign

You’ll want to send hardback Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to people who are influential with your Timothy. Social media personalities, podcasters, radio show hosts, pastors, CEOs, producers, journalists, and popular bloggers already have audiences. Connect with the influencers whose audience is interested in a book like yours.

For more on how to use ARCs for marketing, listen to our episode on How to Boost Book Sales With Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)

Influencer Marketing

Poor authors try to become famous on Instagram in an effort to sell more books. They hope the algorithm will smile on them and they will be the next star of BookTok, BookTube, or Bookstagram. Sadly, they don’t realize that books go viral due to content created by influencers, not because of content created by authors. 

Well-funded authors use influencer marketing to make their books go viral. They pay influencers to talk about the book on social media. 

As you research influencers with whom you can connect, look for those who have influence with your target readers. Some influencers focus specifically on books, while others focus on certain topics but may still be a good fit for your book. For instance, a history influencer may be a good fit for promoting your historical fiction book. The top Byzantine Historical Fiction books have all appeared in the History of Byzantium podcast in some way. 

You’ll probably need to contact the influencers or their agents individually.

Go on a Media Tour

You can also get in front of readers through a media tour. Radio hosts, TV shows, podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels are always looking for interesting people to interview. While a media tour often works better for nonfiction, it can also work for fiction. The key is to focus on media with reach.

A radio station may have good ratings, but if your segment is aired at 5:00 AM, it won’t help you sell any books. On Substack, you can often see the number of subscribers each blog has. To get a sense of a podcast’s popularity, check ListenNotes.com.  

To learn more about media tours, listen to How to Conduct Your Own Media Tour (without hiring a PR firm) With Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith.

Pay Slotting Fees at Bookstores

Most bookstores sell shelf space, a common practice in many retail stores. Quaker Oats pays a pretty penny to place Captain Crunch at your child’s eye level. 

Barnes and Noble made big waves in the industry when they reduced the percentage of shelf space available for sale and gave local store managers more control over what books to keep in stock. If I remember correctly, the shelf space for rent went down to 30%, which is still a high percentage of shelf space. From what I understand, airport bookstores have a much higher percentage of shelf space for sale. If you want bookstores to shelve your books, you must pay for it. 

You can also pay for in-store promotions such as end caps, shelf hangers, banners, or employee pins. 

Not all bookstores charge slotting fees. At some independent bookstores, the buyer must request your book through your distributor to display it on the shelves.

Step 5: Advertise Your Book

Advertise on Goodreads

A few years back, Goodreads closed the self-serve ad engine to small authors. Now, the minimum spend on Goodreads is $2,000 to $5,000. However, the ads you get for that amount are larger, more prominent, and presumably more effective. You don’t hear many authors talk about Goodreads advertising because it’s outside most authors’ budgets. 

Goodreads is nice because it targets super readers who read lots of books and are willing to try new authors. 

Advertise on Meta

Speaking of expensive, you can also advertise on Facebook and Instagram. The advantage of Meta ads is that they have almost unlimited inventory. If you want to spend $10,000 per week on ads, you can. The downside is that the ads can be pricy on a per-click basis, especially if you are writing in a genre where many other indies are targeting the same group of readers. 

The key to success with Meta ads is to educate yourself. To learn more, listen to my episode on Facebook Advertising for Authors.

Advertise on Amazon

Advertising on Amazon is a no-brainer. I just released an episode on Amazon ads, so I won’t go into it here. For more, see How to Sell More Books With Amazon Ads.

Advertise on X

Since taking over in 2022, Elon Musk has made some incredible improvements to the X (formerly called Twitter) experience. The number of bots is down, and the number of human users is up. As of April 2024, X had 611 million monthly active users. When Elon Musk first acquired Twitter, it had 401 million MAUs. That’s roughly a 50% increase!

There have been many politically motivated hit pieces against X, and some advertisers, like Disney, stopped advertising for political reasons. Their departure created an economic opportunity for advertisers who want to sell products and don’t care about politics. 

When the supply of users is up, but the demand by advertisers is down, prices drop. X ads are dramatically cheaper than on any other social network. 

Let’s talk specifics:

Source

Clicks from Facebook are 2.5 times more expensive than clicks from Twitter. Clicks from Instagram are nine times more expensive! And remember, when you pay for ads on a pay-per-click basis, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. 

The most cost-effective social media ads are on X. I hope to record an episode about advertising on X soon. 

Bottom Line

Not all these tactics will work for every author, so you must measure your results. If your book is nonfiction, you would want to lean harder on the media tour. If your book is fiction, lean harder on influencer marketing. But most importantly, find what will work for you and your book. That means working with your team to measure and iterate as you go.

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