In a continuation of book marketing week on the blog, I feel extremely fortunate to have one more expert guest blogger. M.J. Rose is the bestselling author of THE REINCARNATIONIST and THE MEMOIRIST, which will be published by Mira in November. She is also the founder of the book marketing service AuthorBuzz, and writes the extremely awesome blog Buzz, Balls & Hype.
In the comments sections of Michelle Moran’s guest posts, there were a few questions about whether book publicity really works, how much money should be devoted to a marketing campaign, and whether, at the end of the day, the book will just sell itself (or not). M.J. Rose took the time to shed some light on these questions, and I can’t thank her enough for her post.
Hi guys. This could take a book to answer but here are a few facts.
1. No one will buy a book that they do not know exists. People won’t go looking for it on line or in the store if they have never heard of it. That is the goal of marketing and pr. To expose the book, the cover, your name to as many people as possible when the book comes out.
2. 85% of all books get less than $2000 in marketing from the publisher. And more than 85% of all books sell less than 1000 copies.
3. 95% of all bestsellers get more than $50,000 in marketing and pr and often it’s upwards of $150,000. There are never more than two or three books a year that break out on a fluke with no marketing and pr and when you search deeper those that do are almost almost always religious books that get help from very tight communities with systems in place to spread the word.
When people say “if advertising and pr worked every book would be a bestseller” that’s the opposite way of how to look at it.
The question is how many books have succeeded without any pr and marketing and the answer to that is very very few.
The reason advertising and pr can’t make every book a bestseller is because not every book is good, not because most advertising and pr sucks. Believe me, it is much easier to write an ad to make people stop and read it than to write a whole book someone will spend their hard earned money on.
Not even the most brilliant pr and marketing can sell a book people just do not want to read. More on this later.
4. PR and Marketing cannot make a bestseller but it is almost impossible to have a bestseller or even a good seller or even a seller without pr and marketing.
5. The difference between marketing and pr is that pr is a gamble that can pay off big whereas marketing is guaranteed and you get what you pay for. A publicist will never be sure they will get what they pitch but marketing is buying space and running ads/announcements.
They are different and both valuable so I tell people that if you have the right book and the right publicist – yes hire a publicist but for every dollar you spend with a publicist spend a dollar with a marketing company so that at the end of the day if the publicist doesn’t get a lot you still will have gotten exposure.
6. Exposure does work. If you take 100 books and look at the ones that had pr and marketing dollars spent on them and 100 that had none – you will absolutely see that as a group the ones that had the pr/marketing outsold the others more than 10 to one. The problem comes when you look at one book at a time.
For instance. I can have done AuthorBuzz.com and blog ads campaigns where I have proof that over 10,000 people clicked through and looked deeper at the book but ultimately the sales for the book were less than stellar. What happened? We got attention for the book but when potential readers picked it up and really looked at it – they passed.
Equally I’ve done campaigns where we did the only marketing effort and the book went back to press which the publisher never expected or the book listed higher on a bestseller list than they expected or it simply sold through at a better rate than other books in the season/genre.
PR and marketing can’t sell books.
It’s worth repeating.
PR and marketing can’t sell books.
PR and marketing can and do expose books to potential readers and then the book – the words and the premise and the first few pages or the flap copy – have to sell the book.
In advertising there is a saying – nothing kills a bad product better than great advertising.
7. What to spend? What I do for myself and what I tell everyone is keep your day job or a freelance job and spend as much as you can.
I’ve worked with authors who spend $985 and others who – between my services and other efforts spend $50,000.
The rule of thumb is: if you are going to look back and regret spending the money don’t do it. But if you are going to look back and say – if only I had tried maybe the book would have succeeded – then do it.
Nora Roberts said you should spend 10% of your advance. James Patterson spent all of his and kept his job.
You can also learn to do a lot of it yourself. I teach a class once a year – (https://www.bksp.org/content/view/141/2/) – online for six weeks that does just that.
8. Less than a dozen debut books a year breakout. But breaking out is not the only way to success in this biz. Your goal as a writer is to keep writing better and better books and to help those books sell well enough so you can keep getting contracts and writing more books until you write the book that a publisher finally says – THIS IS IT – and they spend the big bucks and break you out. They say it takes ten years or ten books to really break out. Sure some people do it faster but some do it slower. Don’t expect the effort to pay off on the first book.
9. If you are going to hire a publicist or marketing firm – please don’t believe anyone who promises you sales. No one can and if they are starting out lying you are going to get screwed. And make sure when you look at their testimonials they have worked with some authors/publishers you have heard of!!!!
10. Lastly, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true. Like the people who try to get you to pay money to attend teleseminars on how to become an Amazon #1 bestseller. It won’t get you anything. All it means is you have manipulated the system and got 100 friends to buy the book within an hour. Don’t pay anyone anything for stuff like that.