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Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish? : General Questions & Discussions • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish?

trracki
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Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish?

Postby trracki » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:03 pm

The Self-Bankrolled Author - Marketing & Royalies - Traditional or Self-Publish?

The general rule of thumb I have been led to believe is that whatever your advance is, expect a similar amount to be spent on marketing by the publisher. As a first time novelist, I am told to only expect a $5,000 advance and that the publisher also expects the author to spend all of that initial $5,000 on marketing the book. The warning is that if you don't spend the $5,000 on marketing, your book will sell too few copies and a second manuscript will be even harder to sell than the first. Knowing first hand how much even basic marketing costs, $10,000 seems woefully inadequate to get the word out about your book in a big way. Consquently, if no one knows about your book, how will it ever sell?

It seems suprising that a publisher spending thousands on editing and formatting, then tens of thousands on printing, would only designate a small portion of its overall investment into marketing. Publishers obiviously know something I do not, otherwise they would be spending more. The problem is some good books never sell well because they don't get the attention they deserve. Meanwhile a fair number of meh books do great just because "everyone else is reading them". In a nutshell, some sales leads to more sales which leads to best sellers. But what if a good book doesn't reach "critical mass" because it lacks the initial sales needed that is driven by good marketing? Tough luck?

What if a first time novelist was willing to self bankroll a larger marketing budget? How does a publisher view this? Will the royalities reflect the author's greater personal investment or will the needle remain skewed towards the house? Greater financial risks should equate to greater financial rewards.

If an author was willing to put up a decent sum towards a marketing budget when most publishers are not willing to, is that author better off going self-published? Or should they stick with the traditional route but contract the publisher to match the marketing invesment or increase the royalties? Or will the publisher simply stick with the boiler plate contract and not budge on the subject, regarding the author's atypical financial contribution as a windfall?

What is an author to do? Which direction should they take in this situation? Traditional or self-publish?

The manuscript in question is sports fiction, let's just say NASCAR. The marketing plan involves print and media advertisement in car racing magazines, on-air promotion during racing broadcasts, interviews and audio spots on racing raidio shows and podcasts, along with a limited city book singing on location at major racing events . Obiviously such a marketing plan will involve a decent amount of money but it does give the greatest saturation of the target audience. The intent is that sales within the niche market will be sufficient that it triggers interest and sales to the general public.

If the author is willing to go to all the time and expense of making this happen, how does the publisher view this? As something expected and demanded? Or appeciated, supported, and rewarded? If the publisher is the former, then is the author just better off self-publishing?

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shadowwalker
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Re: Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish?

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:59 am

Short answer - the advance is yours. Yours. You spend it or save it however you like. If you want to spend it on marketing - wasted effort that it may be - you may do so. If you want to spend it on a vacation - you may do so.

New books/authors sell well because a few people read them, like them, and tell their friends about them. Those friends then tell their friends. And their friends tell their friends. And all these people will tweet and twitter (whatever you want to call that) online and all their myriad "friends/followers" will see a book they might like.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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LindaSeed
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Re: Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish?

Postby LindaSeed » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:08 pm

I think that regardless of whether you choose the traditional route or self-publishing, you've got to be willing to advocate for your work. Sure, sometimes a publisher can make an author into a star with a big marketing campaign, but that rarely happens, and you can't expect it in the current economic climate. You have to hit the social media and be creative and aggressive about getting your name out there. It's not realistic to publish a book and expect the readers to find it among all of the other books being produced.

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shadowwalker
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Re: Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish?

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:58 pm

Doing some promotion for your book can help - what's more important is getting the book on the shelves, in the catalogues. Any publisher that expects a writer to spend their advance on promotion is not a publisher to sign with. Any publisher that expects an author to spend any money doing the publisher's job is not one to sign with.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

TerryRodgers
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Re: Self-Bankrolled Marketing - Traditional or Self-Publish?

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:52 am

Let's not forget that if you have an agent that $5,000 now becomes $4,250. Then you have to claim the $4,250 as income so now you're left with maybe $3,000.

As shadowwalker said, it's your money and you can spend it anyway you want. You can also take $10,000 of your own money and hire some publicity or do your own marketing. Once again, you can do whatever you want. These days are gone, but a friend of mind received a $350k signing bonus for her first novel. She took $30k of those dollars and hired a publicist for a period of time to get her name out there. That may or may not have led to the novel being option for a movie. So the money she spent on top of the publishers marketing may have helped, but then again her novel was a great read and it may have just been word of mouth that made her realize decent sales.

Just, remember that it's very rare for a first time novelist to make it big on the first novel or even the second novel. How long did it take you to become an expert at what you currently do for a living? Writing will be no different.


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