Calculating the cost of marketing your book

Everyone knows that producing a novel costs money. You have editing costs, cover design costs, proofreading costs, printing costs… but once your book has been released you stop paying, right?

Well, the answer is that you can but you probably shouldn’t.

As with anything worth time and effort, marketing costs money. Be it email marketing services, website hosting fees, promotional giveaways… these all come with an associated cost. The question is, how much would you pay in order to sell a copy of your book?

Putting a price on a sale

At first glance, assigning a value to a sale seems like quite a difficult thing to do. But, in reality, this is something we easily do in other areas of our life.

If you own a house and you decide to redecorate, at the back of your mind you are probably considering the resale value of your home. While you may want to convert a bedroom into a working model of the death star, not everyone is a Star Wars fan and it might make your property more difficult to sell should you decide to move in the future.

In the marketing world we call this Return On Investment, or ROI for short.

ROI sounds boring

ROI does sound boring. But think of it this way, how much would you pay for someone to buy your book? While the concept of paying someone to sell your book may sound strange, it can be very beneficial.

If you’re selling your book for $7.99 would you pay $0.30 for someone to buy a copy? $1? This may change over time, what would you pay in the first weeks of sale? What would you pay after the book has been out for a year?

Knowing this threshold is an important first step in understanding marketing techniques that may be appropriate for you.

Deciding what works for you

Different marketing techniques have different associated costs. And also different ways of calculating ROI.

For example, if you send email marketing you need to take into consideration the cost of your time and the cost of the email marketing software.

Let’s say you pay $50 a year, and you send around one email a month and you make two sales from each email you send. That’s twenty-four sales per year for $50. This equates to $2.08 per book sold before you take into consideration your time.

Have a look at how much you are willing to pay for a book sale, does this add up? If it doesn’t, is there a way to either reduce your email marketing costs or increase the amount of sales?

The easiest way to see the cost of marketing a book

Working out the cost of different marketing techniques varies. Some are more complicated than others. For example, do you know the exact monetary value of having a Twitter account? Most people don’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time, but it’s worth looking for a way to check if it is.

The easiest way to assign a cost to your marketing is paid advertising.

Services like Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) provide you with an exact cost per click on your ads. For example, one of the books I’m advertising at the moment has recently sold a book at a cost of $0.13. This falls well beneath my threshold and I would happily pay $0.13 per book sold.

If you’re not using a service like Amazon Marketing Services then you are really missing out. I advise anyone to have a try, it’s easy to set up, costs are low and easily manageable and the transparency of costs and sales is fantastic.

Simply go into your KDP portal and click on Reports and then Ad Campaigns and go from there.

As with all marketing, be sure to keep an eye on the costs versus the income to ensure that you are selling at a cost that you feel is worth it.

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