More considerations for your book marketing budget

Publish & Prosper, Lulu’s podcast, hit it out of the park again with an episode on paid book promotion.

Before we get into it, let’s recap how much I spent on marketing my second book (in Canadian dollars):

  • Marketing strategy: $1995
  • Magazine and digital advertising (now defunct Global Vegan Magazine and paid ads in a vegan Facebook group): $146
  • subscription: $103
  • Social media ads (Facebook ads, boosted Facebook & Instagram posts): $203

= $2447 (US$1814)

This is the absolute minimum I’d recommend an author spend. I saved a lot by doing my own social media posts (daily for 4.5 months), weekly blogs and emails, and publicity to media and podcasts.

If I had another $3000, I would have done an ad in VegNews (maybe also vegconomist and green queen if it’s event possible to do more with that) instead of Global Vegan Magazine and spent another $800 more on social media ads (on both Facebook and Instagram, only boosting one post max per week). didn’t really help me get on podcasts where my target reader was. I wanted to pay a videographer to do my trailer, but I’m actually glad I made my own because my trailer didn’t seem to result in book sales when my ebook came out.

Let’s review what Publish & Prosper hosts Matt Briel and Lauren Vassallo talked about on the podcast:


1. Ads/sponsorships

Interestingly, the hosts considered these the same thing, while I wouldn’t. (A sponsor could be any company, not just a media outlet where most advertising takes place.)


Paid newsletter sponsorships are a great way to help build your email list up and grow your audience by using your book to get into another newsletter. You can pay the newsletter owner to be featured, but also do an exchange with them if you also have a newsletter.

Other benefits:

  • You’re reaching an audience of people who like the content creator enough to subscribe to their email newsletter list
  • You’re speaking to an already interested and engaged audience when you’re included in that newsletter
  • Most content creators that have newsletters won’t let any person or business sponsor their newsletter. They want the content to be relevant, qualified content for their audience

If the content creator has a large list, you should also ask what their open rate is before you invest. A 30 to 50% open rate is good.

In my case, most vegan business newsletters I’m subscribed to are distributed by media outlets, so inclusion in their newsletter might require advertising, anyway. At the time of my book launch, I wasn’t a member of Vegan Business Tribe and I’m not sure the co-founder would have accepted a paid inclusion unless I was a sponsor, but he had me on his podcast (thanks to my book coach Mitali who pitched me for it).

In thinking about the other business influencers I sent my book to, only one has a newsletter I would have paid to be included in.


Podcast ads

The hosts pointed out that although most podcast ads can be annoying, a book recommendation in which the host has read your book and really enjoys it could be beneficial. Some podcasts require sponsorships in that you pay for an interview and then are the sponsor for the episode.

You’d obviously make sure you’re a good fit for the audience, so your sponsorship is relevant; your book link would be in the show notes.

Again, thinking about my book, there are only a few podcasts about vegan business. I was invited as a guest on all of them, although no one offered a sponsorship option to me. Because Vegan Business Tribe already has a sponsorship model, that’s the one I’d consider if I was publishing a similar book.


YouTube ads

This is interesting and something I hadn’t considered. If there’s a YouTube creator with an audience that’s your ideal audience, you can ask to pay for your book trailer to be an ad in the show.

Some creators with large shows might even offer to create the ad for you if you don’t have a book trailer, and others may even hold your book up on the show and talk about it, giving more of an organic review than your trailer just appearing in the middle of a show, like a commercial.

Remember, the bigger the show, the more expensive the ad will be.


Conference & event sponsorship

If there’s a conference or other event whose attendees are your ideal book reader, you can sponsor the event and have your name on the banner behind the stage or be involved in event programming, where you pay to sponsor a coffee or cocktail hour during the conference.

Vegan Business Tribe, for example, has its own space within VegfestUK and VBT members can pay more to be included there. I’ve also seen Mitali at The Vegan Publisher give books away in swag bags, which directly got books in the hands of her ideal readers.

Or you could give away free copies of one of your previous titles and include a bookmark that promotes your new book. This could work well for an author of a series.

Sponsoring these types of events usually start at a few thousand dollars.

The hosts talked about giving away a chapbook sampler with the first five chapters of a highly anticipated book. Seems like paper waste to me, but it’s an idea.


2. Amazon paid advertising

I’m almost embarrassed to say I had no idea this was a thing until this year. The Nonfiction Authors Association hosted an agent who specializes in Amazon ads for authors, and that workshop was amazing.

The catch is, you have to be using Amazon KDP for your book. If your book’s distributed by IngramSpark or Lulu like mine was, your title will be on Amazon, but you won’t be able to use Amazon’s ads function with it.


3. BookBub

BookBub “is a book marketing outlet that delivers targeted book ads.” It advertises to a dedicated audience of readers who’ve signed up on BookBub, whether through its newsletter or banner ads. Its audience is composed of dedicated readers who specifically are looking for books to read. They’ve signed up because they want deals on books. 

This is ideal for books with a wide audience that have been out for at least a month, to sell them at a discount.

Unlike traditional advertising, you must submit your book for consideration for a deal. If they choose you, you’ll still have to pay for the ad promotion BookBub will do for you. It can do a new release feature, but that’s much more competitive; you’d be competing with other traditionally published books.


4. BookFunnel

The hosts said people have used BookFunnel for ebook and audiobook delivery.

A big part of that platform is its marketing and email list capabilities, which includes sharing its lists with other authors. As an author, you can share your email list(s) with other authors in your genre or adjacent genres. I’m not sure how much I like the idea of sharing my list (especially if it’s business owners/founders/entrepreneurs who are on it), but I’d look into BookFunnel’s marketing & email newsletter options.


5. Paid social media advertising

Written Word Media

The hosts mentioned Written Word Media, which I had never heard of. It’s similar to BookBub because it has its own audience, but it also has a few different lists to expose your book to a lot of readers. Like other digital marketing agencies, it can help you navigate Amazon and Facebook ads if you don’t want to handle that on your own.

The hosts said WWM has its “finger on the pulse of indie authors and the state of the indie author community” and is more fiction-focused, but it also works with nonfiction authors.


Paid social media campaigns

If you’ll be handling your own paid social campaigns, the hosts recommended picking your best performing platform to start with vs. running campaigns on every single social platform. Then research resources on how to do paid ads on that specific platform.

I should mention that I tried running an ad on my LinkedIn company page (because you can’t pay for ads on a personal profile) and it was so hard to figure out, I just gave up. (I no longer use my LinkedIn page anyway.)

They mentioned that you’d handle Facebook and Instagram on Facebook Business Manager which is true, BUT if you plan to run ads on both, don’t just push the same ad to both. When I boosted my video trailer, Instagram cropped it to square (it does this if the ad is wide vs. long vertically) and cut off my subtitles. And I didn’t know this until a month after my ad was running. Don’t waste your $ pushing the same ad to both platforms like I did!

The hosts said to “set a budget ahead of time and set a primary objective” too, which I agree with. They recommend using Canva for images, or you can hire a freelance graphic designer to help you.


Influencer/content creator partnerships

Matt said that when nonfiction authors have tried to use influencers to promote their book, it’s only worked in a few cases. That’s because it’s hard for a creator’s review to come off as genuine. You’d also have to offer a promo code if you want to track sales from the content creator.

They say if you know an influencer and they talk about it organically, that’s better; that’s what I found with the one influencer who posted on LinkedIn about my book instead of on his blog (which led me to offer my book to Miyoko Schinner, who hasn’t reviewed it).


You can listen to the podcast ep on paid book promotion and download the transcript here.

Need a book marketer to help you promote your book so you can get it in the hands of readers? Read more about my services here and contact me if you’re ready to begin!

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