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How Much Does It Cost to Market a Nonfiction Book?

In our experience working with over 2,000 published Authors, we’ve found that effective book marketing costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.

The challenge first-time Authors face is figuring out which marketing activities to invest in. Which investments will produce a good ROI? And which are a waste of time and money?

That’s what I’ll cover in this post.

Below, I break down book marketing costs into 4 categories:

  1. Basic Marketing Assets: Your book cover, Author website, and promotional graphics.
  2. Organic Promotion: Organic social media promotion, email outreach to your personal network, and starting an email newsletter.
  3. Paid Promotion: Paid social media promotion, Amazon advertising, and partnerships with book promotion sites and newsletters.
  4. PR and Media: Features in online publications and podcasts, TV, and radio appearances.

I’ll explain the costs of time and money involved for each and point out where people tend to under or overinvest. This will help you save money and invest in the marketing activities that produce the best ROI.

Lastly, for Authors who are short on time and want professional help marketing their book, I’ll walk through how our marketing services work at Scribe.

We’ve helped over 2,000 Authors publish and market their books, including massive bestsellers like David Goggins and Tiffany Haddish. If you want guidance with book marketing or becoming a published Author, schedule a consult to speak with one of our Author Strategists.

Note: This post will focus on costs specific to book marketing. If you want to understand the costs of self-publishing, read this post as well. It covers costs of the following:

  • Professional editing costs including developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, etc.
  • Copywriting for your book description
  • Book covers
  • Interior design and layout
  • Print-on-demand (POD) and Offset printing (including rates from services like CreateSpace, KDP, and IngramSpark)

 

Also, check out our post on the book publishing process. It covers the above publishing steps as well as:

  • Book formatting for Kindle and other platforms
  • Audiobook creation
  • The difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing companies

1. Costs of Basic Book Marketing Assets

When you set your marketing budget, these assets should be accounted for first:

  • An eye-catching book cover
  • A well-designed Author website
  • Branded promotional graphics

You can try to market your book without these basics, but doing so will limit the success of the rest of your marketing efforts.

Book Cover Design: $100 to $2,000+

Many Authors underinvest in their book covers and make the mistake of thinking they can just hire a cheap freelancer on Fiverr or Upwork.

The adage that “people will judge your book by its cover” is 100% true. Your book cover is fundamental to everything else you do to market your book.

Investing in a quality book cover design is one of the best decisions you can make. If you go cheap, far fewer people will be interested in—let alone want to buy your book.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for a book cover based on quality:

  • Low Quality: $100 – $150
  • Acceptable: $200 – $500
  • High Quality: $750 – $1,500
  • Best Possible: $2,000+

To learn how to find and work with a great book cover designer, read this post.

Author Website: $1,000 to $6,000

Creating an Author website is a crucial asset for building a brand around your book. Not every Author needs one, but many do.

If you have business goals that you want to achieve—such as acquiring more clients, getting speaking engagements, or becoming a thought leader in your industry—you need to have a website.

It establishes your credibility and offers long-term, cost-effective marketing opportunities such as a platform to build your email list.

The cost of a website varies depending on your needs. It can be broken down into 3 tiers:

  • Tier 1: If you want a basic landing page set up for your book, expect to pay between $1,000 to $3,000.
  • Tier 2: If you want a complete website built with all of the critical components (home page, bio page, book page, media page, etc.)—this ranges between $4,000 to $5,000.
  • Tier 3: If you want a complete website that also includes Author branding, positioning, an email opt-in offer, etc.—expect to pay $6,000+.

To learn more about the key components of Author websites and how to build one, read this post.

Branded Promotional Graphics: $50 to $350

Lastly, any Author who wants to market their book should have professionally designed graphics to use on their website, social media, and any other channels they use.

Branded social media banners and book graphics can help you generate interest in your book. Without them, it’s more challenging to catch peoples’ attention and stand out online.

Note: If you hire a freelancer to design your promotional graphics, prices and quality vary widely. It’s possible to get subpar graphics for a high price or amazing graphics for a low price. To ensure you get quality graphics, ask designers for past examples of their work and clients they’ve worked with in the past. 

2. Costs of Organic Book Promotion

Organic book promotion is the process of promoting your book to personal and professional networks through the free (or low cost) channels that you have at your disposal. The primary cost of organic book promotion is your time.

Below, I’ll share 3 of the most common organic channels that Authors use successfully and the estimated time cost for each.

Organic Social Media Promotion: 1 to 3 Hours per Week

Leveraging your personal social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to generate interest in your book.

For a detailed strategy on approaching this, check out my post on What to Do (and Not Do) in a Book Launch Social Media Campaign. It provides an in-depth strategy for promoting your book on social media in 3 stages: Pre-launch, launch week, and post-launch.

Authors can effectively use social media promotion to market their book with about 1 to 3 hours of effort per week. This time investment includes creating and scheduling posts, replying to comments, and engaging in relevant conversations online.

Note: While organic social media promotion can be an effective channel for some Authors, it’s also an area where Authors can waste their time. For people who don’t already have a solid social media presence, it’s often a waste of time to try to drum one up for your book.

You should still share your book with your network, but don’t waste too much of your time or energy if you don’t have a big enough audience. Instead, focus on reaching your target audience through other channels.

Email Outreach to Personal and Professional Networks: 3 to 5 Hours

Many Authors hesitate to leverage their personal and professional networks to market their book. However, doing tasteful outreach to friends, family, and close colleagues is essential for generating early book sales and reviews.

Early sales and reviews are crucial to the success of your book. They help Authors become Amazon Bestsellers, which exposes your book to more potential readers and significantly increases your credibility.

You shouldn’t spam your closest contacts, but you should ask for their support.

Here’s the exact process we teach our clients at Scribe:

  • Step 1: Organize your contacts into categories in a spreadsheet (e.g., friends, family, close colleagues, etc.).
  • Step 2: Reach out to them 4 to 5 weeks prior to book launch, share a PDF of your manuscript, and ask them to form an opinion about your book. Let them know you’d appreciate it if they’d leave you an Amazon review on launch day.
  • Step 3: Reach out to them on launch day to let them know the book is live and ask them to leave a review.

This outreach plan should take no longer than 3 to 5 hours of your time, and it can have a profound impact on the long-term success of your book.

Creating and Building an Email List: 1 to 6+ Hours per Month

Creating an Author newsletter is particularly useful when you’re using your book as a marketing tool. It’s one of the best and most affordable ways to generate and nurture leads for your business.

Services like Mailchimp offer free accounts for up to 2,000 contacts, so the cost of creating and building an email list is your time.

Authors commonly send emails weekly, monthly, or seasonally. The cadence you choose will determine how much time you spend per month.

3. Costs of Paid Book Promotion

There are several different channels that Authors can use to run paid promotions for their books.

This section will explain why one of the most popular channels—Facebook Ads—can be problematic if you’re not careful.

I’ll also cover 2 channels that we’ve found to be highly effective for paid promotion (and often underinvested in):

  • Amazon Ads
  • Partnerships with book promotion sites

Facebook Advertising: Starting at $15 per Day

Facebook Adscan be useful for increasing your overall exposure with brand awareness or reach campaigns. However, this is one of the key places where Authors often overinvest.

After Amazon takes their cut, most nonfiction Authors only make $6 or $7 per book. There’s a tiny margin when it comes to ROI. If your Facebook Ads aren’t completely dialed in and only costing you a few dollars per click, it’s very easy to waste money.

The other downside of Facebook Ads is that you’re unable to track whether or not people purchase your book. You can’t clearly measure your ROI.

This warning shouldn’t discourage you from leveraging Facebook Ads. They can be useful for generating exposure with new audiences. Just be sure to monitor your costs closely if you want to avoid wasting money.

Amazon Advertising: Starting at $10 per Day

Amazon Ads are an area where I see Authors underinvest. They have several advantages over Facebook.

First, users are already on the platform where they can purchase your book. This reduces friction on the path to a sale.

Second, you can track the number of book sales that result from your ads. Instead of guessing about your ROI, you get a clear picture of how well your investment is working.

When optimized properly, Amazon Ads work great for increasing both exposure and book sales. Even if someone doesn’t purchase your book right away, they might buy it later since they saw an ad. Paying for ads also can help juice the Amazon algorithm and make it more likely to recommend your book to new readers.

Partnerships with Book Promotion Sites and Newsletters: $100 to $4,000+

Book promotion sites like Goodreads and BookBub are also great channels that go underutilized by many Authors.

These sites allow you to reach targeted audiences through promotional services such as:

  • Featured deals
  • Author promotion
  • Paid ads
  • Sponsored giveaways
  • Pre-order alerts

Book promotion newsletters such as BookBub or Booksends are also a great way to increase exposure and generate book sales with targeted audiences.

Here are some of the rough costs for these services:

  • Goodreads Sponsored Giveaway: $119 to $599
  • BookBub Partnership: $140 to $4,000
  • Paid Newsletter Placement: $100+ depending on outlet

4. Costs of PR and Media: $3,000+ per Month

PR and media typically account for a large portion of an overall book marketing budget. Quality PR services cost around $3,000 per month. When used for several months, you can quickly reach the $10,000 range.

Authors tend to underinvest in PR and media due to this expense, but it’s invaluable for building credibility and authority when done right. Effective PR can significantly impact the long-term success of your book (and boost your ROI in the other marketing channels you invest in).

The 2 approaches we recommend Authors focus on are:

1. Getting Featured in Major Online Publications

Being featured in big online publications like Forbes or Entrepreneur not only exposes you to huge audiences, but it allows you to put their logos on your website.

When you can show that you’ve been in big media and have a professionally published book, your audience will view you as a credible authority on your topic. That credibility makes it easier to accomplish the business and personal goals you hope to achieve with your book.

2. Getting Featured on Podcasts

Many Authors overinvest in traditional media channels like TV and radio, and underinvest in podcasts. But podcasts have become one of the best forms of media for book promotion.

Why is that?

First, podcast hosts tend to have a lot of trust with their audiences. Their listeners will often buy books based on their recommendations.

Second, the medium lends itself to long-form conversations. Audiences have a chance to hear the Author’s story, and Authors have a chance to dive deeper into their areas of expertise. This allows them to build more trust and authority with the audience than they typically can with other channels.

As a result, we find that podcasts produce more book sales and interest than online publications, TV, or radio.

Scribe’s Book Marketing Services for Nonfiction Authors

We offer a variety of marketing services at Scribe. These are currently only available for Scribe Authors—clients who use our book ghostwriting, book coaching, and book publishing services. However, our marketing services will open up to non-Scribe Authors in the near future.

Here’s a brief breakdown of what each includes:

1. First Week Promotions

Scribe Authors who hire us for our ghostwriting, coaching, or publishing services receive the following:

  • First week book promotion to become an Amazon Bestseller.
  • Complete marketing strategy and templates to secure early Amazon reviews.
  • A full set of social media banners and graphics for launch week.
  • A scheduled podcast interview on Author Hour for you and your book.
  • A published excerpt from your book released during launch week.
  • Marketing strategy and templates for you to leverage your network.
  • Access to our Book Marketing and Book Launch Blueprint Courses.
  • A one-on-one call to review your marketing plan with one of our Author strategists.

2. Scribe Book Launch: $3,600 per Month for 5 Months

We also offer a standalone book launch service called Scribe Book Launch. The service includes all of the above plus:

  • A detailed review of your book to create a key ideas doc and custom media kit.
  • Outreach to our 3,000+ media relationships to secure coverage of your book.
  • Coordination of a $0.99 Amazon bestseller promotion to spur early sales and reviews.
  • Email scripts to use for outreach to influencers and your network.
  • Coordination of advanced copies to give to early readers.
  • Paid promotion through Amazon Ads, Goodreads, BookBub, and other platforms.
  • Complete analysis of your book launch results to determine a long-term plan for promoting your book.

3. Author Ecosystem: $3,000 per Month for 2 Months

Author Ecosystem is our branding service that helps Authors establish authority by building trust with those most interested in your message. We provide:

  • Author brand strategy to hone in on your core brand and message.
  • Target audience analysis.
  • An Author website including copywriting, positioning, opt-in, and newsletter.
  • Author brand assets such as social media banners and other graphics.

4. Media Coverage: Starts at $3,000 per Month

A complete media package helping you get the word out about your book. Authors receive:

  • Media asset creation including a customized media kit to share with journalists.
  • A podcast tour with outreach to hundreds of podcasts to open doors for interviews.
  • A traditional PR push to get radio, TV, or journalist opportunities to feature your book.
  • Book review submissions.
  • Op-Ed contributions.

5. Content Studio: Starts at $1,000 per Month

Scribe’s content marketing service provides Authors with a complete team to manage the creation and distribution of their marketing content. We offer:

  • A content strategy and publication schedule.
  • Custom article creation on topics around your book and business.
  • Access to invitation-only publications.
  • Dynamic LinkedIn posts that are optimized for engagement.

6. Lead Generation: Starts at $1,500 per Month

Our lead generation service for leveraging your book to make new connections, create new opportunities, and close new business. It includes:

  • A LinkedIn connections campaign to execute custom outreach using LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
  • Mail out copies of your book and follow up to interested prospects.
  • Creating your own CRM in Airtable to track the status of all open conversations and prospects.
  • Direct mail prospecting.

If you’d like to learn more about any of the above services, schedule a consult with one of our Authors Strategists.