Wednesday, July 12, 2017

And the best value for promotional investment is....by Cathy Ace



Do the costs to promote a book sometimes equal the advance you got for it, and does that make you question A) writing it or B) doing all that expensive promotion?

Welshcakes for the launch of a book set in Wales
This is a tough one to answer, because it needs to be answered in a couple of different ways. The question implies that an author promotes one book at a time. For me, that’s not the case. I write two series of books, with eight in one series, and the fourth in the other will be published in September in the UK, and January in the USA/Canada. 

If I take my next-to-be-published book as an example, then the only money I’ll spend, that’s specifically tied to that title, would be purchasing copies (I get five free, but they go to family) and mailing them to people. This costs me about $40 CDN each time, for each book; a hardcover book is expensive, even with an author discount, and then postage either within, or more usually beyond, Canadian borders is also a pretty penny for  a heavy book! Oh, and I usually pop in a little gift, something relevant to the book. On top of that are mileage costs as I drive to events for signings etc. There’ll also be one heck of a lot of what would be called “sweat equity”, if I were, say, improving my home. I’ll be organizing blog tours, trying to generate blog reviews etc. so it doesn’t cost me anything but time and effort. Per book, that’s about it…unless I choose to offer treats when I do a signing, which, being me, I usually do! That can add up, too. 


At Left Coast Crime with fellow members of CWC
So there are costs for each book launched, but the main promotional costs I bear each year are the costs which are spread across all my books. That would be maintaining and updating my website, providing books for competitions and draws, and attending conventions. The cost of my presence at conventions is so alarmingly high it has to be set against the promoting of all my books – past titles, new titles and even future titles. I need a website upgrade soon, too, and that’ll take loads of lolly. UGH! Oh, and new bookmarks – artwork and printing costs, oh my! Yes, it adds up, and there’s no question promotion can become expensive – but I believe if I’m going to write, I need to promote. So, even if the promotional costs eat up quite a lot of the income I get from writing, it has to be done. It more than ate up all the income from my books for years, and required a heavy top-up investment, too. Now it’s manageable.

That being said, I’ll tell you a secret. The best money I spend each year? My CWC membership fee! I joined Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) when I was first published (fair disclosure – I am now Chair) because I wanted a way to, for a relatively small annual fee, use their online presence to allow me to reach a massive number of people who visit their website – a group of people I wouldn’t be able to afford to reach without CWC. More than 5000 people visit their website each month, and I know folks found out about my work through that website, and then they met me because I organised events on behalf of CWC, and participated in them. Being a member of CWC costs me $130 per year. That’s just about the same as mailing three copies of a book. I think my CWC membership fee gives me the best value for money I can, or probably ever will, get. I will admit that the more I volunteer and do – on behalf of other members – the better the money seems to work for me; in other words, I have found that by promoting the CWC brand, and the work of other members, my own work has garnered more attention…as I said, best $130 a year I spend! 

(PS: did you know CWC has a free monthly newsletter that everyone can sign up for…full of news about new releases, events, and always with the most up to date version of Cool Canadian Crime…a catalogue of all books published by CWC authors through the year? No? Well, if you’re interested, you can sign up – did I mention it’s free? – here: https://gem.godaddy.com/signups/190284/join  And check out the whole website here: http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/

Cathy Ace is the Bony Blithe Award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (#4, The Case of the Unsuitable Suitor will be released in hardcover in the UK in September 2017 and in the USA & Canada on January 1st 2018).  You can find out more about Cathy, her work and her characters at her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter with news, updates and special offers: http://cathyace.com/

10 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Unless one's a "big name" writer with a lot of PR push behind them, it's hard to judge if it's worth the time and money sometimes, I think, Cathy. But ultimately we're trying to build our brand so we do what we have to do...which can be painful at times.

Cathy Ace said...

Yes, Paul, building a brand isn't fast, easy or cheap. But when I look around at those authors who have continued to be published for decades (not necessarily those who are household names, but the solid mid-listers), the one thing they all have in common? They are STILL building their brand...so I don't think it's something one can give up on.

RJ Harlick said...

I agree, Cathy, you have to keep promoting your books no matter how many you have written and with the promotion comes the costs. You have to spend to get the sales. In the old days, our publishers picked up some of these costs. Not any more. A great shoutout for CWC. I too agree it is worth the annual dues investment.

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Robin. I know some might think I am biased in favour of CWC, but, honestly, for $130 a year, I don't know of anything else that's given me more value...or will. There's no way I could reach 5000 people a month with my website (my statistics tell me this) and I know how hard CWC works with its monthly emails to another 2000+ people too...which gets news about my events and book releases to yet another group I couldn't reach otherwise. To say nothing of how many people - like yourself - I have met and bonded with as fellow members :-) I'm also finding the CWC's new monthly Member Marketing Memos to be really valuable...every bit of insight helps.

Susan C Shea said...

You know how to do it, Cathy! Thanks for the inspiration and the example.

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Susan...I just keep trying to do my best :-)

Kathy Reel said...

With so many great conventions and events for authors, I can imagine that choosing which ones to attend could be a hard decision. Do you think it is better to attend the same ones, Cathy, so that people can come to expect you at certain ones, or do you think mixing it up is the way to go? As a reviewer/blogger, my budget is very limited, so it's Bouchercon for me, but I'd love to branch out to Left Coast Crime and Malice. And, then there are the wonderful English and Scottish events. How do you decide?

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Kathy - You;re right, there are a LOT of conventions. I think each person makes a different decision about which to attend. Personally, and if I possibly can, I try to attend the same ones each year - firstly because I think it takes a while for people to even notice you're there, and, secondly, because most people are repeat attenders, and it's good to see the same people at least once a year. We tackled this very topic a few weeks ago (starting June 12th)....so, to save you scrolling eeeeeeendlessly, here are the links to how Susan Shea, Rachel Greenaway, Catriona McPherson, Paul D Marks and I answered that very question:
http://7criminalminds.blogspot.ca/2017/06/so-many-choices.html
http://7criminalminds.blogspot.ca/2017/06/ask-me-again-next-year.html
http://7criminalminds.blogspot.ca/2017/06/on-road-againby-cathy-ace.html
http://7criminalminds.blogspot.ca/2017/06/practical-business-decisions-r-us.html
http://7criminalminds.blogspot.ca/2017/06/eenie-meenie-miney-moe-to-which.html

RM Greenaway said...

CWC got me where I am today! Thanks for the words of wisdom Cathy.

Cathy Ace said...

YAY Rachel....I dare say your writing abilities have something to do with it too - but I will always be proud to have been with you at Chapters in Coquitlam, just as you were beginning your authorial journey :-)