Advertising your book – how much to spend

Advertising your book

How much should you spend on advertising your book?

This question gets asked a lot, especially by beginning writers. They’ve heard that it is probably a good idea to advertise your book, and they like to be given some kind of clear guidelines as to how much they should spend.

It’s a good question, right?

But sadly, there is no clear answer to this question. It is rather about how much you are comfortable to spend and what sort of life you like to lead: one that concentrates on books, or one that is spent babysitting ads.

If you’re new, it is reasonable to expect that you will have to spend some money to get your name and books out into the world.

However, there is a difference between a small push and a huge campaign. There is also a difference between a large campaign and having to spend a really big chunk of cash on advertising your book on a regular basis.

Writing is a business

The first thing about running a business is that you should never spend more than you earn.

Works of fiction are unique. It’s impossible to predict how they are going to catch on, especially if you’re a new author.

But those books sell for only a few dollars at most, and you have to sell an awful lot of them to make a living, or any kind of interesting income. The margin for profit on advertising ebooks is wafer-thin.

This becomes much easier if you have a series, where when a reader buys the first book, they will often buy the rest as well.

Still, spending big money on advertising products that are cheap comes with a lot of risk. If suddenly your ads stop working, or a new competitor comes into the market, your big-budget ads can go south very quickly.

What’s your comfort level?

How much you should spend is also about your level of comfort.

If I’m going to make $1000 on my books, I would rather not spend $9000 to do it. I would rather spend nothing and make $1000.

“But if I don’t advertise, my books don’t sell at all.”


That begs the question: if you have to spend that much just to make you book sell at all, how viable is the project really? You might be better off spending less and starting something else.

It’s worth knowing what the “do-nothing” scenario looks like. If you stop advertising, what happens?

Could you perhaps make do with ad-pulsing, where you alternate no-ad months with time-limited campaigns?

Are there ways that you can spend that money for more return, for example to get people on your mailing list so that if you want to reach them again, you don’t need to pay for it?

There is no single answer to how much you should spend on advertising.

You should certainly never spend more than you earn, and if you do spend a decent amount, always keep an eye on how much of that you make back over the long term.

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