When is it time to say, “Enough, I can’t afford to promote my book?”

If you want answers then don’t bother reading this blog. I have no answers, merely questions.

If you have read my previous blogs you will realise that all I seem to do is moan about how hard and time-consuming it all is, once your book is published. But I am facing yet another conundrum.

How much should I pay out in order to promote my debut novel, “The Jewel Garden”? When is it time to say, “Enough, I can’t afford to promote my book?”

Obviously, if it was easy to determine that a cost of £x resulted in sales of £y, then it would be an easy decision. But it is difficult (if not impossible) to determine why any reader buys a book and what it was that caught their attention and made them make the actual purchase.

I hope I have done all the basic things that I have been advised to do in order to promote my book, some of which have no cost (other than time), others do have a cost.

So, the costs I have paid out so far, which I would not have done if I had not written a book and wanted to promote myself as a write as well as my book, are:

  1. The cover of the book. This was painted by an artist friend. She asked for no money but I gave her a £100 token in appreciation. I have no idea how this compares with any other means of getting a cover produced.
  2. I have purchased about 10 hard-copies so far at discount to send to reviewers at a cost of £60. I have not yet received the reviews from some of the reviewers.
  3. Postcards printed to leave at bookshops, literary festivals, shop windows etc etc. I have had 150 printed at a cost of £90. I still have well over 100 left.
  4.  I have joined the following societies in order to help promote me as an author as well as my book:
    1. Society of Authors – £102 per annum
    2. Contact an Author – £49.50 per annum. No-one has contacted me as yet.
    3. Historical Novel Society – $50 per annum. Not received their review as yet.
    4. Readers Review Room – £26.08 (will no longer be in operation after 2018. No reviews added.
    5. SWWJ – £55 per annum. Not received their review as yet.

There are a few other things that I could potentially pay for:

  1. A blog tour. I gather there are blog tours for historical novels but they certainly don’t get such mainstream visibility as those for crime/thrillers/light romances.  I have had mixed responses about whether these are worth while. Some enthuse and some say they are not worth it. I suppose it depends on whether the author believes the tour resulted in sales. There are, unfortunately, no guarantees, so it is always going to be a risk. The costs vary, the cheapest I have seen is £45, which covers the basics but for £85 I would get my book “promoted over the blogs every day for a week. This includes reviews, interviews, guest posts and extracts. We also provide a professionally designed poster.” This sounds good to me, but I would have to sell a couple of hundred Kindle versions to cover the costs. Can anyone actually convince me that this is cost effective?
  2. Use a company such as Publishing Push to do all the promotion for you. This sounds perfect for someone like me – but comes at a relatively high cost. I seem to have lost the e-mail I had with indicative costs but I seem to recall that it is in the region on £400+. I would have to sell thousands of Kindle versions to cover these costs.
  3. Audio version. This is only something I started to consider yesterday after a writer colleague posted something on FaceBook. Again, there is a cost (I haven’t researched how much yet) and more time and effort.
  4. There are doubtless many more ways I could pay someone, which might possibly increase my sales.

No one cost is high, but there is the potential to spend a small fortune, far more than I may ever earn in sales, especially when the cost of the Kindle version is £1.99 and I get a % of that after the publisher has taken his %.

I still love my book and have faith that others will love it if they read it (based on the reviews on Amazon.co.uk). But how much should I spend before I say, “Enough, I can’t afford to promote my book?”




I wish the invisible little man on my shoulder would shut up!

I don’t consider myself to be an author as I don’t earn my living from writing. Therefore, I am an IT project manager who also writes. I write for pleasure because I want to tell a story that I think other people might enjoy reading.

My problem is that since writing for pleasure I am constantly suffused with the feeling of guilt, fuelled by an invisible little man on my right shoulder, who whispers incessantly into my ear.

His sole aim is for me to get my second novel completed. Therefore, if I spend the day in the garden (and by God it needs weeks, rather than days of work), or if I go shopping for frivolities such as a new bathroom blind, which then takes a whole day to put up because I am pretty incompetent at DIY, or if I book a walking holiday so that I can’t take my laptop, then this voice in my ear never stops: “What the hell are you doing? The weeds will just grow again so why bother – or just hire a gardener? Why do you need a blind, no-one can possibly see into the bathroom and you have made a hash of putting it up anyway, so why not just get someone to do it in the first place? If you insist on going away for a holiday go to an isolated cottage so that you can WRITE!!”

The only time he is quiet when I am not sitting at my laptop is when I spend the weekend with my grand-daughters (who truly are the most fascinating and entertaining little girls in the whole world). I think he rather likes them – but I suspect this is only because my visits are infrequent.

But sitting at my laptop is not enough to satisfy him. As any reader of my earlier blogs will know, having just had my debut novel “The Jewel Garden” published, I am now having to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to promote it. As I e-mail libraries & bookshops, communicate via FaceBook & Twitter, try and find reviewers, update my website, write this blog, send out press-releases, the little guy is jumping up and down on my right shoulder yelling obscenities and telling me to stop wasting my time. “Have any of these activities actually resulted in a single sale?? Just focus on writing “I Castrati” because, after all, that is all you really want to do, isn’t it?”

The trouble is, when I do actually work on “I Castrati, there is another little man on my left shoulder whispering, “What’s the point of writing a second one, when no-one is reading the first? And whilst you sit there with your head in 18th century Italy, your house is falling apart and your garden is turning into a jungle. And you have family out there in the real world who you haven’t seen for months. None of you are getting any younger – no-one lives for ever.”

I don’t know where these little men came from, but I wish they would shut up!