R.O.I., Anyone?

It’s a business fact that if you have a product that is known to sell, you can find salespeople willing to sell it on commission. A new book by an unknown author has no such track record. Book marketers are not willing to work on commission when they have no reason to believe that their efforts will result in enough sales to be worth their time. That is why they want to be paid up front. Regardless of results.

Traditional publishers know this. They sell books first and then pay the author royalties based on book sales. Any advances given by the publisher are paid back by the author from royalties earned by the author. Publishers keep their eye on their R.O.I. -return on investment.

The Internet sparkles with schemes -er, sorry- ways for an author to sell their books. None of them, to my knowledge, work on commission. None of them work at all. Am I wrong? Has any author paid for book marketing and received a return on their investment? I’d love to know, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.


16 thoughts on “R.O.I., Anyone?

    • The biggest logical fallacy I see is to market your book as a commodity. That is, a book ain’t beer & no one buys a six pack of it and wants another six pack. It’s a one off. So mass marketing to the general public is probably not the way to go. I do not have an answer but I suspect targeted marketing might work. Match the nature of the book with groups having similar interests. If I were Perry Palin with a book featuring fly fishing I might advertise in Field & Stream magazine. My sci-fi book featuring genetic memory might appeal to kook groups who believe that stuff is real.

      Liked by 6 people

  1. mimispeike says:

    I’m arrogant enough to think that anyone who buys my paper doll storybook will buy two copies, one to cut out and one to keep as a future hot collectible. I also think they’ll show it around, other people will want it. Once we get the all-clear with the Covid, I’ll set up at art shows, sell there. That’s the plan, Stan.

    You will find sample pages from my 48-page in-the-works book on my Mimi Speike page on Facebook.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Perry Palin says:

    I like Mimi’s plan for the art shows. That’s consistent with my earlier comments about direct selling at community gatherings, readings, signings, and so forth. My ROI was always fine at readings.

    A part time newspaper columnist friend recently published a collection of his outdoor writings. He paid a vanity press to publish the book, and he needs to sell 700 copies to break even. The vanity press would be happy to sell my friend continuing marketing advice, but they don’t guarantee anything, and they do not dispense the advice on commission, even to their own authors.

    MY friend is selling the book online, at readings and signings, and he has placed the book in a number of outdoor gear stores, and local and regional bookstores and gift shops.

    I am a friend of the publisher of the newsletter of a regional outdoor organization with several thousand members. I wrote a review of my columnist friend’s new book, and the review will appear in the next issue of the newsletter. I expect the well placed review will generate some sales. The fact that it was me that wrote the review may even sell a copy or two of my own books.

    The author of the book, at my suggestion, sent a copy of his book to the above mentioned newsletter publisher, and the publisher commented on the book on his own business webpage where he has almost a thousand followers.

    These are the things I know of that work with very little “I”, so the ROI is good.

    I don’t know of any paid marketing schemes or schemers who provide a good return. I too would like to hear of one.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. darkowlpublishing says:

    I am trying to find someone to market for me as I have the problem (not actually a problem) of dozens of manuscripts I want to publish in the next two years. If I didn’t have to spend time on marketing, I could get them out faster and generate more revenue.

    I have the same type of strategies as others have said, though–finding the right market for the books I’m producing. I hope we can get pop culture conventions and book conventions back on track this next year–in-person sales from people who actually have set aside money to buy books works so well. I’m also making sure I find people and venues to review the books pre-publication–reviews have made a HUGE difference in sales. And so far, social media ads on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have worked very well for me (not so much Twitter). So I do recommend those strategies. It’s just I need to find a marketer or even a manager who will take care of that work!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You might try universities. Look for a marketing intern. Or, just a marketing student or grad who has a burning desire to succeed and will jump at the opportunity to prove themselves. Doing a good job for you will look good on their future curriculum vitae.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. victoracquista says:

    I wish I had something encouraging to offer, but I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all. Identifying and reaching out to the right target audience certainly helps. I’ve tried a number of different marketing strategies and shared thoughts about them in a previous post. I also think what works at one point in a writer’s career might be less effective at other points. There are many variables including luck. No question there are many promoters out there who will gladly accept your money and guarantee nothing in return.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My inbox is inundated with emails from people promising me wealth and success. I must have signed up for their free ‘marketing tips’ at some point, where one occasionally comes across something that might be useful one day. I could unsubscribe but I want to compile a collection of these enticing offers – the subject lines alone make entertaining reading. The one I liked the most asked me to contribute a chapter to a book which would be a guaranteed USA Today bestseller. For this was requested the modest sum of $970.

    Liked by 3 people

    • $970 for a guaranteed USA Today bestseller? That offer is cheap at half the price. 🤣
      When anyone wants paid for a guarantee that somebody else will honor, the scam is built-in.


  7. mimispeike says:

    This discussion makes me smile. That’s good, for otherwise I might cry. Return on investment? In my dreams.

    How much have I spent on software? A thousand-plus. And (on subscription, Adobe’s new money-maker) more to come. A hundred a year for my .com website. Nine hundred to a developmental editor. Miscellaneous specific-topic books (Theater in Early-Modern France, fifty bucks for a dense, scholarly work. Bios of John Dee, and the like).

    R.O.I? I can’t think about that, I’ll give up. I either explode onto the world, go viral, write-ups everywhere, selling like hotcakes, or I console myself that this is my engrossing retirement project, that I enjoy tremendously, and settle for that.

    I’m almost done with my latest illustration. All I need is a pair of ‘ain’t I something?’ mouse hands and I’m done. Look for it soon on my Mimi Speike Facebook page.

    Happy New Year from me and Sly and Maisie.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    I’ve made my final tweaks to ‘Dinner at Eight’ Maisie. From here I move onto ‘Gypsy Beggar Girl’ Maisie, her first film role, in ‘The Street of Forgotten Men’.

    But first, I dedicate tomorrow to a piece for Writer Coop, and for Medium’s ‘Learning From History’.

    I signed up to write for them a few months back, and, intimidated by the depth of knowledge in that publication, never followed through. I’m no scholar. I mess around with history, that’s it.

    Nevertheless, I’m going to write a piece about my methods of, and intentions for, research. I hope Writer Coop appreciates it. If ‘Learning from History’ gives me the cold shoulder, so be it.

    Speaking of shoulders, take at look at ‘Dinner at Eight Maisie’ on my Facebook page.

    Hey! I see that as an Adobe Creative Cloud customer (I’m paying enough for the privilege) I get to post my work into an area (Adobe Portfolio) that designers show on, similar, I think, to Behance. Maybe another way to be discovered. Why the hell not?

    Well, maybe not. I’m reading that the software in the Adobe Suite that creates your portfolio has many problems, crashing frequently, for instance.

    Liked by 1 person

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