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The Price of Success: Not as High as You Think

We now know that devoting as little as five hours a week to your marketing plan can result in much higher sales. That seems like a minimal investment in time, but how much will it cost? What is the price of success? We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how much they spent marketing their books.


Not as much as you thought, right? 65% spent less than $500. If you add the authors who spent nothing (7%), the total number of authors who spent less than $500 in marketing is 72%. In other words, nearly three out of four best-selling authors spent less than $500 promoting their book.

How best-selling authors spent their marketing budgets


As you can see, authors spent the most on advertising. Website and purchasing promotional copies of their book come in second and third, respectively. From this data, we see that the price of success is tied closely to advertising spend and maintain an author platform.

Below is a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets.


Key Takeaways

$500 or less is enough to promote a book. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars. Most authors spent 28% of their overall budget on advertising, 15% on their websites and 14% on buying promotional copies as well as copies they sell direct to readers.

Action Items

Determine a marketing budget for promoting your book based on how many copies you think you will sell. Take into consideration annual fluctuations in sells as well as any upcoming holidays.

Examine previous promotional spending and determine what worked and what didn’t. Adjust your marketing plan to more accurately target your intended audience.

Glenn H

- Archived Author -
Writer extraordinaire and generally amazing guy, Glenn makes sure that every day is the best day ever.

9 thoughts on “The Price of Success: Not as High as You Think”

  1. This is another very important piece of information that you have given us, new authors. I wish I knew that before I wrote and market my book. My New Book (SWEET SUCCESS by Clemson Barry).
    The publisher is taking my book to the world’s largest book fairs:- London, UK; Frankfurt, Germany; Guadalajara, Mexico; Beijing, China, and Miami international book fair, USA. You can Preview FREE chapters on

  2. Interesting article, thanks for posting. It gives me an idea of other approaches I can try to get my books out there. So far I did social networking, attending events, pinning my business cards on boards, promo items and having a website. I’m a mangaka (comic book creator). Now to try online and print ads.

  3. Hello Lois
    I you go to you can choose your book’s format and size. Enter the number of pages from your manuscript and the manufacturing price will display. There is no upfront cost to publish. We only make money when you sell books. Click Learn for more information about how to get started.

  4. Where is breakdown of your cost plan? Your fees…expenses? I am an 80 y o female with limited budget who is writing a memoir of heart break, lies, revelations, determination and break throughs. I have no resources other than my ability to write and the need to tell my story. Thank you.

  5. I will request the raw numbers from our Business Intelligence guy when he returns to work Monday.

  6. Actually, you wrote best-selling, which means you should have an inkling of what it means to be a best-seller. So, you have no idea if they sold one book or a million? Again, what is your definition of a best-selling author? How many units sold or self-purchased? Trying to get an overall picture here.

  7. We surveyed 4000 of our top selling authors for that year. Top selling includes retail sales as well as self-purchases.

  8. I love this types articles! As a semi-new author, the internet is flooded with information on marketing, and no two advice articles are the same. This is the first real piece of information which I find helpful. Thanks! Next step, find the best places/websites to advertise when on a very tight budget.

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