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Marketing Budgets VS. Shopping Excursions

As much as I sometimes kvetch about the publishing industry, my job and trying to maneuver around outrageous client egos, my friends in the freelance publicity sector always know how to shake me out of moments of self-pity with a good laugh.

When it comes to marketing and publicity budgets I should really feel grateful that by the time I start working with my authors, these details have been decided. They may not agree with what’s been approved as their share of pot, but the suits have already spoken, it’s in the contract, we move forward, any hurt feelings aside.

For my friends in the freelance sector, this is a never-ending battle. They’ve told me that on average, 9 out of 10 potential clients want to haggle on pricing. These are industry experts in their own right, that have developed tried and true, proven methods and strategies expertly woven together into campaigns to fit any genre and any target market, yet they consistently get requests for a la carte options, because someone wants to save a thousand bucks, or sometimes just a couple hundred.

Now I know, some people reading this will be thinking, “I’d always try to save $1,000 if I could, what’s wrong with that?” and to that I’d say – have you always gambled on your future?

Did you haggle with your university because that mandatory credit in English 101 didn’t apply to you? You may have thought about it, but I’m sure you didn’t do it. Because there was a bigger picture you were making an investment in. You sucked it up, took the class, and hopefully passed and move on to bigger and better things.

In the same sense, to think you don’t need to invest in your book’s publicity, and your future as a published author or business owner, is nonsensical. The big picture for your book should not be compromised by that vacation you’ve been meaning to take, or the fact that Little Johnny might need braces in a couple years.

Cutting corners when debuting a new business will rarely get you the results you’re hoping for. Same goes for releasing a book, and your book is your business.

Now I’m not saying you should go blindly into a contract with a publicity firm and hand over your life savings, because there are some snake oil salesmen out there, plenty of them, but ask around, do some comparative shopping before deciding that you only need to spend $500 to become a success…because I bet you’ll have a hard time finding a professional marketing person to agree with you.

The best story a friend relayed to me recently was about a woman that took herself very seriously, was well spoken, could communicate about her target market and why her book is unique, she had seen their services catalog and knew about their pricing, which I can tell you starts at well over $1,000, and she came back saying she was ready to move forward and sign up for a campaign – but that she wanted to do so with a $300 budget.

My friend says she sometimes wishes she had a magic wand. So she could transport herself to these realities where the same work that’s usually done for multiple thousands of dollars can be done for a few hundred, because, well, that’s what the client wants. How great would that be?

When I stopped laughing all I could say was, “Tell her $300 isn’t a marketing budget, it’s a purse.”

Sure you want to write that book, and you should. But before you start dreaming of becoming famous take a hard look at whether you’re ready to invest in your book as a business, or if you’re better off printing off copies for family to enjoy and getting that purse you’ve been eyeing.