What Does a Book Ad Cost? And Who’s Gonna Pay?

In Guest Contributors by Guest Contributor

By Chris Artis

bookpriceIn 1966, Jacqueline Susann’s tireless and often shameless promotional efforts for her classic best-seller Valley of the Dolls “created a new way of selling a novel” in the words of legendary Simon and Schuster Editor Michael Korda. Indeed, they helped propel it to the top position on bestseller lists around the world. Still, decades later, publishers generally maintain a “leave it to the pros” attitude when authors asked to exercise some control over their books’ promotion.

Advertising exec-turned-novelist M.J. Rose remembers a time when a publisher flatly refused to allow her use her own money to hire a publicist and fund advertising for a novel. Likewise, until recently, Verso Advertising, a firm that serves several major publishing houses with online marketing services, would decline business from authors who wanted to hire them directly for fear of alienating publisher clients, but two years ago began working directly with author clients and usually with the full blessing of the publisher.

For her part, Rose got back into the advertising business when she saw a need among authors, like her, who felt underserved by their publishers’ small ad budgets. Falling back on her experience handling large accounts as an agency creative director, she created the Author Buzz program which reaches 370,000 readers, 10,000 librarians and 3,000 booksellers through targeted web ads and email newsletters and can cost as little as $1,000 per campaign, and slightly more to reach readers and leaders of 18,000+ book clubs. Rose’s AuthorBuzz campaigns are a regular feature, for example, of the Shelf Awareness email newsletter targeted directly at booksellers and librarians.

mj-roseIncreasingly, as Rose described, authors are bearing the financial and creative burdens of promoting their books. And publishers are coming around to the idea. “We’re so understaffed that we welcome all the help we can get,” one publicity director at a major house lamented. Another marketing executive goes so far as to suggest that authors — especially up-and-comers — should reinvest at least 30% of their advance on marketing their books, a concept that causes some authors and agents to bristle.

Even if an author doesn’t spend a dime, says Douglas Stewart, an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, “there are so many opportunities through new media and social networks, that there are no excuses for authors not to take on at least some role in marketing themselves.”

So, following up on yesterday’s story and for the sake of full disclosure, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most prominent venues for book advertising in the United States. The prices vary widely and, please note that many, if not all, prices are negotiable and most prices are reduced with volume purchases:

Wall Street Journal: Full page, color, National U.S. edition, $277,645.56. (Source: publishers rate card).

USA Today: Full page, color, Monday-Thursday, $189,400; Friday, $231,000. (Source: publishers rate card).

New Yorker: Full page, color, $114,760 (Source: publishers rate card).

New York Times Book Review: Center spread (equivalent of a full broadsheet page), color, $88,270. (Source: publishers rate card).

NBC’s Today Show: 30 second ad during the first 15 minutes of the 8 a.m. hour is worth $50,000-$60,000 according to media buyers. (Source, Ad Age, February 2, 2009).

Verso: one million impression Readers Channel Campaign starts at $7,500.

M.J. Rose: Author Buzz program starts at $985, with more aggressive packages involving new and/or old media priced accordingly.

READ: Some low-cost tips on what authors can do to boost their own marketing.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.