How much does it cost to launch a book?

Shopping cart with money and books

One of the main reasons I decided to take the self-publishing route for my books was because my background is in marketing and I thought it would be a fun experience to try and overcome the challenges of being my own publisher.

In January 2020, I published my first science fiction book, The Probability of Time, on Amazon KDP and Barnes & Noble Press. Over the past two years, I’ve tried a myriad of traditional digital marketing techniques (the pandemic made it difficult to do anything in-person) and have had moderate success.

As a marketer, I know that one of the most valuable tools at our disposal is the lessons learned by those who have found success before us. So, in 2022, I’ve decided to dig deeper into those lessons.

One of the best I’ve found so far was a series of lessons about the Amazon algorithm from Reedsy by co-founder Ricardo Fayet. Reedsy has great content both on their website and their YouTube channel (I’m not sponsored by them, but I think that if you’re serious about boosting your book sales you should definitely check them out).

Toward the end of the lesson, Fayet discusses what actions he takes during the first week of a book’s launch in order to set it up for success in the long run on Amazon’s algorithm. To say I was excited about finding a tried-and-true method for creating sustained success on Amazon would be an understatement. Let’s take a look at that schedule, now:

Day 1

  • Promote on a genre-specific promotion website
  • Promote with E-Reader News Today

Day 2

  • Promote with Freebooksy
  • Email your mailing list (if you have one)

Day 3

  • Promote on Robin Reads
  • Promote on Book Sends

Day 4

  • Promote on Early Bird Books
  • Promote on Book Sends

Day 5

  • Promote on The Fussy Librarian
  • Promote on Book Barbarian

Okay, so to summarize why Fayet broke this down over a weeklong period rather than starting all the promotions at once was to improve the odds of creating a plateau effect on your sales. This means that you create a longer stretch of sales, rather than random spikes, to influence the algorithm favorably.

As soon as I saw this, I was amped up and ready to give it a shot. But then I realized how many promotion sites this strategy requires and it got me thinking, how much will this cost? After all, as an independent publisher, I don’t have access to a bottomless bucket of marketing funds.

I may not be able to fund this kind of launch right now, but I wanted to break it down by cost anyway so I could try and put aside enough of my budget for my next launch to see if the ROI is worthwhile.

Here is the cost breakdown for a science fiction book if I made my book Free for the first week of launch:

Promotion SiteCostReach
The Portalist (Scifi genre-specific site)$7517,000
E-Reader News Today$40200,000
Free Booksy$75184,000
Robin Reads$65~62,500
Book Rebel$19975*
Early Bird Books$3001,500,000
Book Sends$5024,000
The Fussy Librarian$50346,944
Book Barbarian$50~47,000
*website only offered average clicks on ad

This actually turned out less expensive than I was anticipating. For just over $700 I could have these websites promote my book to more than 2 million people. That may seem like a lot of money, but I guarantee this is a much higher reach than I could reach through my social media alone.

It’s also important to note: this example was for if I made my book free. Each website offers a different cost if you price your book anything above $0.00. It’s also important to know you have to book your promotion slot, so if you want to get your book publicized during your launch week, you may need to schedule everything pretty far in advance.

You may be wondering why anyone would want to spend $700 to give away their book for free. Well, free books still count toward sales in Amazon’s algorithm. So even if only 1% of the total reach downloaded your book, that’s nearly 24,000 sales in the eyes of Amazon. If that doesn’t get you on the site’s best sellers list and lead to a longer period of income-driving sales, I don’t know what will.

What do you think? Would you spend $724 to promote your book?

Published by Tim Koster

Tim Koster is an American author who was born and raised in Portland, Maine. After graduating from Deering High School, Tim attended Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, where he studied English with an emphasis on creative writing. In his junior year, Tim enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a public affairs specialist and deployed on two combat missions – his first was to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn (2011) and his second was to Syria in Support of Operation Inherent Resolve (2018). Tim currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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