Publish & Prosper

An Introduction to Paid Book Promotion

February 28, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 14
An Introduction to Paid Book Promotion
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
An Introduction to Paid Book Promotion
Feb 28, 2024 Season 1 Episode 14
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode Matt & Lauren explore paid book promotion. We review our favorite sponsorship opportunities, take a brief look at different types of book promo ads and paid social media ads, and debate the value of influencer marketing. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Check out Written Word Media

💡 Check out BookFunnel

💡 Learn how to set up BookBub Ads

💡 Read Social Media 101: Facebook, Instagram, and X

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:00] “I think that it's one of the best ways to have authentic sponsorship while still paying for it. Because I think that newsletters, at least, you're still at that point where you're reaching an audience of people that have already said that they like the content creator enough to subscribe to their email newsletter list. You're speaking to an already interested and engaged audience when you're included in somebody's newsletter.”

🎙️ [27:45] “So nonfiction creators, they are creating these pieces of content. In many cases, that's not the main draw for them. That's just a lead magnet. So they give those books out in the hopes that they land more consulting contracts or things like that.”

🎙️ [45:14] “I think that influencers kind of had their peak time to shine and now people are looking much more towards targeted advertising and not just casting a wide net with an influencer.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Matt & Lauren explore paid book promotion. We review our favorite sponsorship opportunities, take a brief look at different types of book promo ads and paid social media ads, and debate the value of influencer marketing. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Check out Written Word Media

💡 Check out BookFunnel

💡 Learn how to set up BookBub Ads

💡 Read Social Media 101: Facebook, Instagram, and X

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:00] “I think that it's one of the best ways to have authentic sponsorship while still paying for it. Because I think that newsletters, at least, you're still at that point where you're reaching an audience of people that have already said that they like the content creator enough to subscribe to their email newsletter list. You're speaking to an already interested and engaged audience when you're included in somebody's newsletter.”

🎙️ [27:45] “So nonfiction creators, they are creating these pieces of content. In many cases, that's not the main draw for them. That's just a lead magnet. So they give those books out in the hopes that they land more consulting contracts or things like that.”

🎙️ [45:14] “I think that influencers kind of had their peak time to shine and now people are looking much more towards targeted advertising and not just casting a wide net with an influencer.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Matt: Welcome back everybody. Today we are going to be talking about paying for book promotion. Something that we obviously have mixed opinions about here, and sometimes we talk a lot about not paying for book promotion, but today we are also gonna be talking a lot about how to pay for book promotion and what kind of paid book promotion is probably better for you? Maybe?

Lauren: It's important to know your options. Yep.

Matt: That I would agree with. 

Lauren: Even if you choose not to do anything with them, it's good to know what options are available to you.

Matt: Yep, it's good to know you have them and what they are and if nothing else where to find more information about them, maybe. 

Lauren: That's very true.

Matt: Yeah? 

Lauren: Yeah for sure. 

Matt: Okay. 

Lauren: So we will definitely be covering some options for you today…

Matt: But before you get started, I have to tell you: this weekend my daughter wanted to go record shopping. So we went to a record store, but we also went to the flea market like the local outdoor market. And there's a guy there that sells records - pretty funny character, mostly stuck in the 80s metal era, I think.

Lauren: I find a lot of record salespeople are. 

Matt: Well, it was pretty chilly outside. And so the outside part was still a little bit sparse, but his little table set up in the middle of everything blaring like Poison, ‘give me something to believe in,’ or something like, was just a beacon like calling people to… anyways. 

Lauren: Incredible.

Matt: So my daughter was sifting through this, this one crate of records and she found an original Jungle Book put out by Disney. Still had the illustration booklet in it. And it's not just the songs from the movie, it's actually the, the movie narrated. It's super cool. 

Lauren: Oh my god. That's so cool. 

Matt: Yeah, it's a whole new level of collecting I never thought about. I tried to play it cool, too. Like she found it, she's like ‘Dad, check this out.’ I was like, ‘oh, yeah, that's cool.’ Because I'm really trying to limit the amount of this collector stuff I spend money on these days, but. 

Lauren: Can't relate.

Matt: You know, obviously I was going to support her buying it and uh, she did and then I was just like this thing is really cool. I'm going to need to find more of these. 

Lauren: I did have a couple of friends text me in the fall that they had found a used vinyl of the Haunted Mansion ride score. But I didn't see the text until, like, after they'd already left the store. So I couldn't be like, ‘Oh my God, like literally whatever it costs, please buy it and I will pay you back.’ And then it was like a couple of days before I could actually go myself to that thrift store and try to buy it. And it was long gone by the time I got there. But I was like aw man…I'm also trying to be, records is the thing that I try very hard to be very selective 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: About 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: And only really buy records that I know I'm going to listen to on a regular basis. I got to draw the line somewhere.

Matt: Yeah, I try to make sure that I try. It doesn't always work that way, but I try to only buy a record if it's like a special edition. We talk about this all the time, how we were super fans of certain bands and things like that. So sometimes I won't just buy the record because it's just the vinyl version of one of their normal records. Not to say I haven't, but I try not to. I try to limit it to just limited editions. Or it might be that there's no other extra tracks or anything on it, but it's like a limited edition red and black splatter vinyl for the Halloween soundtrack, Michael Myers in 3D on it. You know what I mean? 

Lauren: Oh yeah.

Matt: Like stuff like that I'm also sucker for, but I totally forgot that obviously Disney put out all their stuff in the 70s and 80s on vinyl. So I have a feeling I'm gonna get sucked into that. I've stopped buying Funko Pop dolls by the way. Like I just... 

Lauren: Oh, completely? 

Matt: Yep. Yeah, I'm just not messing with them anymore. 

Lauren: Oh. I'm much more selective these days about them, but I am still definitely still buying them. 

Matt: Well, you have to because if you buy any more you're gonna have to get a three-bedroom apartment. 

Lauren: I know, I'm running out of room. But I try, I'm trying to be much more selective about like not just buying random one-offs and instead being like… You know, I have…I don't have the entire Stranger Things collection but I have more than 75% of the Stranger Things ones and I do ultimately want to own all of them. Here’s something that probably hasn’t come up on this podcast yet, I don’t think it has, Matt and I are also both big Stranger Things fans. When I interviewed for this job here at Lulu, the day that I was interviewing in-office they brought me into the office and were like “oh here, we’ll take you to the Marketing Team conference room,” and I walked into the conference room and it was decorated Stranger Things theme. And as soon as I was left alone in that conference room, I like pulled out my phone and texted two of my best friends and was like, ‘guys, I need this job. Like, I found my place.’

Matt: The name of that conference room was The Upside Down. 

Lauren: Yes, it was.

Matt: Yep.
Lauren: It was a great conference room. 


Matt: Well, speaking of being selective, we should probably be selective when we're paying for advertising for our books. 

Lauren: That was a great segue.

Matt: Wasn’t that smooth? 

Lauren: It was so smooth. This would have been a much better intro for next week's episode. 

Matt: Sorry, everybody. 

Lauren: That's okay. 

Matt: Alright. Let's talk about paid ads. 

Lauren: Alright, let's do it. 

Matt: Alright. Where do you want to start? 

Lauren: I think we should start with talking about sponsorships.

Matt: Sponsorships. 

Lauren: Because I think that's something that we kind of alluded to in some of the stuff in last week's episode when we were talking about collaborations and partnerships. 

Matt: Right. 

Lauren: And I think these two things kind of go hand in hand. I do want to be very clear though that when we're talking about sponsorships, we are not talking about collaborations. So like, if I have a newsletter, and Matt has a newsletter, and we're saying, hey, I'll trade you a guest appearance spot in my newsletter and you will have a guest appearance spot in…or, the other way around - 

Matt: Okay. Alright. I was looking at you like ‘wait a second wait a second…’

Lauren: I know. 

Matt: You're saying that that an exchange of money is the delineator here between sponsorship and collaboration in many cases?

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: Okay, got it, that makes sense.

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: Because yeah when you first started I was looking at you like

Lauren: Yes he was, can confirm.

Matt: ‘Well, I don't know’ I agree with you, go ahead, sorry. 

Lauren: Yeah no, so I mean that's really - you really just like summed it up better than I was attempting to do. So that when we're talking about sponsorships we're not saying the exchange of content we're talking about like, you are…just in general, for all the different sponsorship examples that we're going to give right now, we're saying specifically this idea of ‘I am going to pay somebody else

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren:  to include my content in their whatever 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Newsletter, podcast, YouTube video, whatever.’

Matt: That's fair. Look, to be even more clear here, I think what Lauren's also saying is this is the language we use. It doesn't mean that everybody out there in the world uses these terms the same way. Like this nomenclature or vernacular, however you want to describe it, can vary from institution to institution and even, you know, industry to industry. So when Lauren and I say sponsorship, we are talking about the exchange of money for advertising, period. So some people call it sponsorship. Some people just call it paid advertising. Neither of those are wrong, by the way. When we say sponsorship, we mean a situation where money has changed hands for the delivery of some sort of advertising or service there. 

Lauren: Yeah, that's a really good point. And I'm sure that if you're in a position where you've been researching different types of marketing tactics and strategies, you've probably realized that by now too. It makes it very frustrating to do research on any of these topics and to try to find these things. So of course, yeah, just to highlight Matt's point, when we're talking about these things, these are the definitions we'll be using. Don't take them as the end all be all. 

Matt: This is also, I think, why a lot of people who aren't marketers for a living get so tired of dealing with marketers. 

Lauren: Sure.

Matt: We're constantly coming up with new names or ways to talk about things or buzz terms so that they don't sound like what they are. And I get it, like, if you are researching a topic like this and you're not a marketer, you could be thinking yourself 30 minutes into this, like, why don't they just say paid advertising? Why do I need to learn five different buzz terms for paid advertising? 


Matt: This first one we're gonna talk about is my favorite one. This is newsletters, right? So we talk a lot about how social media is a great place to build up followers and get some eyeballs on you as an author, as a creator, as a brand. But we also talk a lot about what you should be doing with those followers, which is trying to get them over to an email list. Which means you should also have an email list you're working on. And yes, that is the topic that everybody's talking about. A lot of people are probably tired of hearing it. In this instance, however, when we're talking about paid newsletter sponsorships, it's a great way to help build your email list up and grow your audience by using your book as a way to get into another newsletter and pay to have that book highlighted in that newsletter. I like newsletter sponsorships. I like the fact that you can pay people to be featured, but also that you can do exchanges with them.

Lauren: Yeah, I think that's, you know, just to highlight again that we're not talking about newsletter exchanges here. This is the alternative option to that. We talked in that last episode about trying to have somewhat equal value to bring to the table when you're trying to set up a partnership with somebody. And if you're in a position where you're like, well, I don't really have a whole lot to bring to the table yet, cause I'm still working on building my newsletter list. This is your opportunity to say like, well, at least I can pay for sponsorship in this newsletter. 

And like Matt was saying, there's a lot of different ways that could wind up shaking out in a newsletter, it could be something as simple as just the newsletter creator sharing your book, you know, maybe sharing a review of it, although I don't encourage paying for reviews. ust shouting it out, giving it a highlight, maybe including some content of yours. If you wrote a blog post that's related to your book or just an unrelated blog post, that's a good fit for that audience, or even just like a simple shout out: this newsletter is sponsored by It usually gives you an opportunity to provide a little blurb about your brand, your business, your book, whatever it is that you're trying to promote while doing it. But I think that it's one of the best ways to have authentic sponsorship while still paying for it. Because I think that newsletters, at least, you're still at that point where you're reaching an audience of people that have already said that they like the content creator enough to subscribe to their email newsletter list. You're speaking to an already like interested and engaged audience when you're included in somebody's newsletter. And most content creators that have successful newsletters are also pretty good at the mentality of ‘I'm not just gonna let any old person and any old book and any old business sponsor my newsletter. Like I do actually want them to be relevant qualified content for my audience.’ So I think you get a good opportunity to like have that trust and relevancy with the audience that you're paying to speak to you right now. 

Matt: Yeah, no, I think that makes a lot of sense. That's a really good point to highlight there. I think the key to really anything you're doing as an author, a creator, small business person is building trust in lots of different ways and that's just another one as well. Along those lines you could be looking at a couple of different newsletters that you might want to get into because you've heard they had very high subscriber counts, right? You know, oh my gosh, this creator has 75,000 people on their newsletter list. It's very important to understand that does not mean that all 75,000 of those people will see your ad. So for those of you who don't have a lot of experience with email, understanding open rates and these types of things, just know that no matter how large your subscriber list is or somebody's subscriber list is, the open rate is really going to probably dictate how many people would actually see your ad. And then obviously click through rates and some other things are outside of that sphere. But your first concern or question really should be what's your open rate? Now that doesn't mean, you know, if they have 75,000 subscribers and their open rate is 35% that you should not still place an ad with them. 35% open rate is still a pretty respectable open rate.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: It's actually a good open rate, believe it or not. So again, for those of you that don't know a lot about email or newsletters or things like that, nobody has 100% open rate. Like it just doesn't happen. If they did, there's something wrong. On average, individuals should probably see anywhere from 30 to 50% if they're lucky, on the high end. On average. Now some emails might get a higher open rate depending on what that content is, and some might get lower, but on the average, they should be between 30 to 50 probably. Brands usually are somewhere around the 25 to 35, upwards of 40 if they're lucky, again on average. But yeah, I mean, just because there's a massive subscriber count does not mean that all of those eyeballs are gonna see your ad. You should definitely ask some good questions, but nonetheless, 35% of 70,000 is still better than 35% of 500. 

Lauren: Yeah. Is it?

Matt: I would think so.

Lauren: I don't know how to do math. I was an English major.

Matt: I was too, but I'm pretty sure that one math's up. Don't worry about it.

Lauren: I'll take your word for it. 

Matt: Yeah, yeah. 

Lauren: And probably wind up pulling out a calculator at some point while editing this episode. 

Matt: It'll be too late at that point. 


Lauren: It’s fine. Other types of sponsorships, cause we've talked a lot about newsletters in a couple of different episodes now. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: And Matt and I are both on the same page about them being a great opportunity, but they're not the only opportunity for an inserted ad into somebody else's content. You can also consider podcast ads. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Podcast ads, if you've listened to podcasts, I'm sure you're familiar with them. They're the ads that are either pre-roll or mid-roll ads that play before an episode starts, during the episode, very often inserted at random, sometimes interrupting the hosts mid-sentence, and it's really annoying and it drives me crazy. So that's a con, potentially, if you're considering doing podcast ads, that they're really infuriating. But they are a thing. So if that's something that's relevant to you. You know, I don't know how relevant they are for books specifically, but if they are something that you're interested in as like, ‘I want to promote my brand’ or ‘I want to promote my own podcast and get new listeners to my podcast where I will be talking about my book,’ that's always an option. 

Matt: I think…so I probably would not buy a podcast ad if I was trying to promote a book. However, with the caveat that I think there are some podcasts out there or quite a few anyways, where they do a lot of their own ad reads. And so you could end up with an ad that doesn't necessarily feel or sound like an ad, right?

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: So if you do your due diligence and you're choosing or trying to choose some podcasts or newsletters or whatever, from people who are in alignment with your genre or your industry or whatever it is you're writing about, you very well could end up with an ad on a podcast that doesn't sound like an ad. It sounds like a book recommendation. Which you couldn't ask for better advertising there. I don't care really what it costs. If somebody's got a podcast with a pretty good listener range, lots of downloads and ‘Hey, Lauren, by the way, I just finished up this great book this past weekend by Katie Brinkley on social media. It was pretty awesome, you should check it out.’ That is a lot more like a book recommendation and you're probably gonna get you know A little better. I'd say traction on that. I think if you're careful you may be able to find some podcasts where they read their own ads and they could probably make it sound a lot less like an ad and something that you'll probably get more traction on. 

Lauren: Definitely something that you would want to consider when you're researching. So like maybe rule out the standard pre-roll mid-roll ads. But like Matt was saying, if it's something where the podcast is recommending your book, shouting you out as an author, creator, even something like an interview. If you reached out and pitched yourself for an interview and they said we don't do free interviews, but you can pay for an interview on air and something and we'll, we'll call that a sponsorship and you are the sponsor for this episode. That might be worth considering.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Depending on the audience. 

Matt: That happens a lot. 

Lauren: Yeah. And if this is something that you're like, well, how do I figure this out? Look up some podcasts and listen to the episodes and see what the content sounds like, which you should be doing no matter what. 

Matt: You can pay me and we'll interview on the show. You can make the checkout to Matt Briel. 500,000 per interview, 500,000 pesos or rubles or

Lauren: Tacos.

Matt: Slices of pizza and we'll interview you. But it's gotta be good pizza. 

Lauren: Yeah, yeah. 

Matt: Don't show up in studio with a bunch of frozen pizza. 

Lauren: Or like, well actually, I do have like a secret soft spot for Domino's. 

Matt: Oh. 

Lauren: I know. 

Matt: That's not an ad by the way, everybody. Don't. 

Lauren: This episode is not sponsored by Domino's.

Matt: Not at all. Not if I have anything to say about it. 

Lauren: Not ever. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: When I was in high school, my friends and I used to order late night Domino's, cause a lot of pizza places - yes, this is like on Long Island, in New York. I know, but a lot of pizza places didn't deliver. 

Matt: Then you just should have went to bed. 

Lauren: Well, probably true. But the thing was that we would order, it would be ordering Domino's because we wanted cheesy bread. And they used to have a deal that was like buy a pizza, get a free cheesy bread. And it somehow, despite the fact that we were very smart kids, it never occurred to us that we could just order the cheesy bread. We like, we would order two pizzas so that we could get two orders of cheesy bread. 

Matt: Well, you did admit about five minutes ago that, that you don't do math. 

Lauren: I know. 

Matt: So apparently that's been a trend all your life. 

Lauren: It has. That's yeah. Yeah.

Matt: Again, this is not an ad for Dominic at all. 

Lauren: Yeah. But yeah, podcasts. Definitely a good opportunity if you can find the right fit for you. Make sure that you're doing your research. We'll always say that. Do your research. Listen to a few of the episodes ahead of time. Make sure that you're a good fit for the audience, that the way that your sponsorship will appear is going to be relevant. If they're saying by sponsor, we mean that we'll put a link in the show notes to your book and that's it. 

Matt: No.

Lauren: Like that's who looks at show notes?

Matt: Well, hopefully some people do, you put a lot of time and effort into ours. But you're right. Yes. You should definitely pay very close attention to if they do offer a sponsor package or a deck that has several different options, make sure that their sponsorship is not just like Lauren said, you get a line item in their show notes and that's pretty much it. That's not going to be worth it. I don't care how large their following or audience is, but I think in most cases, if you're doing your homework, you'll find the right fits. And when you reach out to these podcasters, again, like we've said in other episodes, when you're reaching out to people, use a little bit of tact and common sense and just, ‘Hey, love your podcast. I just released a book that I think a lot of your listeners would enjoy or would be relevant to them. I just love to know if there's any opportunities for me to be able to, to sponsor one of your episodes or be a guest, you know, looking forward to hearing back from you.’ Make it human. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Don't create a template from ChatGPT and just send out 150 of those things. Like, as people who have a podcast and also as people who get pitched by other people on all kinds of platforms, I can tell you that a little bit of personality and human inflection goes a long way. 

Lauren: Even just the basic human details. I mean, I delete most marketing emails that come my way anyway, but I won't even open ones that it's clear from the subject or preview line that they are emailing the wrong person. Like, when my job title was still Social Media Manager and I would get an email that was like, ‘Are your blog posts optimized for SEO? We can help.’ I would just be like, no, absolutely not. You didn't even figure out that I'm not the person to be targeting, like to talk to you about this. So I'm not even going to open this and read it. You know, just keep that in mind when you're reaching out to people, like take the extra couple of minutes to personalize the emails that you're sending, whether you're searching for earned promotion or paid promotion or either. 

Matt: I'm going to start every email to you now for me with ‘is your blog optimized for SEO?’

Lauren: I'm going to learn how to use Google filters just to filter all of Matt's emails into an, into a different folder. So I never have to see them. 

Matt: I'll just create a new email address every day. 

Lauren: It would be worth it.


Matt: Maybe we should move on. What's the next one, YouTube? 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Okay.

Lauren: Very similar to podcasts, just a different medium. You know, same thing where you have some options. It could be something like a pre-roll or mid-roll video ad, which obviously will include the caveat of you have to create a video ad to insert into the video. Which is something you can do, like I've seen a lot of authors make really cool book trailers or like hire somebody on Fiverr to create a really cool like little book teaser trailer or something like that. But there are also options, just like the podcast one, where…see if you can sponsor an episode of somebody's existing YouTube channel, or see if you can pay for a book feature or highlight or something.

Matt: Yeah, and I'll say too these days, because I've been contacted by several of them and we’ve also looked into advertising on several video podcasts on YouTube or things like that. Depending on who it is, you know, what show it is, what their audience is, a lot of them actually now offer to create the ad for you. 

Lauren: Oh! 

Matt: So they'll use their in-house team and it's smart because this way they make sure it fits with their brand and their image on YouTube so that you don't hand them over some crazy janky ad that they have to reject after you spend all this money on it or whatever. So a lot of them now, if they are a little bit of a larger show, they'll offer to create that ad for you. So you'll give them some copy, you know, some images of your book or whatever it is that you're trying to advertise, and they'll do it for you. There's also some that it's not necessarily a highly visual thing. They might say, yeah, that's great. X amount of dollars, you send me a copy of your book. I'll actually hold the book up on the show, talk about it. You get a little more of an organic feel there instead of, ‘oh, I just ran a commercial on so-and-so's YouTube channel.’

There are some newer creative ways that these YouTube channel owners and hosts creators are finding to add value to people who want to sponsor. Because they need the money in many cases to pay their editors and camera people and creatives. They have to take sponsorship money in most cases. So more and more they're making it worth your while by way of making it a little bit easier for you, the advertiser, to get that space and not have to spend a bunch of extra money on a creative. 

Lauren: And you know, as always, if you're going to commit to this, do your research with the people that you're reaching out to on this. Especially something with something like YouTube that is going to, like, probably a pretty robust sponsorship package because there's a little bit more work that goes into it and something like that. 

Matt: Sure.

Lauren: Make sure that you're picking a channel that it's going to be worth your while. 

Matt: Yeah. Don't shoot an email over to Mr. Beast thinking that you're going to get an ad on one of his things for a hundred bucks or something. 

Lauren: Yeah. And especially if your book is something very, I can't draw a complete blank, but you know, something very niche and specific and not something that's going to be relevant to 95% of his audience. 

Matt: Oh yeah, it's anything to do with romance. I think 95% of his audience is gonna, I shouldn't say that. 

Lauren: Yeah, but you're not wrong. You're probably not wrong. 

Matt: I'm not wrong, but. That's okay. 


Lauren: One last type of sponsorship idea that I want to talk about is something that we've talked a little bit about before, but I think it's a really good idea and not something that comes to mind for a lot of creators, is conference and event sponsorship. And I think when a lot of people hear that off the bat, they're thinking of those like high level sponsorship tiers that are like having your name on the backdrop behind the stage or on the event programming or even something like there's a coffee hour or cocktail hour during the conference and that's like sponsored by whatever company is promoting it and like that's great if you have infinite money and can have a sponsorship like that. Like those are great opportunities, but that doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities for smaller creators

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: To also sponsor these kinds of events and get their book featured at events like this.

Matt: Yeah, we have an event, CEX, so Content Entrepreneur Expo. There's always opportunities there and there are definitely opportunities for us to create a specific type of sponsorship as well. But the big ones you just alluded to, I mean. Lulu will pay anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 sometimes, depending on the event, how large it is, all those things. And so as an individual author and creator, that is just not something that we would advise you to do. 

Lauren: No. 

Matt: So Lauren's right. There are other ways that you can hopefully ferret out some of those sponsorship opportunities that are not so financially impactful to you as the author or creator, but will still bring some value and hopefully new readers and buyers over to you. We've been to events and we've allowed this to happen and will allow this to happen at our event too. You could potentially reach out and say, ‘hey, you know, I don't have the budget to formally sponsor or do anything, but I would love to offer you a free copy of my book to your attendees.’ And let's say the show has a hundred attendees on average. It might not be hard for you to get a hundred copies of your book from whoever does your book, hopefully Lulu. And send those to the show and then have them just drop them into each of the swag bags that they give out to attendees. And so every attendee would get a copy of your book. We've been to lots of shows where that's happened. And a lot of people that we know have done that have had a lot of success with it.

Lauren: Yeah. I think it's a great opportunity. We've talked about this in different episodes in the past. You know, Matt and I've definitely referenced before the idea that like, who's going to throw out a book. People will throw out business cards, paper collateral, little cheap swag and stuff like that all the time. But if you get a free book in your conference attendee swag bag, chances are good they're going to take that home with them. You know? And especially if you're thinking right now like, ‘well, how am I going to encourage book sales if I'm giving away free copies of my book? That seems like pretty counterintuitive.’ Maybe not, you know, maybe it's not. Maybe you're giving away a free copy of one of your backlist titles and included in every copy is going to be a bookmark that's promoting your new book that says, you know, ‘if you like this that you got for free, come buy my new one on my website right here where I'm selling it direct and keeping 100% of the profits.’

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. For fiction writers, it's a great opportunity to revive some titles on your backlist. Absolutely. Like if you got an old trilogy, give away the first of the trilogy. If you're using print on demand or self-publishing, like it's pretty easy to go in and even create a separate copy of that book specifically for that event where maybe you scale down some of the manufacturing costs. So if the first of that book is normally, you're normally gonna pay as the author, let's say $6 for it, you may be able to go in, take those files and scale down instead of using a super heavy paper, use a lighter paper, use black and white print instead of color, some of those things to get the cost down to where if you were gonna buy 100 copies yourself and have them shipped to the event, you could very well walk away from that experience only paying 300 bucks. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: And in many cases to get books into the hands of a hundred people for $300, and even if you get, let's say a third of them to come and buy other books from you, it's worth it. If you can establish a third of that 100 people as fans and go on to sell them more books in the future, it's definitely worth it. So yeah, there's lots of opportunities there.

Lauren: You can also create sample additions, which I think is something that a lot of people don't consider outside of the publishing industry. I used to get these a lot at BEA.

Matt: Yep.

Lauren: Book Expo America, which doesn't exist anymore. 

Matt: RIP. 

Lauren: RIP. But it used to be my favorite. And that would happen a lot where it would be these really big books where they were like, there's no way we're giving out advanced reader copies of one of the most highly anticipated titles of Fall 2020. But what we are gonna do is give out a chapbook sampler that is the first five chapters of it. And it's just enough to get you really hype for the actual book. That's a great option too. And something that you could do relatively simply with self-publishing and just give people a little something to get a taste for you. And I think that's relevant for, I know Matt said fiction authors, but I think that's very doable for fiction and nonfiction. 

Matt: It's more doable for nonfiction. I was actually trying to make it relatable to our fiction listeners. 

Lauren: Sure.

Matt: Nonfiction, that's an easy one. And that's where we've seen more instances of it and where we've seen it be successful is using it as a lead magnet. So nonfiction creators, they are creating these pieces of content. In many cases, that's not the main draw for them. That's just a lead magnet. So they give those books out in the hopes that they land more consulting contracts or things like that. I might write a book on logistical transportation stuff. And at some logistics trade show, I might give that out for free, but what I'm really hoping is that somebody reads that book and then they want to come contract me as a consultant for their business. That's where the real big money could be. So yeah, nonfiction for sure. Fiction sometimes you'll have to be a little more creative with that. 

Lauren: It's that idea of using your book as a business card.

Matt: Yep. 

Lauren: And what you're paying for right now is just the opportunity to share that book and maybe the print costs of the book. 

Matt: Yeah. 


Lauren: I think we've done it for sponsorships. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: But that doesn't mean that there's not plenty more to talk about too. What about - 

Matt: Well - 

Lauren: No, what? What you got?

Matt: I was going to say this next section is a little more paid advertising in the sense of how marketers truly buy and pay for advertising. You're just applying it to your book. I'm going to gloss over the first one, which is with Amazon paid advertising. 

Lauren: I knew he would. 

Matt: Yeah. I mean, you did a nice job of laying this out, but honestly, I don't even feel like I need to give them lip service. But I will say this because I know a lot of people are still going to use Amazon and so that's fine. If you are going to use them. Big sigh here. At least know how to play the game with them. And that is you need to know how to do Amazon advertising. You need to know how to play that game. We're not gonna tell you how to do it on here. At all. But if you are going to be selling your book on Amazon, you need to learn how to utilize Amazon advertising. Because otherwise these days, you're not getting nothing for free from them, for sure. That's all I'm gonna say there. We'll move on to BookBub.

Lauren: BookBub, if you have not heard of it, is a book marketing outlet that delivers targeted book ads. I'm pretty sure it's platform agnostic, so it's not something like Amazon - when you're paying for Amazon ads, you have to be on Amazon specifically. BookBub is going to a dedicated audience of readers that have signed up for BookBub, whether that's their newsletter or banner ads on their actual site. So you're speaking to people who are already dedicated readers. Like they’re people who specifically are looking for books to read and they're looking for books. They've signed up for this because they want deals on books. So BookBub is a great opportunity in that case.

It is a little bit more selective though. So that's something that you have to keep in mind. You have to submit your book for consideration. You do not just get to say like ‘I am going to pay you X amount of money and you are gonna do an ad for me.’ Like you have to submit your book for consideration for a BookBub deal, and then if they choose you, you will still have to pay for the ad promotion that they're gonna do for you. 

Matt: Yeah, it's a way to get more exposure from an audience you might not otherwise get exposure with, but they are essentially gonna send people to buy your book either on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Nook Store, whatever, Apple Books, it's mostly ebook related to and yes, they are they're a little more curated with who they get in there. But if you get in, it's great because they have a very wide audience. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Yeah. That's a good one. 

Lauren: It's also one that's not necessarily something that I would use for a brand new book. Like, you don't want a BookBub promotion deal for your new book the week it comes out because part of what that includes that it's going to be a discounted ebook that's part of their book promotion is that you're getting a deal or your readers, the potential readers, are getting a deal on the ebook. So it's not something that you would want to do for the first probably month that your book is out. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: But it could be a nice way to like boost a little bit of extra promotion and extra sales. Even in the like, second or third month, you know, I'm not talking about it doesn't have to be a book that came out a year ago, but I wouldn't do it that first month. 

Matt: They might not even select you in that first month. 

Lauren: I think they do have a new release… I think they have a specific new release feature, but I think that's also much more competitive, because BookBub also is not limited to exclusively indie and self-published authors. 

Matt: Right. Yeah. 

Lauren: So traditional publishers can and do also use BookBub. 

Matt: There's a lot of traditional books on there. 

Lauren: Yes, there are. I am familiar with BookBub because I worked with them in my last job. 

Matt: Yeah. 


Lauren: If this all sounds like a lot of work to you, whether that is Amazon ads - heavy sigh again -  or BookBub ads, or we're gonna talk a little bit upcoming about social media ads, paid social media ads. If this is all kind of making your head spin and you're like, I don't know that I really wanna do any of this, you do always have the option of looking into some service providers that will… I don't want to say do all of this for you, but they have worked very hard to kind of make a more user-friendly, streamlined ad experience. 

Matt: And, to be fair. They'll do some of it for you. 

Lauren: Oh yeah, yes. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: They definitely do. But just not. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: It's not like you're going to be like, ‘here's my book, thank yew.’ And they're going to hand you back a hundred readers. 

Matt: Yeah, absolutely not. And like we said at the top of this section, if you are dead set on being on the ‘zon, you should definitely use their paid ads program and you should definitely work with somebody like Written Word Media to help you navigate Amazon ads and Facebook ads. They're really good with that. The beauty of Written Word Media is they also have their own audience. And so they, similar to BookBub, you can also get on Written Word Media's… they've got a few different lists where your book will go out to a lot of readers. I don't want to misquote their numbers, but hundreds and hundreds of thousands, I think at this point that they have a great service because you can not only go out to their audience that you wouldn't otherwise be able to get in front of, but they can also help you navigate the world of Amazon and Facebook ads in a way that may actually bring you some success, which is always worth it. 

Lauren: Yeah. If that name sounds familiar and you're trying to place it, we have referenced them in the past. They do an annual state of indie authorship survey, so we've referenced that survey a couple of times in the past. They do have like a great finger on the pulse of indie authors and the state of the indie author community in general. I do think they're a little bit more fiction-focused, but that doesn't mean that I would rule them out entirely if you were nonfiction, I would definitely just look into

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Their options and resources. They also have a ton of free resources on their blog and on their website. So I would definitely encourage checking them out. I'll make sure to link it in the show notes if you want to learn more about them.

Matt: Yeah, another good one is BookFunnel. We're still learning more about BookFunnel, and a lot of people have been using BookFunnel for ebook and audiobook delivery, but a big part of that platform that Damon has built in is a lot of marketing and email list capabilities, which includes a lot of promo capabilities using those email lists and sharing lists with other authors. There's a lot of cool things going on inside BookFunnel. So if you're looking for another way to market your book, you should check out BookFunnel. We're still learning more about this platform, but what we know so far we really like. And we have a lot of authors we work with that swear by BookFunnel. They love it. So if that's another option that interests you, you should go check out BookFunnel and see what they offer. 

Lauren: Yeah, the collaborative opportunities on there sound really cool. The idea of getting to share email lists with different authors in your genre or adjacent genres that's - from a reader perspective even like I think that would be really neat to get an email from an author that I loved that was like, Hey, by the way, like - 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Here are a couple other authors that if you like me, you'll probably like these two. 

Matt: It must be working because people love it. 

Lauren: Well, we have to learn more about it then. 

Matt: Yep. 


Lauren: Alright. So I guess that brings us to paid social campaigns. 

Matt: My favorite. 

Lauren: Yeah, mine too. I'm gonna just be upfront right now, it would be impossible to do a complete tutorial on paid social campaigns on a podcast episode. Largely because it would be impossible to kind of explain it without any visual aids. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: So that would be insane. Also because all of the different platforms are different. So without narrowing focus specifically to the different specific social platforms that you would wanna run a campaign on - which will vary based on what your content type is, what your audience is, where your audience is hanging out, whatever. You know, just, I can't see that being possible. But just some high level tips and things to keep in mind when it comes to paid ads on social media platforms. As always, do your research, do your research, do your research. In this case, I'm talking about two specific different types of research. 

First and foremost, I would always encourage people that are new to doing social media ad campaigns to pick one platform to start with. You know, don't try to run a campaign for your new book on every single social platform you've ever heard of. You'll run out of money and you'll run out of patience before you even run out of money. So, you know, review your existing social platforms and try to figure out which one you're performing the best on. Look at your metrics and see where your audience is the most engaged, which one you are having the most success on in terms of like ease of use and where you find yourself creating the most content, where you spend the most time, pick that one platform, start there. 

And then make sure that you do not just jump headfirst into doing any kind of paid social campaigns without researching it first. There are a ton of available resources out there for people that have never done paid social ad campaigns before. You just have to go look for them and you have to figure out which platform you're going to be using first. Do your research within your own metrics, pick your platform, and then once you've narrowed it down to one platform, go ahead and research how to do paid ads in that specific platform because it will obviously be very different experience from platform to platform. 

The one exception that I will point out is that Facebook and Instagram are the same. Facebook and Instagram are both run out of Facebook Business Manager. You can run separate ads on Facebook or Instagram, but you can also combine them into one ad campaign and run them the same way. Which are also probably the two, if I was going to recommend any two platforms to do a paid ad for a book on. 

Matt: Yeah. I mean, it'd certainly be the easiest ones to experiment with for sure, especially since you can do them just out of the Meta Ad Manager. 

Lauren: Yep.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Other things that you're going to want to do if you want to do paid ads: know your budget in advance. Don't let these ads run away blindly with an uncapped budget. You will find very quickly that you can spend a lot of money accidentally on social media ad campaigns. So set a budget ahead of time and set a primary objective ahead of time. So, you know, if your objective is to sell copies of your book, that's it. That is your only objective. If your objective is to get email newsletter signups, that's great. If your objective is to get leads, whatever it is. Know in advance, pick that one, and target your entire campaign to that. 

The last thing that you're gonna wanna keep in mind is your creative designs for these ad campaigns. In some cases, like Meta, they will have built-in tools in the ad manager to help you create your ads. Some of them will let you, like, build the ad outright in their ad manager, but you just have to make sure that you have something - you can't just show up to the ad manager with a link to your book and hope that that's gonna be enough, because it's not. 

Matt: Yeah, and a pro tip, which you would probably touch on anyways at some point, is to use Canva. So in Canva, you can choose, like if you're gonna create an ad, you can just choose which platform you're building it for, and Canva already knows all of the specifications, the details, the sizes, all of that. 

Lauren: Yep.

Matt: And then you can just literally build it in a matter of minutes inside of Canva. So if you're new to paid ads and you're not sure, you know, how to do it, you don't trust your abilities to a degree and you don't even know, you know, what the platform specifications are, start in Canva.

Lauren: Yep, and if that is something that you're like, oh, no, I don't wanna do that, that's a lot of work. Again, with the recommendation of using Fiverr, you can find some freelancers and independent creators that could probably whip up some ads for you pretty simply and at a pretty like low cost. Although that's definitely something to keep in mind when you're deciding on your budget for your ad campaign is whether or not you're going to have to pay for creatives. 

Matt: Yeah, that's true. 

Lauren: Wow, I managed to get through social media so much faster than I thought I would. 

Matt: That's why I kept my mouth shut. 

Lauren: Oh, I appreciate it. I'm sure our listeners do too. 

Matt: Plus it's my least favorite. 

Lauren: I know. Although I think we've talked enough about it lately that we probably won't have to talk about it too much anymore. 

Matt: Music to my ears.

Lauren: Figure out a way to sneak in social media into every - 

Matt: That's a Valentine's Day card in and of itself. We don't have to talk about social media anymore. Oh good. Okay. 

Lauren: Oh, that's so true. Well, we do have to talk about them a little bit more in this episode.

Matt: Why?


Lauren: Because we got to talk about influencers we can't do an episode on paid book promotion and not talk about influencers 

Matt: Yeah, but influencers aren't just social media, right? I wish everybody could see your face right now.

Lauren: Where else - where else do you? 

Matt: I mean, what about a YouTube influencer? 

Lauren: Oh, I guess you're, yeah. I mean, I guess. 

Matt: Do you count YouTube as social media? 

Lauren: I don't, but I think there are some people that do. 

Matt: Hmm. Okay. 

Lauren: But I think regardless, there's an overlap of influencers and social media. I think the larger question that Matt and I need to consider for this episode is whether or not it's actually worth your time and expense to try to partner with an influencer to promote your book.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: What do you think? I'm gonna put you on the spot. 

Matt: I think that in most cases it is not. I think where we've seen nonfiction creators try to use influencers to promote their book, in very few cases does it work. It's hard for it to come off as genuine, which is what you want. There's almost always a promo code or something involved, because otherwise how are you tracking

Lauren: Right.

Matt: The sales and the efforts? When you use an influencer, it almost always still just comes off as somebody being paid to say, ‘go buy this book.’ Now there are some that do it right, don't get me wrong. I've seen a very small handful where it sounded like the influencer may have actually read the book or at least skimmed through it pretty well. And so it did feel a little more organic. And then there's, you know, this is a show about paid advertising, so this really doesn't count. But if you have connections with influencers that you could get to actually read your book and talk about it organically. I mean, that's - I'm definitely in favor of that. But paying an influencer to just shout out your book, it's been proven time and time again that that's really not an effective way. But prove me wrong. 

Lauren: I actually agree with you. So I'm not going to try to prove you wrong on that. 

Matt: Add that to the sound bites of Lauren saying I'm right. I'm going to create a whole song out of those and I'm going to I'm going to drop it on like summertime so it could be playing at like water parks all over the world. 

Lauren: We could make it the new intro for the podcast. 

Matt: I would love that. 

Lauren: I'll work on it. 

Matt: Alright. 

Lauren: We'll see how that goes.

Matt: It sounds like you need a raise. 

Lauren: If I - if I make this. 

Matt: Just kidding. 

Lauren: No, I have that - I have that on recording. 

Matt: Where's that dump button? 

Lauren: I do want to make the distinction when we're talking about influencers - because I can hear already in my head the phantom voices of people saying ‘how is that any different than paying for sponsorships?’ And I think that the key difference here is that when you're paying somebody for a sponsorship, you're paying for somebody who is like an expert voice or a trusted voice in your specific audience, niche, industry, whatever. And influencers tend to be more…

Matt: Broad? 

Lauren: Broad, not specific to one given audience. And I know that there are some, like you'll see people who are like, makeup influencers or fashion influencers or even like book influencers. But like there's still a difference between people who are, you know, let's say book influencers versus people that I would wanna pay for a sponsorship. A book influencer I would think of as somebody who's like just posting shelfies constantly and they're not, like it's like, wow, this is really aesthetically pretty and 15,000 people liked this picture of your bookshelves in your house. And that's great. But I wouldn't necessarily trust that person for a book review. Like I might like their photo because I want to steal one of their design elements for my bookshelves, but they haven't really given me a reason to actually care about their taste in books. 

As opposed to somebody who is like a trusted reviewer voice in the book community that has a specific genre that they're like, ‘I am a contemporary romance reader. Everything I read is contemporary romance. And 15,000 people have liked my review of this specific romance novel that you have a shared interest in. And therefore other things that I recommend will be targeted to these people.’ And I think that's the difference between like an influencer and somebody that you might pay for sponsorship.

Matt: Yeah, I just think that influencer marketing is at least, you know, the traditional way that people probably think about it, it's, it's just no good. I think there are ways that it's being done. It's kind of evolved to a degree. And so I think there are ways that you can use an influencer effectively, but probably not for the amount of money that most authors want to spend. So I wouldn't even bother. 

Lauren: Yeah, I agree. I think that influencers kind of had their peak time to shine and now people are looking much more towards targeted advertising and not just casting a wide net with an influencer. And you know, not for nothing, but I, I'm pretty sure these days I see just as much content on de-influencing as I do from influencers.

Matt: I don't even want to get into what de-influencing is. 

Lauren: That's okay. We don't, we don't have to talk about it. We can wrap it up because despite… despite the fact that Matt said to me at the beginning of the recording, ‘there's no way we have enough to talk about that it'll take an hour,’ we are currently at 63 minutes of recording. Which is definitely not what this - God knows if you guys are listening to a 63 minute long episode right now, I'm going to personally apologize to all 10 of our listeners. 

Matt: Oh, they won't be. 

Lauren: No, it won't. There's no way it'll, it'll be this long once it's been edited. But inside look at what's going on in here right now. Matt told me there was no way. And here we are. 


Lauren: I do want to wrap it up with a question for you. Now that we've talked about all these different types of paid promotion that are available. If you were going to be promoting a new book that you wrote and you had just enough budget to do one sponsorship of any kind, what would you do? 

Matt: I think I answered that - a or a couple of newsletter sponsorships. I would try to find the ones that I thought would be the most beneficial. And that's what I would do because I think right now they are probably the most popular, some of the least expensive, and quite frankly, a little easier for me to target the appropriate audience with.

Lauren: I actually have to agree with you. That would be my top choice to maybe down the road conference or event sponsorship once I had a couple of titles to my name, but. If I was going to launch a brand new book right now, newsletter sponsorship all the way. 

Lauren: Well, we did it. 

Matt: Well, the clock said otherwise. We took a little longer than we wanted to, but nonetheless, I think usually, once we start talking about something, we just keep going. We finally did it. We finally set up an email address for the podcast. 

Lauren: That's right, we did. 

Matt: If anybody has anything they'd like to add to this conversation after listening to this, if you made it all the way through, if you have suggestions for other things you'd like us to talk about or things you'd like us to stop talking about, like maybe Taylor Swift. Or if you just wanna say hi - Mom, please don't use this email address, by the way. You can send us an email at 

Lauren: I'm actually gonna tell my mom she can email if she wants, cause she did start listening last week and she's been texting me about it all weekend. So thanks Mom, feel free to send us an email.

Matt: Thanks, Lauren's mom. 

Lauren: And yes, of course, like Matt just said, if you have any questions, suggestions, things you want clarification on, things you want to argue with us about, send us an email And until then, we'll see you next week.