Pub Rants

How To Get Money Out Of A Publisher

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STATUS: It’s been a really frustrating week. It’s already after 5 and stuff that has to be done, I’m only starting on.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? OLD APARTMENT by Barenaked Ladies

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get money from Publishers for promotion—even if you aren’t the lead title or the next big blockbuster book for them.

It’s all in the way that you do it and your expectation. It’s not going to be thousands and thousands of dollars but it may still make a difference for your launch. So how do you go about getting it?

1. Have a clear marketing and promotion plan for the launch for your book. And I’m talking a real plan, not pie in the sky stuff. Things you can actually do, blog tours you already have lined up, speaking events that you will be at. If you haven’t got that in place, you’re not getting any money. When you have that in place, you need to share it with your in-house contact or you’re not going to be able to get money.

2. Choose a promotional element that has the most likelihood of getting funded because you can aptly demonstrate how the publisher will get bang for their buck. In other words, you have clearly outlined goals for the event, how you can make a difference reaching booksellers, or have a workshop or speaking event already lined up if the publisher can just get you there.

3. Have clear expectation of what they a publisher will and will not pay for. For example, let’s say you have some cool media and speaking events already lined up at ALA (American Library Association) as you planned to be there anyway. Then go to your editor and say, hey, look what I’ve got going here. Would the Publisher be willing to pay my way for airfare and hotel? If you can show a reasonable benefit, I find that editors have been pretty open finding some money for you. (Let’s say you are doing events close to home, you do the driving and that cost and see if they’ll pay for hotel. Make it a partnerhsip.)

4. Here’s another good example. I have one author who does a lot of speaking at various events and sites. These speaking engagements are being paid for by the people hosting the event (publishers love that!). Great. But what about some promo materials to be at those events? We’ve gotten publishers to pay for excerpt booklets, bookmarks, special give-aways, promo posters to have there, etc.

5. Here’s another great way to get money out of the publisher. Show them exactly what you have budgeted from your own money for promotion. Publishers are more likely to give money to authors who are clearly working it from their end. Even if they don’t pony up ths time around, they might be willing to partner on promo expense for the next book. They might even pick up the tab for a book trailer.

6. Show that you are media savvy and can handle whatever is thrown at you. Collect interviews and share them with your editor and in-house contact person. Publishers are more willing to put together a publisher-paid tour for you or maybe even a call-in radio tour (which doesn’t cost them money but does take a lot of time for a publicist to set up), if they know you’ll make the most out of those opportunities.

These are just a few things. Tons more out there if you’re creative, savvy. Find out what works and what doesn’t.

And don’t assume that these kinds of things are just for the biggest sellers. I’ve gotten many different kinds paid promotion stuff for solidly mid-list authors or even debuts that weren’t lead titles etc.

The last thing you need to remember is this: You can’t get what you don’t ask for.”

What’s the worst they can say? No. You can probably live with that.

20 Responses

  1. Heather Lane said:

    Thanks for the information–I always assumed that only blockbuster books got money for promotion. I think sometimes authors are afraid to ask.

    I wanted to let you know that I think you have the wrong link to the Bent on Books Blog–I couldn’t reach it by clicking on your link.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog.

  2. Dreamstate said:

    Kristin, thanks for the great post. I LOVE the Barenaked Ladies by the way — thanks especially for that musical interlude.

    I don’t know if you can shed some light on what the topic of some of the talks (like at the ALA) cover. Is it simply a reading? Or do you talk about the writing process or research or what?

    And I agree with MeganRebekah…if I am lucky enough to get an advance, I will certainly be earmarking a big chunk of it for promotion. Spend money to make money, right?

  3. Anonymous said:

    Putting a large chunk of your advance toward promotion makes a great deal of sense … if you aren’t living on that money. If you’re a full-time writer, then you’re gonna need that advance money for trifles like rent and food and porn.

  4. terripatrick said:

    In the romance world, I’ve seen a lot of #4 happen, and the promos and added books are awesome. #6 is going to be based on vocal personality of the author. So brush up on that!

    I’ve also seen a lot of authors speak at events, and if there is any actual “reading” its just a fun snip-it. Talks are targeted to the audience, what’s their interest, and how can you make a good impression on them so they will want to buy your book, over another one. Make your tonal quality as fun as if talking to your best friend.

    Author talks that I still remember:

    Romance novelist-talked about Why Romance Matters, including her daily writing routine blended with errands done with her autistic son.

    A humor/novelist-also a trained opera singer- created fun songs to perform as if he was the main character in the book.

    Romantic Intrigue novelist-explained why she writes at night, which was more spooky than her books.

    Medical Thriller novelist-talks about the creepy research she did, to put in her books.

  5. KayKayBe said:

    Thanks for suggesting a bold, sensible approach to marketing- talk to the publisher. This has been a topic in another forum, and we’ve looked at what Margaret Atwood is doing (a dramatical presentation with real actors and singers), Stephenie Meyer had a prom, Glenn Beck had a stage production. At this point, I’m considering filming a puppet show and/or using my children as actors:) Of course, I’ll be offering free tattoos of quotes/characters too. (everybody has seen the photos of twilight tats, right?) LOL

  6. Alex said:


    Can you write a blog regarding the process (if there is one) about rejected partial (or full) manuscripts?

    For example, I had my partial rejected by your office. I got a little too over anxious in submitting when I probably should have done a bit more editing. Since then I have done major editing. Is this something that can be resubmitted? I figure if you asked for the partial you liked my idea.

    But at any rate. The “correct” way to go about doing this would be appreciated.

  7. Laura Martone said:

    Thanks, Kristin, for the helpful info. I’m not at the point yet where this applies to me (still no agent for my debut novel), but I will file it away for the future!

  8. Anonymous said:

    Can I be cranky and say I hate the “promo” of author talks and speeches?

    I just do. I’ve never once bought a book after hearing the author talk at a conference or other writer event. In fact, I can’t think of anything more boring than a room full of wanabes eagerly lapping up every word that falls from an author’s mouth, simply because they are published.

    In reality, being published doesn’t mean you have any more knowledge of the industry than the astute unpublished.

    A few years back I attended a conference where the keynote speaker was a thriller writer. At one point during his “How I Got Published” speech, he tooted his own horn by stating that after he made his “first” million (at writing) he knew he’d won, and that he’d never have to work again.

    Yeah, so much for the love and respect for the craft of writing. Gag.

    And the so-called workshops offered by published authors no one has ever heard of are worse. Embarrasing, even. Writers are not natural public speakers, nor do many of them have English degrees, yet they’re thrust into these positions of authority that, for the most part, is way out of their comfort zone. And, sorry, but a lot of the information passed around in these workshops is blatently incorrect.

    It’s one thing to have a professional screenwriter, with produced screenplays and a film school degree give a talk on how to amp up your novel using screenwriting techniques — it’s quite another having a writer with one book under her belt and zero success in screenwriting giving such a workshop. Ridiculous.

  9. RCWriterGirl said:

    Great post. Everything you said made sense, but it wasn’t something people would intuitively know to do, so it was great for you to write it down for us.

  10. Dara said:

    Thanks for posting this! I have no idea how the whole marketing thing works, at least from the author’s end. A marketing plan? Yeah, no clue on how to even start one of those 😛

    I guess that means I should do a little research about it 😛

    For now though, I’m focusing on finishing my book. 🙂

  11. Rebecca Knight said:

    Thank you for this :). I’ve been running under the assumption that as a debut, I’d be taking this all on myself.

    It’s very cool to hear that if done correctly, publishers can be open to partnering with you if you’re ready to do the work. As my friend Newday over on says “What are they gonna do? Send you to Viet Nam??” It never hurts to ask politely.

    Great post! 🙂

  12. Anonymous said:

    Now see there, that’s what I call full-sensory blogging…listening to the same music you’re listening to while writing the blog! Please continue this as it is way too cool.

  13. Anonymous said:

    Of course, the hysterically funny aspect of this is that publishers will tell authors “advertising doesn’t work” (ie, it doesn’t sell books), that “PR doesn’t work” — and then enthusiastically encourage authors to use the AUTHOR’S money to do PR and advertising.

    And since the average advance is about $5K, spread out over as many payments as the publisher can persuade the agent to agree to (oh, yes, and don’t forget to put aside money for the additional income tax you’ll be paying)… well, you do the math about how much PR you’ll be able to afford.

  14. Diana Rodriguez Wallach said:

    OMG, I sing that Barenaked Ladies song every time I go to NYC and walk by my old apartments! It’s so nostalgic. Plus, Barenaked Ladies played for free several times when I was in college in Boston. Love them.


  15. Steve Jones Snr said:

    Love your taste in music and enjoyed reading your blog. As a new author I’m finding this business much more complex than I had expected and reading your posts (and rants!)explained a few things. Writing the story of how I came to write my first novel on my blog, would appreciate your opinion if you have a moment to spare 🙂