Is Print & Online Advertising Worthwhile for Self-Publishing Authors?

print advertising printer head

Rumors of print’s “death” are greatly exaggerated.  Where else but with specific magazines can you find such a passionate and voracious audience in such a specific niche? How else but through advertising in such specific magazines can you reach every single reader/subscriber with such a passionate interest in that niche? You can’t!  In fact, one might argue that the “print is dead” argument is actually narrowing the focus of magazines, targeting its readership, and therefore helping advertisers successfully discover the specific people (customers) they seek.

If you’ve written a book about dogs, for example, do you think advertising in a dog lover’s magazine would be a better, more focused use of your marketing dollars than advertising on, say, Facebook?  Dog lovers read dog lover magazines cover to cover; they save them; they re-read them; they reference them. And best of all, they see your ad over and over! Compare that to an advertisement posted on Facebook that scrolls by faster than the NY subway they’re taking to work while on their mobile devices.

And once you combine those advantages with bundled/packaged deals nearly all magazines offer to also bring your advertisement to their online audience, print & online advertising really is a marketing and promotional opportunity worth considering.

But this kind of marketing is not without its challenges.  First you need to do your research…

    1. Conduct a Google search. Look for appropriate magazines based upon matching their target audience with the target audience of your book. Compile a list of the 5-10 best options.
    2. Determine the magazine’s subscribers/circulation/print-run.  These numbers are all different, so understand their differences.  Advertising managers will likely lean toward quoting “circulation” because they use a formula (typically created by their own marketing department) that multiplies the print-run total by a “passed-along” variable (which is often exaggerated and differs from magazine to magazine). But they cannot exaggerate a print-run number, and that allows you to compare apples to apples when looking at your 5-10 options.
    3. Determine the magazine’s website visitors.  Here you want to compare monthly unique visitors.  Time spent on the site is also a good parameter.
    4. Determine the magazine’s audience and its reach (demographics). In other words, how successfully is the magazine reaching its target market and is that audience a good match for your book?
    5. Determine print specifications.  This will affect your cost.  How big will your advertisement be (full-page, half-page, 1/3 column, etc.)? Will it be in black/white or 2-color or full-color? How frequently will it run (you typically receive cost incentives to contract for multiple impressions up-front).  These specifications are also important for when you (or your professional designer) create the ad. Some smaller magazines may offer to design the ad for you in order to “close the sale”, so be sure to ask. Don’t know how to design an ad? Your publisher may have a solution.
    6. Research the magazines editorial calendar.  All magazines have an editorial calendar and most of them share it with potential advertisers. The editorial calendar allows the advertiser to match their ad with the content destined to bring the largest and most appropriate audience to a specific issue. If your book is about a Black Labrador, not only do you want to advertise in the dog lover’s magazine, but you want to advertise in the issue featuring a Black Labrador on the front cover.
    7. Get the best deal possible. Print magazines may not be “dead” but many are struggling. Their niche audience is great for you, yes, but in many cases are not reaching the heights (in terms of circulation numbers) most magazines were used to last century.  That usually means you can get a great deal by packaging an advertising buy with some online impressions on the magazine’s website.


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

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