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.

Growing Pains: Part VIII

We all know how bombarding the marketplace can be. Ads are constantly smacking us in the face every time we open a webpage or app on our phones, computers, iPads, Kindles, turn on the TV, drive down the road, attend an event, etc. etc. Some ads just hit us and go in one ear and out the other, but some ads really stick out (for better or worse), and those are the ones we remember. In a world where you have a few seconds to make an impression, you need to embrace being different and standing out, because the first impression may be the only one you get to make before you blend into the white noise of the everyday marketing buzz.

This week, I’d like to talk about how being different can help you grow your business as a self-published author. You want to be able to hook customers off of more than just a random purchase based on your book cover. Yes, do stand out and hook customers with a unique book cover, but don’t be a one-hit wonder. Being “different” (whatever that really means) is something that you need to aim for in the long term, on a bigger scale. You want your readers to feel like they are consuming a product that also makes them different via consumption. We all know those niche, cult-classics that those really “hip” and “in tune” readers flock to just so they can say they read it, and when they do people will nod and say “oh yeah, I’ve heard about that!”. The kind of books people read in busy coffee shops so that everyone knows they’re reading it. You want to be produce that book.

Think in terms of 80s and 90s Apple ads, where Apple stressed how different they were from other companies, and how using Apple products would make you different too. Was this marketing effective? Take a look at everyone in your immediate vicinity and see if they aren’t staring into an iPhone, iPad or MacBook and you tell me. Is it possible for books to have this same effect? Think Fight Club, Infinite Jest, V for Vendetta, On the Road. People want to say they’ve read these books and they want to tell you how these books transformed them when they read them in highschool, college, on a road trip, etc.

How do you become a book like that? Well, it’s not easy, to be perfectly honest. But those authors probably didn’t know they were writing a cult classic when they wrote it, they just wanted to try something different. If you have a creative instinct that doesn’t follow the normal plot line, character structure, story structure, format, etc. — follow it. It could give you that “different” edge that will set you apart from the slew of book titles that people are bombarded with at bookstores and on Amazon every day. Be the different you want to see in the marketplace…to distastefully appropriate a Ghandi quote.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,

In Your Corner : What do I need to know about Co-op Ads?

For those of you who may be new to the indie publishing world, the co-op advertisement is an invaluable tool to add to your self-marketing toolbox.

But what is a co-op advertisement in the first place?  

As Dan Poynter of ParaPublishing notes, “Book promotion is expensive. The challenges are that books are a low-ticket item (they do not cost much so you have to sell a bunch to pay for the promotion), their subjects are targeted to a small group of people (an individual title is not needed by everyone), and there is no recurring consumption (customers do not buy a new copy of the same book every trip to the grocery store).”  (Emphasis mine.) What’s the answer?  As my grandmother used to say around the holidays, “Many hands make light work.”  And many authors can band together to amplify their individual advertising impact.

Simply put, co-op ads are a way for you to experience all the benefits of a large-scale print marketing campaign without the sponsorship of a major heavyweight Big Five publishing house, and without having to lay out a whole lot of cash to do so.


You may already be aware of what all is involved in getting your book’s name and/or cover out there into national magazines and newspapers.  You may also be aware that print advertisements like the ones that run in the New Yorker and Ladies Home Journal are expensive!  One full-page advertisement in the New York Times book review section requires a person or company to shell out around $40,00o–and that’s fairly typical.  Many other journals, print magazines, and newspaper inserts are just as expensive.  And while the NYT doesn’t come cheap, it does reach around forty million readers–so the cost for reaching each of those readers is less than one-tenth of one cent.  This is a good deal, sort of.  Not many of us self-publishing authors have $40,000 just lying around in a duffel bag.  (And if we did, well, we would probably be dealing with far greater problems than a marketing campaign!)

Expensive as these ads are, they’re not beyond your reach.  Not if you choose to become a part of co-op advertising, which allows you to share premium exposure in household name magazines and periodicals with other self-publishing authors.  By doing so, you have access to all of the benefits of national marketing without having to bear the full burden of expense.

How do you get involved in co-op advertising?  You can always try to wrangle up something on your own, of course–with other, perhaps local, authors–but that’s a lot of money and hassle to manage.  Certain hybrid self-publishing companies, like Outskirts Press, offer a range of co-op options and possibilities.  Every company offers different options, of course, but Outskirts specifically offers the option to sign up for co-op advertising in the Boston Review, Publisher’s Weekly, Bookmarks and ForeWord magazines, and the New York Times Sunday Book Review.  The best part?  Co-operative advertising doesn’t drum up competition between authors.  As with many other aspects of the self-publishing process, Poynter believes that “it is easy to band together with compatible, non-competing products to lower costs, save time and gain more attention in the market place.”  Now that’s a message I can get behind!

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Would You Consider Ingram Advance?

Ingram Advance is a publication read by wholesalers that lists published books.  Many self-publishing companies include a graphic advertisement in Ingram Advance as one of their many marketing services. By listing your book in the publication, you are announcing your new book to the people who are most interested in buying it. In addition to Ingram Advance, there are topic specific publications such as Children’s Advance and Christian Advance. These publications are similar to Ingram Advance, but they focus on a specific category of books.

I’m curious, which of these publications would you consider advertising in? Please leave comments.

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING: Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.

Using Newspapers to Promote your Self-Published Book

There are two diverse tactics for promoting your self-published book:

1) Paying for advertising
2) Acquiring free advertising through press

Well, a subset to that second option is this: create press for yourself.

How? By writing for the newspaper.

Newspapers are in constant need for fresh content on a daily or weekly basis. Most general interest articles can be written by anyone, anywhere, and you don’t even need to live in the area where the paper is distributed (although it certainly helps as you get your feet wet).

Writing freelance articles for newspapers is an effective way to get your book “out there” because your byline will always be included with your article, and your book will always be mentioned in your byline.

Many freelance writers concentrate solely on contributing to magazines or websites, but you will be missing out on thousands of great markets if you ignore newspapers.

How do you get started? You can easily find information about newspapers, including contact information and addresses, by going online to or

Have fun and keep writing.