One of my goals on this blog is to share my self-publishing mistakes so you don’t repeat them yourself.
I’ve already discussed the importance of spending your money wisely with my article on Kirkus Reviews. Another money-waster on the list is paying for a book listing with PW Select.
Here’s my reasons why…
On the surface, PW Select looks like a promotional gem for independent authors.
PW Select is a quarterly journal published by Publishers Weekly.
So for $150.00 you get name brand listing in a publication dedicated solely to indie & self-published authors. Not only that, but approximately 20 to 25 percent of the listed books also get a review! So basically you have a one-in-five chances of getting a book review by Publishers Weekly for a third of the price of Kirkus Reviews!
“Finally!” I thought, “This might be the break I needed! A book industry name that gets it and can give me the recognition and publicity my book needs to succeed!”
Except, once I received my “complimentary” copies of PW Select this year, this is what I saw:
Those two paragraphs is all I got for my money, and they didn’t even include a cover image of my book, which I’d provided.
This issue printed 215 book listings, and only a select few included a cover image with their title.
The worst part is that PW Select charges a fee to access their information online, including this book listing. So there’s only the tiniest of chances of anyone stumbling upon my book listing online.
Who in the world was actually going to discover my book in the magazine?
I’ll tell you who: other advertisers.
All sellers and no buyers.
In the weeks following my PW Select listing, I didn’t sell a single copy of “Amidst Traffic.” Not in paper and not digital. Nothing.
I did receive two emails from people who had seen my listing, but both of those emails were from advertising reps trying to sell me ads in other book-promotion magazines. Are you crazy? I just spent money to advertise my book only to get offered to spend more money?
How did PW Select make out, on the other hands?
Let’s look at it from a mathematical standpoint: $150 per listing x 215 listings = $32,250
They made out with THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS in listings alone (not including advertising space) on this single issue.
That’s before selling a single subscription to the magazine.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge anyone who has a strong business model that can make a killer amount of money. That’s what the American Dream is all about. But my problem with those figures is that PW Select doesn’t have much of an incentive for drumming up readership, which means, not many people actually see the listings they’ve printed.
Follow me for a minute.
Usually magazines generate advertising sales by showing that lots of people will see their advertising. So the goal is to get as many readers as possible so they can charge more for their ad space. But in this case, the “advertisers” are independent authors who pay for their $150 listing based on Publishers Weekly’s reputation. Indie Authors don’t look at the readership numbers (though they should).
So this listing model is an absolute win for PW Select, but a complete waste of money for the majority of the listing authors (specifically those who didn’t get a cover image or a review).
Again, the book review was never a guarantee, but for $32,000 the least PW could do is include a cover image for each book listing.
How to better spend that money:
If I could do it all over again, I would have taken that $150.00 and invested in either in advertising space on GoodReads.com (at least there, your ads reach readers directly), or on book giveaways.
What about you?
Have you ever listed your book with PW Select? What was the response your book received?