Friday, September 23, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion


So, now that I've crossed the bridge into the world of the published, everything is different. Instead of just worrying about writing and submitting, I have to worry about writing and submitting and promoting and branding and building a readership. Sigh. It's a lot to think about.


Since I have several big events next spring coinciding with my book release, I've been giving thought lately to promotion. I've got all the social media type stuff down, so really, my focus has turned to imprinted promotional goods. Tchotchkes. I want to do something different. Unfortunately that usually equals expensive. There's a delicate balance between novel/keepable and price. If its cheap and cute, likely someone else has done it. PC, for example has done rulers, emery boards and collaborated on tote bags with Lynn Raye Harris. All great ideas. And I may borrow an idea or two, but I'd rather not if I can come up with something else. Over the years I have been to many conferences and luncheons and collected my share of stuff. I have my opinions on the subject, but I'm curious about what others think.


First - paper. I'm sorry, but I don't want your bookmarks or your postcards. You can try to sweeten the deal with candy, but I'm just going to pull it off, eat it, and throw the paper away. Its cheap and you can make a million and send them all over the place, but I don't know if it makes a fig. I may make some bookmarks, but the point will be to advertise the next book by slipping it into the current one as I sign it. And I won't have 10000 of them.


Trading cards might be my exception. Yeah, lots of people might throw them away, but I think they have a novelty and collect-ability about them. I like the idea. I'll probably do them, even just so I can have my own and slip them into plastic sleeves alongside my 1991 Marvel Comics Silver Surfer hologram card.


Pens - it seems like everyone does pens, yet at the same time, everyone grabs pens. Do they keep them? I don't know. But I know I have a purple glitter TOR pen that I really like. I've had it for years. It has purple ink. I don't use it very much, but I remember it and its probably in my drawer as we speak. Other times, the pens die almost immediately and I hold the author responsible in the back of my mind for buying crappy pens. And they get tossed, so no help there. They might as well have saved their money.


I've asked around at what people like and I've heard a couple things. Some like magnets with bookcovers. That's cool. Might do it once I have a cover. Some like the nail files. The Playground has done pens, chalk, crayons and big paperclips over the years. I've seen several people do the tote bags, which I think is brilliant to distribute at book signings where people have a lot of books, but possibly, no bag. They'll be grateful for the bag and advertise for you as they walk around. But again, Kim & Lynn did that already. Maybe when they run out...


Another complication is relating it to me. My tagline is "Seductive Romance with a Twist" so I've been considering something to play on the 'twist' idea. Travel corkscrews are my number one favorite, but they can get a little pricey unless I buy a larger quantity, which saves money, but costs more in the end. Its a big, painful chunk up front when I won't see any royalties for a long while. DB mentioned little bags of pretzels, which are cute, but consumable. Eat them and its done, just like candies. Any other ideas for twist? I'd rather do that than something applicable to just one book. The little travel sewing kits would be perfect for the first book, but make no sense for the second one, so I'd have to be sure to get rid of all of them fast.


What are some of your favorite promotional items? Any you saw that you really loved? Any ideas for me?


SP

PS. And I am VERY delinquent, but SUMMER is the winner of Free Book Friday! Email me at smartypants @ writingplayground.com to claim your prize!!

8 comments:

Maven Linda said...

Unless you just want to do stuff like this so you'll have it as a memento, don't waste your money. Really. Yes, I do keep the pens, and I use them, but I never look at the name on them. And that wouldn't influence me to buy a book, anyway. The only thing that influences me to buy a book is the story. What influences me to buy a second book by the author is how well the story is written, how the characters grab me. The best thing you can do for your career is write an engaging story with engaging careers, then no one will care whether or not you've done magnets or whatevers.

But the pens and totes are at least useable.

Jean Hovey said...

At conference, I would love pocket folders to put my stuff in. You could have stickers printed and put them on folders and paper totes for book signings.

Playground Monitor said...

Linda Lael Miller gave out small mirrors one year. I loved that mirror because it had a handle. I used it for travel because it was small and had a handle. Then I dropped it. Waaaaaaaaaaaah! I had an oval-shaped folding hairbrush and mirror from Betina Krahn that I loved and kept in my purse. I lost it somewhere between the Orlando Airport and home. Waaaaaaaah. Right now I'm looking at a zippered pencil holder (the kind that will fit in a three-ring binder) that I got at conference one year. I carried it to a workshop where I needed various colored highlighters and a red pen. Another one I've kept is a band-aid holder -- small plactic thing that held a couple band-aids. I used up the originals and replaced them. It keeps band-aids from getting all nasty in your purse or toiletry bag.

None of those are "twist-y" but they are things I've kept. I have a travel corkscrew too even though I don't drink. But you never know when someone might need to borrow a corkscrew.

Instigator said...

I subscribe to the 'buy something the person will keep' philosophy. You're advertising your brand not necessarily a specific book (although putting titles and release dates can never be bad). I like the idea of the bandaid holder because I have one in my purse right now. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you who I got it from. I'm sure it's on there somewhere though...

I'm in the process of buying luggage tags for my Island Nights trilogy. Definitely something fun and that most people will probably keep. And I found them really cheap so...

Instigator

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Sadly, I have to agree with Linda. No promo I've ever invested in made a difference to sales. In fact, one of the books I invested the most in, promo wise, sold the worst. I think it was a sign. :-) It's nice to have something to hand to people at a book signing, but it's not really worthwhile to invest a lot of money. I've picked up pens, jar openers, nail files, bags, and candy. Not once has a thing convinced me to buy a book. :-/ Also, look at how much you'll make per book and decide if it's worthwhile to invest a certain amount for a limited return. If you really want to do something different and special, send them to booksellers who have the ability to recommend your books to several people. Now I feel like the resident grump. But the truth is, you find and keep readers with your writing, with the stories you tell. Word of mouth, good reviews, a teaser here and there that grabs attention -- those sell books. Is it just us old fogies? Do others feel compelled to buy a book because they got a doodad?

Smarty Pants said...

I think the books do the selling, you're right. But as a new author, I'm trying to get my name out there to people since no one has heard of me. If it makes them look at my book, great. Just for a little recognition, really.

catslady said...

Well yes and no. Of course a free book is the best (but most expensive) giveaway but if I like it, I will buy more from the author. On the other hand, I have bought books from authors that go out of their way and have nice prizes. Sometimes it's enough to jog my memory or to think again about the author's books. No, I wouldn't buy a book that I don't think I'd like anyway but it may be just enough to put the author's book in mind. I love the idea of the corkscrew.

EllenToo said...

I actually find myself using a magnetic calender with note paper attached that I place on my refrigerator so I can make a list of what I need to buy.