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Book Mark’eting Your Writing

Has anyone taken advantage of a Lulu Marketing Kit? For $39.95, you get 24 postcards, 48 bookmarks, and 120 business cards.

There are plenty of websites out there these days offering free business cards. All you have to do is pay for shipping. Unless you are doing a lot of marketing on foot, business cards are pretty useless. Sure, they make a nice addition to your wallet. You can pass one out when you are talking about your book among friends at happy hour, but chances are your close friends will purchase the book anyway.

If you are visiting bookstores, and you want to give the store manager or community relations coordinator a card, it should really contain your contact information. Chances are it’s going to get lost in a drawer in their desk, or under a stack of purchase orders and bills, or accidentally laundered because they left it in their pocket.

When I worked in a bookstore, I was an assistant manager and would just put the business card in the till of the manager’s cash register. Sometimes I attached a post-it with a note about the author or what they wanted. These ended up on the manager’s desk at the end of the night. If the manager wasn’t there to be personally spoken to, chances are a message was never relayed because I myself wasn’t interested in the author or I forgot the post-it. So, if the manager found the business card, they had no idea what it was about or who it was from. Shame on me, yes. Shame on the other booksellers too who listen to what we say just to be polite, but don’t pass along the information to the store’s decision makers.

When I published with Xlibris in 2003, my free marketing package gave me 100 business cards. I thought they were great, but I’m still giving them out to this day! My point: Business cards are too small to make a good impact. Sure, you get a lot of them for the cost but you’ll soon find they are difficult to pass out. Don’t use them to market your book. Use them for your contact information.

Postcards are at least a little bigger. Don’t forget the price of postage is going up soon. Postcard stamps will be .26 cents. So, that’s $6.24 to mail out your 24 postcards. Of the 24 postcards, how many do you think will get lost in the mail? Maybe one or two. Maybe half of them. Who knows? Who are you going to mail them to? Don’t send them to friends and family. Again, chances are they will buy your book anyway. If you send them to newspapers or magazines hoping for a review, chances are your postcard will never make it into the right hands. If you mail it to a bookstore, chances are it’ll end up lost between the pages of a publisher’s book catalog. I found them there all the time. I assumed the postman slipped them in there. If the catalog ended up in the trash without even being opened (which does happen), then so did your postcard.

Bookstores get a ton of mail each day…catalogs, press releases, bills, crap from their home office, postcards, advanced copies, etc. If the store has a community relations manager the catalogs, advanced copies, and postcards are usually passed along to them. We’ll talk more about advanced copies in another post, but for now, do you think your postcard gets read by someone at the bookstore? You hope so, BUT, you may never know. In a better world, a buyer might read the postcard and then look your book up in their database to see if they have it in stock. If they don’t, maybe they’ll order a copy for the heck of it. If it’s a super duper chain store where someone in a home office off in some skyscraper is responsible for doing the buying, then your postcard probably ends up in the trash just like the business card.

That leaves 48 bookmarks from your marketing kit, and I’m telling you now that isn’t enough! Skip this package all together and invest $34.95 for 110 bookmarks instead. Heck, spend $54.95 for 220 if you can. Why? If you are a passionate reader, then you already know. People love bookmarks. Even better, they love free bookmarks. If you are putting together a marketing mailer to send to bookstores (we’ll talk more about this mailer in another post), then you should put at least 1 dozen bookmarks in every mailer. Go ahead, put 2 dozen in there! I guarantee these bookmarks will usually end up on the counter next to the cash registers for booksellers to pass out.

How many times have you been in a bookstore (B&N and Borders are pretty good about doing this) and been handed a free bookmark with your purchase? Customers used to ask me for free bookmarks all the time at checkout. I loved having free bookmarks to offer. If you are out there marketing on foot and visiting stores, ask if you can leave some free bookmarks on the counter. Even if a manager is not available to speak to you, chances are an average part time bookseller can agree to let you leave them there. You don’t have to rely on the postmaster to deliver your message. You don’t have to assume your business card gets into the right hands and gets attention. You, the author, have left your valuable marketing tool right there in customer reach. And that’s exactly what you want to do…reach customers.

The bookmark might not go into a copy of your book. But at least it is in the hands of a reader. If your bookmark looks appealing and eye catching, I bet the reader eventually flips it over and over in their hand and ends up reading it. And maybe, just maybe, they look into getting a copy of your book. Besides word of mouth, it’s one of the best and most affordable marketing tools you can get your hands on.

Make sure your bookmark is colorful and has all the right information on it with no spelling errors. A picture of your book, your name, ISBN, website, and a blurb of the book will do. Lulu’s bookmark is a great example.

Got a little more marketing money to spend? Check out Earthly Charms. They offer bookmarks, ink pens, magnets, door hangers, banners, mini calendars, personalized sticky notes, and lots of other things. These items are all nice things to put into that marketing mailer I mentioned. Magnets and calenders are awesome for freebies at a book signing. Speaking of signings, tuck a bookmark in every copy you sign. If you are stopping by a bookstore to say hello, give every employee a free ink pen. They always need an ink pen for customers to sign for their credit card purchase, unless they have those technical touch screen thingys. But friendly authors with free stuff will definitely be remembered, and maybe they will suggest your book to a customer! My point? They will remember you and you’ve left proper items for them to remember you by.

But above all this, invest in the BOOKMARKS!

2 Responses to “Book Mark’eting Your Writing”

  1. I just ran across this article and thought I should chime in. I ordered my bookmarks through http://www.printingforless.com and they provided a very good product, were easy to work with and the cost was less than other bookmark providers that I had run across. Ex: for 500 4-color front/B&W back total cost including shipping $87.50 (0.18/ea) and for 1000 will run 116.25 (0.12/ea)

    I also had some custom cards printed up - bigger than business cards, but smaller than post cards to use as marketing material (2.75×4.25) and unit price for 2000 was 0.10/ea

    I have requested that VistaPrint.com add bookmarks to their list of items offered as well as allowing custom sized orders because I think they they may be able to beat printingforless’s prices as their prices seem to start out close in range, but VistaPrint seems to offier the bigger discount the more you order.

    Example: Posters at printingforless start at 6.88 per poster and you have to start with a base order of 50 (357.17 w/shipping), where VistaPrint allows you to order 1 poster for 6.99, but for 50 posters, the price is $99, which is much more economical.

  2. [...] and Postcards.  We’ve covered this necessity in previous posts.  The bookmark is the writer’s business [...]


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