I’ll finish out this week of marketing tips talking about actual promotion type “things”. Last year at Ellora Cave’s Romanticon a reader said, “I think of a promotional item from an author as a gift. And I really appreciate it.”

Wow. I mean, wow, did that ever resonate with me. I may be trying to get my name out there, but people actually enjoy getting something from an author. This has made me more thoughtful of what I’m choosing for promo.

Let’s first talk about the paper products. This is the least expensive, easiest to find and cheapest to mail type of promotion. I start with VistaPrint for all my paper products. First things first people, don’t and I mean DON’T buy anything full price at VistaPrint. Ah. No. Stop. Never. There is no excuse. Just get on their mailing list. And yes, this can be a little annoying … live with it. There are always free standard postcards (cover flats) and business cards and t-shirts and hats and pens and magnets and … Okay, you get the idea. And yes it’s true, nothing is completely free, but the “shipping” covers their costs.

I get a high resolution copy of my bookcovers from the art department. (Just ask, they’re happy to do it.) Use the design template and upload the bookcover on the front of the postcard. On the back I upload my blurb and website information and voila! instant postcard to send or send out as promotion. I also use the same hi res jpg to upload for magnets. I’ve found my readers really enjoy this item. I also have bookmarks. I have a design that puts two bookmarks on one postcard. When they arrive I take them to Staples and for $2 they cut them in half. Sure, they’re not exactly the size of a bookmark, but they’ve worked for me.

I have also started making CHAPTER SAMPLERS. I got a heavier stock 8 1/2 X 11 paper to print the cover and back cover. On the inside of that I put the copyright page and my bio. Then I print off a few thousand words from one or two chapters in a book form, fold the whole thing in half and staple it together. Readers enjoy this mini book of excerpts from my books. It gives them a taste of my writing style before they make a purchase. With the cost of the ink and the paper, they are a little more expensive to make, but worth it in my opinion.

These paper goods I send out to conventions across the country. Reader and writer events. Remember, this is about people seeing your name. The new flat rate boxes are working very well for me to ship these out. Now keep in mind (and we’ve all been here) that goodie bags at writer’s conferences are FILLED with paper goods, coverflats and bookmarks. If you can do something to make yours standout, it’s more likely not to get dumped in the recycle bin.

Which brings me to my next point. If you can find some THING that fits your brand and/or the book you’re trying to market a few well placed promotional dollars goes a long way. I got an emery board from an author that read “nail biting suspense” and her website … great gimmick. That file went in my purse and I held onto it for a loooong time. Find a brand of pen you like and there are reasonable places like National Pen and Earthly Charms that are great for pens as well as other promotional items. It’s taken me a couple of years to find a pen I really like, but now that I have … I’m sticking to it. Hopefully people will know it’s mine when they see it. And as a side note, both of these companies offer other promotional items at reasonable prices.

I also pick up quirky items at specialty stores that I can throw into gift baskets (a great author promotion tool at conferences) and prize packets I give away randomly at chats and such. (I’ve found a source for some great bookbags that have my logo and I love sending these to readers.) And I always put a label on the items with my tagline (Romance so hot … it melts your Heart) and my website. I want people to see my name and to think of me when they’re using these products.

THINGS in goodie bags at conferences are more likely to get tucked into a purse or set on a desk to be reused. But of course they will take more of your promotion money as well.

And there you have it. Just a tiny taste of some marketing tips for you. I hope these posts were helpful. I’d like to thank all the thoughtful readers who have been stopping by this week to share what they enjoy and how they go about making book purchases. It has been very helpful.

So readers and authors, what makes something a keeper for you? And have you ever bought a book from a new author based on a promotional item you received?

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