As I’ve mentioned several times before, if you are self-publishing, and most likely if you have a standard publisher, you will have to personally manage the majority of your book’s advertising and promotion, at least if you plan to sell any books.
One relatively inexpensive way to spread the word about your book is with bookmarks.
Everyone likes getting something for nothing. Bookstores like giving away freebies and what is a common one? Sticking a bookmark in customers’ books when they check out. Where do the bookstores get those bookmarks? From publishers, including self-publishers like you! Yep, bookstores like receiving freebies, too.
The advantage of getting a store to hand out your bookmark is it will go home with 1) a reader or someone who knows a reader, and 2) someone who buys books.
If the store already stocks your book, they will be happy if those readers come back and buy your book having been tempted by the “pitch” on your bookmark. If the store does not stock your book, an increasing number of people coming back to order it (something most bookstores will do for individual customers) might prompt the store to shelve your book.
Your bookmark should be four-color on at least one side, include a picture of your book cover, and a plot synopsis. The backside should include places where your book (and e-book!) can be purchased. Bookmarks vary in size, althought 2×7 inches is common. Prices vary widely, so shop around. I got 2,000 at one printer for less than another wanted for 1,000! Here’s what my bookmark looks like.
Has this ever happened to you? Someone asks you about the book you’re reading, you provide a quick synopsis, and they other person asks, “Do you know if it’s available on Kindle? (or Nook?, etc.)” Maybe the reader of your book will recall the info on the bookmark, take a quick look, and be able to reply, “Yes, it is.” That is more likely to lead to someone buying your book than a reader shrugging his or her shoulders and replying, “I dunno.”
All good writers are readers. Chances are if you’re a reader, you love libraries. Most libraries, especially in the current economy, are seeing an increase in traffic and a reduction in their budgets (not to mention shortened hours, laid off librarians, and other measures that are counter-productive in the long term…but I’ll get off my soapbox). Thus, I can’t imagine a library declining your offer for free bookmarks even if it has a little advertising on one side. Notice, also, that my bookmark plugs “your neighborhood library” on the side with the sales pitch.
Libraries (or any book lover, for that matter) hate it when people fold down page corners to mark their place. Use a bookmark, darnit! Just like the bookstore, most libraries will stick a book mark in each, or at least one, book when you check out. In the more modern libraries with the self-checkout system, they usually have bookmarks available nearby in the hope each borrower will take at least one.
The bookmark may prompt the reader to check out your book on the next trip to the library. (If you local library isn’t shelving your book, why not?) Yes, you want to sell books but, as an author, don’t you want people to be reading your book, even if they borrow it – from a friend or a library?
Unless you’re rich or just a very generous person, think twice before you stick a bookmark in each book you sell through your own website. You’ve already made that sale, so do you want to also gift them with a bookmark which may not lead to another sale? Now, before you say, “Marty, you cheapskate,” let me be quick to add that I do include two postcards in each book I sell. I’ll explain the difference in a future blog post.
Next time: Promoting Your Book with Postcards