Back in the early days of publishing (for me… we’re talking 2005) I always had a huge stack of bookmarks at my disposal. I did a new bookmark for every release I put out with Carnifex Press and every one of my own releases got the bookmark treatment with the website on one side and the book cover and ordering info on the other. Of course, when Carnifex Press went the way of the dodo I was stuck with about five thousand useless bookmarks. I guarantee there is a heavy box filled with them somewhere in my garage. It was also the last time I used anything other than a business card to promote my work.
Author Tim Baker swears by bookmarks, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a handful of them in his pocket and within easy reach. Hell, if you even glance at him he’ll do this ninja move and put one in your hands. At some point I’m sure he’ll be so proficient in it he’ll be able to sever someone’s neck or slice through an Achilles heel.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m firmly in the creative end of my writing career and ignore the business end to a fault. I’m sure it’s one of the many reasons I don’t have a new car, a real place to always live, and money in my pocket. I do earn a living doing this writing thing but sometimes it’s a stretch when you are borrowing a few bucks for gas or living off the generosity of others.
Tim has been arguing with me for months about proper promotion. I’m arrogant when it comes to this as a career, but I also listen every now and then. Apparently my Special Gal was listening as well, because when I casually brought up the idea of doing bookmarks for my Fourth of July book signing at Kokomo’s Cafe in Flagler Beach Florida in the event I sold out of the handful of print books I had on hand, she immediately went into action.
She might not be a creative type when it comes to writing, but she has a killer business sense and enjoys being creative when it comes to promotion and such. As a commercial property manager, she has to deal with signs, flyers, contracts, promotional items and so much more… and she took over for me when the bookmarks were mentioned.
I love them. I don’t currently have a scanner or I’d add one into this post, but suffice it to say I am quite happy with what she did: she made me a Flagler Beach Fiction Series bookmark, with beach backgrounds, the first two print book covers and my contact information. And she designed it, got in touch with a local Jacksonville printer who did them within a few days, and I had them for my signing, where I handed out quite a few.
AMENDED: Thanks to David Royall for scanning and sending me the bookmarks, which are now attached at the end of the post!
But did it help? And will they help sell books? I’m still not sure. I know JA Konrath talks about any promotional items like bookmarks, pens and postcards as being nothing more than a waste of your money, but with the rules changing all the time and independent authors challenging what came before, I’m curious if this will be a great thing, or did I waste my money?
What do you think about authors using bookmarks and other promotional items to call attention to themselves, and does it sell your work? Really sell you as an author and put money right back in your pocket?