Authors and Bookmarks

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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?

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15 responses »

  1. Much like you I am terrible when it comes to the promotion side of things, and cannot see bookmarks or anything like that being worth the investment. Of course, for me, living in a non-English speaking country, I have to focus my sales on a more international basis, and that almost nullifies the effect bookmarks or the like would have.

    That being said, I have had terrible sales for a couple of month now, and need to to something to get books selling, so maybe I am even more clueless than you are 🙂

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    • Yes, you are at a big disadvantage where you are… at least I can schedule several book signings a month if I want, and I usually do 1-3. I’m just wondering if shelling out a couple hundred bucks for bookmarks will pay off in the long run.

      Armand

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      • Exactly, I lose out on a great number of promo opportunities. Really it should pressurize me to do even more online marketing. Either that or I should just move. Better climate, better language 🙂

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  2. I don’t think there is a ‘right’ answer as to whether or not this is effective. Anything out in the world with name and contact info is always a great thing, so then it would depend on the cost of said product.

    Personally, I enjoy a snazzy bookmark from an author I like. But, in retrospect… I usually wind up leaving the bookmark in the book it was promoting.

    So as I said.. Both sides of the coin apply. I think it’s a good service to your readers to make the effort. If it isn’t costing too much, then go for it. If its an exuberant price, nix it until you can afford it. Because in the end, what truly matters is the writing.

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    • Good points, Dean… the cost isn’t too crazy, but I always worry about recouping the hundred bucks for promotional items like this… I guess it’s the same idea as getting a table at a convention costing $125 and having to sell x number of books just to get to break-even… I wonder if it’s worth it, but then on the positive side I see it is getting me out there in front of potential new readers and long-term it could be a good thing.

      Armand

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  3. My opinion (as if it isn’t obvious) is, while bookmarks may not result in lots of direct sales, they certainly don’t hurt. They are relatively cheap (I pay about $100 for 500) and people almost always seem happy to get one. When I first met Armand he told me about Twitter…and even though I didn’t see the benefit of it, I figured it was another way to get my name out there – so I dove in, and I’m glad I did, because I think unless we have a marketing rep – indie authors must use every means at their disposal to spread the word.
    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to practice cutting a watermelon in half from 20 paces with one of my bookmarks…

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    • Yes, I guess it is the same thing as Twitter in the respect you really have no idea what is and isn’t working. Like this blog post… will it generate much discussion but no real sales from it, or will everyone read it and want to buy a book today? You just don’t know. When you get proficient in watermelon cutting from 32 paces I want to be there.

      Armand

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  4. Reblogged this on blindoggbooks and commented:
    After having my good friend Armand Rosamilia teach me all kinds of stuff about marketing and branding, it appears that I have finally taught him something! The foot is on the other hand now, isn’t it???

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  5. I’m open to all suggestions on marketing. The problem is that no one thing is the key, it’s a recipe. It’s not just facebook or twitter, it’s facebook, twitter, bookmarks, online ads, print ads, conventions, and signings, telling everyone you know, and graffiti on every hard surface.
    You can’t measure giving away 100 bookmarks. You can only measure a year of giving away bookmarks at your 3 signings per month while keeping your blog and facebook page updated

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    • Very true and great point. 100 bookmarks might be too small a sample to really get an idea about, but over time (and with all the other facets of marketing) it might pan out for me (and us).

      Armand

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  6. Armand,
    There are tens of things you can do to promote your book. Maybe hundreds. My conclusion after trying them all: don’t do the bookmarks unless they are interesting, clever, or funny IN THEMSELVES! Otherwise, they are just another bookmark. Same with any other promotion activity.

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  7. As an avid reader, I can never have enough bookmarks. And to have one with all the author’s info is awesome! I love them and I think your special lady did a great job!

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  8. Pingback: Social Media Marketing for Indie Authors (and Dummies) | blindoggbooks

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