Monday, July 17

About promotion...

Re: last week's contest. Jan Bulawan was the winner, but I have no contact information for her. Jan? If you'll get back to me with your address, I'll send out the prize. Thanks to those who stopped by. We enjoyed reading the beginnings.
***
Now, for this week. Let's talk about promotional items. I just ordered my new-to-me thing for the year. What do you think?

It's a small tote bag, approximately 8 x 10 x 4 inches. I hesitated to order them because I wasn't sure they'd be something people used when they got them. After Nan and I talked it to death, I went with that size. I hope they work out.

In the past, I've bought lip balms and pens, cards and bookmarks. Magnets have long been a favorite. Like this one. (Had to include some of the grandkid stuff from the front of the fridge, too!)



I have stockings made to go with Christmas stories--which tend to be stocking-related. This year's story is Miracle on Joyful Street. It'll be out in October as part of Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, another visit to Christmas Town, Maine with ten Heartwarming authors.

One year, the lip balms I gave away were made and labeled by a friend who makes lotions, balms, and soaps with goat's milk and other natural ingredients. The balms were wonderful, but they weren't sealed. Although they'd never been opened, I ended up giving them to people who knew me personally because...well, because I wouldn't trust an unsealed lip balm from someone I didn't know. They were both the best giveaway item I ever had and the worst.

The absolute best thing I ever gave away--and Nan will attest to this--was cups and saucers. I drew winners on guest blog posts and sent them out in Priority Mail boxes. I bought them at antiques shops in Florida and, finally, in lots of six from Amazon. I never had so much fun with promotion in my life. The book, Jar of Dreams, sold well and garnered nice reviews. But, the truth is, the promotion was way too expensive.

When I buy pens, I usually aim for two things. One, they must write smoothly, and Two, they must be cheap. I buy a lot of them because, well, the more you buy, the cheaper they are. But last year, I tried something different. I only bought a few--maybe 50--and I bought nice ones that I give by hand in face-to-face meetings. I want to give the correct message that I value and appreciate readers' time. I think I'll do that again, but I'll buy cheaper ones, too, so that I can "work it" both ways.

There are items I remember from other authors. A vintage handkerchief sticks out in my mind enough that I had to track down the author who gave them away nearly 20 years ago. Delia Parr, whose most recent work is a midwife series from Bethany House called At Home in Trinity, says, "The handkerchief was a tie-in for my book, Sunrise. I had visited an antique store asking how to get several hundred. Ironically, the owner had just been to an auction and had a full box of handkerchiefs. They were a mess, stained and dirty. I bought the whole box for $80! Then I spent days and days soaking them clean with Biz, washed and ironed them and packaged them up. Compared to paper bookmarks or other paper handouts, these were a real hit."

When I asked the other Wranglers their likes and dislikes on promotion, Nan Reinhardt said, "Blog tours—I love to write blogs, but it’s hard to be creative every day for a month, plus, I’m hearing they don’t serve all that great a purpose. Anyone else hear that?" I'm right there with Nan on loving to blog, but blog tours are exhausting and...well, I wonder, too, if  they're worth it.

Margie Senechal says, "As a consumer,  I don't like Rafflecopter raffles where I have to "earn" extra entries by following on every social website available. I like one vote(comment), one chance the best." I agree with this one, too, because even though I read a lot of blogs, I'm usually hurrying when I do so--I don't have time for the extra steps.

Kristina Knight got some promotional zip drives, which I think are such a cool thing.  She has new bookmarks, too. Take a look.

I know this isn't the first blog post around that discusses promotional items. We've talked about it 
here in the round corral before, plus it's a subject that makes the rounds on all the authors' loops. It addresses a question I ask myself every time I have new books coming out: What shall I get this time?

What are your favorites--both to give and to get? What's been most successful? What hasn't?

Thanks for coming by. Have a great week!

24 comments:

  1. I am still in the baby stages of giveaways. I have been giving away seeds from my gardens and I had my artist on call design cute little envelopes that tie into my book 'Religion of Trees.' My disaster giveaway was adorable handmade birdseed ornaments. I made a box of them and when I opened them up to mail them off they were moldy. Yikes! I am playing with seed bombs and leaf bookmarks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those sound great! Too bad about the ornaments, though.

      Delete
  2. I'm inclined to say that the best promotional item I've ever used is the rack card. It's bigger than a bookmark, so it sticks out and for some reason, people have a tendency not to toss them after an author event. Some promo experts came to speak at IRWA once and said they were the best promo piece they knew of. They even used my card as an example. Crazy. Soooo...dunno what else I'm going to do. I always have a bowl of chocolate on my table... This is so not my area!! I love all your ideas and the stuff you've tried and the bags look terrific!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always have the bowl of chocolate, too. Even if I don't sell any books, I always get rid of lots of candy!

      Delete
  3. Liz, I don't do promotion... but I *do* do promo items! I've done wine charms attached to my business card (something the kiddos and I can do together, although a reader once confessed she thought it was a belly ring!). I have wine corks keychains with my logo. It's my personal favorite because it's the closest I'll get to having my own wine! I think (hope) the most effective are my sneak peek mini books with a chapter to snag the reader. I love this post and all of your ideas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ava. I love the wine charms on your business card idea! I have always been too lazy and/or cheap to do the mini books. Let us know how they do!

      Delete
  4. I really love the zip drives I got this year...but my favorite promotional items are the ones that I make (it's the crafty in me, I guess) -- so the planner bands with my business card attached, these new paperclip bookmarks I made...I'm always looking for something a little bit different - as a reader and as a writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always love the IDEA of making something, and someone made paperclip bookmarks for the librarians at work, too--I love them. However, I never get to the actual doing. :-)

      Delete
  5. I personally think bookmarks that have your book cover and blurb will always be a good simple promo item. If you're a reader you use bookmarks. You can stick them in your book when someone buys it. You can carry them in your purse and hand them out to potential customers when you tell them about your book, and if all else fails you can use them as a bookmark for yourself. They are cheap, take up no room, mail easily, and store forever. They can be spruced up by attaching a ribbon or pin or holiday ornament or sticker or barcode to a freebie book or other"special" item, if you want to be creative. Since who throws away a good bookmark, it will keep your name and book in front of the reader for along time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like my bookmarks, too, and I had them made glossy (on the front) with curved corners so I love the look of them. I intended to do the ribbon thing at the top, but--see my answer to Kristi, above--I never got around to it!

      Delete
  6. My most successful, so far, was mints in promotional paper. I don't know if bookmarks are that successful, but they seem to be the cheapest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, good idea! I think mini-Hershey bars would be good, too.

      Delete
  7. For my Kayden Claremont promotion I give away a light, round make-up mirror. For my Karen Blake-Hall giveaways I think pens and emery boards work best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the idea of the mirror, AND the emery boards, since they're something I use all the time. Thanks, Karen!

      Delete
  8. Hi, Liz! One of the best swag I got was a stiff paper business card holder with sticky notes inside and a pocket for the card. Some day, I'm buying those to give away. I also like chip clips. I do a business card on a key tag and they are always scooped up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Vicki. I've picked up a few of those key tags myself. The card holder sounds cool!

      Delete
  9. I'm afraid I don't do any unique promo. I stick with bookmarks. Once, to celebrate the release of a new book in a three book series, I did tote bags with the cover of each book on the front. I think your tote bags are great, Liz, and they're always useful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Those tote bags sound neat, Jana!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Such great ideas! One gal who had written a paranormal book with voodoo elements in it handed out black velvet bags with little bottles of bubble bath and a miniature tarot card in them. Magnets with the book cover are kind of nice, but I love the tote bags.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, cool! I have author magnets all over my fridge (including my own). I like them, but I'm not sure they make me remember who gave them to me. :-(

      Delete
  12. I think we need to ask ourselves if we have ever bought an author's books because of a lip balm or pen? This evolution that all the noise about a release is the onus of the author (particularly those who write for small presses that typically don't give advances) is a sad trend. Publishers need to do more, even if it means publishing fewer books so they can grow the authors they already have. Sorry if I sound cynical, but I've just about had enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish they did more, too, Tanya, but I'm afraid it's a thing of the past that they do. I agree with everything you say, but even when publishers were more supportive, I still did some promo; other than pushing myself onto every blog known to man , I haven't changed that much. Of course, I'll never be hugely successful, either, but I'm at the stage in my career when that's not a consideration anyway.

      I think most of what I buy ends up in the hands of readers I already enjoy having, and I'm good with that. As for "had enough," yeah, I completely get that.

      Delete
  13. I like things that compliment the book--I love your stockings and hope to add this years to my collection of one :)

    I also like the big bookmarks--I've received three from Susan Mallery's Secret Of the Tulip Sisters--and I'm hoping it goes on sale with Kindle soon or I may just break down and buy it. I do have a couple of BN coupons. Mmmm

    ReplyDelete