***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!