August 29, 2008

Daily Blog 29: Do Gimmicks Work?

(Note: Still revamping the site with the new design so there may be a few glitches yet. :>) )

Becoming a published author means you not only have a book, but you suddenly have to get all this author "stuff" - bookmarks, pens, biz cards, etc. Some is necessary - like the biz cards. Some isn't.

Some authors take this promotional stuff a step further, dressing in costume, or sending out prizes or pens and other things. Do they work?

Well, maybe. Sometimes. It depends.

The big no-no, of course, save the gimmicky stuff for your appearance table. Do not send it to newspapers, where reporters joke about this kind of stuff. The Chicago Tribune's Q section occasionally has a giveaway where people write in for assorted weird "junk" the paper's staff collected over time. Most often, though, this kind of stuff gets thrown out or passed around. Save your money.

The best tools are free: a good press release and author information; a press kit with some fun q & a's about you to fill in interview gaps or for fun background; a sell sheet on the book; book blurb and biz cards.

Bookmarks are great promo tools also (for extra savings: design two bookmarks on an oversized postcard and have them cut in half. Don't forget to flip the design on the other side so it lines up right.) Your book cover makes a nice front on a business card with your information on the back. Sign up for the Vista Print newsletter for various freebie deals for the cost of shipping.)

Above all, make connections. I've found that talking to people, even connecting again with old contacts I've interviewed before for my own newspaper writing can have advantages. You never know how someone can help or what kind of advice they can offer.

And the costumes? For some it can work. That's a personal decision. But I'd forget the whoopie cushion with your name and book cover on it.

** Your Turn: What kinds of promotional book items do you like to use as an author? What kinds of things do you like as a reader? What's the worst items you've seen? Funniest?


  1. Actually, this is a comment about your layout - I like it! I see you have a Blogger blog; did you use a template, or did you have to do a lot of html? I especially like the three column design.

  2. Hi Emma, thanks! I just changed it. I googled free xml blogger 3 column layouts and found a bunch. I read that you should make sure it's xml so it supports drag and drop. This one just uploaded easily. But you will lose your 'widgets' and have to recopy and readd stuff. but I wanted a 3 column instead.... I'm finding you do have to know the hex codes to go in and change colors and know where to do it manually. So still experimenting with what to change where...
    I can't find the original site I used right now. this site has some nice ones too: Just search around.

  3. I was going to comment on your new layout too - it's very snazzy!

    I couldn't find the article in question via the Chicago Trib link, but I can only imagine what sort of stuff they get and how little impact it makes on writers' careers...

    I use bookmarks and postcards when I'm out and about so I can hand one over if the topic of my book comes up. My boyfriend makes sure it does. Often. Hah. He's my best promotional item!

  4. I confess I couldn't find the link I wanted either so I substituted a general link. I know the NY Times I think it was did some photos of stuff they got but I can't find that either. ha!
    Hey do you loan your promo guy out? ha!

  5. I use bookmarks and business cards - both easy to carry and hand to anyone who enquires. I have 2 sets of business cards. The one for professional contacts contains all the usual info - including home phone and address. The one I carry for general public use contains my name, website, and a photo of a book cover.


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