Friday, February 8, 2013

Things to Consider When Spending Promotional Dollars

Convention season is here and many authors are deciding the best use of their promotional dollars. Bookmarks, club cards, trinkets, pens, and candy. The choices are endless, but what is going to give you the most exposure for the money.

This truly is a personal choice, but I can share what I’ve seen. Bookmarks and paper products fill the hotel garbage cans when the convention is over. Having a bookmark to slip into a book at a signing will have more use, but then the sale has already happened, the reader has your book, so that expense of the bookmark didn’t really garner you a new reader.

Candy is loved at conventions. A bowl of chocolates is quickly gobbled up, but will the hungry person who plopped your chocolate into their mouth take the time to read the name of the author who gave them the chocolate? Probably not. However, I think a bowl of chocolates on the table at a signing or at Club RT for instance, is a great way to entice someone to stop and chat for a minute.

But when it comes to bookmarks, trinkets, such as letter openers, little mirrors, sewing kits and the numerous other items I’ve seen at conventions, it really comes down to price.

Because we all know that you get the best deal when buying promotional items, from paper products, to goodies, when you buy in bulk, the more you purchase, the better the price per item.

So my advice, regardless of what you’re buying, is to brand you as an author, and not your book cover. How long will it take you to go through 1000 bookmarks? 500 letter openers? You’ll have supply long after your book title is old. Think about your author tag line. Take these Wild Rose Press authors

Sarah Grimm where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide
Kathryn Knight Passionate Romance with a Paranormal Twist
Victoria M. Noxon Sensual Love with a Twist of Darkness
Maxine Mansfield Spinner of Erotic Tales of Romantic Fantasy

If an author writes erotic romance, a steamy image with their website, their author name, and their author tag line will go farther in branding them. A book cover may be outdated in 6 months if an author has a continuous flow of new books hitting the bookshelves.

An author who writes historical western romance could use a western background, a western font for the writing on their promotional items and instantly give a reader insight into the genre of books they write.

Regardless of what items you choose to use, conventions and author swag are fun ways of letting the public get to know you the author. So make yourself stand out. Be clear on branding. If you write sweet stories, don’t use a naked couple in an embrace to show off your stories. Your website is vital. Be sure to include it on all your promotional swag. And then on your website, keep all of your buy links to retailers up to date and easy to find.

If you have questions, or you know of a great etailer for promotional items, let us know with a comment.

Lisa Dawn


Calisa Rhose said...

Good advice, Lisa. I still struggle with getting my brand just right. Should I add a sensual image to my website header to signify what I write? Does that limit me when I also write steamy paranormal? I chose not to include an image and create a separate website for my paranormal and also have a different pen name for that genre. But my current website, hopefully, reflects my contemporary books with the tagline- Where The End is just the Beginning...

Barb Han said...

That's a really good point, Lisa. I like the idea of paying for the design once (the author brand instead of the individual bookmark).

Kathryn Knight said...

Wow, so excited to have my tag line as an example! Thanks for the great post Lisa!

Denise Golinowski said...

Thank you, Lisa for such a helpful post. The question of promotion, especially for those of us who are ebook only, is a thorny one. Bookmarks for an ebook are out. Signings are out. So creative alternatives are required and there are a LOT of options to consider. Branding the author rather than the book is so obvious, but our TWRP covers are too wonderful not to want to flaunt them. Ah well, I shall consider to work through this. Denise Golinowski

Nese Lane said...


Thanks for the awesome advice. I just recently, with the help of my brother who owns a marketing company, branded myself. It was exciting to have my website, twitter and facebook all match and look cohesive.

Nese Lane
Scarlet Rose

Amy said...

Well said!