Thursday, February 01, 2007

Marketing With Bookmarks

I've had several people ask if I would talk a bit about marketing since my debut release push is sorta over, and they'd like to know what worked and what didn't. Well, let me say first of all that's it's a really hard thing to quantify. If it wasn't there would be lists and books of "do exactly this" all over the internet and bookstores just like there are for technique. Marketing is not a simple thing to measure because we can't interview the entire reading public and find out why exactly they purchased the book.

I'll talk about some different important pieces to marketing as I blog more about this topic, some of them things the writer can control and some that they can't. Today, I'm going to talk about bookmarks.

Bookmarks are a controversial subject among the writing community - should I get them, do they do any good, etc. And everyone has a differing opinion. This is mine:

I got bookmarks and I'm happy I did. BUT, bookmarks have to be utilized correctly to be effective. Let's face it, we've all attended a conference and gotten a goodie bag stuffed with flyers and bookmarks. Now, while I don't throw these away, I have to say I don't read them either. I put them all in a cup in my office for future use. I really, honestly can't ever remember reading a bookmark that was lumped in mass quantity like that. That doesn't mean no one looks at them, so of course, I don't hesitate to send my own bookmarks out to conferences, but I'm not betting on a surge in sales using this technique.

Bookmarks are effective when utilized as an information tool following up a personal recommendation. You've all read the blogs about my dad - who will accost women in Walmart, bookstores, etc. and tell them about my book. Then he always gives them a bookmark. They might not buy right then but later on if they're thinking "what was that book that man in Walmart told me to buy" well, guess what - they don't have to remember because they have a bookmark spelling it out for them. THAT'S where bookmarks are a handy dandy piece of marketing material. My husband, brother, several writer friends and some of my regular blogging buddies have also accosted people in stores and told them about the book. My mom, who is not an accoster by nature, still hands out bookmarks to anyone who might be interested - people at the doctor's office, the checkout clerk at Walgreen's, etc.

So many times we're not standing in a bookstore when we're pitching our books or friend's book to people. A bookmark is a reference to hand to someone in case it stays in the back of their mind and they need to remember later on. I talk about my writing everywhere I travel. If it comes up in conversation, I tell my classes. If any of them show interest, I give them bookmarks. Since I have gotten email from students saying how much they loved the book, I have to say that worked. If I get a chance, I will start a conversation in airports or on planes and turn it over to my writing. If there is interest - I hand them a bookmark. Since I have gotten email from people that I talked to in airports, I have to say that worked, too.

So my point is this - bookmarks do not have some magic quality that sells books. It's about the personal contact first, then using the bookmark so the person can remember which book to buy. I think bookmarks have been a hellaciously successful marketing tool for me, but then, I have a hellaciously tenacious set of friends and family - and I'm no slacker myself. :)

I also think bookmark design and quality make a difference. Different colors catch the eye and the feel of paper make people instantly think "high quality" or "cheap." If you have a network of people who will push your bookmarks, go ahead and splurge on the price and the design. If you are not a graphic artist, please, PLEASE turn this part of the process over to an expert. I learned the hard way about graphics when I tried my own web designing. It's not my strong point and any time I waste on attempting it is time I could have spent writing my next book.

I used for my bookmark printing and design and couldn't be happier. Were they the cheapest - no - but based on the other bookmarks I've seen out there, they are definitely the best. In fact, I've had other writers ask me where I bought my bookmarks because they were so impressed with the quality.

So that wraps up my first marketing lesson. I hope this helps!


Kimber An said...

Thanks for the inside scoop. I was under the impression that the publisher printed these up, along with posters. Free, of course.

Jana DeLeon said...

Ha - good one, kimber. No. The publisher only prints up cover flats. Well, and books. :)

Tori Lennox said...

I love bookmarks! I collect them, in fact. :) I just wish I could come up with a fun way to display them... I suppose I could use a shadow box or something similar.

Anyway, a suggestion that seems like plain common sense, but apparently isn't... don't put just your book's title on your promotional material! Put your name, too! :)

Amanda Brice said...

I love receiving bookmarks. They're handy and who can't use a bookmark? I'm much more inclined to actually read what's on the bookmark than a flyer. I throw those away once I get back from a conference.

I've actually started taking to sticking bookmarks received at conferences (if I don't need it anymore) in library books that I return, in the hopes that the next person who checks out that book will find the bookmark and look for that book.

Jana DeLeon said...

hi tori and welcome amanda! It's nice to know that there are people who love bookmarks. And what a great idea to put them in library books!

Wendy Roberts said...

I love to receive bookmarks but I don't use them because *hangs head* I'm a page folder. Yeah, I know. I should know better.

I didn't do up bookmarks for Dating Can Be Deadly and regretted it. Good post.

Jana DeLeon said...

*gasp* a page folder!!! Wendy, we must reform you. Next thing you know you'll be turning the books over still open.

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