Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Do bookmarks work for promo?

I don't know for sure.

I don't think there is a way to graph the rate of return on money invested in promotion.   It's akin to the broken window strategy in law enforcement: nail the guys who jump the turnstiles (a small "victimless" crime) and you'll cut the crime rate (guys who jump turnstiles often have outstanding warrants for other petty crimes.)

While publicity and petty crime aren't in the same ball park (we hope!) they both have difficulty measuring results related to effort.

But back to bookmarks.

I recently attended Bouchercon in Albany.  I ran into all sorts of authors, new, known, pubbed, unpubbed. Several were authors I'd known for awhile who now had book deals.  Big huzzahs all around.  Passing out of bookmarks very often.

Fast forward a week and I'm tidying my desk and what surfaces but a bookmark for A Killing at Cotton Hill by my friend Terry Shames.  I've known her for years, had many pleasant conversations with her, had been glad to hear of her book deal at Bcon. Had I bought the book there? No I had not.

So, here was the bookmark to remind me, and today I ordered it.

And now I'm writing a blog post about it.

Net effect of that one book mark (building on years of attending Bouchercon, a snazzy website, and a lot of effort) is pretty good.  Did she hand out bookmarks to people who didn't buy? Sure. But it worked for me, and now that you've read this blog post, maybe it will work for you.

So, do bookmarks work for promo?  Yes. And they sure as heck are better than nothing.

My working philosophy for publicity and marketing is do everything you can, and one thing more.


SiSi said...

First of all, I'm almost as bad about collecting bookmarks as I am books. And pens.

Secondly, this particular bookmark worked as publicity for me--just added the book to my shopping list!

Anonymous said...

I love her title and cover...

I thought about having business cards made up...name, website, Twitter, and of course, title of book. When "it" happens, of course.

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

Typically for bookmarks I use "non-winning" lottery tickets. Gotta get SOME value out of them.

Heidi Willis said...

I've used them the way business people use business cards. Mine have the book cover on the front and the blurb with my info and website on the back. I don't just hand them out randomly, but when I meet someone on a plane or at an event and they ask about what I do or what I write, I have something to give them. They are inexpensive and handy, and if I've sold two or three books with them (I have, by far!), it's paid for them.

I'd say the same about a book trailer, though, too. Some people hate them, and I know many established writers think they are useless, but I have sold so many books by having one.

In this kind of market, any little thing that works even a few times might be worth it.

Terry Shames said...

What a nice surprise to get a nod from you, Janet! I hope you like the book!

Not only has going to conferences and workshops paid off in promotion, but it has worked even better for meeting so many wonderful people involved in the writing process--writers, agents, editors, website designers (that's how I met mine), publicists, etc.

Linda G. said...

And now I've learned about a promising new author I'd never heard of before, so there's the ripple effect for you. I'd say bookmarks work pretty well.

Keith Raffel said...

You won't be sorry.

Lance said...

I'm an avid collector of bookmarks. One distinct advantage to the collector, of course, is the cost. Or the absence of cost. I have one, though, with this phrase in the top line, "... is a taught, fast-paced mystery ..." Editing must be required for bookmarks as well as books. Thank you for your valuable opinion on marketing.

Meriah Crawford said...

I picked up one (actually, I believe it was thrust at me) that had a terrible typo on it, somewhat like Lance's. Something like "eminent" instead of "imminent," but it was in a quotation, not in promo copy. I would not read that book with a gun to my head. The bookmarks have to be *perfect* and well designed, or it's a waste.

I agree, though--the cover of Terry's book is fantastic! I will check it out.

Terry Shames said...

Thank you to everyone who had fine things to say about the book cover and who plan to buy the book. Hope you enjoy it! And Keith, thanks for the plug!

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

As an author, I use them instead of business cards and I also send them to reader luncheons and writer conferences. I don't think they're as effective as excerpt booklets, but if the cover and title are great and the blurb is interesting, then they can have an impact. As a reader, I definitely have purchased books because of a bookmark - or in some cases been enticed by the bookmark to visit the author website and then read an excerpt and bought the book.