My new book ICE COLD / THE KILLING PLACE won’t be published for another seven months, but already I’ve been working on promoting it. In the old days, authors could leave all the marketing up to the publisher, but nowadays authors are shouldering more and more of the burden. There are a few things I do for every new release, and while I’m not sure how much they actually contribute to book sales, I do feel these are useful and relatively inexpensive ways to promote your new title.
First, bookmarks. Some of you may sigh and think, “how boring.” But I offer my readers a chance to get free signed bookmarks, if they’ll just send me a self-addressed stamped envelope. If a bookstore or library requests bulk numbers, I’ll mail them free of charge. What I love about bookmarks is how much information I can fit onto them — not only the cover and synopsis of my current title, but also a complete list of all my titles. I carry bundles of them with me to booksignings or speaking engagements, and whenever anyone asks for the order of the Jane Rizzoli series, I can simply point to the list on the bookmark. True, many of these giveaways probably just end up in the trash. But I don’t mail anything unsolicited, so I hope that if a reader takes the trouble to request it, that she’ll actually keep them around and look at it.
This time, I’m ordering two separate versions of the bookmarks, one for the US market and the second for the UK market, because the book will have different titles and covers on either side of the Atlantic. My UK readers can’t use the SASE option for requesting bookmarks (because it requires US postage stamps for me to return them), but again, if a library or bookstore requests bulk numbers, I will pay for the postage. Plus, I’ll bring bundles of them to hand out if I visit the UK this coming summer.
How many do I order? For THE KEEPSAKE, I ordered 7500. It sounds like a huge number, but I’ve given away almost all of them. And the company I use to print them offers incredibly reasonable rates. If you’d like to see just how economical it can be, pay a visit to www.earthlycharms.com. They specialize in promotional items for authors.
Another little giveaway I’ve used is signed bookplates. I think these are particularly good to mail out to bookstores/readers because there’s really only one good use for a signed bookplate — and that’s to paste it into a book by that same author. Which means someone has to purchase the book. These only get sent if a reader requests them with an SASE. I think unsolicited mailings are a waste of postage, which is why I don’t send out promotional postcards.
And this year, once again, I’m going to splurge on a book video. Yes, I know there’s some debate about whether these are worth the investment. I myself haven’t decided. But I was impressed by how many times the THE KEEPSAKE book video was viewed, and several of my foreign publishers used the video to promote the book in their own countries. For them, it was a quick and inexpensive marketing tool — all they had to do was dub in their own language, or add subtitles. I’ve already written a two-minute script, and the same young directors who shot my last video will be doing this one as well. Assuming they can find a few snowy days in which to film.
As the date of release gets closer, of course there’ll be online promotions, some of it arranged by my publisher. But at this early stage, it doesn’t hurt to be thinking of what I myself can be doing now, as well as months down the line.