A writer can spend days preparing for a new release in terms of printed promo materials. Should you do bookmarks, postcards, or flyers? Tri-fold brochures, business cards, or posters? As more publicity is gained on the Internet, you’d think we could decrease this expense. However, readers still like bookmarks. Postcards are handy to put on promo tables or in goody bags at conferences. Brochures are useful when you give talks so the audience can learn more about you. Flyers or posters work for libraries and bookstores where you’ve scheduled an event. So where to start?
Here are eight points to consider when making your plans:
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE ITEM?
Deciding what you want the item for will help you choose what to buy. Do you want something to keep in your purse that you can whip out when you meet someone and they ask what you do? Think business card with book cover on one side and book info on the other. Or a bookmark. Do you want something that will stand out on conference promo tables (other than imprinted cutsie items like letter openers, notepads, pens, etc.)? Think glossy postcards. What about talks where you have the chance to reach a larger audience? You can put your items on each chairs if you are the sole speaker or offer them at the table with your books for sale. Bookmarks and brochures work well for this venue. Or will you snail mail your reading list? Then postcards or tri-fold brochures are a must. Consider ordering return address labels with a preformatted design and your name, book title, and website, or your one liner tag line. These are good for sealing envelopes. Bookmarks and business cards are useful for sticking in envelopes if you still pay bills this way. So decide the function of your item and that will help you make a choice.
WHEN SHOULD I ORDER MY MATERIALS?
My book isn’t due out for another six months and yet I already have bookmarks and brochures. Why? Because I have several speaking engagements and a conference coming up, and I want to promote my upcoming title. So it’s never too soon to order your materials as long as you have the prerequisite data.
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED?
Besides the title and author, you’ll want a book cover image usually in jpg format with good resolution, ISBN number, price, format (i.e. mass market, trade paperback, digital edition, etc.), publisher, release date, and how to order. You can restrict ordering to your publisher or say “Available at all retail and online bookstores.” Including your website is essential. Adding other contact info like email address, blog site, Twitter, Facebook, and so on is optional. Usually I offer my website, email, blog, and business address. What else? Depends on the item. Blurb about your book. Back cover copy. Review quotes. Excerpt. Backlist titles. What’s coming next. Short author bio. Recipes or fun tips that apply to your theme. These are optional. Just remember to include the basics.
WILL YOU NEED A DESIGNER?
Whether or not you have to hire a designer depends on how talented you are with graphic design and what programs you have on your computer. I use WordPerfect to design my bookmarks in terms of what I want to include on each side, but then I need a designer to add a background that compliments my book cover and to place the text appropriately. I also use WordPerfect to do a tri-fold brochure, and then I have double-sided copies made and folded at one of the office stores. It’s cheaper than hiring a company to do a glossy brochure and works for me just as well. Re postcards, I can put what I want on each side using Word but then I’d need a designer to fit the cover and text into the appropriate template, so I’d have to hire someone for postcards.
WHAT PRINTING SERVICE SHOULD YOU USE?
If you’re handy with templates and following directions, you can use a service like Vistaprint or Printplace.com. You’ll definitely save money. But if you need help, consider companies who are reasonably priced and offer designer services like Earthly Charms and Twig One Stop.
WHAT TYPE OF FINISH DO YOU WANT?
Do you intend to sign the materials or just hand them out? Do you want your items to stand out with a high gloss finish? If you want to sign them, a matte finish is best. Or you can do glossy on one side and matte on the other. Collect a sampling of other authors’ items from your friends or at your next conference and check out what appeals to you. Cardstock is another factor to consider. The heavier the weight, the more solid the item will feel to your readers. If my research is correct, Twig One Stop uses 12 pt cardstock which has worked fine for me in the past with a matte finish. This time my bookmarks from Earthly Charms is 14 pt cardstock with gloss on one side. This means I can only sign the back, and honestly, a nice matte would have worked fine on both sides. Bookmark size is another factor. How much info do you want to include? Again, look at bookmarks you’ve collected and see what size appeals to you.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BUDGET?
If you plan to print your own materials using Avery templates from the local office store, count in the cost of the labels and ink and compare the number of items (i.e. 1000) to the cost if you ordered from a print service. Obviously, if you have a generous advance, you can go hog wild and order whatever you want. If your budget is limited, order only what you think you’ll need. You can always order a reprint if you need more, and the template then will be done so you won’t need to pay the designer fee again. Don’t forget to add in tax and shipping when comparing prices. Also, if you plan to make copies at the local office store, stop by and ask how much for 100 copies? 1000? Black and White? Color? Double sided? Look in the newspaper for discount coupons on Copy & Print services and then decide which is the best place to get your work done for the best price. I had my brochures copied at Office Depot because I got 25% off and their price was lower anyway than FedEx Office.
HOW MANY SHOULD YOU ORDER?
If you want to send promo items to conferences, you’ll need to think in terms of bundles of 50 to 100 items per conference and thus you’ll need to order a larger amount. Twig One Stop has a Publishers Package for $435. This includes 5000 each bookmarks, postcards, and business cards (with either standard contact info or your book promo info). That cost does not include the services of their designer, which you’ll need, or tax and shipping. Yes, you may have lots of items left over, but it could end up being cheaper than 1000 each bookmarks and 1000 postcards together. For example, ordering those separately at Earthly Charms would total approx. $432 including designer, tax, and shipping. For $435, plus designer fee, tax and shipping, you can get so much more. So think about how many items you need to get started and do your homework.
IT’S EXCITING when your printed materials arrive in the mail or you take them home from the print shop. Now you have something to hand out whenever you meet people on the street, in the store, or at your next conference. Wait until you have the essential data about your book and a cover jpg, research the options, and then don’t be shy about offering your new bookmark or brochure or postcard to whomever you meet.