Another key component of a writer’s professional life is tackling the sometimes dreadful task of creating marketing materials. Most writers are reluctant to promote themselves, despite the deep love of their written works. Thankfully, the materials needed to promote an author and his/her book are far less numerous than those traditionally used to sell products.
While I was thinking about what to post today, my mind instantly sprang to the memory of the textbook salespeople I used to see throughout my public school days. They would always disrupt class by wheeling in some massive cart and table to set up books and information packets. While teachers would always dread the arrival of the textbook salespeople, the Scholastic book fair representatives were treated with kindness and respect. The question is, then, what’s the difference?
At the end of the day, marketing and promotional materials act as an extension of the writer. It is the writer’s job to choose how to create and distribute these products. The textbook salespeople tend to force themselves upon potential clients and demand that time be taken to immediately present their wares. On the other hand, the Scholastic group distributes flyers and order guides weeks beforehand to allow buyers to decide what they want to purchase ahead of time. In my case, I have business cards with basic information that I give out freely and brochures with more detailed information that I give out only if the person seems truly interested. Websites and flyers work in a similar manner.
For my clients on a book tour, I recommend creating posters to put up around town with details about their latest book signing event in addition to the usual business cards/brochures/book cards, ect. Book trailers are also recommended if they can be made to look professional. Beyond those basics, it is up to the author to decide whether or not to invest in the less common materials such as mugs, pens, totes, and shirts.
Water bottles and Tervis tumblers are festival favorites but are extremely pricey to order and are usually out of an independent writer’s means. I generally tell my clients to avoid that kind of thing unless they can order relatively small quantities for a stellar price. That’s not out of any sort of prejudice, trust me I love free pens and cups, but out of a desire to see my client turn the greatest possible profit with the least possible loss. Even though it sounds cliche, I love making bookmarks to sell at conventions and festivals. That way (especially if you are allowed to put the event name on the bookmark itself) you are creating a product that can be made cheaply but can potentially become a treasured item for your buyer.