Reeling in Readers (Or Is Your Bookmark Working For You?)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I often end up published in anthologies, getting an armload of great books in the bargain. And then I wonder how I can get those books out there to readers.

I’ll do a couple giveaways on my blog, promoting the book when it first comes out. And I’ll send a few as gifts, depending on the occasion (Happy Birthday/Father’s Day/Anniversary!) But as for book signings, it’s difficult to talk my way into a major chain, which is the only bookstore option we have left in my area.

One must get creative in finding book-selling venues, so I was pretty excited when (divine) inspiration struck. After I came across a flyer for our church’s fall festival, it was just a matter of convincing the festival coordinator into giving me a booth.

Next, I turned to my friends in the anthology-writing business, asking for book-selling suggestions. And goodness, they had so many wonderful suggestions! When I read, “get bookmarks” over and over and over again, I got the message.

I needed a bookmark. But first, I had to decide what I wanted my bookmark to do. I was paying that little rectangular piece of cardstock to work for me, and I wanted to make sure it got the job done.

I also knew in another month, I’d be getting another box of anthology books (from a different publisher). And to be honest, I have quite a few boxes of books in my office storage unit (also known as “under the bed.”)

So I needed something that would promote me, as well as work for any book. Something like a business card, but also a functioning bookmark.

I could make my own bookmarks, I thought, designing a specific card for each specific book. That seemed like a lot of work—and dang, writing’s hard enough without throwing in arts and crafts. But still, I was on to something. I could design a “fill in the blank” bookmark! I needed more space for that information, so I switched to a postcard. When I finished the design, I’d included the following information:

Front Side:

· My professional byline and a writing tag line (I use a fishing theme on my blog and I incorporated this theme into the card and its graphics)
· “A Latest Release” fill-in-the-blank line

Back Side:

· My photo and website address/contact info

Obviously, I want to sell books at this event. But I also want to hook readers, readers who’ll drop in to my blog and follow me on my publishing adventures. Because I know there’s a swell chance that those readers will buy whatever book I’m lucky enough to reel in next!

(And P.S. If you have any suggestions for book-signings or bookmarks, I'd love to hear 'em!)

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--The postcards sound cute. I'm sure they will serve as wonderful bait.

Linda O'Connell, whenever she does a book signing for NYMB or CS, she has little "goodie" baskets. She buys those fold-'em-yourself tiny baskets/boxes (meant for wedding receptions, I think)and puts a few pieces of chocolate in them, a bookmark, etc. She decorates the outside with miniature book covers, etc.

(I heard Linda chains up her husband, Bill, to the kitchen table the week before her book signing and has him assemble them. She might be willing to rent him out. ;)

I think you should make sure that pixie on a pic is available, too. With her antics and your personality and maaahvelous good looks, your book signing is surely going to be a smashing success...

Are you going to show us your postcards, since some of us live too far away to see them?

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I want to see the postcard, too! It sounds like a great idea, Cathy, especially the fill-in-the-blank part.

When my husband and I got married many years ago, we had candy bars with custom labels on each table. Maybe make a label look like a mini version of your postcard? Might be a nice touch for a candy bowl on your booth. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh! What good ideas! My cards hadn't come in when I posted this, but I have them now. I'll put a pic on my blog--and maybe add them to this post, too.

Margo Dill said...

I would like to see the postcards too. I'll go check out your blog--which is at the link above? (SO people here on WOW! can go check it out too--see always marketing.) I did buy bookmarks from . I put my name, my blog, my book title, a book cover, a short statement about the book and the retail price. Sometimes at conferences, I hand those out instead of business cards depending on whom I'm talking to and if they have any interest in books for kids. I also give them out at book signings and school visits (depending on how many kids I talk to). I have no idea if they have helped me sell more books, but kids are really excited when they get a bookmark from "the author" and I signed my name on the back. (Who says kids are hard to please?)

K said...

I just clicked over to your site and saw your postcard! Very eyecatching and beautiful. I love how there is a lot of space as it draws the eye to the words and contact information.

Angela Mackintosh said...

We did the same thing with WOW! postcards--making them interactive by adding a place for a note (kind of like a travel postcard) and mailing address, encouraging writers to send to their friends. I use them when sending out prize packages to contestants, give them out at conferences, and leave them at cafes and bookstores where writers like to hang out.

The more effective promos that we do are printed tote bags and travel mugs. Both are fairly inexpensive when you purchase in quantity (as low as $2 a piece), and I usually put a cute saying on them about writing with an illustration, and our logo/url. The great thing is people will carry them around in public and it's more exposure for your brand.

Unknown said...

Great post, and like everyone else, I need to go visit your blog and check out what your bookmarks look like. I just read a blog about a lady (Margo, now that I'm typing this, was that your Lit Ladies blog? Yes, I just looked it up. Too funny: Anyway, she made adorable crafty swag to give away. I was very impressed although not sure I have that kind of crafty patience.

I will remember this if I ever get to the book promotion phase in my writing!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Thanks, y'all, for all the kind words--and for dropping in at my blog! I don't know if there are any actual statistics re: effectiveness of bookmarks in marketing, but I know that I like 'em. And I like a bookmark that gives me information, not just a book cover. So I'm hoping these postcards get 'er done for me. :-)

And Angela, I think that travel mug is a GREAT idea. I know I'd use it if I had one. In fact, I bet we all would. Right, gang? ;-)

Donna Volkenannt said...

What a perfect solution. Hope your book signing is a smash.

LuAnn Schindler said...

My pal Carolyn Leavitt draws her own bookmarks. She even made a bookplate for my copy of "Pictures of You."

I've attended several book signings and the authors have offered bookmarks. It seems like a natural marketing tool!

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