My absolute favorite promotional item is the bookmark. I order a huge supply for each book. A bunch are sent out to booksellers, librarians, and readers groups, and a bunch more I give away at booksignings or send to conferences. When sending out promotional books or contest prizes, I always include a bookmark.
I use bookmarks instead calling cards, always carrying them in my purse. Last week I ran into an old friend at the grocery store and I gave her my bookmark! I've given bookmarks to the clerk in the Post Office, a lady in a pen store, a woman in a Super Shuttle. When I visit bookstores they are always willing to take my bookmarks.
Here are some reasons I like bookmarks as a promotional tool:
♥ Readers like them. Unlike postcards, coverflats, or some other promotional items, readers actually are likely to use them.
♥ Bookmarks are relatively inexpensive and you get LOTS of them. The last site I ordered from gave me 2,500 bookmarks for about $150.
♥ Bookmarks are light and therefore not expensive to send in the mail. They are easy to carry in your purse.
♥ Bookmarks provide information about you and your books. At booksignings I hand them out to passersby and lots of times people read the bookmark then buy the book!
♥ Many bookstores actually like to give away bookmarks to their customers.
What do you need on a bookmark?
A short blurb about the book
A short short review quote
The release date, publisher, and ISBN
Your website address
Nice to haves?
Information about your backlist
Cover of your previous book(s)
More review quotes
You can design your own bookmark with Photoshop-type software or pay extra to have the bookmark designed for you. Or your publisher might agree to design the bookmark for you. The online printing sites give you the dimensions they require.
A nice site for both design and printing is Earthly Charms.
I've also used Onlineprinthouse.com and Printingforless.com. Next I'm going to try Print Runner
What if you have a great promotional opportunity but you don't have a book to promote? You can still use a bookmark.
Before my first book came out I used a bookmark to announce the book's release. I didn't even have a cover for the book, so I used a print of a Regency lady reading a book. Last summer I didn't have a book to promote, but I did have a brand new website. I had a bookmark designed to promote my new website. It also had thumbnails of my whole booklist.
What do you think of bookmarks as a promotional tool? Do you have any printing sites you recommend? Any designers? Any designing software to recommend? Do you use authors' bookmarks?
Come visit my website for a Sneak Peek at Scandalizing the Ton, my October 2008 release. Hurry! This peek will disappear soon. Enter my contest, too, for a chance to win one of my books.