Hey, Big Boy, Why Don’t You Come On Over Sometime?

Oops. Wrong come-on.

I want to talk about book promotion. If you’ve been to any conferences, you’ve probably gotten the bookmarks, key chains, magnets, mouse pads, etc. I’m curious about what kind of items you keep and what you toss when you get home.

Promotion is a huge headache for most writers. Do I do it? Do I need it? What works best? What’s the best bang for the buck? What isn’t totally overdone, and what can I afford?

I’ve never done much, beyond the occasional bookmark and magazine ad. Oh, and a couple of tote bags that were totally cool. There’s just so much that can be done, and it can cost a small fortune, and truth it, it’s really hard to tell if it’s been effective.

For me, tote bags work — I’m a bring-your-own-grocery-bag person, so any sturdy bag will make me happy (and everyone at the grocery store also sees the info). Ink pens . . . nah. If I get them in a conference goody bag, I pass them on to someone else. I’m picky about what I write with, and most of the pens cheap enough to use as giveaways aren’t that great at writing.Β  T-shirts work, if I like the art/author. I like Post-It notes. Don’t care for keychains or luggage tags. I’m torn about magnets — I like them, but about once a year, I go on this cleaning jag and get rid of everything on the fridge except the grandbaby’s picture. I like bookmarks, too — after all, if you read, you need bookmarks, right? (Though I also like dog-earing books. They just look so . . . well, read.) Calendars? Great if you give them out at the beginning of the year, but who wants to be stuck with a boxful of calendars in December?

What about you? What kind of tchotkes grab your attention and which ones make a direct trip to the circular file?


20 thoughts on “Hey, Big Boy, Why Don’t You Come On Over Sometime?

  1. I trash bookmarks unless they come with the book. I only save certain pens–I like the ones which have the fat gooshy finger holders. And yep, I’ve priced them and they are more expensive. Hate Magnets. Hat cover flats–what’s with them anyway. Some authors award them as prizes almost like they are coated in freakin’ gold–Bah! Just give me the damn book! Ooops, digressing here.
    The BEST thing I’ve come across are letter openers. And if you add a magnet on the back–voila! Or finger nail files the ones that go through the metal detectors. Everything else goes into the dumpster. Oh, and the handmade wine glass danglies are fun, but who needs them unless you’re entertaining?

    • I only keep bookmarks that I like. If they have cover art, and the cover is really bad, they hit the trash. And so do most of the semi-naked men.

      I’m with you on cover flats. I’ve got THOUSANDS of them in my office, and the other day I was wondering what the heck I was supposed to do with them!

      Letter openers . . . cool idea. Harlequin sent one out to its authors back in the day when they used to give us little gifties from time to time, and I’m still using mine twenty years later. Thanks for jogging my memory!

  2. I like the tote bags & I do use them at the store, at the race track–I’m using the ones that Ashley made for us!–and T-shirts. Again the one that Ashley did for us got me into my locked hotel door when I’d forgotten my key…yet again!
    I’ve also kept the tent thingy from Shirley Jump and all the letter openers as the ‘chilrun’ in our house keep moving them.
    Magnets–not so much although I have a few.
    Pens–don’t last around here.
    Rulers….Hey, Big Boy…

    • LOLOL. (Side note: when the kiddo was about 2 1/2, my sisters came to visit us in Charleston, SC. Just about every time she saw a good-looking sailor — and with multiple bases in the area, it was often — she’d say, “Hey, sailor,” in an exaggerated sexy tone. The kiddo picked it up for a while. It was a hoot, this little boy with a very heavy Southern accent, offering up this come-on.)

      I love the tote bags and T-shirts, though the shirts can get rather pricy for a major promotion. The ones I did for GETTING LUCKY at national certainly drew attention.

  3. The few pens I do keep, I carry in my purse, since those inevitably get lost.

    Interesting, both you and Margaret, on the free books. Besides tons of cover flats, I also have a store room filled with copies of my previous sixty-some titles. I don’t want to pay postage to give them away, but maybe at the next signing I do, I’ll take along a bunch and hand them out whether people are buying or not.

    At best, maybe I’ll get some new readers. At worst, I’ll clean up some space in my office!

  4. I like the saying (except for the chocolate part, but that’s another rant, along with “how could I pick a favorite of my books, that’d be like picking my favorite child!”).

    But did it ever make you check out the author? Even if you didn’t buy her book, did you at least look at her website/backlist/upcoming titles, etc?

  5. Nail files again . . . I’ve never seen those. Granted, I haven’t been to a conference in way too many years. Hmm. I never go anywhere without a nail file, so if there were leftovers, at least I’d have something I could use. πŸ˜‰

    I’m convinced that there’s a craft somewhere deep inside me that can do something with all those cover flats. Not that I’m any great crafter, but I like to pretend. I’m glad to hear that some people do like them.

  6. Another question: what about note pads? Do you use them or toss them?
    Coffee mugs?

    And one more: even with the promo stuff you get that you keep, are you drawn to check out the author, or do you just take the stuff as a freebie and forget all about her?

  7. A poster, hmm? That would have to be a fairly spectacular cover, though, wouldn’t it? Or some really hot guy representative of a series. Hmm . . .

    I used to have a poster in my office of a PT stud semi-dressed in a Navy dress white uniform (all white with gold buttons, the stand-up collar on the jacket, like Magnum used to wear). Someone sent it to me with a note that said, “Lucky you. Looking at him is all in a day’s work.”

    Wonder where that went to.

  8. I have more than enough coffee mugs (Disney ones–no surprise, huh?)and I don’t think I’d want another one even if it was a freebie or a prize.
    BUT, if you had 2×2 post it sized note pads With the sticky–I’d be all over it! I don’t like or use the bigger pads as i really like my small legal pads for lists and things. if you did small pads, I’d recommend your name and maybe a tagline that speaks to a common entity in your stories, not just advertizing one story.

    • I love Post-Its, too. I’ve been given a few mugs with sayings on them (including my all-time favorite: a Mary Englebreit mug that shows a barefoot girl in overalls kicked back in her office by her typewriter and outside is a rural setting, and it says, “We don’t CARE how they do it in New York.” Love that one.

  9. I like the idea of sticky notes or small pad. No coffee mugs as I have my own UT mug. I’ve only gone to one site from a conference giveaway.

    • I don’t drink out of coffee mugs myself. They’d have to give me a travel mug to get my attention. And it wouldn’t hurt if it were filled with my favorite Salvadoran coffee. LOL.

  10. Oh, honey, we’ve had experiences out the wazoo with movers and packers. They lost our household goods one time for six weeks. Some goober who wore about a size 13 shoe stood on top of my handmade hardrock maple pastry block, leaving greasy footprints that never came out. They wrote our name on a piece of tape on the couch one time, and for months afterward, you could still read it in the gooey nap of the fabric. They stole a statue — nothing expensive, just a 15″ or so copy of “The Kiss.” They even — how’s this for weird — stole a plastic bag filled with pink foam curlers. And a large green bath mat. And some T-shirts. Bob caught one of them hiding an old rifle that had belonged to my grandfather, presumably so he could come back and get it later. (It’s about 120 years old, but not worth much.)

    We tried to move ourselves as often as possible. I learned very quickly that “book boxes” are so small for a reason. πŸ˜‰ When we couldn’t do the whole move DIY, we’d split it, and we’d bring the office stuff and Bob’s professional stuff and let the movers handle the rest.

    But movers and packers are two reasons why the only place I’m moving to after this house is into the urn that will hold my ashes!

  11. I used two brothers and two nephews moving company the last time I moved. Yep. Those boys will do anything for my barbecued ribs and German potato salad !! However, as I have decided after years of traveling all over the world I decided this is it for me. The next time they move me it will be ME in the box! So, I moved EVERYTHING from a couple of different sites to this single wide trailer on the middle of my five acres of heaven. (Yes, I’m officially “trailer trash” LOL)

    What they decided after moving me this last time is that I have WAY too many books and WAY too many shoes !! I just don’t see it that way. You can never have too many books or too many shoes!

    • LOL, Louisa! When my sister and bil moved into their new house, we got fed ribs, too.

      If you’re officially trailer trash, I’ll bet your the only former professional opera singer trailer trash anywhere! πŸ˜‰

      I’m with you on the books and shoes. One of the hardest things for me in our moves was finding out one time that we exceeded our household goods weight limit. We still could have moved the stuff but at our expense and this was before I had any income. I had to donate boxes and boxes and boxes of books to the local library. Just about broke my heart.

      They, on the other hand — small, privately-owned, receiver of zero dollars in public funding — were thrilled to death.

  12. The sad thing is I have no trouble believing it. I’ve heard quite a few cases where movers held the household goods for ransom. The old lady should call the police or the FBI. Since she moved from Oklahoma to Texas, that involves interstate something-or-other, I’m sure. Lock their asses up, get her stuff back, and then sue the primary company.

    Most of our moves were DITY, where the Navy rented the moving van, gave us money to buy all the packing materials, paid travel expenses, then, at the end, they gave us a percentage of the money saved over having a commercial mover do it. There were always problems — one time the truck’s brakes went out in downtown Memphis during Friday/holiday-weekend rush hour, and then the transmission went out here in Oklahoma, and none of ’em would run faster than 55 mph, if that. But we knew our stuff was safe, and for a poor Navy family, the payout was pretty good. πŸ™‚

    The only time we had any real problem was when we moved from SC to California, and the truck rental place tried to bill us for extra mileage and days at some outrageous rate like $5/mile and $100+ a day. Keep in mind, this was the truck with the brake and transmission problems. The extra miles came from the dang thing being towed to hell and back, and the extra days were waiting until they finally got it fixed. Needless to say, Bob put to a stop to that REAL QUICK, and got the company barred from future Navy contracts.

  13. It may be a little late to weigh in on the marketing trinkets, but what stands out to me are the ‘different’ things. Cover flats are wasted on me. I use bookmarks for a while, but I don’t think it makes me want to buy the books. It certainly keeps the author’s name out there for me, maybe that repetition is enough to make a future sale?

    I think coozies last forever, so do tool kits. In a sea of giveaways, you want something that is distinct and different from what other authors are doing. For the Copper Lake series, you could do something shiny and copper colored… There’s tons of marketing kitsche available. spw

  14. So the consensus is usable and/or different. They claim that if you get your name in front of someone seven times, it makes some sort of imprint and they’ll start recognizing it after that. Something like a coozie can do that.

    Shiny — I love shiny stuff! From one old crow to another! πŸ˜‰

  15. Marilyn:

    To chime in, I love sticky notes. I love the ones with funny sayings on them. They sort of decorate my workspace, so I think it would be fun to have sticky notes with your favorite author’s works around to remind you…”Hey, when’s her next book coming out?”

    BTW, my mother has become a fanatic Rachel Butler fan. If you happen to run into Rachel, could you ask her when her next book is due out? I’m sure you’ll see her before I do πŸ™‚ And I think you have a more direct line to her than I do . She’s got this fan who’s dying to know. She buggs me everyday to ask.


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