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Marketing with Bookmarks

Bookmarks are enticing for book lovers.

I gathered dozens of specialty bookmarks over the years that live in a drawer.  I have a box of  jeweled book marks I designed to sell at craft markets. Most often I end up using a rubberband, stray piece of paper, or paperclip. How many bookmarks do you have sitting in a drawer?

I still ooh and aah over pretty bookmarks at bookstores. I no longer buy them though. And if I pick up a bookmark at an event, I don't keep it after I've checked out the title and put in on my wish list. However, there are many collectors who keep them. There are several ways to use them for marketing.

If you are a writer without a published book, you can use bookmarks or cards to promote your website and/or blog. You may have a mock-up cover designed.

They are fun to trade at book sales, writing conferences, and can act in place of a standard business card.

Bookmarks are most useful for promotion when they add benefit or call for further action.

People are inundated with marketing materials from so many sources. I get calendars, totes, magnets, pens, rulers, organizers, even calculators. I don't need or keep them or we'd soon run out of storage.

The best way to keep your marketing materials out of the trash bin is to make them useful.

1. Writers can always use pens, so attaching a pen to your bookmark, especially if the pen has your name on it, can be handy. Having the bookmark act as a paperclip might also work. I wouldn't go the ruler or calendar route, but it has been done. They are more likely to hold onto to something they will use again. You can add a magnet if you wish. However, unless it is a sturdy refrigerator magnet and the artwork is something the reader would enjoy viewing on a daily basis, it is likely to add to the landfill.

2. People love dealsAdd a discount or promotional giveaway code to promote sales. That's just the way it is. J C Penney tried an everyday discount instead of relying on coupons and sales. Customers threw a fit and got their sales and coupons back, true story. People also love "limited time offer" and "special one-time rate."

3. People love "free." So if you have a series, you could offer a "free" copy of book one and hope they love it and continue with the rest of the series. Or give away a copy of one of your older books in hopes they will try out newer titles.  My friend offered a free pair of earrings with her ceramic dishes. She was the only vendor who sold out.

4. Autograph it. You can sign the bookmark in lieu of the title page for an e-book giveaway or promotion. Some people collect autographs. Some bibliophiles have bookmark scrapbooks or keep them inside the paper version of their favorite books. Some ebook collectors save the bookmarks as reminders of the books and authors they've read.

5. Personalize it. A bookmark can be used in place of a business card. Leaving room to write a personal note or give a specific email or other contact information makes the holder feel like they are getting an "exclusive" piece of information. If you find yourself talking to a book lover and want to connect again in the future (perhaps a blogger or book reviewer) you can add your email or phone number. Your website, blog, and/or author page should be listed either way.

6. Plant seeds. I know of one person who randomly left her book cards in waiting rooms, even bookstores. I probably wouldn't go that far, but I guess it doesn't hurt to try as long as you aren't obnoxious or pushy and get permission where needed. Is your book YA? Leave them where teens might be interested. Have a mystery set in specific real town? Leave them at local hotels (with permission) or ask local shops to stock them. I don't promote littering, but you can get creative based on the type of book you have written.

When selling books at an event, have a stack of bookmarks for people not quite ready to buy. Bookmarks can be part of a giveaway package at an event, especially if they are unique or have trinkets attached, etc.

If you place a bookmark in each book you hand sell, the reader can share the bookmark with a friend.

If you have an "in" with a local independent bookstore, you can ask them if they will allow you to leave a stack of bookmarks near the display of your book. 

7. Group Marketing is a huge boon for authors. If you and a few of your author friends advertise books on the same bookmark, you have multiple people passing them out. It is important for them to be in the same genre and appeal to the same readership.

8. Keep them on handAlways carry a business card, small bookmarks, or other ads with your website/author page, blog, and book titles. One of the first things people ask is:

"And what do you do?"

"I am a writer."

"What do you write?"

"Let me show you." Pass them a card.

Perhaps you meet an agent, editor, or book reviewer. Never let an opportunity pass to offer your information. They can refuse it or toss it as soon as they leave, but I have sold many a book by chance encounter. I went on a European tour and must have passed out thirty cards to people on the bus and people I met along the way. I noticed an uptick in UK sales when I got home.

Next week, we look at tips for bookmark design and printing.

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