Some authors like to give stuff away and some don’t. I personally know one author who refuses to give away copies of her books and just gives bookmarks and trading cards away at conferences. No bling for her. She’s not alone. Promotional items cost money, giving away books takes sales out of an author’s pocket. But what about the old business adage, you have to spend money to make it? Does it apply to creative businesses as much as traditional ones? I think it does.
Nobody can chart a direct affect from a promotional item to a book sale. It isn’t possible to identify a monetary result, because it’s not a direct transaction. It really isn’t even monetary. It’s emotional.
People love getting free stuff. They especially love getting clever and useful free stuff. And when they get something they really like they generally remember the person who gave it to them. That’s why I love fun promotional items. When I start researching a new item to take to conferences or give out to new fans in their goodie boxes, my first goal is to find something nobody else has thought of. I rarely give out bookmarks anymore. I have boxes and boxes of them in my closet as proof! When I give away a print book I include a Romance Trading Card because those are collectors’ items and they’re more fun. For my Sam Cheever alias, I load heart-shaped memory sticks with free reads, book trailers, and first chapters and give those away. They’re useful, they bear my website and tagline on their shiny red surface, and they contain lots of fun reading and viewing that will hopefully inspire someone to buy one of my books. It’s a win-win! For my fun and sexy Hoale Construction Mystery series I found a tiny tool kit with four screwdrivers and a tape measure. Again, useful, and bearing my website and tagline in case someone decides he/she needs a great book to read while repairing their computer with the toolset. #:0)
I have knit caps with my website on them, book lights with twisty stems, mouse pad planners that double as notepads, and lots of other fun stuff. Call me author Santa. Yeah, the stuff costs and I have no way of knowing if I’ll recoup my investment in book sales. But when people receive a goodie box or promo item from me they remember it and hopefully they’ll remember me. In fact, people often come up to me at conferences and exclaim, “Oh, you’re the one with the great promo stuff!”
I just grin and offer them something else from my red velvet bag. ‘Cause I’m selling fun and smiles…hopefully I’ll even sell some books!
Happy Reading Everybody!