It may seem like an old-fashioned approach, but there’s a reason it’s still a popular device – it works!
How to Create an Effective Promotional Bookmark
If you’re using an assisted publishing service, you may be lucky and find that your chosen service provider will create bookmark artwork as a side-order when they’re setting up your book cover design.
If not, or it you’re taking the complete DIY route with your self-publishing project, it’s straightforward to create bookmarks yourself using online print services such as Vistaprint or your local high street printer. These services generally offer templates which you can adapt to match your book’s design, so it’s only a matter of moments to cut and paste key details from your book jacket and author website.
Apart from the obvious details to include – book jacket image, title and author name – add teaser text to whet the reader’s appetite. This might be a potted version of your book jacket blurb, an intriguing quote or celebrity endorsement, or a great review. Add useful information to encourage prospective buyers to make further connections with you (author website address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, etc).
Your bookmark should match or complement the cover and style of your book, so it’s easy to see they’re a matching pair. Ideally it should have the same finish as your book cover – matt, gloss, textured etc. Having seen the bookmark, the reader should be able easily to spot the book in shops, online or in the library.
Although you may be tempted to go for cheaper card or less colourful printing to keep down your costs, I reckon it’s worth paying for a decent quality out of respect for your book. Produce something that’s pleasant to handle and striking to look at, and the recipient is far less likely to throw it away (much less readily than a plain business card too), so it will stay with them, acting as a silent salesman for your book, long after your encounter is over.
Use Your Bookmarks Wisely
Once you’ve got your bookmarks, use them wisely! Unless you are printing them by the thousand, they will be a significant investment per item. Expect to pay around 50p each for decent quality in a small print run. So don’t dish them out like sweets. Instead, use them in a measured way as your book’s calling card.
- Keep a supply always to hand, e.g. in your handbag, pocket or ereader case, (or even in your own reading book, if you read in public places). Then, if you strike up a conversation about your book with someone at a dinner party or on a train, for example, it’s a winning move to present them with your bookmark as a parting gesture.
- They’re also a useful give-away to provide to your local independent bookshop, should you manage to persuade them to stock your books. Offer a dozen or so bookmarks for the counter to help draw initial attention to your book, and replenish them should the sales justify such generosity.
- Equally, offer a handful to your local public library. It makes a great starting point for a discussion as to whether they have a copy of your book on their shelves, whether they’d like to order one from you, or whether they might like to invite you in as a local author to give a talk, on World Book Night, perhaps, or for their next literature festival.
- If you ever sell your books at local markets or craft fairs, fanning out a few bookmarks on display is a good way to add visual interest to your table, and it’s a starting point for conversation. People may ask you whether the bookmarks are free, and that gives you the chance to start talking to them about your book and gauging whether they’re a potential buyer.
- At your book launch event, offer the bookmarks for sale at a price to cover your costs, and you may sell some to shoppers who want an added extra not normally available for sale, or to those who aren’t sure about buying the book, or don’t have enough money with them, or who simply want to support you without buying the book itself.
- If you have friends or relations who have already read and enjoyed your book, take advantage of their enthusiasm by giving them a small supply of bookmarks. They’ll usually be happy to pass them on to acquaintances who they think might be interested in your book . (People always like to have an excuse to tell others they know a real live author!) They’ll feel good about being able to give away this smart little object while making their recommendation. Few people will turn it down and with the bookmark as an aide-memoire of the title and author, they’ll be far more likely to actually go on and buy the book than if they just heard about it in a conversation.
As you can see, though the humble bookmark may at first seem a very humble marketing device, if used wisely, it can also be a powerful marketing tool, opening doors and raising awareness wherever you go.
Oh, and it also comes in handy for marking your place when you’re reading!
If you’ve already produced a bookmark that you’re proud of, send me a jpeg image of it in use, and I’ll add it to this post to show it off for you!