One Simple, Affordable Tool for Marketing Your Self-Published Book: The Bookmark

WP_20130908_002 Here’s an easy, low-cost tool to help you promote your self-published book all year round, wherever you go: the promotional bookmark.

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.

SavedPicture-201399215338.jpgApart 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).

WP_20130908_013 (2)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.

  • WP_20130908_007Keep 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.
  • Bookmark for The Prince's Man by Deborah JayEqually, 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.
  • WP_20130908_006If 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.

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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!

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How World Book Night Can Help Indie Authors Raise Their Profile

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24 thoughts on “One Simple, Affordable Tool for Marketing Your Self-Published Book: The Bookmark

  1. Love the examples, really helpful, thanks.
    I just have one query – I went to Vistaprint earlier in the year, planning to get some bookmarks made – but they don’t actually appear to DO bookmarks.
    Are what you show above examples of what they call ‘rack-cards’? Because that’s the nearest thing I can find, and what comes up when I try searching the site for bookmarks.

    • Ooh, good question, Deborah! I’ve used Vistaprint for cards but my lovely bookmarks were made by SilverWood Books who published the book – as indeed were all of those I used as illustrations, other than Joanne Phillips’ “Can’t Live Without” ones. Not sure where she got those, but you could ask her (she’s at http://www.joannephillips.co.uk).
      Quite surprised actually that Vistaprint don’t do bookmarks as they’ll print logos etc on just about everything else! I’ve even had a book promoting biro sent to me, which originated from Vistaprint. Harder to mark your place with it, though, other than by writing on the page!! And even I draw the line at having a magnetic lawn sign promoting my book – or a big sticker on the side of my car. It’s far too easy to spend a lot of money at Vistaprint, if you’re not careful!

    • Great post Debbie – and thanks for including Can’t Live Without in your gallery 🙂 Deborah, I got those bookmarks from my cover designer, who had them printed at KalKwik (if that’s how you spell it!). Interestingly, this time I’ve ordered Vistaprint’s rack cards – they’re due any day now so watch out for a blog post about them 🙂 They’re not the exact right size, but they are the closest thing Vista offer. They are well priced though – and here’s a major tip if you’re ordering from Vistaprint: go through the checkout ordering half the amount you want because after checking out you usually get offered the chance to ‘add to your order’ the same quantities again at a big discount for no extra postage. Anyway, I did order some goodies for my launch, and this time I decided to go for a blank reverse side. I wanted to be able to use this for various things – personal messages, invitations, stickers advertising events – and by going blank it made the same bookmark multi-purpose.

      • Great Vistaprint tip there, Joanne – thank you! I like the blank flip-side idea too – then you can use them as compliments slips, postcards, whatever. Oh, what would we do without our bookmarks? 🙂

      • Thanks ladies, I’ve been trolling the web for bookmark printers and I feel I’m going to end up with Vistaprint rack cards as they seem to represent so much better value. I’ve had postcards from Vistaprint before, and very happy with the quality, so although I’ll probably keep looking around (I checked out KallKwick, but their website doesn’t seem to allow online orders, and they don’t mention bookmarks in their products either!) I reckon it’ll end up being either rack cards or postcards.
        I’ll see what you have to say about the rack cards, Joanne, when they arrive! Pictures please, so we can see how they look 🙂

      • Deborah, if you’d like to send me a jpeg of your bookmark when you get it and I’ll add it to this post as an illustration! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing the end product!

    • Hi, Deborah, I use Vistaprint and buy their rack cards for my book, Ellen In Medicaland, which is on Kindle. They are pretty inexpensive and really terrific. I highly recommend them. I do like bookmarks, too. I had some made up a long time ago at my college when I was doing a
      discussion of my book there, but I cannot find another place to do them for me.

      • I guess the thing to do is try your local copy shop for bookmarks, or your local small print firm and see if you can negotiate a decent price. Good luck, Ellen, and thanks for joining our conversation here!

      • Hi, Debbie,
        It is a pleasure to join this group. I think you are all terrific and you are such a great help to me. Right now I am trying to self-publish my book, Ellen In Medicaland, either in hardcover or paperback so that I can do book signings, etc. I am thinking about CreateSpace but I am not sure. Also, I have written my one-woman show based on my book which I plan to perform in 2014 and am looking for a producer/director. A lot to think about but I love it.

      • Wow, that sounds exciting, Ellen – and you’ve come to the right place in ALLi for support and encouragement, in terms of technical expertise, experience and moral support too! Looking forward to following your progress!

      • Hi Ellen, yes, Vistaprint rack cards are what I’m using, and they are (I think) cheaper than bookmarks and you can fit lots more onto them 🙂 Debbie kindly added the photo to her post (above) of my paperback, The Prince’s Man, with both sides of the rack cards on view. For a createspace book of 5.5″ x 8.5″ like mine, they are a great size to work as a bookmark.
        I also found recently at a convention I attended, that because they are bigger and eye-catching, they are more likely to be picked up by interested prospective purchasers than standard bookmarks.
        I’ve just had some done for my new release as well 😀

  2. Thanks for the mention of “The Assassin’s Mark”, Debbie. I have to admit that I was never a great fan of bookmarks (from a promotional viewpoint, I mean) but am now a real convert. – for ALL the reasons you’ve listed. Much better than business cards, for example.

    • I bet you get through a lot of them, too, Dave, with your many book talks and launches all over the place. As you can see, I am still taking good care of the ones I picked up at your book launch earlier this year. I’ll be blogging a bit more about book launches soon and giving you an honorable mention there too!

  3. Pingback: 1 Cheap & Easy Way to Promote Your Self-Published Book | Off The Shelf Book Promotions

  4. I used my local Prontaprint for bookmarks for The Secret Lake when it first came out – I did go a bit overboard and had them laminated, which I wouldn’t do a second time around due the cost! And I did supply them in small numbers to local bookshops that had/have my books. HOWEVER the one mistake I made (which is unforgivable given that in my day job I’m a copywriter!) is I let a typo slip through! So I ended up with 150 book marks that I had to reprint!! We are all writers and know it already, but just to say *proofread and proofread* and then get your mum, dad, husband, dog and cat to proofread for you too! I was so obsessed with the design / colour tones that I didn’t notice that my designer had written ‘auther’ instead of ‘author’!! When I looked back it was in all of the proofs! 🙂 He is from Bosnia and I think genuinely thought this is how it was spelled. But it was my fault for missing it. (I never told him!) Live and learn!

    • Hi Karen! It’s SO easy to do something like that! When I was a journalist, it used to be the headlines that were particularly easy to overlook – we skipped over those because we already knew what the articles were about… You can definitely never have too many fresh pairs of eyes. Reading things backwards is another good tip, so that you’re checking the words individually, rather than just absorbing the sense within the sentence. Thanks for sharing your experience, Karen! x

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  6. Pingback: Yes, old-fashioned bookmarks | Susan Grossey

  7. Thank you for your post on bookmarks. I have been struggling with what to include on each side, and the samples you show help greatly. I am in the process of ordering some printed bookmarks from http://www.uprinting.com. They allow you to order amounts from 25 to 50K, depending on your needs. The best part is they even have templates for most major publishing programs. They also offer other marketing printing as well.

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