Merchandise are incentives that can serve to put your book or name in front of potential readers as well as keeping it in the mind of existing readers. But there are many other functions merchandise can have, including:
Incentives at a launch party
Added bonus for pre-orders
As incentives / gifts for your supporters to spread the word
Prizes for competitions
When looking for a quote for your merchandise, remember that some businesses will charge for different segments separately, including the cost of printing/production, set up or design costs, cost for uploading your own images, cost for delivery and local tax charges.
Here are some places you may want to start with:
But you can do better than that!
Think outside the box and develop your brand.
If you want to be successful marketing yourselves and your books, you need to think about branding. The brand is a subtle reminder of your product, ie book, that we want readers to remember, and isn’t a hard direct sell to wary readers.
Hugh Howey’s brand symbol is the radiation warning symbol that he even now includes in his autograph. He makes sure that it is on every piece of merchandising. In fact, Hugh Howey recently gave away a clever piece of merchandising to go with the launch of the final book in the Wool trilogy. He created USB thumb-drives in the form of a Radioactive Fallout Shelter Sign to give away to his supporters. In doing so he created word of mouth advertising for the book, a desirable object linked to the series and a permanent reminder of his books. The USB stick came loaded with all three books in ebook format as well as a ‘secret file.’ Howey could have given away a bookmark, but would it have had the same impact? No. Admittedly the USB drives would have cost more to produce, but the excitement it created around his brand, and consequently his new book, is worth so much more. 24,000 people entered a competition to win one of ten USB drives! They are now for sale on his website for $18.97, which, when you consider that it contains the three books, is a pretty good price. But, is that the reason to buy one? No. It’s because it’s cool. Now admit it, you actually fancy one, don’t you? (Go to his website if you must!)
How can you do something similar?
If you want to think of something that can be easily produced, is easy to replicate, is desirable, has value and is unique to you, you need to ask yourself some questions.
What’s unique about you, your books or your characters? There must be something different about one of those things that you could exploit in the form of marketing. How could you weave that into some sort of promotional gift? You need to think about your theme and brand. You need an image or idea that encapsulates you or your books. Then you need to make sure it stimulates conversation.
What have you used to help with your marketing? If you have any suggestions for other authors, please share it.