One of the first things I discovered when I was offered a contract for that first book was the reality of my responsibility for promotion. It's a very simple truth--No one will buy a book if they don't know it's for sale. That might seem simple, but in e-books especially, the author has to spend time introducing their name and product. No one is going to accidentally mosey by our books on a rack in WalMart and pluck us off the shelf. The best we can hope for is a few sales generated because they're browsing our publisher's website.
But way before our book reaches that all important release date, it's our job to bring it to the attention of as many people as possible. Many writers choose to use promotional items in this quest. There is an ongoing search for unusual, inexpensive (let's be frank--most of us can't afford to spend big bucks) promo items. There are the usual suspects: book marks, business cards, magnets, pens, lip gloss, keychains, mini-cds, and the list goes on.
My observations led me to eliminate the paper goods. Inevitably, they end up in the trash. So what makes a promo item a success? It needs to be something that the individual would hesitate to throw away. Preferably it is something that they handle frequently or something that their eyes will fall on often. For that reason I would suspect that a pen is probably the number one candidate. There is a second reason that pens work so wonderfully in my opinion... pens travel. How many times have you ended up with a pen in your possession with no idea where it came from? How many times have you taken a pen from your pocket or purse to sign something and then accidentally left it behind? See? Pens travel.
In a secondary level, I would say magnets and lip glosses would work well. Magnets seldom get thrown out. Say your magnet ends up on someone's refrigerator. The secret to promotion is repeated exposure. How many times do people open their refrigerators? How many times does a person use their lip gloss/chapstick?
But suppose that those things just don't speak to you? Suppose you want something more individual and personal... something unique. Then perhaps you might want to devise something that reflects your stories while advertising your books. To that end, I decided on the hair piks in the photos.
In my Mystic Valley series, the valley inhabitants have very long hair and they use hair piks (both short and long) to adorn their hair. So I devised two types of hair piks to give away as promo items. The short piks I hand out anywhere and everywhere. My website is printed on the side of the pik. And people hesitate to throw out something hand crafted. The long piks are used as prizes in contests. I have to say that they are a popular item. Even when people haven't read my books and are totally unfamiliar with Mystic Valley, their curiosity about the piks leads them to find out what the piks are all about. And that, after all, is the whole point of the exercise.
So... anyone want a pik? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with "hair pik" in the subject line. Don't forget your snail mail addy. One pik per person!