Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting the word out--Promo!

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 with "hair pik" in the subject line. Don't forget your snail mail addy. One pik per person!



  1. Love Anny's hair picks. I use my froggie one I snagged at RT all the time!

    Promo is a huge PIA, but a necessary one. Can't wait to hear everyone's comments on this.

  2. Darn...does this mean I can't have a long one too?

    I wish VistaPrint would offer more than just one free pen at a time! I wonder if buying a regular package of pens(the good ones)and wrapping my address labels around them would work?

  3. Anny,
    Love the pics of your piks (dang, I was clever with that wording;))
    I definitely want one and you're so right about promotion neeeding to be unique and not just tossable.

  4. Molly, you can wrap labels around the pens, but they will easily peel off. Trust me, I have done this on several occasions. They can look really good, but if someone wants the label off...

    I like to pick up small notebooks from the $1 store and put the free Vista Print lables on them. They won't peel off easily, and they look really pretty. Plus it is something people can carry around with them and others will see it too. With Pens, unless people leave them, it is too hard to read the small print from across a table. But if someone flips open their notebook to take a note, the person they are talking to will see it and possibly ask about it. Put a label on the front and one on the inside flap that will be right side up to the person across from you.


  5. That's a cool idea, Dakota. I had not thought of that!

  6. I would love a hair pick but would it work on short hair? The e-mail addy bounced, Anny. What a great blog. I will look around for a bit of cheap but nice looking jewellery to offer as prizes. I haven't a clue how to promote except to comment on blogs and blog on my own blog. I have five books out with CP and plan to launch my print book when it appears. So much to do. So little time!

  7. These piks are BEAUTIFUL, Anny! I would love one with little frog beads. My hair is very fine and doesn't do well up, but I would wear it behind my ear anyway. LOL. Would even make cool bookmarks, I think.

    Love Dakota's notebook idea and I'd love to do that. It's a great idea.

  8. That IS a good idea Dakota! I'll try that:)

  9. What a great and original promo item. My girls love hair piks.

  10. What a fabulous idea, Anny!

    I have long hair... *g*

  11. Your hair pics are so pretty and unique! I especially like the way they tie into your series and not just one book, so you can make them in bulk.

    For several years, I've been giving away thumbcuff keychains -- which tie into my brand as an author of "hot, humorous romances". The thumbcuffs resemble handcuffs, which go with my books' law enforcement protagonists and kinky sex. ;-D I've given away over 6,000 of them with my laminated business card attached.

    Because I have a cute caricature of a Chinese Crested hairless dog on my card (I feature that breed of dog in all my stories), I have found that people keep the card, even if they take it off the thumbcuffs.

    In my "day job", I'm a PR consultant, and I think being unique counts for a lot. I would definitely enjoy having one of your hair pics and keep it much longer than most PR items.
    -- Marcia James ;-)

  12. Thanks to everyone who commented! I certainly enjoyed all the different suggestions!

  13. I think the piks are cool and I just sent the email requesting one.

    Original promos do stick in my mind.


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