Oh, publishers, you do love your promotional doodads. And we sometimes love them, too, but much of the time, they honestly don’t help us promote and sell your books. You might play to your strengths by helping where we need it most. Publishers have entire departments devoted to creating marketing and promotional materials, whereas we stores often have small staffs with varying levels of artistic ability. Instead of sending us 200 bookmarks that only 12 customers will end up taking, or shipping us those books-nestled-in-Easter-grass-in-a-special-fitted-box – which too often arrive looking sad, squished, and decrepit from their postal journey – consider sending us instead:
Author (and Authorless) Event Flyers
Professional, appealing design impresses customers and makes them take more notice of an event. While many stores do a fine job creating flyers for events, your designers’ efforts will generally knock ours out of the park every time. It’s a one-time design job for publishers that hundreds of stores can use. If you come up with an eye-catching, professionally designed, downloadable flyer that we can plug our time, date, and logo info into, I guarantee you that your authors’ events will be promoted earlier and more effectively. (For picture books, the book’s illustrator might be happy to help create a flyer; we’ve had a couple of visiting artists who were incredibly proactive and created their own flyers to offer stores. You can imagine how charming and wonderful those flyers were!)
To make it even simpler on your end, you could post the template on Edelweiss instead of emailing it to event stores.
If you wanted to get fancy and extra helpful, you could generate two sizes: 8.5″ x 11″ to post at the store and around town, and 18″ x 24″ to mount on foam core at the store with the book display. We always love the pre-printed poster boards you sometimes send, but remember, even a PDF of these to print out ourselves is helpful.
Sample Facebook Event Page Copy —Promotional writing is a special kind of writing, and not everyone is good at it. Not only that, but the person responsible for creating promotional materials at a bookstore is not always the person who has scheduled the event and knows the book. It can be a challenge to make a reading sound brand new, to capture the essence of a book in a few sentences, and to present an author’s personality and appeal to customers who may not be familiar with his or her work.
“But don’t independent bookstores want to be unique?” you ask. Of course we do, and of course we are. But we are also overworked and always, always short of enough time to make things as perfect as we’d like. So it could be extremely helpful to have some snappy text to use as a jumping-off point.
Demo Pop-Up Books
You know this problem: pop-up books are expensive, and gorgeous, and everyone wants to look before they buy. Often, small stores won’t buy those books because they know they will take a loss on damages. We can lose hundreds of dollars on those books we have to remove from their protective shrink wrap so customers can see their glorious contents. I would SO much rather see some of that book’s marketing budget be spent on a demo book we can display without taking a loss every time.
How About Some Promo for the Midlist?
We know that a few books get the lion’s share of marketing dollars, and the rest need to make their way in a Darwinian world. But what if a few of those big-budget-book dollars made their way toward shelftalkers for the quieter titles that need help to find their readers? Small shelftalkers, with an eye-catching graphic and maybe one review pull-quote. Not too many words, just enough to catch the attention of a bookstore browser.
These are a few of my wish list items. The main one is the event flyer — it seems like such a natural, easy solution to offer stores, and one with a potentially big payoff of higher attendance, more sales, and fewer returns.
Bookseller colleagues, which promotional items do you find useful, which don’t you, and what promo efforts would help you sell more books?