Friday, June 08, 2007

Promo? What Promo?

Promo is a huge buzz word among writers. What works, what doesn't, what's free, what's worth the money?

With the RWA National Conference coming up, promo is an especially big issue. See, there's this thing called The Goody Room. If you've never been, it's basically a room filled with every imaginable promotional item authors can come up with to show off their books. You'll see scores of bookmarks, book thongs, match books, enough pens to circle the world, pencils, emery boards, wine glass charms, cover flats, tulle wrapped tea lights, chocolates, mints, small excerpt books, tea get the idea.

But how many of those things make a lasting impression? How many make the recipient actually buy the book? The sad truth, I believe, is very, very few.

Have you ever bought a book based on a freebie you've been given? I'd love to know what the promo item was and what made you buy the book because of it.


  1. I'll tell you wht I'm focused on, and it ain't promo per se. (yes I promo-part of my contract)

    Branding. I am consumed with how to go about branding myslef. I think that has much longer lasting, mind sticking affects. (effects?)

  2. Right now I could brand myself as the worst speller in the world. *g*

  3. You know, I don't think I've ever bought a book based on the freebie I received, although some freebies have gotten me to go to the website. Usually those are bookmarks. The other stuff I rarely take, unless it's candy, but I chuck the packaging once I'm done with it and then forget who gave it to me.

    I never pick up postcards or flyers.

  4. I've never bought a book basked on a promo. Wait, I take that back - Julie Kenner had a book with a noir cover, I can't remember the title now, but I had the magnet and loved the cover so bought the book.

    When I go to the Goody Room, I like pens, stickies, nail files, magnets and maybe keychains or lanyards.

  5. Good point. I doubt it's well spent money, however generous it it.

    And why stop there? What about competitions? I've seen writers give away all kinds of stuff. Done it myself-- spent more on stuff to give away than the book netted. That's just sad. And demoralizing. Esp when everyone who buys my books tells me they love my writing, love the story yada, yada, yada. Many people, I fear, are just out for freebies of whatever, with no interest in finding a new author or something good to read.

    Now the mini books are a different deal, because there you get to see how the author writes, not just how deep their pockets are. If I love what I read in an excerpt, yeah, I'd go looking for the book. And the pretty bit of ribbon/bead on the excerpt WOULD make me pick it up to start with so is probably money/time well spent.

    And having a bowl of sweets/pens etc when you are signing is an ice breaker and a nice way to say, remember me. I like that, too.

    This is a timely discussion as I'm currently trying to promo my upcoming release at Freya's Bower, "The Marian Kind." What I'm trying to do is to give away tastes of my writing. That's why I do Thursday Thirteen. People love the humor, so I HOPE they'll want more and come buy my book. At the very least it leaves a pleasant impression. I have my cover and blurb right there for them to see, complete with free jigsaws and an excerpt. It's a taster, trusting that anyone who would enjoy my book will WANT to read more and buy it. Also warning those who may not enjoy it that this is how I write so I don't waste their time/money. That way we all win.

    Of course, what I should probably be doing is groveling on my knees saying, "Please, please everybody, read my book! You'll like it. And because if you don't I'll have to shoot myself instead of my characters." :-)

  6. And crikey, I didn't mean to write a thesis! lol esp one minus several commas. sorry.

  7. Candace Havens book. But she hands them out in person.

  8. I bought a book based on a booklet with sample chapters. (I think I got them from you along with a book I took to review for RD.)
    Sadly, Babe is right about the contests. I've stopped doing them, because I spent WAY TOO much money on prizes. I was crazy enough to think that the more generous I was, the more books I'd sell. NOT!!
    Now, I've started posting free stories and free samples of my books on the advice of the last promo workshop that I took. It must be working, because I've sold more copies of my books in the last 3 months than I sold all of last year.
    Getting on MySpace has gained me a lot of recognition. According to my website statistics for the month of May, 1,012 hits to my website came through the link on my MySpace page. That's nothing to sneeze at. Now, I just wish all those hits had resulted in a book sale!

  9. Roxanne St. Clair recently sent some promtional copies of book excerpts along with a book I'd won fro her. They were beautifully bound with the actual book covers. They were catchy and attractive, and gave me a real taste of Roxanne's writing. I bought the books.

    I imagine CD's done the same way would have had the same effect.

    In all honestly, those are the only promo items that have ever sold me books.

    If an author were to market shorts as promo pieces, along with excerpts of their books, that would probably lead me to go looking for their books.

    Honestly, most of the promo stuff I picked up at RT ended up in the bottom of my trashcan. But I'm a freak by nature, so....maybe it's just me. :D

    Great topic, and one that's on my mind now that it's starting to look like I may actually find print in this lifetime. :D