Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Promo That Shines
With all the talk about the upcoming Romantic Times Convention in L.A. my thoughts have turned to promotion. Well, they have also turned to the fact that I'm jealous. sniff sniff. I won't be going to this one and will be living vicariously through friends and hoping they post lots of pictures. As my buds have been preparing themselves for this big-time full-out party, they've also been gathering together promotional items to distribute to the many attendees.
There are a boatload of great conventions out there. One has only to look around, check locales and choose. For me, I always attend Ellora's Cave's Romanticon Convention in Ohio. It's a no-brainer considering it's the most fun conference around and EC is my publisher. So every fall, I head off to my own little bit of heaven, hang out with the girls, meet readers, EC staff and editors.
Most of us don't have a clue where to begin when it comes to promotional goodies but I figure we all have to start somewhere. I began my career by getting business cards and a website (with the website being A-Number One). This is your top promotional tool. But for reader conferences the waters get a bit murkier. I tend to be frugal so it only makes sense that I would want more bang for my buck. Like many of you, I've made plenty of promo mistakes.
Paper goods. Yes they are shiny and pretty and I'll admit that yesterday I went to a popular promo site and ordered up 100 postcards featuring my Panther Moon cover. Since I'm a regular customer, I only paid shipping costs so this was a bargain. Quite frankly, just about all of these will eventually be tossed in the trash weeks after the conference is over. That's okay. Those picking up the postcards will look maybe three or four times before tossing and the price (ie, FREE) was right. This year, I will be doing some bookmarks for the first time. I'll pay a bit for these but I'm seriously wondering if it's a great investment since, they too, are paper and so many readers these days read on machines and have no real need for bookmarks. Still, I plan to order some because I they are relatively inexpensive. I'll be getting 1,000 for about $30. Not bad.
Gift Baskets. Now I love these. Last year at Romanticon I took part in building four different gift baskets that were given away as door prizes. Everyone wants to win one of these and if you do it jointly with a few other authors, it doesn't take a lot of money to add some neat goodies. Try doing a theme! It's fun and gets the creative energy flowing. Last year, I did a Sequins, Saddles, and Spurs basket with Desiree Holt and Ciana Stone. This was, of course, a cowboy themed collection of stuff meant to market the three-book series we did together. We included coffee cups, Texas coffee, recipe books, Christmas Tree ornaments, and lots of other Texas-y things. It was a big hit and of course we made sure to include lots of our person promo stuff...postcards, signed books, bookmarkers, etc. And since there was a group of us contributing, the cost wasn't bad at all.
Gadgets. At Romanticon authors display their goodies at the Swag Zone, where readers can stroll through and pick up all kinds of cool stuff. Sometimes I'm amazed at the imagination that goes into these items. Some of my favorites were pedicure files, sleeping masks, tiny bottles of hot sauce labeled with the authors name, pens (who doesn't like pens) and my favorite from last year...lip balm. I swear this was the best lip balm ever and I kept this tube next to my computer for months until the stuff was just GONE and I finally had to toss it.
I'm still mulling over what I'll be picking up to give away to readers. I've ordered magnets and the postcards and am having bookmarks made up. I know I'll participate in a number of group baskets and do one of my own. What else? What kind of items would you want to take home from a reader convention? I'm up for ideas that are clever and that WORK.