As I have pointed out on several occasions, it is one thing to finally complete your work; quite another to sell it. You may have written the best, most original piece of your entire authorial career and gotten it published by a big-name publishing house. But unless you properly promote that work, it will never be the success that it could be. That is where marketing comes in, and one important tool in your marketing arsenal is promotional materials.
What are promotional materials? They can be just about anything. Any physical product that has your name, brand, logo, book cover, etc. on it that helps spread the word about your work can be considered a promotional material. It can range from key chains and bookmarks to posters, signs, and even billboards if you’ve got the budget for it. The most important factor, though, is that they get your book title implanted firmly in people’s heads and pique their curiosity.
If you are indeed published by a big-name house, then you will have a goodly number of promotional tools provided for you. They have networks and connections that small-timers and independents can only dream of. That is not to say that you as an author can simply sit back and let them do all the work for you. They expect you to be front and center in the promotion of your own work as well, in order to make it a success. Cooperative marketing, if you will.
If, however, you are engaged with a smaller press, or are doing it completely by yourself, then you must be a lot more choosy about what marketing materials you go with. You must always keep in mind your audience: who are you trying to market your book to and what does that particular audience react to best? Will branded bookmarks and pencils given away at live events be enough? Or do you need something more custom tailored to their specific interests and needs?
You also need to keep genre in mind. Are you selling a book in a particular genre that lends itself to more creative promotional materials? For instance, if you have written a romance novel, you might consider giving away items that have a romance theme to them, such as Valentine cards featuring your characters, appropriately colored bookmarks and business cards, or perhaps even candies or chocolates tied around the pens or pencils you give away. There is no end of possibilities if you have enough creative energy and a big enough budget!
Getting these promotional materials where the public can find them is another important factor. Live events are probably the best way to give away items, as they are right there for anyone to take as they want. Or else you can incentivize people to buy your book by throwing a little something in with the purchase: something they wouldn’t get by merely buying online or from a regular retail outlet. Sometimes you can throw limited materials in with books that you ship directly to customers. Bookmarks are the cheapest, easiest to give out in this manner without a doubt. Coupons or promotional codes are another good one that may entice a few to return for more, should they like the current volume. Again, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are key.
I could go on and on about promotional materials, as there are so many kinds and so many ways to go about distributing them. But for now, just remember to keep your eyes open for whatever opportunities may be open, and remember also that when it comes to effective marketing, you’ve got to put some effort in if you are to get anything out of it.