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Book Marketing: How to Use Bookmarks to Market Self-published Books

Headshot of Karen Myers

US indie author of fantasy novels Karen Myers (Photo by Sarah Dane)

With so much of our work as self-publishing authors demanding the use of high technology, it’s both comforting and refreshing to tap into one of the most traditional and low-tech devices there is to market your book: the good old-fashioned bookmark.

Inevitably, producing bookmarks is made easier, faster and cheaper for 21st century authors by the use of digital printing technology, but the principles of why and how to use them remain the same. Over to US indie author Karen Myers for some top tips to help you produce effective bookmarks to promote and cross-promote your books, and how to make your bookmarks future-proof as you go on to write more books.

image of back and front of bookmarks

This is the bookmark…

Image of Karen Myers' novel "To Carry The Horn"

…used to market this book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever we send someone a book directly, or sell one at an event, we have an opportunity to include other things. Most commonly, these are bookmarks, which we also distribute wherever we can. Business cards are also very useful to carry when you’re meeting people, or standing around at a convention.

What are they good for? How can we make them maximally effective?

Why Bookmarks?

Bookmarks are the stand-alone representations of your books. They’re popular as leave-behinds in bookstores or at group events, and are the obvious choice for inserts into your books when you sell directly (via online ordering or at trade shows/events).

There is debate about whether all bookstores want them, but many do. If you’re not sure, ask.

What’s the Goal of a Bookmark?

To interest someone in buying another book. You can’t list all your books on a bookmark, as though it were a mini-catalogue. That may seem plausible when you only have one or two books, but it defeats the purpose of seducing the reader with well-designed, professional information.

Instead, set up one bookmark for each series or important stand-alone book. Remember, when you start a series, you may not know how many books there will be, or what their names are. I created the bookmark above (using cover art from the first book) before I wrote a fourth entry and a story collection.

Focus on the first book of the series, name as many of the other books as you can without muddying up the image, and refer to “… and more” after that point.

If you create a new bookmark for each series, you can be inventive about including a bookmark for series 2 in a book sale for series 1 to encourage cross-sales. Whenever you have any reason to mail something to someone, include a bookmark and a business card.

And since you may write faster than you use up a print run of bookmarks, future-proof them by using only digital contact information bits, not physical ones. I’ve moved since I made that bookmark, and I expect to move again before I run out of them.

Karen will be returning again next month with a similar piece about how to produce the best business cards for indie authors. There’s a longer article about book marketing stationery for authors on her website here

JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Please feel free to add your own top tips on the design and use of bookmarks via the comments box.

#Authors - best way to use #bookmarks to #market your #selfpub book - by Karen Myers aka… Click To Tweet

FURTHER READING Your bookmarks should of course reflect your author brand. More about how to establish an author brand here, with Leila Dewji:

Book Marketing: How to Develop and Use an Indie Author Brand

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5 Responses to Book Marketing: How to Use Bookmarks to Market Self-published Books

  1. B.M. Allsopp October 17, 2016 at 1:09 am #

    Thank you, Karen, your timing couldn’t be better! Today I’m considering designs for both my business card and bookmark. These should already have been done, as my debut novel, ‘Death on Paradise Island: a Fiji Islands Mystery’ was released a few days ago, but it’s impossible to synchronise everything when you’re doing it yourself. Your wise words have confirmed my tentative decision to focus the bookmark on the series, not the book. Your beautiful bookmark screams quality and is an inspiration.

  2. Natalie Bright October 16, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    I love bookmarks! This week, I’ll be dropping off 700 bookmarks at our elementary school to promote my new eBook about a rescue horse. The librarian is thrilled to have enough for every kid. At 500 bookmarks for only $100 bucks, I thought it was an inexpensive way to spread the word locally. Thanks for the great post.

  3. David Olsen October 16, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    When I go to restaurant to work with my writing buddy, I always leave a bookmark behind. This has lead to sales I otherwise would not have made. It also stimulated conversations with the waitresses when I returned the next month. I intend to expand this type of leave behind when I develop my next bookmark featuring book two of my series.

  4. Lorna Sixsmith October 16, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    I got bookmarks printed with my second book (showing my first and second book) and tuck them inside copies of my third book when sending them off. It will be interesting to see if it leads to more sales of first and second books. I like the blurb info on the other side of your book mark, I left it blank for writing a note (with my social media details at the base) but the glossy card means it isn’t so easy to write on.

  5. Cindy Rinaman Marsch October 16, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    I’m enjoying the featured title by Karen this week, with the gorgeous bookmark–heavy stock, glossy finish, rich colors. I tuck a high-quality business card into each copy of my book instead–of course a bookmark allows for more content!

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