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Sex, Drugs, and Marketing Madness- by Brinda Berry

Part of social media is determining your image and how to get it across to the public. It is important to examine your future promotional images and items with the careful eye of a marketer as well as from the viewpoint of a consumer.

As a funny example, I’ll tell you a story about my most recent book cover. My YA fantasy series consists of two books to-date and both show the same female model in different poses. The girl on the cover fits the physical image of my character, so I’ve been pleased. I’ve heard stories from fellow authors who had characters on the cover who in no way resembled the protagonist. The hair would be a different color or the age would be off by decades. When I got my first cover, I  only noticed that the cover model fit my main character. I was surprised when people commented on her clothing and bust size.

Let me say that most authors are unable to get a cover changed. (Or so I’ve heard.) My publisher kindly sends me a review copy when the cover is completed and before final approval. When I received the review copy for Book 2, Whisper of Memory, I had the following conversation.

Me: The colors are great and I love the winter scene. There’s one problem. All I can see is nipple. Do you see that? Since it’s a YA book….

Publisher: LOL. I didn’t even notice. Of course, we will get the artist to air brush that.

Me in reply email: Thanks so much. Although if we left it in it might sell more books…JUST KIDDING.

The nipple outline was one of those things where once you see it, you can’t unsee it. No, I’m not showing you the draft cover. I wonder if I’d have noticed it if not for several remarks I had about the cover model’s bust size. Listening to the comments of friends and readers helped me to see the book cover as a consumer. I realized that I had studied the first book’s cover as an author.

This new life as an author isn’t my first exposure to marketing. In a not so distant past, I had the pleasure of working for a small IT company. One of my many hats was to act as a marketing manager.  With no formal background in marketing, I made efforts to learn as much as possible in the best place I had found. The internet was full of courses, blogs, and products. I learned, and I still occasionally blundered. I’m most proud of designing a full page ad for a national magazine distributed by the General Services Administration (GSA). The ad featured a laptop sitting poolside and some text about letting someone else worry about network security while you enjoy life. I had other marketing experiences where I scored a high-five and pat on the back.

I’ll share with you the ones that made me want to crawl into a hole. It’s easy to remember the blunders and ask, “What was I thinking?” I ordered promotional items with our company logo. I shipped said items to a conference across the nation where I would be an exhibitor at a booth. Problem? The letter opener I ordered had a visible sharp razor blade. One attendee stopped and almost took one. Then he said, “I hope people don’t try to take these on a plane.” Huh? This was post tragedy of 9/11. Yes, it certainly looked like a weapon.

Another attendee said, “Wow, you’re giving away drug paraphernalia.” Another dumb look from me. What? It had looked like a simple note holder when I ordered it from the catalog. It looked like something else to this person.

This is just great, I thought. I now have a promo item that looks as suspicious as the razor blade and mirror combo.

Let’s fast forward to the present and talk about book  swag. I chose to print romance trading cards for a promo item for my YA books. I’ve been pleased with the decision. I even saw a prize of romance trading cards at The Hunger Games premiere. Cool!

Here are the reasons why I like them for my YA books:

  1. My book covers get exposure. I want to up the “recognizable” factor.
  2. They were inexpensive. I paid gotprint.com $59.10 for 2000 cards (1000 for each book in my series). This includes taxes, shipping and handling. This is roughly $.03 each.
  3. I can send them to conferences for goody bags when I can’t attend and shipping is inexpensive.  Readers seem to like to collect cards.  Jessica Aspen put a call out for additions to bags being put together by ParanormalFreebies.com for Rom Con this summer. I sent her my cards for inclusion. WOOT!
  4. There’s enough room on the card to also print my website addy and a QR code.
  5. I can easily carry them in my purse and hand them to people I’m talking with about my books.
  6. They will never look suspicious going through airport security. LOL

My friend, Cynthia d’Alba has a book out this year, Texas Two Step. Prior to the release, she handed me a jar opener promo piece. She must have sensed my trouble with salsa jars. It’s very original and handy. I’ll use it and think of her.  I hope readers do the same.  On the other hand, I’ve tossed all the bookmarks I’ve received over the past couple of years since I read ebooks now. Hey, I just cleaned up my office and I plan on avoiding clutter. I’ve kept items if they are useful. I love a good pen.

Texas Two Step Jar Opener

So, let’s talk book swag.  Do you have any experience with it? Do you have preferences as a reader? How much would you as an author spend per piece (if anything)?

BIO: Brinda lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.

Whisper of Memory Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/PbZ_cjGsjA8
Brinda used your own key to get in. She no longer needs my assistance in unlocking the front door with an introduction.
I chose to skip the time-honored tradition of introducing Brinda–a regular on this site. Why?
Because I am a lazy dolt (1) everyone headed this way for Brinda’s words of wisdom, (2) her title ROCKS, and I don’t want to mess with it being at the top of the page, and (3) I can’t think of anything to add other than “I’m still fishing”.Whoop! Add an I-N-I to that and we have, “I’m still FINIshing the first draft on my WIP.” Both the PA State Troopers and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have instructions to chain me to a toll booth if I cross the line without a completed first draft.  No pressure. Nope. None.

Thanks for visiting and please share your thoughts on book swag, drug paraphernalia, or marketing promo items you’ve kept because they were too clever or useful to ignore.