Sunday 21 November 2010


This marketing thing is all new to me. Since I've placed that first novel with a small press, they don't have the marketing machinery of the big publishers so I have to pitch in. The artist who did the cover (for which the publisher pays) generated some useful part-cover graphics for me for a small fee. Really small, about $20.

I then went to VistaPrint where I've had business cards made in the past. If you ever use VistaPrint, here's a tip. They will send a URL with your order that gets you 25%-33% off. Don't use it. It's real, you do get discounts on the full list price but you no longer have access to offers like '500 free business cards' and so on. It's considerably cheaper if you don't accept the discount offer. Oh, and never pay for the really fast postage either. Use standard - you'll almost always get an email saying 'it's shipped early'. The machinery is automatic and starts the print job as soon as you confirm the order. After that it's just in their way.

The artist had sized the graphics correctly for the things I wanted. Large cards, business cards and 'rack cards' (bookmarks, although a little wider than standard). Armed with these and the various free offers to get me started and keep my marketing within a £200 budget - because first novels might not recoup all that much, so best not go overboard - I set about trying to be a marketing executive.

The drinking part, easy. I took to that like a boozer to the bottle. I could be a top marketing executive if that's the main part of the job. The suit, no. Suits are not comfortable. The ideas... well, see what you think.

This is the business card. Not the original graphic but a photo of the finished product. The actual card is much better. On the back is a calendar. The large cards and bookmarks carry much more info, these are just the teasers.

When I had my day-job business cards made, I had a few of the magnetic ones made too. This turned out to be a good idea because my business cards get stuck to filing cabinets rather than getting lost in the mess on the average desk. So I have the 'fridge-magnet' version of this image too.

The image tells you nothing. That's the point. It doesn't tell you whether it's a book or a film, who wrote it, who's in it, nothing. It's a teaser. I plan to spread these around up to the New Year, then when the book release date gets close (April 7th for the Ebook, a couple of weeks later for the print version) I'll start sending out the more detailed stuff. The image on these cards and magnets fits exactly over the image on the bookmarks. The website is the publisher, an imprint of Damnation Books (I read the contract very carefully before signing in blood. Not mine, I have bottles of it in the lab) and the book isn't on there until it's published so that won't help.

Next problem - how to distribute them? The cards have calendars because that makes them look useful and therefore less likely to be immediately discarded. The magnets will get stuck to something and normal human indolence will ensure that most of them will stay there. So how to get them out?

Christmas is coming and card traffic in the postal system will be horrific as usual. I don't send very many - about five, if I remember to post them - but I know people who send hundreds. All over the place. My mother has a card list that looks like the Domesday Book. The little cards will slip into a Christmas card easily.

What's the incentive? Well, there are people she exchanges cards with at Christmas but does not hear from for the rest of the year. One of these cards might just result in a phone call to ask 'What the hell is this thing?'

There are others I know who send out huge mailings of cards at Christmas. All over the world. I'll see if I can persuade them.

If anyone out there feels like confusing a Christmas card recipient or two, I have loads of these cards and magnets here. Drop me a line if you'd like a handful. I don't expect help for free, naturally.

There's a signed copy in it, when it comes out.


thefrollickingmole said...

Ive done a lot of free/cheap advertising for my own business so heres a couple of suggestions.

Leave some in public laundries, phone boxes and bus shelters.

Hospital waiting rooms and doctors surgeries, anywhere where people are stuck waiting in general.

Ive saved myself a pile of dough here in Oz adverising like that. Ill keep an eye on your blog to see if you get a few suggestions I havent seen yet.

george said...

Register with newspapers like 'The Scotsman' and 'The Daily Record' and 'Daily Mail'
I know they are all total twats but a couple of sentences will be seen by thousands compared to hundreds on blogs like yours.
Look for stories similar to your book and say .. hey that reminds me of ......'your book blog address'

Make sure to read the printed version of your book. It will be full of spelling mistakes and make you look a twat.

subrosa said...

I'll have a handful for my cards LI. A few bookmarks would also be fine then I can stick them in with presents. I'll sprinkle a few around the local area too.

Leg-iron said...

Frollickingmole - most of the remaining phone boxes here are trashed by Ferals. I was thinking more local shops and libraries.

The magnetic ones stick to anything steel but are easily removed - so they get pinched and passed around. Fine by me.

George - I should get to proofread it before it goes out. It's an American publisher so it'll be Amerienglish when they've finished.

Leg-iron said...

SR- send me an address and they'll be in the post next week.

JuliaM said...

"The ideas... well, see what you think."

Looks good, and intriguing. All good advertising needs a 'hook' and this is definitely a good one.

'thefrollickingmole's idea is a good one too. In fact, if anyone frequents those bookstores where you get offered a coffee shop and a comfy chair, leaving a few on their coffee table is a great idea - it's the sort of audience that's tailor made for this.

They are already reading, after all...

Giolla Decair said...


I'm giving a few people books this year so I'll take a few bookmarks, and also cards I'll hand 'em out at parties and clubs. Liked the last book and have been pointing people at your stories so happy to help.

A usable address can be found here:

Leg-iron said...

JuliaM - there used to be a good small bookshop here, but Tesco killed it. They could sell all the big sellers (Harry Potter and the like) at discounts the little shop couldn't get near. So the big-profit sales went up the road to Tesco and all they were left with were the small-market books.

Now, we have Tesco selling the big names cheap but nowhere to find the lesser-known names or older books.

There's a library, for now, until it gets cut to save essential services like the smoking cessation diversity outreach childsnatcher department.

Maybe in the Big Town... I think Waterstones are there.

Leg-iron said...

Giolla - in the post tomorrow. Thanks.

Man with Many Chins said...

I'll distribute some for you LI. My address should be in your inbox shortly!

Kynon said...

@Leg-Iron - there are two branches of Waterstones in the Big Town - both on the Main Street (an old school friend of mine is an assistant manager at one of them, or he was last time I saw him)...

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