Author appearances are quite fun! The bookstore sets up a table for you in a prime location. Your books are proudly displayed for all to see. Perhaps the staff even makes an announcement over the loudspeaker!
Then someone approaches your table. First customer! They listen to your spiel and seem genuinely interested. But alas, they only have enough money for the book they originally came to purchase. They promise to get in next time they are in the store and turn to leave...
Wait a minute! That person is leaving empty-handed. What are the chances he or she will remember your book's title during the next store visit? What are the chances that person will even remember it five minutes from now?
The chances are ZERO!!!!!!
If that person does not have a bookmark in his hand, he will NEVER buy your book, because he will not remember you or the title once he leaves the store no matter how charming you were during the encounter.
There's all sorts of promotional items an author can distribute to potential readers - postcards, business card, fliers, even high-end items such as pencils and buttons. But we have to consider two things - cost and usability. A flyer will likely end up in the trash by the end of the day. Buttons are expensive to give away to every Tom, Dick & Harry. A bookmark, however, fits both categories.
Bookmarks are cheap. Whether your publisher supplies you or you order them yourself, large, glossy, full-color bookmarks cost pennies each. Bookmarks are also functional. Every person who reads needs a bookmark. Serious readers need stacks! (I think I must own about a hundred...)
An author who attend events & signings without bookmarks (and it's scary how many I've seen do this) is like a farmers going to milk a cow without a pail. The farmer might get a drink for himself, but there's no milk for later. An author without bookmarks must be a darned good salesman, because his only sales will be during that event!
And bookmarks work in a lot of situations besides a book signing:
- Passing them out to people we meet in locations outside of the bookstore. - Leaving them at the counter of retail outlets that stock our book
- Mailing out with promotional packs or media kits
- Mailing to family & friends - yes, even in the annual Christmas card!
- Leaving one for the waitress who gives us good service
- Pop one into every bill we send - or better yet, put to use all of those postage-paid envelopes we receive and send those people a bookmark (Yes, I really do this!)
- Give your kids a stack to take to school and distribute
- We all belong to various clubs & organizations - pass them out to members at the next meeting
-Don't forget a stack at the local library!
-Send them to fans to distribute
-Heck, leave one in the mailbox for the postal carrier!
Ridiculous? No! Put those little buggers to work! Bookmarks are our little foot soldiers, but they do us no good sitting in a box in our house. Pass them out at every opportunity. Because if we don't, how many books do we sell after the initial encounter with a potential reader?
Think we're back at ZERO again!
The list of possibilities is endless - what else can we do with bookmarks?