While an author has many options for promotion, I don’t believe there is one that is more unique or fun than a bookmark.
Bookmarks have been around since books were first printed. In the medieval era, they were a thin strip of leather or parchment attached to the binder. As books were extremely valuable, it was a way of marking a reader’s place without bending the corner of a page.
Modern bookmarks abound in a multitude of sizes, designs, and adornments of ribbons, cords, jewelry, and anything else that might attract a reader. The use is only limited by the imagination of the author.
Bookmarks are my go-to way of introducing people to my books. Since the publication of my debut novel, Sentinels of the Night in 2017, I estimate I have distributed over 10,000 bookmarks.
I even use bookmarks to advertise my business, Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC. When I first started, I ordered business cards. I soon switched to a bookmark when I realized people tended to keep the bookmark where the business card could end up in the trash.
The most traditional use is at book signing events. The Country Reporter Festival is a huge downtown event where I live. Several local authors, including myself, decided at the last minute to set up a book signing event in one of the local stores. Being impromptu, there wasn’t an opportunity to advertise. I stood on the sidewalk in front of the store and passed out bookmarks. A couple of volunteers walked through the crowds that filled the streets, handing out more. It was a great way to draw people into the store. And, we sold books.
I’ve sent batches of bookmarks to book festivals and other events to add to swag bags. I carry a supply in my purse, and in the console of my vehicle. If I walk into a restaurant and see someone reading a book, I hand them a bookmark. Most store owners let me leave a few by the cash register.
I took a trip on Amtrak from Texas to Michigan and back. I handed out bookmarks to train personnel and travelers all along the route. Talk about a way to start an interesting conversation, just hand someone a bookmark.
Libraries are another great place to drop off a stack.
I include one when I pay a bill. Someone has to open the envelope, and I might just pick up another reader. If I send a book to a contest or as a gift, I include a bookmark.
During the fall and holiday season, there are even more opportunities. Many towns conduct festivals and other events. Check with the stores and restaurants in the area and ask if you can leave a supply by the cash register. Another good location is where event tickets are sold.
The bookmark is probably the least expensive of any type of advertising. Which is why I hand them out like popcorn. Many print companies offer discounts for bulk orders, letting you bring down the cost to pennies per bookmark. To jazz them up, punch a hole in the corner. Add a bit of cord or ribbon and a trinket, which can be purchased at craft stores.
With a little imagination and a minimal investment, you can create a memorable keepsake to entice new readers and thank those who purchased your book.