Friday, April 30, 2010

Do Me a Favor?

By Deborah Sharp

I just spent the last four hours creating wedding favors to tout the fictional fete in MAMA GETS HITCHED. Crazy, right? Favors for a bride who doesn't really exist, to mark a wedding that will never really happen.

Funny thing is, I am the anti-crafter; the opposite of a creative do-it-yourself type. I didn't even do favors for my OWN wedding (although I do remember peeling lots of shrimp.) Now, here I am stuffing little bags and tying colorful ribbons to hand out at the Malice Domestic conference as keepsakes -- or at least reminders. The idea: That the mystery readers who attend will find the little bags so clever they'll be dying to read the next Mama book. It comes out July 1, by the way. Early birds can order it here.

I don't know why I think this will work. My desk is chock-a-block with freebies handed out by my fellow authors at various conferences: Note pads, seed packets, pens, pencils, calendars, bookmarks, chocolates (Okay, the chocolates are actually gone), paperweights, magnets, lapel pins, bumper stickers, postcards. I can't honestly say I've ever bought a book because someone handed me a cool promo item. I buy a book for the same reasons everyone else does: Because the cover grabbed me, and the first line hooked me; because someone I trust recommended it; or because I know and like the author. All the free pens in the world won't change that.

Of course, none of this means chocolate won't sway me. Go ahead, try me.

I wrote this for our blog ahead of time, knowing I'd be at Malice today and too busy to post. About now, I'm likely handing out my little bags as I make the circuit with Sue Ann Jaffarian, my friend and fellow Midnight Ink author. We're paired up for a Friday morning event called Malice Go Round. It's like speed-dating for authors. Readers fill tables for eight inside a giant hall. Forty authors get two minutes a piece at each table to pitch and woo.

Maybe I should have brought chocolates.

How about you? Do you think promo items move books? Readers, what's the coolest promo you've ever gotten? Authors, what's the best thing you've handed out?


Keith Raffel said...

Of course Mama exists. She even has her own blog.

Cricket McRae said...

I love the image of you surrounded by tulle, crafty as all get out.

I've given out soap samples, lip balm and cookies, along with the ubiquitous bookmarks, but I don't know if any of it sold a book. My favorite promo item (received) was a large caliber bullet engraved with the author's name and book title. Name of author and book? Don't remember.

Have a great time -- sorry not to be with you at Malice!
Hearth Cricket

Jess Lourey said...

I like matchbooks as promo items for some reason. The most effective promo item I've ever handed out is a copy of my book. My favorite is a little flashlight with a break-in kit inside (really tiny screwdrivers that could be inserted into the face of the light) and my website and name of my most recent book on the outside. I handed those out for June Bug.

Hope you're having a great time at Malice!

Shel said...

Have y'all got a superabundance of modesty and humbleness going on here? Your fans LIKE you. Which is why we buy your books. Cozy fans in particular will read anything in the genre - if we know about it. That part's getting easier due to blogs, Facebook, and sites like, Fantastic Fiction, and even *sorry* Amazon's recommendations based on stuff we've looked at. I love the promo items, I have an art glass vase beside me filled with bookmarks, magnets, and a lip balm that I've gotten through various signings and blog contests. But I buy the books because I love cozies.
I keep a list of each month's new releases on my Facebook notes page, on my blog, and it's been emailed to about six close friends who read the same thing I do. We all use it to see what's coming out. I also keep a list of what titles I am missing from series, for when I can take a break from buying new releases (or when publishers are being stupid and not releasing them to ebook - sorry, but it's the truth. If it's not in ebook, it goes to the bottom of the list for me. I'm not saying I will never buy it, but it's not on the top of my list. It will sit there until it either comes out in ebook or I can't wait anymore.) Don't get me wrong, the promos are great, and I wish I was at Malice to collect some. But responding to me on Facebook, being accessible through blogs, etc. will do more toward me buying the book than any promo item in the world. You don't have to "pitch and woo", I'm already here, and telling my friends like crazy. I have been dubbed "the evil enabler" on one forum I frequent because I've always got a book recommendation for anyone who asks..and a few that don't!
My only problem is deciding WHICH books to buy with my limited budget!

Darrell James said...

Shel has already said it best. Maybe promo items are more of a way of saying "thanks". I'm going to try to think of it that way.

Alice Loweecey said...

I'm planning to give out (if they exist) instant espresso samples and to have a giveaway of a Cosmo subscription. Both of those tie into the book.

But I also buy books because I like other books by that author; because fellow writers recommend them, or because their flap copy interests me. The giveaways are icing on the cake.

Enjoy Malice!

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, y'all. Having a great time at malice. Forgive the iPhone response. Wish all readers were as avid as shel she rocks!

Love that bullet as promo. Lots of cool things today. The wedding favors went over well. And you're right. It is appreciation as much as anything

wish you all were here, too

Dru said...

I buy books because I like to read and love discovering new-to-me authors. Like Shel, I have a list of books that are coming out and add to it every day.

Do I like promos? Yes I do and after listening to 40 authors give their 20 minute-talk, I've already added authors whose work I didn't know or was unsure of to my list and the giveaways didn't hurt, but it is not solely the reasons I would buy their books.

C.S. Challinor said...

Love the picture of the cake, Deb. My fifth novel in the Rex Graves Mystery series has a wedding theme, but the main reason I wanted to post a comment is to let people, who haven't yet met you, know what a nice person you are! Thanks for coming over to say hello at Malice Domestic 22.
In answer to your question, the best thing I got to hand out (so far) at booksignings was individually wrapped Walkers Shortbread provided courtesy of Walkers in Scotland, who promoted my first (Scots barrister-sleuth) novel on their website. The packaging is, of course, red tartan and extremely eye-catching, and helped draw bookbuyers to my signing table. I handed out a crate load!