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WHAT'S IN YOUR BOX

  

  

WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX? I MEAN, WHAT‘S IN…YOUR TRUNK?

It’s all about building your brand. Making your name a household word.

If your trunk is only being used as a holder for a spare tire, you are doing yourself a disservice. Probably every writer keeps a box of their books there, but think of the many other ways your car can help with promotion. It should be as well equipped as your first aid kit.

You’ll need a plastic file type cabinet or a cardboard box (about manila folder size). If you’re really organized, you might want hanging file folders to keep things organized and unable to tip when you’re speeding to your next book signing. In this box, keep the following:

Odds ‘n Ends

A small zippered bag containing tape, push pins, calculator, stapler, glue stick, rubber bands, paper clips, highlighter, pen/pencil, ruler (you never know).

Handouts

Giveaways. Many writers use small, inexpensive items at their signings. Little promotional gadgets as remembrances. Whether they are toys, perfume samples, or candy, keep a couple of each in the box.

Flyers are a nice neat way of promoting yourself and your books. Triple folded, it gives you six columns for book cover blurbs, release dates, contact numbers, etc. If you can afford it, photo paper results in a glossy, professional look.

Business cards. Homemade business cards are easy and inexpensive to make. The hardest part is setting up the template. Some business card-making packages come with them, but inevitably the program doesn’t work on all computers. Just use a regular size (8 1/2” x 11”) paper format and divide it into ten equal spaces. Or they’re cheap to buy at Vistaprint. Keep a few in your pocket for instant access.

Preprinted invoices, just like business cards and bookmarks can be made on any home printer. You may need two different ones; one with wholesale, one with retail prices, listing quantity discounts or other sales features. You might also want to use carbons.

Blank letterheads, envelopes and a notebook.

Address book or list of contact names of bookstore managers or shops you frequent. It’s more professional if you know the name of the person with whom you’ll be dealing.

Shameless Promotion

Press kits will contain many of the above items, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plenty of folders with cutouts for easy insertion of business cards or photos. You never know when you might pass a bookstore you haven’t seen before, a florist or mall where you might want to do a signing or set up a book fair.

Posters or Bookplates. Supermarkets, malls, shops, recreation and senior centers, pharmacies, and schools have bulletin boards. Announce your signing, reading, open house, or just let people know you have a new book coming out. Put your phone number or e-mail address on those little tear off slices of paper at the bottom.

Bookmarks are like business cards, easy and inexpensive to make once you get the template made. Inside every book you sell, tuck a bookmark advertising upcoming books, appearances or whatever you want people to know about. Go into the local library and tuck a bookmark inside books of your same genre

Color photos of yourself. Natural poses are more appealing since they look less contrived. If you’re one of those who hates cameras, have someone snap pictures while you’re doing something, like playing with your child or pet. 

And last but not least are the decals or magnetic signs. They will catch the eye of men waiting for wives in parking lots; moms passing while you wait for your cherub at school; kids at the soccer game where you coach. 

Self-adhesive decals are relatively inexpensive. You can print them at home, so they can be changed regularly. Make a pair for the back windows of each family member’s car. Be inventive. How about: Check out my mom’s book at www.janesmith.com. OR: Come hear Jane Smith read from her first book at 1 Main St. on the 25th of May. Use a colorful background graphic or banner. Make it interesting and eye catching. 

Magnetic signs cost more, so should contain something generic. Maybe just the web site.

One last thought. Quality. Not embossed paper or gold edged folders, but it’s imperative that all your materials are crisp, easy to read with addresses and contact information abundant and clear. Don’t use folders with worn edges or printouts with ink smudges. People are in a hurry. They’re also impulsive. They don’t want to muddle past sloppy data or search for information. They’ll quickly give up and go on to something else. 

Quality, professional looking packages and handouts will garner positive attention, second turns of the head, and what you’ve been seeking in the first place — sales. Good luck.

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