When I started preparing marketing materials in anticipation of my second novel’s release, I relied heavily on what worked the first time around. Having two novels under my belt may not seem like much experience, but it has helped me figure out what marketing materials work for me and what don’t.
1. Find a printer that fits your needs and abilities. I started looking at the many online printers, and the array seemed daunting. Early on, I received a recommendation for Vistaprint, but I wanted to explore my options. In doing so, I came across UPrinting. They had good reviews and made a list of best online printers. Before you chime in with your favorite printer, let me explain why I chose UPrinting. It was all about me not them. What I mean by that is this—many sites allow you little creativity or complete creativity. They give you a template that is almost complete, or they allow you to download your own file. I wanted more control, but I didn’t know how to create the whole thing. UPrinting has a very basic template to work with that shows you the dimensions of what you’ve chosen, say a bookmark, and allows you to fill in details, import images, etc. That worked for my knowledge base. I did use Vistaprint later for items UPrinting didn’t offer and was completely satisfied. The bottom line is—find what works for you.
2. Print materials you will use. We’ll call this one the sticker fiasco. When I was publishing that first novel, the whole family was excited. So, I asked my children’s advice on several things. They’re in their 20s, and I figured they would be in touch with what works these days. With marketing materials, they only had one suggestion—print stickers. They were adamant about it even. So I did. I have used so few of those stickers that I’m needing to come up with other uses for them. Anyone need a unique way to wrap a present? The problem here was that even though my children could see a sticker’s value, I never did. Which means, I never understood how to use them. So, only print what you can see using. If someone makes a recommendation, make sure you understand how you would use it before spending the money.
3. Be creative. (Or when you find something that works, stick with it.) Back when I was investigating printers, I requested some sample materials from one of them. One thing they sent was a fold-able business card. That gave me an idea. It turns out that printer couldn’t print what I was thinking of, but UPrinting could—after a fashion. I decided to make a business card for my book—that looked like a book. The front of the card is my book cover. Open it up, and on the left are snippets of reviews and buying options. On the right is the book summary. The back cover has my picture and website with a QR code that leads to that website. It worked so well that I did the same for my second book. Everyone loves my “book” cards. The creativity may have started with the idea, but it really came into play with the execution of that idea. I couldn’t find a printer who carried a foldable business card that would work. So, on UPrinting I found a bag topper (or header card). It’s what you would find stapled to the top of a plastic bag of gummy worms. It just so happens that you can turn it on its side, print on the outside—front and back, and on the inside! It worked perfectly.
In the end, when putting together your own marketing materials, ask around for advice. But make your own decisions based on who you are and what your needs and abilities are. After all, no one knows you like you.
Mary Ellen Bramwell, an award-winning writer and author of The Apple of My Eye and When I Was Seven, has been writing short stories since she was ten. She is the mother of five and currently lives with her youngest son and her husband of over 30 years. She enjoys reading and playing games but is passionate about her family and alleviating the suffering of others.