As soon as I got my contract from Trisk I hit the ground running. I had my website up in a month, designed by Moi. (And yes, I know it needs a facelift.) I learned about the fabulous place called CafePress and used my art background to design magnets, stickers, t-shirts, etc. to put my name on anyone and everyone, especially my friends. (I will say that “fans” loved the mousepads and magnets best.) Another big thing was an online banner (still available for your viewing pleasure at www.maseysplace.com ). For conferences I did small tins of Tropi, a drink only found on Beryl which my heroine fell in love with. (I still have boxes of empty tins left! Hmm…maybe they will get converted into wedding favors…someday.) I also did bookmarks which I designed myself and had printed. They included the “sword” I showcased on one of my latest posts (which is actually a beautiful dagger I picked up in Florida). And since one of my friends was doing a pitch workshop, she graciously allowed me to do a tie in—tip cards for the perfect pitch. Of course they had my bookcover on the front!
So why did I go to all that trouble when I was a brand spanking new author and TIES OF VALOR was my first book ever?
I wanted to spread my name (outside my local fan base) using any means I could, including links on friends’ sites and especially at RWA National’s website. And I chose to promo TIES OF VALOR a) because I’d been planning a blowout for a while and b) it was due to be the first in a four book series. Also, since it was due to be an e-book it would’ve had a long virtual shelf-life.
On the flipside, designing, etc. did take a lot of time out of my schedule, though it saved me some money. However, since my book never made it to the masses, I ended up having to eat the cost of what I’d spent.
I think any writer just has to make sure to create a budget and stick to it. For freebies you want something memorable and preferably useable. (I know one of my faves is still Jenna Black’s doorhanger and Debbie Macomber’s printed seed packets.) You can never go wrong with pens or ARCs! And if you have several small projects (anthologies, short stories, novellas) it might be more beneficial to “sell” your name or your website instead of one project. That way the reader will come back to check out what’s new.
So are you wondering if I’d do it again? In a heartbeat...with a couple small mods. To sell any book you have to get your name and cover out there multiple times. (Rule of thumb used to be 3-4, but now I’ve heard as much as 50!) No, I don’t want readers to get sick of it, but I would love them to say, “Yeah. I’ve seen that and downloaded it to my laptop. It’s a keeper.”
With TIES OF VALOR, I also used a star theme and a military slant since my hero’s and heroine’s “job” leaned that way. It got reverberated in my contests as well as the star pack goodie bags that I gave away. And of course I tied in the good ol’ red, white and blue! Happy 4th of July! And I have to shout out a happy birthday to my bf who sticks with me through the crazy ups and downs of writing, promoing and trying to burn the candles at both ends!