Friday, June 17, 2011

The Chotskies Debate: Is a pen really just a pen?

I’ve never bought a book because of an ink pen!

How many times have I heard that statement at the dozens of marketing/branding workshops I’ve attended over the years? There always seems to be a divide between whether promotional items such as bookmarks, ink pens, excerpt booklets and the like are even necessary for author promotion. I’ll admit that I am a huge fan of promo items. As I say all the time, I like seeing my name on stuff, even though it’s not my real name.

When I go about choosing promo items, I try to get the most bang for my buck, choosing things I believe people will reuse over and over again. Some of the promotional swag I’ve given out over the years includes pens and bookmarks, of course, bandage dispensers, mini calculator key chains, and tote bags. The bags turned out to be a big hit the year I handed them out at the RWA National Conference. It just so happens that the bags provided by the conference that year were big and ungainly, so my cute pink bags were perfect for conference goers.

With the explosion of eReading devices that have made their way into the marketplace, I decided to look for something that would appeal to that segment of the reading population, which seems to be growing astronomically every day. I found these super cute and ultra useful screen cleaners. You simply attach it to the back of your device, be it a Kindle, nook, iPad, iPhone, etc., and when you get those grimy fingerprints on it, just wipe them off with the microfiber surface. It attaches right onto the device or the case, and doesn’t leave any residue. It is truly my new best friend. And, best of all, it can be used thousands of times.

Of course, the biggest question is whether any of these chotskies have influence over readers actually choosing to buy your book. Yeah, I don’t have the answer, either, but it won’t stop me from finding cool stuff to plaster my name on.

How do you feel about promo items? Like them? Can do without them?

Have you ever bought a book or just sought out more information on an author based on a promotional item?

As a bonus, I’ll send a very cool eReader screen cleaner to three people who leave a comment on today’s post. And for those of you attending the RWA conference, stop at my table at the mega-booksigning at the Marriott Marquis on Tuesday, June 28th and ask for one!


Liane Spicer said...

No, I've never bought a book because of a promotional item, but the items have made me aware (or more aware)of the existence of the books/author and so helped with the recognition factor. That can't hurt.

Have a great time at the conference, Farrah. One day I'll get there!

Sarabeth said...

That, Farrah, is a cool swag to give away. I'd love to know where you go them. Have a great time at the conference.

Charles Gramlich said...

The only promo items I've ever used or paid attention to are bookmarks. I've taken a few pens when they were given to me. Most of the other stuff I actively try to avoid getting.

Phyllis Bourne said...

I've never bought a book because of a promo item. Still, as both a reader and an author - I LOVE BOOK GOODIES!

Alexa said...

I pick up promo items whenever I can. I like the unique items best. Sometimes I give them away in blog contests, sometimes I use them.

Only once have I bought a book because of a promo item. It was a nail file and every single time I filed my nails I thought, "I should check out her books.) Eventually I did. I've read one book by this author and I bought another sitting on my TBR pile.

lynnhubbard said...

If I love a book I want EVERYTHING about it! I have bought extra copies of books for promos etc.

Farrah Rochon said...

We've got winners! Sarabeth, Phyllis, and Alexa! Send me your address and I'll get your prizes to you!

CMalone said...

I have been searching the web for swag ideas since this is the first RWA conference I'll actually have a book to promote--four actually. But the eReader Screen Cleaner is an awesome idea. Where do you find them and how to you attack your book info to them? Thanks for sharing. Will you be at the Marriott in San Diego?