Promote Your Prose: Promotional Material For Your Books

By Mary Emma Allen

“What promotional materials do you have to make your book stand out and help us sell it?” a bookstore events coordinator asked.

There are a variety of materials you can use to let others know about your book and help make it noticeable in bookstores. With today’s computer printing programs, you can create many yourself. Also, check what other authors are using for promo materials.

  • Business Cards— I print my business cards with standard information on the front. On the back (a publicity expert mentioned using the back of your business card for additional data), I print information about various aspects of my books and writing programs. These cards can be changed as I need because I’m not printing huge quantities.
  • Bookmarks—These can be made fairly inexpensively and are a great promo item. Bookmarks are welcomed by children when you do Young Author programs and workshops in schools. They also serve as a type of business card.
  • Postcards—The design may feature a picture of your book cover or simply information about your book. When you need to drop a note to someone, use your post cards. (As one publisher mentioned, it’s not only you and the person you’re sending the card to who read it; many people along the way may handle the post card.)

I discovered post cards were a great way to generate sales. One side includes a description. The other side has one half for address and the other half an order form. A surprising number of people return this card with an order and check for my book.

  • Flyers—This item can take may forms, depending on its purpose. Use the flyers to give information about your books, upcoming programs and classes you’ll be giving, and as order sheets (both for mail order and sales at schools and workshop locations).
  • Posters—These are another way to give information about your book and/or presentation. Sometimes you’ll need to provide posters for your book signings. They’re also good to have when giving talks and workshops.
  • Enlargements of Illustrations & Covers—Use these as posters for promoting your book. I’ve had requests for enlargements of the illustrations in my children’s anthology, so have begun making these available for sale.
  • Information Packets—Prepare an information packet to send to bookstores, book reviewers, interviewers. This includes a description of your book, a copy of press releases you send to publications, a short bio. You may include other material, like a bookmark, business card, and review copy if requested.

©2001 Mary Emma Allen

(The above material has been expanded in my manual, “Self-Publishing Your Books.”)

Mary Emma Allen writers for children and adults, fiction and non-fiction. She’s also a columnist and travel writer, as well as speaker and teacher. She blogs at Mary Emma’s Potpourri of Writing.