One of the unexpectedly cool things about being an author is that your autograph is suddenly a prized thing. I have a shelf dedicated only to books that are signed by the author, with bonus points if it’s not just autographed, but personalized. Being asked to sign one of my books has never stopped being a major thrill, and a big part of why I love book signings so much…it’s the closest I’ll ever get to being a celebrity!
You can extend this magical touch into other media as well, and my hands-down favorite are bookplates and bookmarks. I’ve talked about bookplates before (and have another post planned coming soon), so now let’s talk about bookmarks!
If you think that e-readers have successfully killed hard copy books, I can assure you that you’re wrong (in fact, if the apocalypse ever comes, we’ll be reading to take our minds off zombie attacks while the rest of you wail over your dying Kindle). Holding a book in your hand, one by an author you love, is a connection, a tangible expression of the love and effort that went into creating that world for you. Even the fastest readers have to tap out at 3am or so, and it’s imperative that you be able to pick right back up where you left off.
Warning: if you’re a page-bender or a spine-breaker, we can’t be friends anymore. WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A THING TO A BOOK?!??!?
Ahem, back to bookmarks. They can range from a square of toilet paper, to a bill, to a super-fancy gold-plated hook thingy, but being able to save your place with a personalized bookmark is something special on a whole other level. In my experience, readers love these tokens of your appreciation, and they’re hands-down the most popular swag item that I give away (definitely more so than business cards).
Here are the most recent bookmarks I ordered…please note this is a two-sided bookmark I designed for Sub Rosa, it’s not two separate bookmarks.
On one side, it’s purely a design aesthetic…a picture of Vivian, with a quote from the book. On the reverse is a picture of the book cover, the book blurb description, and then (this is VERY IMPORTANT) plenty of room to sign the bookmark. I will normally sign a pile of them in advance for people to grab at a book signing, but keep some unsigned copies in case you want to personalize AND sign it (always offer this if someone seems even remotely excited about a signed bookmark, because personalized + signed = THE BEST!).
Nitty-gritty details: I designed these myself with Photoshop Elements and use GotPrint.com for the actual printing. I’ve used GotPrint for years and have never once been unhappy with their products…these bookmarks are gorgeous, heavy thick glossy stock, and look a lot more expensive than they are. I’ll warn you (from experience) that this is not a company you want to order from in a last-minute procrastination panic…this last order took a full week from when the proof was approved and sent to print before it was actually shipped. Paying for expedited shipping is not going to speed up the print process, and although they offer a ru$h service, it’s better not to chance it. Place your order a bare minimum of two weeks before the event you need them for. Better yet, save yourself the worry and pencil in ordering them a month ahead of time on your event to-do list.
For autographing, I already have Sharpie Twin Tips in my book signing kit, and I find them to be the perfect size for bookmarks, but depending on your color scheme, you might want to go for a metallic gold or silver pen.
Don’t just reserve these for fancy official book-signing events either…I carry them around in my purse. Depending on the size and on your level of creativity, you can either sew a protective case for them, or use something like an empty checkbook folio or eyeglasses case to keep them safe. Don’t be shy…mention them to friends, coworkers, casual acquaintances, and then hand one over. Pin them up on a coffeeshop bulletin board. If a book club is reading your novel, give them freebies. ANY place you leave a book (Free Little Library, etc.) tuck a bookmark in it. Think outside of the box…this is like a business card on creative steroids!
Have you made bookmarks a part of your swag package? Anything I didn’t mention that you’d like to share? Where’s another great place to leave bookmarks to be snatched up? Please let me know in the comments!