Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Observations from the Goodie Room

Contrary to popular belief, going to a writer’s conference isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes we writers learn things, too.

One of the things I was most interested in was what promo items make the biggest splash. In fact I’m so interested in this, I plan to make it part of the theme of my upcoming contest [stay tuned for more details!]. For now, though, I decided to use the NJRW Goodie Room as a laboratory.

I made several trips to the Goodie Room and I took notes on what was available there. Three tables chock full o’stuff made for quite a shopping spree for anyone interested in picking up some fun and informative do-dads.

I made a list of the most prominent items and I’ve rated them with stars (1 to 5, 5 being best) as to what items disappeared the fastest. Of course, having someone pick up your promo item is no guarantee that they will buy your book, but at least it gets your name into someone’s hands and maybe, just maybe, they will be curious enough about you to visit your website or type your name in at Amazon. I’ve come to realize we don’t do promo to make sales, we do promo to get name recognition.

Here, in my humble opinion, are the best ways to get your name recognized.

Wedding type favors (Bubbles, champagne flutes) * * * * *

Rings (plastic holiday themed or book themed) * * * * *

Candy (chocolate, lollipops, Life Savers, etc) * * *
(I noticed people took the candy and left the promo attachment behind)

Free paperbacks * * * * *
(If you can afford to do this it’s a great idea. What reader can resist a free book?)

Paper book marks *

Business cards *

Key rings * * *

Book flats (signed or unsigned) *

Post cards *

Note pads (plain or post-it) * * ½
(I’m always attracted by paper, so I went for these, but you know how many note pads I have already?)

Pens (and pencils) * * * *
(Writers can’t resist pens. I imagine readers can’t either. I came home with at least a dozen of these)

Condoms (alone or with other items) * * ½
(I think some people might have hesitated to take these, though they got a lot of comments)

Beaded book marks * * * * *
(The ones I made disappeared like hot cakes)

Perfume * * * ½

Nail polish * * * * ¼
(This happened to go well with the book title that was being promo’d)

Charms and necklaces (inexpensive plastic beads) * * ½

Magnets * * *

Calendars * * ½

Matchbooks * * ½

Buttons * * *

This is, in no way casts aspersions on anyone’s promo items. The various things that were available were all very classy and obviously represented a lot of work and in some cases a lot of expense on the part of the authors. These are just my observations as to what seemed to attract people and entice them to pick up an item and keep it rather than just look at it and set it back down.

I hope everyone going to a convention or considering making promotional items finds this helpful.


Shelli Stevens said...

I can agree with that! Things that have a use tend to go quick. Though it depends I think what conference you're at. At Nationals my magnets with the half naked men on them were gone fast. In Seattle just a few went. I don't know, depends on your audience! LOL.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I agree, Shelli. I think an audience of readers might have different tastes. They may be more apt to pick up something with an excerpt on it. Half-naked men should appeal just about anywhere. ;)

Stella Price said...

There was a LOT of stuff that i didnt see at nationals at the NJRWA this year, one of them was the patches that one of the authors was giving away. Splended idea.

I also saw a lot of pens this time at the confrence, but at nationals there were pencils also... and some very cool gimmicky things. Im still surprised i havent seen those personalized pom pom critters....

Emma Petersen said...

Thanks so much for the info JAC! I am gearing up for Nationals and considering RT! Oh my! So many options to chose from!

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I'm glad I could be helpful. Promo has been mystifying for me so I'm trying to do as much research as I can.

Stella, I forgot about the patches! Another cool idea that seemed to be all over the place.

Sara Thacker said...

Good research. Thanks for posting this.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

You're welcome, Sara! Thanks for stopping by.

Debora said...

Wow - so many things on that list I never would have thought of on my own - condoms and nail polish - who would have thought? Great ideas. Thanks for posting this.

Annalee Blysse said...

My favorite "goodies" include the beaded book thong you sent me. Even if you were a stranger to me, it would be easier to pass on mass-printed bookmarks than home-created individual bookmarks.

Hey, Ravenstar's Bride made it all the way from Kentucky Amazon warehouse already. The other two books shipped earlier the same day from Nevada - just 45 miles down the Interstate, and they aren't here yet. LOL.

Jodie said...

Wow, that was interesting. BTW, my daughter a toddler - loves your beaded bookmark. I couldn't get it off her for a while. Nope, it wasn't a bookmark for her, but a necklace!!

Laine Morgan said...

This was a great post! I've always wondered how different promo items would be received.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Thanks for buying Ravenstar, Annalee! I just got my copies the other day. It's great to see it in print.

Jodie, your daughter may have a good idea, there! Maybe I'll start making necklaces!

Racy Li said...

Great post! Btw, I LOVE the look of your blog!