Marketing Monday: How Do You Feel about Handouts?

So I’ve got a few things setup for the year–talks at some local writing clubs and a couple of conferences. I’ll be spending a little time this month looking into some 2011 scheduling–it always blows me away how early you have to get on top of this stuff, but it doesn seem like a reality. Overall, though, I’m feeling pretty good about the marketing work I’ve done for The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide,  in terms of “live appearances.”

What I’m not so sure about is the kind of handouts, if any, I should be bringing along with me.

True confessions: I am not a handout person, in terms of being on the receiving end. I don’t use bookmarks; I just pretty much remember where I’m at when I close a book. I don’t pick up flyers at workshops, except to read them and put them down again for someone else to take away with them. I’ll take a business card if someone hands it to me, but too often it ends up in the laundry or in a pile that I don’t ever get to sorting through and organizing.

On the other hand, when I’m talking marketing with other writers or reading their blogs/tweets online, I get the impression I may be in the minority. And that I’m not doing myself or my book any good assuming that other people think/respond like me on this.

So…your take, please. As readers-when you’re at a writing event or a bookstore signing, and there are various and sundry marketing materials being handed out or displayed attractively on tables, what do you pick up? What do you take home & actually use, or hand on to someone else as a piece of information you think they need? If someone was going to hand you a single something, what would you like it to be? And–writers–what pieces have you had the most success with, at least in terms of their disappearing from your stack and needing to be replaced.

  • A fun, colorful bookmark with a picture of the book on it, a few choice, descriptive words, and the author’s website url
  • A pen or pencil, also colorful, with the title of the book & the author’s name
  • A postcard with information about the book, but also detailed contact info for the author (email, blog, website)
  • A flyer that tells you about the book & any services that author may provide to other writers (editing, school appearances, workshops)
  • A basic, simple business card

In other words, I guess, are you more interested in getting a lot of information, or would you rather have something bright & cheerful that doesn’t overload you with details? And, since I guess the point of this is to spread the word, which would you be more likely to take a few of and pass around to your friends?

Everybody has the marketing tasks they enjoy & the ones they’re not so crazy about. I think this is one of the latter kind for me–I haven’t yet worked out what I’m supposed to DO with these things when I’ve got them with me, or if/how I should be distributing them around the world, without being present to hand them out in person.

Please leave all & any thoughts in the comments. And if any of you have found THE PERFECT COMPANY (aka quality and not-too-scary quantity at a reasonable price), I’d love it if you’d drop in that info with your comment.

Thanks again, for helping me benefit from the true power of the Internet…you guys. 🙂


  1. I think that if you’re doing an in-person event, then handing something out to the audience is essential — just to ensure that they have a way to remember you and find you again later.

    I love the idea of something writer-friendly, such as a bookmark or a pen/pencil. These days, I think the only thing you really need to hand out is your website address. However, if you want to elaborate and make sure the audience remembers who you were, what you talked about, and what products/services you offer, then a few more details will help too.

    Good luck!


  2. beth says:

    Here’s what made me buy a book:

    A book mark–bonus points if it’s signed

    A postcard–from an author I knew, or in the genre I liked (otherwise, useless). But the postcard was heavy on the info, and that was nice.

    A signed bookplate. It was a book I probably wouldn’t have bought–or at least a book I wouldn’t have sought out–but since I had the signed bookplate, I made an effort to get the book afterwards. Bonus if I have a “matching” bookmark, too.


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Beth–this is good to hear. Is it just having the info around, thinking about it, keeping that book sort of on a mental list that makes you buy it?


  3. Cid says:

    Flyers, business cards, that kind of stuff, all get trashed. However, if you hand me a bookmark it’s some sort of crime if I don’t put it in a book. Really. Don’t ask me why…

    However, with a book like the Survival Guide, if I saw you in person I would probably take the handouts from the book if they were there and make notes on them and file them away. I’m sort of a pack-rat like that. It makes some sort of connection to me and I can never throw it away.


    • beckylevine says:

      Hmm…maybe the point is that I can hand over a bookmark, even when I’m not speaking somewhere or with my book! And it’s something someone will keep & use & have laying around.


  4. Pieces of paper don’t usually make me buy the book yet they do hang around my space long enough to help me imprint the author’s name on my brain. I usually can’t help but pick up a bookmark when it’s offered though.

    It’s the speaker that makes me buy the book so what often happens is that I will take a bookmark or a postcard and then be able to pass it on to a friend whom I think might also like the book.

    I like handouts that offer tips.


    • beckylevine says:

      All right, it’s looking like bookmarks. Have to see how many tips I can get on one of those!


  5. I like something useful. Bookmarks or pens. Signed bookmarks are pretty hot I think. I know an awesome designer if you need one. He created a space on mine for the signature.

    I also have postcards. But I reserve them for distributing at larger more impersonal events. Not sure why.

    I gave up on brochures.


    • beckylevine says:

      I’m thinking it’s definitely bookmarks! I like the idea of space on them. Let me look around & I’ll let you know if I need a designer.


  6. Ruth says:

    The best handouts I ever got at an author talk were pins (like smiley face buttons, but with vampire smileys) given out by Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod Chronicles). I wore one on my jacket(it was right before Halloween) and it sparked plenty of comments/questions! No idea how much they cost, but they were more memorable than a flyer or business card.


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