Sunday, June 28, 2015

Marketing Your Books with Merchandise by PEN

Available on CafePress from On The Q-Teez

8/26/15 Note: Sharing this earlier post today by guest author PEN on the Fiction Writer's Blog Hop on Julie Valerie's Book Blog. Click the link and check out more posts today on other blogs. Hop right along! This is a monthly blog hop the last Wednesday of each month, so mark your calendar for next month, too.

T-shirts. Coffee cups. Sweatshirts. Coasters. If it’s a printable surface, you can have anything printed on it.

Long before “See Rock City” graced red-barn roofs across the South, people have slapped a logo, a quote or a company name on everything from pens to linens, hats to socks, and everything in between. It’s a relatively inexpensive form of advertising and promotion and there’s no reason authors can’t use that to their advantage. 

Promote Your Book 

Got an eye-popping cover? How about a catchy quote from your book? An artist’s rendition of an interesting character?

Any – or all – of the aforementioned can be displayed on merchandise to generate interest in you and your book. Just remember to put your website URL on the merchandise as well. 


Buttons, magnets, bookmarks, key chains and other small items with your designs make for great giveaways at festivals, parties, and other gatherings. Ask your local independent bookstore if you can leave a stack of bookmarks somewhere. If you have any speaking engagements, have these freebies available to all who attend. Keep some buttons, magnets and key chains on hand to give to people you meet. Or to strangers on your commute, particularly if you recognize someone as an avid reader. Having a little something extra to give away will get you remembered. It may even get you talked about and generate more book sales down the road. 

Contest Prizes 

T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and other apparel items can be given as prizes for contest entries. For instance, if you’re selling books at a festival or other event, offer one ticket per book sale for a drawing to win the T-shirt, hoodie or other apparel. Host your own event with the same or similar premise. 


Make inexpensive business cards with the URL to your merchandise. Hand them out to everyone you meet, especially if you’re wearing some of your own merchandise and people express interest. Have family and friends wear and use the merchandise; have them share the URL with their friends. Use social media to its fullest: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and any other social media site you use. Boost an ad on Facebook a few times to see if you get any response.

The key, of course, is promotion. You must be as diligent in promoting the merchandise as you are with promoting your books.  Merchandise is an additional form of promotion for book sales. But, just like your books, no one will purchase if they don’t know it’s available. 

Where To Go 

CafePress is a Print-on-Demand type of company for merchandise. In business since 1999, CafePress is one of the largest online retailers of printed merchandise.

There is also Zazzle . However, I have never had one sale from Zazzle and I’ve been with CafePress longer. I find the CafePress site easier to navigate and understand.

It costs nothing in dollars and cents to set up a shop. What it will cost you is time and patience. Tutorials and instructions are available and helpful. Once you jump in and do it is when you’ll really learn. 

Using CafePress 

Using the CafePress website isn’t difficult. But it is time-consuming. If you are a person short on patience, you will either learn the art of being patient or abandon the shop altogether.

The important thing is sizing your images. CafePress has a sizing chart for all the merchandise available. Sizing can be tricky; follow the chart to make sizing easier. Creating images for dark apparel is also tricky and requires Photoshop or a similar program in order to create a transparent background.

If you have several different images, do them in small increments: about a dozen at a time. I learned this lesson the hard way. I had a dozen or so different images to upload and eagerly and excitedly placed them on a variety of merchandise. This left me with hours of attending to other details. Had I done my images a few at a time it would not have been so aggravating to go back and attend to all those details.

About those details: there are many. Everything from putting a title to your image, adding tags and description, product description, parent page and landing page descriptions, mark-up and then some. As tedious as it may sound, each of these aspects is important if you want people to find and purchase your products. Take care of each detail as you go along and you won’t have to spend hours later doing it all. 

Getting Paid 

As with many do-it-yourself online print-on-demand sites, payment is withheld for a certain time period. This isn’t done to irritate you. The time frame allows for returns or exchanges. CafePress deals with these details so you don’t have to.

CafePress allows you to choose whether you want to be paid via PayPal or by check. You can also choose whether the payment is after reaching $25, $50, $100 or $250 in sales. Payment is withheld for 60 days after the month in which sales are accrued.

So don’t quit your day job right away. 

All in all, using merchandise to promote your books serves a dual purpose: you earn money for the products as well as get the word out about your work.

You have nothing to lose by trying.

 About the Author 

A native Georgian, Pen has been daydreaming since the age of four, writing since the age of ten and recently discovered self-publishing. She currently resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
 Previous post on this blog by PEN.

Visit Pen’s Amazon Author Page and her website.

Nero's Fiddle on Amazon .

Visit her shop On The Q Teez  for merchandise geared for writers and artists.

Sure to bring a grin, this slightly risqué quote from the novel, Nero's Fiddle, is sure to be an attention-grabber! Shop On The Q-Teez

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