— You made them yourself or had them designed professionally; you printed them at home or your local office supply store, or you ordered them online. However you got them, now you have 500+ bookmarks that you need to get rid of, right? So how exactly do you get them in front of people who may want to read your book?
First things first
— You know your book and its intended audience better than anyone else. Some of these suggestions might not be appropriate depending upon the genre in which you write. But this is just a short list to give you a starting point to thinking outside the box when it comes to promoting your work.
Leave them in library books whose readers will enjoy your own stories, or put them in books when you return them. You can do this at bookstores or thrift shops that have a book section, as well.
Hand one to any solicitor who tries to hand you something (i.e., you’ll take their flyer on the state of the economy if they’ll take your bookmark). This works particularly well at conventions and vendor events. I do the same thing with telemarketers over the phone — the minute they say they want to talk to me about yadda yadda, I say, “I’m glad you called. I just published this book …” They hang up every time.
Put a small stack on the counter of local stores. Bookstores, definitely, but think outside the box — do you write animal stories? How about leaving some with your vet’s office? Horse stories, look at tack shops. Erotica, visit fetish gear stores or adult bookstores or even lingerie places. Christian authors can find religious goods stores to display the freebies. M/M or gay fiction? Gay bookstores, clubs, or places owned and operated by those in the gay community. Where I live, there’s a thrift store called Diversity Thrift where I left a ton of bookmarks on my way out.
Stick one in with your payment whenever you mail in your bills, or leave it on the table in the restaurant with your tip. You never know who will find it!
Sneak them into the magazines at the doctor’s waiting room.
Tack one to any community bulletin board you can find — restaurants and clubs always have well-decorated boards, and if you live in a college town, other stores closer to campus may be plastered with flyers and info on local events. Add your bookmark.
Leave some on the counter in the restroom … wherever you may be (work, hotel, bookstore, airport).
Send bookmarks to writing workshops, literary/book fairs, conventions, or any events where goody bags are distributed. There are numerous ways to find out about these events; some are looking for free promo, while others want a small payment for stuffing bags. It may feel like you’re sending bookmarks off into the wild, but readers DO find them this way.
Attend local workshops and events where books or authors are discussed. Look for a free info table and leave some bookmarks there, or carry them with you and hand them out instead of business cards.
Tuck them into magazines on the newsstands or bookstore racks when no one’s looking. Make sure you wedge it in against the spine, the way the subscription mail-in cards are placed, so ideally they don’t fall out before the reader takes the magazine home.
Leave one face-up in the back seat of your car, or in the corner of your rear window, just lying there, like you forgot it or it fell out of a book. How many people glance into your car when they pass it in a parking lot or garage, hmm?
Network with other authors who are attending events where they can distribute your promo items. If someone you know just dished out $400 for a spot at a book expo, offer to send them $25 if they’ll stick your bookmarks on their table.
… however you pass on your bookmarks, be sure to carry some with you at all times. You never know who you may see — in line at the grocery store, on a bus, at a restaurant — who is a reader and might like to know about what you write.