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Say I have a book...or a comic series...or a podcast...or another published work.

Marketing written or scripted works is perfectly on topic here, and most of the promotional materials are also written materials in themselves. Every author who sells books at a table (at a convention, fair, conference, or other event) has some thing to give away. Most authors who go to such events, carry something with them to hand out to people they talk with. Bookstores and comic shops also accept promotional materials (sometimes even from authors without anything in print).

Some examples of items I've seen:

  • Postcards
  • Flyers & half flyers & posters
  • Brochures (tri-fold and other)
  • Bookmarks
  • Business cards
  • Branded swag

I'm in the United States, but feel free to share experiences from any country.

QUESTION: What are the most effective physical materials to give people to promote my work and how do I distribute them? The aim is to get people to take them and then to refer to them later.


What should I do to promote my books? is a good question with answers on various promotional strategies. I'm asking specifically about physical marketing materials.

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    Why the downvotes? Marketing questions for books and other writings are completely allowed here. – Cyn says make Monica whole Feb 22 at 16:58
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    @wetcircuit It's an on-topic question though. I don't know why people are downvoting it. I was planning on answering it myself after seeing what other answers came in (also completely allowed and even encouraged on SE). – Cyn says make Monica whole Feb 22 at 17:37
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    I would have said bookmarks too, but not from experience. It's just book -> bookmark. It's the only one listed that is useful to a book. – wetcircuit Feb 22 at 19:25
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    and I upvoted so you are even at the moment ;) – wetcircuit Feb 22 at 19:25
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    Could you refine "best"? Conversion rate? Cost? Probability that people will pick them up in the first place? Something else? I think you have a good question here if you can address that so this doesn't become an opinion free-for-all. (This is not off-topic.) – Monica Cellio Feb 22 at 19:28
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Thinking a bit further on the comment I've made, I think bookmarks are the most effective. Here's why:

I'm offered a flyer, if I take it, I read, then throw away. Or, I find it interesting, stuff it into my bag, and forget it's there. Same with brochures, or any other object I have no immediate use for. A bookmark, on the other hand, has a use. It goes into a book. Next time I open that book, I see the bookmark, I'm reminded of whatever it is that's being advertised. At which point, the bookmark is still useful, so I keep using it, and seeing it.

I'm fairly sure I've read somewhere that advertising works in part through exposure: one is not likely to buy something one has never heard of, but one feels more secure buying something one feels familiar with, to some extent. So the advertising attempts to bring an object from the realm of "never heard of it" to the realm of "sufficiently familiar to try it". By repeatedly making the suggestion, through repeatedly exposing your potential buyer to the same bookmark, you're making it easier for them to buy your book.

(The Israeli Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy advertises conventions on bookmarks - no flyers, no posters, no swag. At every convention, when you collect your tickets, you're offered a bookmark with the date, location and website of the next one. I don't know if the main consideration is effectiveness or environmental, but everybody is happy with this method. So clearly it works to some extent.)

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