There is a saying: It takes money to earn money.
    This statement could not be any more true, especially when it comes to getting the word out about your new book release.
    The economy is hitting many of us the wrong way and most of us watch every dollar we spend. Sometimes it can be very difficult to squeeze in many extras, but let's think this through carefully.
    How long did it take you to write your latest book? For myself, it took basically a year and a half to write it, I spent six months editing the manuscript, and then my publishing house assigned an editor ... with all the corrections and corresponding back and forth, there went another year. Finally - after 3 years - my book has been released.
    Three years from start to finish.
   Three years is a mighty long time to go without advertising what you're doing; if an author will spend even $200 on promotional items, that averages out to $69 per year. You would spend at least that on advertising if you were running a window cleaning service, for example.
    Have you ever been asked the question, "Are you finished with that book yet?" or my personal favorite, "Are you ever going to get a job?"
    When an author has a pocket full of promotional items to whip out, it validates our line of work. People somehow see us in a different light-we have proof that we do have a job, thank you very much.
    Designing these items is a lot of fun, but we need to consider a few things as we get going with the projects: first, the resolution of our cover art when uploading it to the site. If the resolution doesn't fit that site's guidelines, the end result might be a fuzzy image. We also want to be sure to double-check to make sure the image fits within the area of said item, such as a key chain. Neglecting to do this might result in the last three letters of our name being omitted from the item. Another area to be cautious with is the number of items we order. In my opinion, it's best to order small amounts of items at first so we are able to decide which ones go over the best with our audience.
    Some websites are better than others when it comes to promotional items - and,of course, some boil down to personal preference.
    I'm going to share just two of the sites I have used several times and will continue to favor, simply because they offer quality merchandise, low prices, a huge variety of items to choose from, and they even give things away for free!
   Most likely, everyone has heard of vistaprint.com or have even ordered free calling cards from this company. (250 cards for free, you just pay for the shipping. There is a HUGE assortment!)
    Whenever I'm looking for promotional items for my book, I try thinking outside the box and try to be just a bit different than other people. It's kinda my thing. Vistaprint offers the following items under their "free" section: calling cards, websites, logo design, car door magnets, bumper stickers, and pens. I've even ordered free t-shirts here.
    Vistaprint does not currently offer bookmarks, but they do offer what is called rack cards. These are about 3.7 X 8.2 inches, so I consider them as extra-large bookmarks. The prices range from $14.99 for 50 to $129.00 for 750.  In my opinion, a great price.
    How about magnets that are 3 1/2 X 2 inches - you can get 25 for $12.99. Calendars, mugs, sticky notes ...
    Any time I have ever called in for customer support, my call has been handled with knowledgeable responses and the wait time is very short. Delivery time on shipped items is also fast, by the way.
    The second site I'm crazy over is artscow.com and the biggest reason is that I use this company is because they've got things that I've never seen anywhere else. (That's kinda my thing, remember?)
    One item I am just nuts about is their dog tag; these are an inch or so wide and about an inch and a half long. They may be ordered with both sides printed, for an extra fee. When mine arrived in the mail, they were even complete with a chain.
    This company has mini playing cards (mine were on special - 3 decks for $8, free shipping) and have been a favorite item with my readers, friends and family.
    One hint: with both vistaprint and artscow, you will want to establish an account with them in order to get in on email-only specials and occasional freebies.
    Enjoy designing your promotional items, my fellow authors! I'd love to see some of your designs, by the way.

Robyn