Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Widgets from Hell

Ten Promotional Products Authors Should Probably Avoid

Caution: Some of these links are not work-safe.

1. Beanie Babies -- yes, they're precious, and soft, and cuddly, and so sweet, and you have ten thousand of them on shelves in your bedroom and decorating your bookshelves and piled up the rear window of your car, and please, I ask, no, I beg you, don't infect anyone else with the beanie baby craziness. Besides, you know the ones you give away will be worth a fortune in a few years, right? Best keep them in your personal collection.

2. Book Matches -- Why do we even have these anymore? I thought everyone quit smoking by now. Anyway, the first rule of advertising is: never give the buyer a promotional item that can actually destroy your product.

3. Condoms -- Not what you want to be handing out at the Christian Booksellers Association's annual con, but I'd pay money to watch someone do it at RWA National. My suggestion: sneak them into the big luncheon and put them on top of the freebies they stack on the seats.

4. Hard Hat -- useless, unless your reader is attending a SFWA-run conference, in which case it would be more practical to offer promotional hip waders.

5. Fake Tattoo -- Think about the many places on the body to which this item can and will be applied. Or, guess where I'd put it. Yep. Next.

6. Fly Swatter -- I want you to close your eyes, and imagine your cover art. Now festoon it with the smushed bodies of flies and fly parts. Yum. (Might work for the New Weird authors, though.)

7. Herb Grinder, Pocket-Size -- For God's sake, do I even have to explain this one?

8. Nipple Rings -- Look, just keep your advertising away from my womanly curves altogether, got it?

9. Playboy Playmate Calendar -- The average book buyer in the US is female, middle-aged and straight. For us, you need to invest in the PlayGIRL Promotional Calendar.

10. Rolling Papers -- Yeah, sure. Nothing says "Search my body cavities" at the airport like getting caught with a thousand of these in your carry-on.

19 comments:

  1. I dunno. I wouldn't mind the Playboy calendar... ;)

    Some of these, though, I have to wonder... who the hell thought of them as promo items in the first place???

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  2. I was, you know, wondering why anyone would want a portable herb grinder. Then I got to the rolling papers and suddenly it all made sense. :)

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  3. I actually did get a condom and a fake tattoo as promo items.

    The fake tattoo was cute but really had nothing to do with the book so it made no sense and is sitting in my promo goodies basket.

    The condom - I thought it was a neat idea. It had the book cover on the front part of the package and author website. And it was memorable. It's also sitting in the promo goodies basket. I think it could work. Possibly.

    Now the breast shaped stress relief ball - that would have to be a big no.

    some of the others could work as long as it fit the story.

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  4. :OP

    Dang, there goes my idea of cutting down on the bratlet's beanie baby collection.

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  5. But see, my novel's called "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo". If it gets published, I WOULD get fake tattoos of polar bears. And I promise not to think about where you'd decide to put it. :)

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  6. This list actually made me spit coffee...which led to an addition.

    Napkins. For God's sake, who wants to lose a fan to a horrible coffee stain that mars the link to buy the book?

    Condoms? REALLY? What if the ad content glowed in the dark?

    The tattoos might work better if you had a certain number made and then paid attractive people to wear them in stare-worthy positions...

    Loved this post...

    -DNW
    Macabre Ink

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  7. Guilty of giving away Beanie Babies in drawings! But hey, they all entered to win them : )

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  8. There goes my plan for a tattoo of a big blood splat. It was perfect...title...Crimson...tattoo...blood splat. How could you go wrong? LOL

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  9. Ellora's Cave gets the prize for creative inclusion of condoms as promotional items. I don't know if they give them away at RWA, but they're all over the party at RT.

    Fake tattoos worked for Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series but it was a natural tie-in since she used the DH symbol and all of the Hunters in her book have that tattoo/brand mark.

    I'm not in favor of any promo item that can be destroyed in less than 5 seconds. This includes book covers printed on candy bar wrappers or bottled water. I remember an author had her cover printed on water bottles that were on the tables at each place for a conference luncheon. Their promotional effectiveness was over before lunch. People drank the water, left the bottles.

    I like promo items that you look at a lot. Several years ago, someone put their name, branding statement and website URL on a little item that was used to remove dust from a computer screen. I looked at that thing almost every day when I picked it up to clean my screen. Pocket once did small bottles of hand lotion. Every time I pulled out the bottle, I thought of Pocket books.

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  10. When I worked in radio, we made promo condoms for the station. They were a huge hit; our promo director had a whole bunch of them lined up in her desk, autographed.

    Given Trevor's views of monogamy, I'd totally give them away, Lynn. They'd fit perfectly with the book.

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  11. So you're saying that if I plunk down the geets for the promo condoms and plan to pass them out in San Fran, you will come? Cause that may be worth every penny.

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  12. EC gave them out in NJ last time I did a conference.

    I grabbed a few to foist on my 16-year-old (I'd had breakfast with a public health nurse who convinced me that the first time he needed a condom shouldn't be the first time he used one.) My kids already had a pretty low opinion of my job and that didn't help.

    Eh, life.

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  13. It occured to me, after I stopping laughing, why not make a Darkyn cover art calendar. Use the seven Darkyn novels, the Darkyn novella, and the three short stories. I know that's only 11, but just throw in a picture of Daniel Craig to make it 12. wink,wink!!

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  14. And here I thought I was being daring by adding condoms to the list (this is what happens when you go hurtling into middle-age; you forget that what is risque to you is no problem for the next generation of writers.)

    Heather wrote: But see, my novel's called "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo". If it gets published, I WOULD get fake tattoos of polar bears. And I promise not to think about where you'd decide to put it. :)

    Hey, I like polar bears (everyone, wave at Jean.) If my daughter didn't swipe it for herself, I'd probably wear one on my wrist. :)

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  15. David wrote: Napkins. For God's sake, who wants to lose a fan to a horrible coffee stain that mars the link to buy the book?

    Or worse, see someone blow their nose with your promo.

    Condoms? REALLY? What if the ad content glowed in the dark?

    (choking on tea) Finally, the ultimate promo idea for Evermore comes along, just four weeks too late.

    The tattoos might work better if you had a certain number made and then paid attractive people to wear them in stare-worthy positions...

    Might work, as long as you aren't Patricia Cornwell. Come to think about it, I know some young people who would fight over the right to wear some of Sasha White's titles. :)

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  16. Mary wrote: I like promo items that you look at a lot. Several years ago, someone put their name, branding statement and website URL on a little item that was used to remove dust from a computer screen. I looked at that thing almost every day when I picked it up to clean my screen. Pocket once did small bottles of hand lotion. Every time I pulled out the bottle, I thought of Pocket books.

    Words of wisdom, thanks, Mary.

    Let me add one promo flag -- nothing made out of glass, please. I picked up what I thought was a pretty little acrylic mini-bud vase at RWA National, and didn't realize it was glass. It broke in my purse sometime that day as I was schlepping around the workshops, and I sliced the hell out of my fingers on the pieces while reaching in for my room key.

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  17. Eva wrote: So you're saying that if I plunk down the geets for the promo condoms and plan to pass them out in San Fran, you will come?

    Stop tempting me, Eva. If I go to one more National, my luck is finally going to run out, and some pinhead with a grudge will poison me, shove me down a flight of stairs or run me over with their rental car.

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  18. Miss Kate wrote: I grabbed a few to foist on my 16-year-old (I'd had breakfast with a public health nurse who convinced me that the first time he needed a condom shouldn't be the first time he used one.) My kids already had a pretty low opinion of my job and that didn't help.

    That's a tough present for a mom to give under any circumstances. Good for you.

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  19. Big T wrote: It occured to me, after I stopping laughing, why not make a Darkyn cover art calendar. Use the seven Darkyn novels, the Darkyn novella, and the three short stories. I know that's only 11, but just throw in a picture of Daniel Craig to make it 12. wink,wink!!

    Never thought of a cover art calendar. Great idea, T, thanks.

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