Ten posts and eleven weeks ago, we started out on this foray into merchandising together. My original list was only five items long, but as the weeks ticked by, I realized there was just so much more to unpack––so, so much more. There were weeks when I faced a great recurring quandary, the same quandary that every book-to-film adaptation seems to face these days: “Do I stick with the original vision for this piece, or do I split it into three shorter pieces and fill in the gaps with editorializing?” Which is not to say I quibble with the unstoppable Hollywood machinery; in fact, it’s entirely apropos, I think, to compare merchandising to such a vast and powerful cultural institution.
Ultimately, in the end, merchandising is about making money off of your books, and making money off of books is a difficult enterprise, even when your book is published with a major traditional publishing house. It might sound mercenary to say so, and thereby take books out of the lofty world of ideas and philosophies and re-shelve them among the lower reaches of the sticky-fingered common folk … but at the same time, we must recognize that a book which sells well spreads its ideas well. A well-marketed book is an effective vehicle for those lofty ideas. We cannot shy from the twin facts that merchandising is a) good for us, the indie authors of the world, and b) good for our readers, who are presented with more options, and drawn into more worlds of ideas.
There’s also a third completely parenthetical side benefit … which is to say, c) merchandising can be loads of fun. Who doesn’t love to participate, in some small way, in the stories that taught them to dream big? (….and I’m saying this while I wear a tee-shirt that literally glows in the dark with the schematics for the Space Shuttle.) It might be escapism to try and keep dreams alive a little while longer––whether by slipping on a tee-shirt, or purchasing a special edition––but it may also be exactly what someone needs to forge ahead.
There’s simply no way around one fact: Merchandising can be a lot of work. For the self-published author, it’s a daunting idea at the very least and quite possibly even a paralyzing one. In my first post, all those weeks ago, I wrote that publishing a book does not always equate to instant success––in fact, it only very rarely catapults an author past the breaking-even point. But merchandising, specifically, and self-publishing in general are made so much easier by the presence of a dedicated and supportive community of fellow-laborers, and hopefully by the resources that blogs like this one compile. This series of blog posts (listed below for convenience) may only represent one feeble drop in the bucket when it comes to the resources you can turn to, but I hope that I’ve managed to find a balance between the “Big Picture” (AKA “Concise and Readable”) and some of the finer points of merchandising (AKA “I Should Probably Break This Up Into Twenty Sequels”).
SELF-PUBLISHING AND MERCHANDISING : THE SERIES
- Extras and special editions
- Book covers and jacket design
- A book’s interior design
- The all-important blurb
- The basics of book reviews
- How to get and give good book reviews
- Working with Amazon
- Working with Barnes & Noble
- A few more publication options
- Mugs, notepads, and tee-shirts
Thank you for sticking it out and being a part of this series––your feedback and suggestions have always been of such great use, dear readers. The comments box remains open, but in the meantime, get ready to come at self-publishing from a wholly different angle starting next week Wednesday! I’ll be examining a whole host of social media platforms and breaking down the most surprising ways in which they can be of use to you. It’s going to be a blast! ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.|