And catchy titles don't hurt either :) !
Promo - a subject near and dear to my heart. But right now I don't have a book to promote. I've got a story (Beauty and The Best? American Title III Finalist? Perhaps you've heard of it?) to promote. To do that, I had to come up with something to promote.
First, I looked at what was "catchiest." The name. A play on Beauty and The Beast, fairly recognizable, always gets a chuckle, some inquiries into what it's about. Also, the AT3 connection. Most people have heard of American Idol, even if they've never watched it, so that, too, is instantly recognizable. It's actually my lead-off when I'm talking to "the press." It perks up their interest.
Then I thought about all those marketing classes I took for the business part of my degree (B.S. in Spanish with the closest thing Penn State offered to a double major back in the day for business). Image sells. So, I created a "book cover" that highlighted the story. Unfortunately, I'm not tech-savvy enough to add in the white sofa back with a painted drop cloth hanging over the back and a woman's leg kicking up from behind it, but the one I came up with gets pretty close. And a slogan - Love can be just a stroke away. Hey, sex sells, and innuendo works when you'll have kids looking at the cover. Voila! An image I can plaster all over everything.
Will it work? Who knows? I guess we'll find out when the contest is over.
Of course, then a whole different promotion comes into play if I'm lucky enough to sell this story. What will get people to pick it off the shelves? I think the most important element, other than store placement and book seller endoresement, is the cover. A good cover that's facing out will get me to pick up a book faster than looking for a favorite author. Maybe I'm in a mood for light-hearted, I'll pick up something with bold colors and a "kicky" cover - kind of like Beauty and The Best's as it is now. Or, if I'm in a mood for something a bit more emotional, maybe I'll pick up one with a darker cover. Maybe I want to lose myself in fantasy, I'll pick up something with a castle on it. It depends on my mood. I can tell you that I probably wouldn't pick up a "bodice-ripper" cover. I think those covers have gone by the wayside - they date themselves to the 80s and my perception of the writing would be tainted. Not that the writing wouldn't be good, it's just that story-telling has changed in 20 some years and since I'm writing for today's market and have limited time to read, I'll pick up something that looks current to me.
Sex sells. I love double entendre and innuendo, so something like, Sex and The Single Vampire, could do it for me. Something provocative and fun. A hot guy on the cover also works - but people have different ideas of hot. I'm reminded of an award winning cover that had just a guy on the cover. People raved over it, "oh, he's so hot," "great cover," etc. I personally thought the guy was, um, yucky? and would never pick up that book. I like to create my own image of the hero - unless of course the cover offers a better one :) But looks are subjective, so you do run a risk of having that reaction.
As for bookmarks, pens, and the like...I did bookmarks for AT3 and attached a paintbrush to them for a conference I went to. They were a novelty item, people picked them up. Did they vote for me? I'd like to think so. If anything, it at least made them remember my story when it came time to vote. Will I do items like that if/when I sell? Not sure. Again, if I get bookseller support (and, yes, my local stores have been GREAT about putting my bookmarks out for the public!), then I might. I think getting your name out is the most important thing once you sell and, media hound that I am, I'll try that route. Local girl done good is always a good story.
Other than that, anyone have any ties to Kelly Ripa? Oprah? That'd be the ticket!
Check my website, www.JudiFennell.com, on December 18, 2006 to see if my promo helped Beauty and The Best make the American Title cut for Round 3 voting which begins that day.