Books, Bookmarks, Business Cards Or Digital Giveaways. What Should Authors Be Ready To Give Away?

Online marketing is a big part of every author’s focus, but we shouldn’t forget about the value of meeting readers in person. In this article, C. Penticoff offers four types of giveaways for conferences and other in-person events that will expand your reader base and connect you with those in the book industry.

Books, Bookmarks, Business Cards Or Digital GiveawaysOne of the first things every entrepreneur does after launching their business is to order business cards.

This seems logical, especially since it’s an affordable and professional way to distribute a physical piece of content providing all the ways to find and contact you.

You may have already done this, or you may be thinking about ordering some business cards. But, let me ask you this…

What’s one of the first things you do when you’re handed a business card?

It’s probably thrown away, stuck in a wallet, or tossed into the bottomless pit you call your purse… never to be seen again.

Even though business cards are a very affordable option, what’s the point in spending even a penny for something that is hardly ever effective?

If you’re an author, it seems business cards are even less effective if you’re handing these out to readers. Readers aren’t as interested in contacting you as they are in simply doing what they love to do–read your books!

There’s no doubt having something physical to hand out to readers and other professionals in your industry is beneficial, but let’s make sure every dime spent on your business drives your brand further up the ladder.

So, what can you hand out that will drive your business forward, instead of something that will end up in the trash?

1. Books

One great idea for an author is to hand out a book rather than a business card. Books will cost quite a bit more to hand out, but there is no doubt this can be an effective strategy.

Giving booksThe reader will read your book, and because they’ve met you in person, they are more likely to spread the word about your book and become a serial reader.

Be sure your back or front book matter lists ways they can subscribe to your mailing list. Inserting a separate sheet of paper into the book with that information is a great way to engage your reader, and including a bookmark with that information is ideal!

It’s important to note when you hand out a book to someone you make sure they know right away what is in it for them. When you hand a book to someone and you say something like, “Here is my book you can have for free” — that statement makes the free copy about the writer.

When you say something along the lines of, “Do you want to learn how to double your income as an author?” it makes the statement about the reader.

For my genre, I would say something like, “Do you want to get lost in a magical and enchanting world?” You can come up with a phrase that would best fit your book.


If handing out a book is out of your budget, then handing out bookmarks is a fantastic alternative! What’s great about handing out bookmarks is it will have the useful information a business card would, but it’s something the reader can actually use!

You might be wondering where you can go to get a bookmark design. A Novel Connection creates custom bookmark designs for only $25. After you get your design, head to a website, such as 48 Hour Print or Vista Print to purchase your bookmarks. You can easily get 500 bookmarks printed for less than $80.

Psst…Bookmarks are also great for giveaways on social media or your website!

Your bookmark design should include on the front:

  • Your name/logo
  • Your social media handles and website
  • Eye-catching colors and graphics that matches your brand (Have your designer help you with this)

Your bookmark on the back should include:

  • An easy-to-read link that drives your reader to your mailing list, as email marketing is arguably the best way to reach your readers directly.

Email marketingBonus Tip: My mailing list subscription link is ridiculous in length, which is not ideal for a physical item. Therefore, I created a page on my website that includes my mailing list form that is easy to read: That is easy to read and easy to type into a computer.

Your goal should always be to get readers to your mailing list. For example, I offer my mailing list subscribers a free fantasy book every Friday that I hunt down on Amazon; in addition, I offer free writing tips to writers who opt into that feature.

Read The Creative Penn’s post on How to Build Your Email List for a better grasp on email marketing.

3. Business Cards

If books and bookmarks are out of your budget, then business cards are a good option if you do it effectively.

When you design your business card, consider ordering double-sided cards, allowing you to get everything you need on the card without it looking jammed into a tiny space.

What to include on the front:

  • Your logo (Or just your name if you do not have a logo designed yet)
  • Your tagline

Bonus Tip: Your tag line is a one sentence phrase that sums you up as an author.

  • Western Romance Writer
  • New York Times Best-Selling Author
  • Award-Winning Fantasy Author
  • Teaching Writers How to Build Their Brand

What to include on the back:

  • Contact information: email address and/or phone number
  • Website
  • Social media handles
  • Easy-to-read mailing list subscription link

Remember, the mailing list is the money maker, so the best way to use a business card (or any physical item like this) is to include this link and what is in it for them when they subscribe.

4. Ebooks

It is beneficial to have something physical to offer readers and other professionals, but if books, bookmarks, and business cards are out of your financial reach, then you can always give away an ebook, which will be of no cost to you.

books and ipadThis may not be a physical item that readers can hold in their hands, but it sure beats nothing, right?

Make sure you have their explicit permission and then send them the file to your ebook. In the email, be sure to ask them if they want to subscribe to your mailing list, and what’s in it for them when they do, then provide a link where they can easily subscribe.

[Note from Joanna: BookFunnel also offers Instant Book Giving for ebooks as part of their service features.]

What happens if a business professional asks you for your business card?

At this moment, you would offer them whatever physical item you have to give away.

But, do you stop there?

Oh, no! You’re far too savvy of an entrepreneur to leave it at that.

You ask them for their business card and you contact them. There is a very good and strategic reason behind this. When a business professional asks you for your contact information, there is a great chance you will never actually hear from them.

This is especially true if you met them at an event where they also met dozens or even hundreds of other authors or professionals in your industry and/or they are a well-known figure in the industry who is very busy.

After you obtain their business card, give it a few days (I mean, you don’t want to seem desperate), then email (or call) and remind them who you are, what you discussed, and why they were interested in contacting you in the first place. This maximizes your chances of the professional following through in whatever was discussed.

What do you give away at conferences and other in-person events to connect with readers and others in the book industry? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

C. PenticoffTo find more useful writing and entrepreneur resources from C. Penticoff, head to her website, and be sure to subscribe to her mailing list for a free fantasy book every Friday. For authors, check the “writer” box to receive writing tips.

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  • March 21, 2019