My Boston book launch is coming up. This is super exciting, and I’m eagerly counting down the days. However, publishing with an indie company means that the whole “published author” namesake isn’t quite as glamorous as I’d imagined it would be. The book is out there, but there’s still a ton of marketing and promoting waters to navigate, and I’m not a very strong swimmer (hey there, metaphor).
That being said, I’ve been determined to DIY my way to success, at least for now. After doing tons of research on “how-to- throw-a-successful-book-launch”, I initially became convinced that I could never, ever, in a million years, organize or afford half of the exciting launch party antics that were being suggested to me. It was a discouraging realization, and after spending a solid day (or two…) griping to my husband that I’d be better off faking my death and selling books posthumously, I realized that I’d have to find a less melodramatic route to success.
SO, I put on my big girl pants and I turned to the most professional resource on the entire internet: Pinterest. What followed were several madhouse days of cutting, pasting, knotting, painting, and fervently scrubbing Henry glue prints off of the kitchen floor (I told you guys that “published author” isn’t quite as glamorous as it sounds!).
Anyway, I’ve decided to chronicle some of my efforts for those of you out there that might be feeling as flustered and aimless as me as you set out into the world of marketing. For everyone else… here’s a sneak peek of some of the swag bag loot and how it came into existence.
When I decided to include a rolled up map in the swag bag, it helped that I already had a map made for the front pages of Rogue Elegance. I drew this map out by hand ages ago, and my incredibly talented friend Emily made it look polished and complete in some nifty computer program that is far beyond my understanding.
For this portion of the epic DIY undertaking, all I did was print out copies of the pre-made map. I printed it onto regular paper instead of cardstock, because I’ve found that when you try to “antiquate” cardstock paper it just looks soggy, which is a total downer for everyone.
Once the map was printed and the borders were cut out, I set about making it look like it had been through hell and back. Those of you who have read Rogue Elegance know exactly what kind of crazy ride this map has been on in the jacket pocket of Alexander Mathew–it’s bound to have seen its share of blood sweat and tears (but mostly blood, let’s be honest).
First, I boiled a heaping mug of English Breakfast Tea. It doesn’t matter what flavor of tea it is, but make sure it’s a black tea so that you really get that parchment color you’re looking for! Once the teabags have soaked for an appropriate amount of time (and you’ve consumed all the tea your heart desires) you can start rubbing/dripping the tea bag over the maps.
I say rubbing and dripping because I find that if you let the drip marks soak for a while you’ll get pretty dark stain spots, which makes the map have this cool discolored look.
Once that portion of the project was done and my fingers smelled like tea leaves, I hung the maps to drip dry on the line in my basement. Then, like a madwoman, I dipped my fingers in red paint and ran up and down the line smearing the odd “blood-stain” here and there on the maps.
The bloodstains are optional for making a map look “antiquated”–I only went ahead with it because its relevant to Rogue Elegance and the whole pirate theme of the launch party. I kept it firetruck red and pretty cartoonish because I don’t want to upset the more squeamish folk with some really legit looking plasma splatters.
After the maps dry, set them on fire.
No, but seriously, if you try this at home, make sure you’re doing it in a place where you’re not going to set off fire alarms or burn your house down in accidental arson. My husband and I bundled up, donned our headlamps like the cool kids we are, and went and stood over the fire pit in our backyard. We used two long candlesticks to slowly burn the edges of the map and give it a distressed look. I’m fairly certain some of our nosier neighbors now think we like to engage in Satanic rituals of some sort on starry October evenings, but that’s totally okay.
I put the final touches on the map by rolling up the parchment and fastening it with a bit of twine! Just like that, I have a pretty legit looking promotional item to give away at the launch!
Bookmarks are a FANTASTIC way to market your book in the real world (aka not on various social media platforms that I barely understand). They’re fairly simply to make and can say a whole lot of useful information about you and your story on one little strip of paper.
For the bookmarks, I created a bookmark template on Microsoft Word. I did this using an incredibly high-tech, very complicated method: I drew a tall rectangle using the “Insert Shape” option (you can take a moment to appreciate my technological prowess now, thank you). I then decorated the inside of the rectangle with my desired theme and information.
I printed out the bookmarks on white cardstock paper so that they would be considerably thicker than regular paper. From there, I used matte paper-on-paper mod podge to glue the back of the cardstock paper to the back of the embossed kraft paper I purchased from Joanne Fabrics (see the supply photo above).
I went with a nautical style for the kraft paper, given the swashbuckling pirates theme of Rogue Elegance, but there are literally millions of different patterns to choose from at Joanne Fabrics. Millions. You could die back there in the scrapbook section and they wouldn’t find your body for days.
Anyway, once I allowed the mod podge to dry completely, I went ahead and cut out the bookmark shapes. From there, I used a hole punch to make an opening at the top center of the bookmark.
I purchased some frayed, discolored twine to tie through the hole because I felt like it looked a bit like weathered rope. I also opted to fasten distressed wooden beads at the end of the twine, but you can really attach anything you want, as long as it fits in with the theme and feel of your book (and bookmark!)
So there you have it–two relatively easy to make DIY promotional items. With the book launch fast approaching, all that I have left to do is blackmail my friends into coming over to help me stuff the swag bags full of maps, bookmarks, and chocolate coins. I’ve managed to avoid breaking my bank, and I only burned my fingers twice while lighting maps on fire. I’ll count that as a success!
Thank you all for reading, and be sure to check out Rogue Elegance in the “Purchase Your Book Now” section of the blog! It’s available for $2.99 on Kindle, but look out for an upcoming promotional sale this weekend, where you can nab it for significantly cheaper (as in, free).