I think we can all agree that book merchandise is incredibly important. It can act as promotion, a prize for a contest, or a gift for those who were kind enough to purchase your book.
But when I was faced with actually choosing which merchandise I wanted to use, I came to a lot of options and little help. So, here is what I’ve learned, and hopefully it will help others looking for a breakdown.
First of all, I wanted merch that was inexpensive, which meant no t-shirts or mugs or anything over $1/item. I’ve had great success with bookmarks for my children’s book series because kids love bookmarks, so I wanted to at least get some for Rise. My publisher said that usually, bookmarks end up in the trash, but I figured that if I have several different options for (free) merch, then people would only take something they actually want instead of taking something they feel they have to (and then throw it away). So, I also decided I was going to get stickers and buttons for my YA crowd. The posters I made are going to be for giveaways and to use during signings.
Bookmarks, stickers, and posters
After checking out several sites, I settled on two printing sites that were comparable. They both have a simple online builder where you can design your own bookmarks, stickers, and posters, and see what they will look like before ordering. They also both have many different coupon codes and promotions going on, so one item may be cheaper on one site one day but the opposite another day. Always google promo codes before buying!
- Fast shipping. I got my orders within a week through Fedex.
- Very good quality. My high resolution artwork looked amazing.
- Post-order deals: after you order, you get an extra bargain, such as another set for 50% off or something similar.
- The higher you go in number, the more expensive shipping is. It starts at 6.99 for the lowest.
- Even with promo codes, it’s sometimes still more expensive than other sites (not counting the extra deals)
- Their customer service is a little meh. I had to cancel an order and couldn’t reuse the free shipping code.
- Super cheap. I got 250 bookmarks for under $30 on one of their promos.
- Base shipping is less for higher quantities (but $1 more for lower ones)
- It feels like there are more options to include/exclude things that cost more, such as single sided bookmarks while Vistaprint only offers double sided.
- The quality is significantly lower. The words and images seemed blurred in the printing process. If you’re looking to give the merch away for free, this isn’t a huge deal.
- The base shipping takes foreeeever. It look almost three weeks for me to get my bookmarks! Don’t use this service if you’re in a hurry unless you want to spend a lot on shipping.
- The builder was a little confusing and I got my bookmarks messed up to where the back was upside down from the front but it showed right side up on the engine.
If you want high quality and fast shipping and are willing to pay a bit more, Vistaprint is the way to go.
If you don’t care much about quality and don’t have a deadline, Overnightprints is a great option for less money.
My advice: order a small quantity of each item before going for the large, no matter how much it hurts to pay for the shipping twice. You’ll thank me later. It’s never exactly like you see on the computer screen and once you’re holding it in your hand you can tell where the colors don’t mesh (black vs near black) or where it’s a little off to the side, etc. Don’t end up with 200 bookmarks where your name is distorted or your website is cut off.
For buttons I used Purebuttons.com because it was the cheapest one I found that had a good builder, promo codes, cheap/free shipping, and overall seemed to be better than the other sites I went to.
I was really happy with my order! The shipping was super quick, the buttons look and feel great, and I would totally buy from them again.
The only downside is that I registered on their website and the amount of promo email they send it ridiculous. I had to unsubscribe like day two.
Well, I hope that this was helpful to some of you, and if anyone has any more insight or personal experiences with purchasing merchandise for their books, I would love to hear it!