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Writer Wednesday: Book Merch & The Author

Good morning and happy Writer Wednesday authors, we made it to the middle of another week. For those of us in the heat, try to find some shade today and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Now on to today's Writerly topic, yesterday Esquire posted an article about how the influence of social media has impacted how publishing companies approach book swag and marketing.

Book Merch & The Author

In the past couple years, the bigger publishing companies have taken the swag box approach with highly anticipated releases, sending out ARCs to lucky readers with a box worthy of any subscription book box service. Everything from tote bags to water bottles, and other themed items that earns them screen time on influencer profiles.

Not every book gets this curation treatment, and honestly, I'm not sure how much of a hand the author who do land these ARC boxes in their creation and curation, but I would definitely be interested to see how these boxes influence their presales and how the production costs of these boxes are written into their marketing and royalty plans. In many ways this has changed the game for publishing when it comes to marketing, but it has also created challenges and barriers that didn't exist before. This is a method many indie authors have also followed, providing a limited number of book boxes chock full of bookish goodies to certain influencers. But is making your own book box worth it?

Book Merch & the Indie Author

Creating a book box with custom swag for your book is an expensive venture. Whether you include custom candles or hired an artist for character prints, each item in that box adds up, not to mention the cost of shipping. If you are creating these boxes solely for influencers, you are essentially eating the cost and many authors simply don't have the spare funds to create something like this, veteran and newbies alike.

Now, there are ways you can achieve this and if you've set up your own shop on your website or through a third party platform like Etsy to sell copies of your books directly to readers, it could be worth investing in a few side goodies like stickers and book marks that wouldn't drive up the cost of shipping. If you have your heart set on book boxes, there are dozens of indie friendly book box services now in operation. With a little digging, you may find a book box service that will fall in love with your book and feature it in their box. Many of these box services do smaller runs but their produce absolutely beautiful products. Researching them also gives you an idea of the expense if you decided to try to produce a book yourself.

Are They Worth It?

Now the crux of the matter: does this trend make or break releases? I'm here to tell you no. If you want to make a book box for readers to buy or send to a select ARC team (and yes they will likely adore receiving such a box) that is your prerogative. You choose what and how you spend on marketing for your book. It's your book baby. And I will always give the thumbs up for supporting artists and small business owners. I've personally set aside funds in the past to hire artists for character art prints because I not only enjoy seeing my characters come to life like this, but also love including an art print when I sell at events. Would people still buy the book without the art print bonus? Yes. They are there to buy books. At the end of the day, it is the story that will entice people to buy your book, not the swag.

"A beautiful cover and clever PR materials do not always make for a five-star read." -The Merch-ification of Book Publishing by madeline Diamond

Remember, tastes are subjective.

Resources and Further Reading

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