So sayeth one of the greatest minds of our time.
Marketing is an extremely crucial part of being an indie writer. After all, who's going to want to read your story if no one knows it exists? Whether you self publish on Amazon Kindle or go the POD route, you're going to have to get out there and sell, sell, sell! After all, coffee is for @#^% closers!
Of course, for us socially and social media awkward types, marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects of indie writing. I know I'm not a fan. However, something that is often overlooked is that marketing doesn't have to be boring, grueling or even expensive. There's a way to have fun with marketing and it actually has many benefits to you as an indie writer beyond selling books. I'm talking, of course, about merchandising!
Now, when I say merchandising, I don't mean mass-market licensing or anything like that (although that's kinda what the literal definition is). I'm talking more along the lines of faux merchandising; you know, arts & crafts type of projects that you make at home. Things like your own toys:
These are just a few examples from my own personal, but really there is no limit. If you can think of it, you can slap your book onto it. Not only will your merchandise be fun for you, but it'll be fun for your fans as well and help generate interest in your book. Having some merchandise available to show-off at your next book signing or display on your webpage or blog (!!!) is a great way to attract attention. Certainly anyone passing by is more inclined to take a second look at your table if there's something physical to attract them. It will also greatly assist in explaining what your book is about. If you have something to physically represents the characters (ie. toys, posters, etc.) you can point to the merchandise every time you mention said character. The physical representation will help the listener to follow along (their minds won't have to work so hard to recall who you're talking about) and it will stick with them longer. They'll be able to focus more on your book and ultimately increase your chances of making a sell. You could even use your merchandise with a promotion; a drawing or contest such as 100th person to purchase my book this merchandise (don't forget to sign it!).
Merchandising also helps you, the indie writer, with your writing. Having that physical representation can help you feel closer to your story and your characters. Hit a wall of writer's block? Work on a merchandising project. It'll give you a much needed break from the pen (keyboard?) without taking your mind off the story. It's also a fun way to get excited about writing. It's all too easy to get burnt out writing, but a merchandising project will give you something to focus on while simultaneously heightening your excitement with your story. It'll also give you a sense of accomplishment that will give you confidence in your story.
In these "Merchandising, Merchandising!" articles I'll be detailing my own merchandising projects. How I made them, why I made them; that sort of thing. Hope you enjoy!