If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen I was giving away bookmarks and asking for feedback on some bookmark designs. I thought I’d give you some thoughts on what I did and what you might do for yourself as an author, and how to make author bookmarks to promote your books.

I have quite a bit of experience in printing materials for promotion, so let me hit just some things for you to think about.

1.) What is the bookmark’s Call-to-Action? You need to be really clear here because it will impact your design. My Call-to-Action was to interest the reader into buying my books and joining my newsletter.

Here are some beginner mistakes I’m seeing with people printing bookmarks: all that is on the bookmark is their name or just their website. This doesn’t give the recipient anything to do with that information.

If you put quotes from reviews of your book on the bookmark, but don’t have a direct call-to-action (such as “Here is where to buy your book”) than those quotes are just a dead-end.

author bookmark back showing QT codes and book blurb
bookmark back with call-to-action details

3.) How will you be distributing your bookmarks? Who’s the target audience for them?

Will you be giving it out to potential readers, or to potential business clients to network with?

Conventions? Author signings? One thing that really worked for me is mailing out bookmarks to anyone who requested one via my Instagram account (or just contact your biggest supporters and ask if they would like one). Even shipping it internationally ($3 to Australia and Estonia) was very doable because it was lightweight and shipped flat.

What was so cool (but wasn’t my intention), was that people started posting their bookmarks in their IG stories! So I got a lot of attention for just mailing out bookmarks! Woohoo!

If you are mailing out bookmarks, make sure the size will fit into a standard envelope. The ones I designed will fit into a standard business envelope but will not fit into an invitation envelope.

I’m handing mine out for free since it is a promotional item like a business card. Some people charge a nominal fee.

Let’s get down to some brass tacks about how to make your bookmark.

I’d suggest designing it in Canva or Snappa. That will make it very easy to do the layout. You will need the finished design into a pdf (this is preferred by printers). Some online printers have a design feature on their website – I prefer better control over the design.

Colors: Do you have defined colors that are part of your brand? I use this website to find colors. I use two: an orange and a teal in my marketing materials. Use the number/letter code for your colors to keep color consistent.

Fonts: The same goes for fonts. Do you use one consistently for your marketing materials? I use one the same one for my author name on titles.

Image: Artwork needs to be something that appeals to bookworms – that the recipient would continue to keep even if they don’t read your book or are not attached to your characters.

Be aware that a bookmark is very narrow. This will impact what image you will need to use – look for something that would fit into a narrow and tall format.

Bookmarks seem to really appeal to those who collect them, so making them very attractive on one side would be a good idea. Don’t plaster both sides of your bookmarks with “buy me” messages!

I have mixed feelings about putting character art on the bookmark. Why? Because the bookmark is the point of contact before they’ve read your books. Will a character they don’t know about, appeal to them?

I feel character bookmarks are better for when you have an established fanbase who might view them as collectible – especially if you are doing conventions.

Byrd Nash author bookmark designs

A neat thing I did was hold an informal feedback/contest on my IG account. I posted images and asked followers to vote on the ones they liked best. Those posts were some of the most commented on my account in a long time.

BTW the photos I ended up using are from iStockPhoto, on my Essentials plan. The wolf photo was Photoshop enhanced when comments said it needed more magic.

Text: The bookmark is a teaser – use words and phrases that excite interest and then direct them to do something.

Keep the text short and punchy. Pull the best quotes from your reviews. Use one or two lines that describe the most important features of your book. What would make your Ideal Reader perk up their ears?

Call to Action: What do you want the recipient to do after seeing the bookmark? Here are some ideas on a Call-to-Action:

  • Read a free story (where you collect their email “Reader Magnet”).
  • Listen to a free story (audiobook teaser on your website).
  • Watch a video trailer about your book (on your website).
  • Enter a contest via your website.
  • Visit your website to do X.
  • Read reviews of your book.
  • Buy your book.

Where does the reader go? When showing an url link to use, it’s best to keep it short and sweet. The longer and more complicated it is, the more likely you will lose your visitor. For example, I use www.byrdnash.com/ww for my book Wicked Wolves of Windsor.

This is easy to type and isn’t confusing. For example if your url used a ZERO, would they know that was a 0 or a O? Make it clear!

QR codes make it a no-brainer: Think about using a QR code to direct your visitor. This is an image that is generated by your url that camera phones can now scan and immediately open a page. They are regaining popularity now that Android has caught up with Apple on their camera phone technology.

Make your QR codes for free right here.

blog posts review marketing software and services, and gives an insider view of my experiences of becoming a self-published author.

Some things to keep in mind regarding printing costs:

1.) Quantity. The more you order, the lower the cost per bookmark. I’d recommend doing a short run (small number), doublecheck your design, and next run a large order. Or just ask for a proof (btw always get a proof even if it costs extra!)

2.) Print both sides. You have valuable real estate, so use it!

3.) Size of the bookmark might impact cost (it didn’t for me). Common bookmark sizes are (in inches): 2×6, 2×7, and 2×8. I went with a 2.4 x 8.5 as I wanted a very large bookmark.

4.) Thickness of paper card stock effects price. Just be aware the thicker the stock, the more durable the bookmark. I went with 16 pt.

5.) UV Coated or non-coated? Personal choice. I did coated, because it makes it more durable, but it also increases the price.

6.) Square corners or rounded corners? Personal choice. I did 1/8-inch rounded and it increased the cost. Why? Because that is an extra step in cutting the finished product.

7.) Allow room for the bleed. A bleed is where the image runs off every side of the printed card. You need enough room so when they cut the bookmarks (which isn’t too accurate a process as there is slippage), you don’t cut off important information or crucial areas of the image.

8.) Get at least three quotes from different printers. The cheapest isn’t always the best. Online printing choices also abound. I went with a local printer, because I prefer local service and supporting my community. I was also very pleased with the price, turnaround time, and quality.

9.) Order with plenty of time to meet deadline. Nothing pisses off a printer more than you contacting them about a rush order. Trust me. I know this. And if you rush, something is bound to go wrong and will cost you more money.

If you have any specific questions for me about printing bookmarks, just comment below and I will answer them as best as I can.

Byrd Nash, fantasy author using mythology, legends, folklore, and fairy tales.

BTW I’ve been sick this last week – and my voice is rather rough so there will be no Book Wordy Podcast this week or next!

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