Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marketing Tips for the Financially-Challenged Indie Author: Fliers

Here is the front of the flier for my first book,
The Finding.  I have included the cover image,
the title, a very short excerpt and a few reviews.
Fliers are one of the most basic forms of advertising, but let’s face it: they aren’t the most graciously accepted form of advertisement either.  If you’ve ever had the misfortune of standing in the middle of a busy crowd while trying to get people to take your leaflets, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.  And how often have we returned to our cars in a parking lot, only to scowl when we see neon pink or green papers pinned under our windshield wipers? 
Regardless of their general nuisance, fliers still give an author one more chance to get their name out there, and if these fliers are made with a little creativity in mind, then all the better.  And let’s face it, although we generally shun them, we do still read a flier if it is handed to us.  So, why not harness that potential and use these little sheets of paper to advertise our own books? 
I have used fliers before at book festivals and farmers’ markets.  I have yet to try them in other places (I haven’t yet got up the gumption to leave them under windshield wipers or post them on telephone poles).  For now I’d like to share with you the process (or at least the process I follow) of making fliers to help promote your own novel and yourself as an author.  It might be easier than you think, and it will save you more money if you can do it yourself (at least the designing portion). 
Fliers can be single or double-sided, full color or black and white, and large or small.  I prefer double-sided, full color (at least on one side) and of a smaller size.  Not only will smaller fliers save you money in the end, but they are easier to put in a pocket (I’d rather have someone take a flier from me and put it in their pocket, then throw it in the next garbage can they pass.  At least if the flier is in a pocket or a purse, it has a chance to be viewed once again later).
Here is a full page with four fliers on it.  I left the outline of some of the text boxes so you can get an idea of how I use them.  I kept the design the same as for my first book, but as you can see I changed the colors to match the book cover.
With that said, here’s how you begin: start out with a blank, 8 1/2” x 11” document with the margins set at 0” all around.  From there you can pick your page color (I went with black because it matches the theme of my book covers).  Once you have the page set up, draw in four text boxes of identical size (I made mine 5.2” x 3.9”, that way I have spare room on the sides).  If you split your page in this way, then you’ll have four fliers per page instead of one.  If you need more room for images, book excerpts, reviews or a short biography, then you can always split the page in half and only have two fliers per page (this all depends on your budget and how many fliers you wish to hand out).
After you have your text boxes set up, you can start adding images (your book cover, your own portrait, extra artwork from your book or series etc.).  Personally, I prefer a very colorful flier, but simple might be better for others, depending on the genre of the book.  Adding images is rather easy: simply copy and paste them into the text boxes (you might want to insert a smaller text box into the one that represents the border of your flier).  Once the image is inside the text box, you can re-size them to fit with everything else.
Here is the flier for The Finding split on one sheet of paper.  It may be hard to read, but you can see how I set up the excerpt on the with a review and my website, therefore leaving the front to display everything else.
After you have your images where you want them, you can add text (taking the same steps as before, inserting text boxes and placing them wherever you wish).  With these new text boxes you can add a book excerpt, a quick, one or two sentence describing your book, reviews from your readers, a short biography, your email and/or website and maybe even a book giveaway or author appearance. 
If you want to use the back of your fliers as well, set up the same template as the front (four boxes to match the dimensions on the front or two if you want more space).  I used most of the space on the back of my fliers for a book excerpt, adding my website and a quick review in the space that was left.  You might have to experiment with font sizes and types (some fonts are a lot smaller than others when set at the same size).  I do my best to use all available space in order to include as much information as possible.
Once everything is complete and you’ve checked for spelling errors and such, save your final draft (I save mine as a PDF, that way the fancier fonts don’t change on me), and take it to your local print and copy store and have copies run off.  Again, you can choose whether or not you want black and white or color copies, single or double sided (color and double sided copies will cost more, but that is why I went with the four mini fliers per page).  All you need after that is a paper cutter (I believe most stores that offer print services have them on hand) and soon you’ll have plenty of small, medium or large fliers to hand out the next time you find yourself amid a large crowd.


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