Cut me and I bleed Merch

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In a world where an e-book sells for $2.90, why aren’t authors capitalising on alternative streams of income? 

People love stuff

If it’s not commonly known, it should be. Once you get past furniture, clothing, cooking utensils and lighting, pretty much everything a person owns in their house is just stuff. Items they think may increase in value, items they like, another man’s trash… It’s all there.

It’s stuff, we buy it, we’re not really sure why, and if the person selling it to us has a wider than average smile; we feel raped. 

Costs

Merchandising your book is cheap and easy. Now days you don’t have to order five hundred t-shirts of varying size in the hope someone makes a purchase… Only to find your one morbidly obese reader, is also the only one who wants a tee.

Through various websites that I won’t mention until they give me money, you can start a store, link it from your blog and away you go. They will produce and ship the merchandise, you design (or get someone else to) and set the price.

A little how-to…

What kind of stuff?

Glad you asked. First of all, you are a book, and merchandising for books, normally, doesn’t take flight until after the movie has assailed the box-office. So, you need to think outside the box (a term I hate, nobody is IN the box).

Look at your source material. Are there any things in your novel that are particularly interesting; jewelery, items, clothing, whatever? Can these be brought – cheaply – into the real world? If so, do it.

Accessories are brilliant in this respect and (sorry ladies) should be targeted at women. Though in this day and age of hair gel and guy-liner, just as many men accessories as women; men do not notice other guys accessories, as often. It’s cheap and easy to distribute branded buttons and patches, they are throw away items. A person will buy them, stick them on a bag or hoody, then forget about them.

Make your merch stand alone

This is the most important part of it all. Merchandise for a book that isn’t trendy already, needs to be appealing on its own. People who have never read your book, and have no idea who you are need to be impulsed by the stuff simply because it is stuff.

Logo-types (the name of your book in logo form) can be laid to rest in Hell’s warm embrace. Like most, I wouldn’t be seen dead in a t-shirt that simply had a fancy scrawl of a book’s name (well, maybe, but it would have to be pretty fuggin fancy).

So if you decide to produce T-shirts get a graphic designer! Look at the styles people are wearing and take an element within your book and generate a design from it. Lets say your fantasy novel features an alphabet you’ve created. Take the alphabet, make it into a pattern, then run it along the front of the tee. It will look like an interesting, abstract design, and if you can hawk it for $25 people will wear it because it’s weird and unique.

Make it stand out

Clothing and accessories need to stand out. You are not going to get any new fans if your shirts and accessories do not ask questions. You want to keep the self promotion as small as possible. So if you are selling buttons, you want the imagery to be standalone, with a tiny inscription of your website on the side. Even more so if you’re selling T-shirts. I, like many, will not wear a t-shirt with a website on it. Integrate the name of your site into the design.

Wrap up

We are living in an age where you don’t have to fit the mould to be a published author. People are cutting a living from ebook sales, which is great. But these same people who have a brilliant following of loyal fans could be vaulted from affording the bills to affording houses, if they capitalised on alternative streams of income.

The Etheros Store (coming soon)

I probably should have launched my store before publishing this, oh well.

Thanks for reading,

Cortez

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