Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Ups and Downs of USPS

I go to the United States Post Office (our nation's fourth largest armed force) a lot.

This morning I have 18 packages to send out. I average about 30 a month.

Today I'm mailing:

30 signed bookplates to a store in PA that request them
2 copies of BLOODY MARY for reviewers
3 handouts from Dark and Stormy Conference for folks who missed my classes
4 copies of Ellery Queen for folks who won a website contest
1 magazine to a guy who won a newsletter contest
1 BLOODY MARY for a woman who won a newsletter contest
3 copies of WHISKEY SOUR for people who ordered them from my website (I break even on the deal)
1 free copy of WHISKEY SOUR for an ailing fan
1 copy of BLOODY MARY for a radio interviewer
1 copy each of WHISKEY and BLOODY for a mystery conference chairperson

No submissions to magazines or anthologies this week, because I haven't written any new short stories lately. But I did mail out five in May (two rejections so far, need to send those back out.)

Last year, I mailed out over 500 free things: chapbooks, books, magazines, signed coasters, bookplates, flyers, etc. The mail is yet another weapon in my marketing arsenol.

I don't do postcards, because people throw away postcards, and I never bought a book because I received a postcard.

Everything I send out is signed, which I do because I'm hoping that peole won't throw away something autographed.

Does it work? Does giving folks signed stuff and running ten contests a year make them rush out and buy my books? Or do the same three people keep entering over and over because they want something free?

I dunno. But I keep doing it anyway.

I do have some proof that my ongoing association with the United States Postal Service is working. Last week, my mailman came to my booklaunch party.

See? I'm a marketing genius.

Gotta start working on the garbage man next...


David J. Montgomery said...

I think you're on to something here, Joe...

I never throw anything away if it's signed. You never know when you might be able to sell it on Ebay.

Steven said...

Can you say something about the costs of all this? I mean, are the copies of Whiskey/Bloody given to you by your publisher? Postage, envelopes, etc? 500 pieces seems like a large expense, no?

JA Konrath said...

Re: Cost.

I cover the cost.

My publisher gives me some copies of my books, and I give those away as promotional items. WHen I run out, I buy from an indie bookstore, who gives me her 40% discount.

I pay for postage. Sending out a book is about $2.50 (including envelope). Flyers are about 40-75 cents for materials and postage.

Overall, it's a few hundred bucks a year. But since I send things out twice a month, the bite isn't too big.

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

It's also a really good way to keep people seeing and using your name even when there isn't a brand spanking new bookout.
And that's really the big trick isn't it? Keeping your name on the tip of everone's tongues even when you aren't there.

Anonymous said...

And the winner is:

The United States Post Office?

Hard call, isn't it? It seems to be working for you. I'm reminded of the comment that 50 cents of every dollar spent on marketing and advertising is wasted, but since you can't tell which 50 cents is wasted, you spend the dollar anyway.
Mark Terry

Anonymous said...

Well, it worked with a friend of mine. You gave her a Japanese copy of your book and made a new fan.