Getting the Most from Your Promotional Dollar: Part 1– Writing Implements

As writers, we soon learn that as hard as the actual writing seems to be at times, it is the easy part. Once you finish the manuscript, find a publisher–or decide to go it alone–and have the final product in your hands, THEN the hard part really begins.

You have to promote the book.

Promotion is by far the hardest, and potentially most expensive part of the writing process. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new book and go hog-wild trying to get the word out.

That enthusiasm can lead to this:


That’s not all the promo stuff I have…and haven’t used.

I get great ideas. I get caught up in the moment. I am SURE I have found the next best thing that will make my books fly off the shelves. But let’s examine some of these things in more detail:


See that bottom box? It is 2/3’s full of pens like this:


The pen says in total:

Visit Rie Sheridan’s website
Come share the fantasy!


Nice sentiment…though you can’t read it all at once. And…I bought those pens in…2002 maybe? What are the chances that they still all write?

Most of my recent work is Steampunk or horror. It isn’t that I don’t HAVE fantasy, but most of my canon can’t be effectively promoted that way.

A more useful promotional device would just have the first two lines.

Are these pens still useful? Maybe, but if I put them out, it should be after checking EACH one to make sure it still writes. What a time sink!

Three lessons learned here:

    1. Buy the smallest quantity you think you might use. Sure, you might get a price break if you buy 1000 pens. But if you still have them almost 15 years later, you bought too many.
    2. USE the promo items you buy. You don’t have to be sold on your work. OTHER people do. So don’t keep them hanging around.
    3. Be generic in your message if you are a multi-tasking author. Don’t pigeon-hole your work.


It gets worse when you get fancier with the pens. The Highlighter pens aren’t quite that old, but I doubt that all the highlighters still work, and the batteries for the flashlights go dead VERY quickly. If you aren’t going to use something like that almost immediately, there isn’t any point in them.

Of all the types of pens to buy, I recommend the plain stick pens. People will almost always pick up a pen–you can never have too many pens. A simple stick pen, or one of the plain click pens like my friend Kathryn Sullivan uses will keep your message in front of people on a daily basis.


I use Kathy’s pens all the time. They write well and have a good ink.

For my Steampunk series, The Conn-Mann Chronicles, I decided to go even more old school, because it fits the period (1874). My promo for Jo and her friends is classic and practically indestructible. They will have an unlimited shelf-life…as long as the series does well.


But, can anyone spot the flaw I just saw?

These are a great, long-lasting promotional item…that promotes the main website and not the series specific one that now exists, but didn’t when they were ordered… Ah, well.

When you are looking for writing utensils as promo items–and these are always a practical choice, as long as you keep the number down, because you can always use them around the house if nothing else…here are some websites to consider:

National Pen — this is where I got the stick pens.

Oriental Trading Company — great for pencils.

4imprint — where I got the Conn-Mann pencils.

All of these sites have other items available besides writing implements. We will get into the paper products next week. 🙂




About RieSheridanRose

Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2,  and Killing It Softly. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs. She tweets as @RieSheridanRose.
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