A while back--like, a long while back--I was thinking about merchandise tie-ins for my book:
What would be the logical options? Um. Tacky t-shirts. Tourist action figure (Now whips out the camera 3 times faster!). Postcards. Beer bottles or coasters, maybe. Pastries, definitely. Yes, that's it: [Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day]-branded croissants! Any bakers who read this should call me to talk numbers, make deals, plan strategy. Big money awaits! Mega-profits guaranteed!!
For some reason, that never quite worked out. Alas. Neither did the plan to give give away canal-side houses in Amsterdam to all of my readers. I tried, but, man, you wouldn't believe the paperwork.
What I settled on instead was this: Commentary Track Bookmarks.
DVDs come with commentary tracks and assorted extras, so why shouldn't books? Commentary Track Bookmarks are, yes, bookmarks featuring page-specific outtakes, notes on the writing process, photos, and other behind-the-scenes insights into my travels and my book. They were inspired in part by my friend Rolf Potts's excellent book Marco Polo Didn't Go There, which had commentary track sections at the end of each story.
There are forty different bookmark designs--collect 'em all! Come to one of the book tour events and I'll give you one--or send me a letter or postcard and I'll include one in my reply. Below are two examples; there are more at the bottom of each page as you click around the book web site.
And if you're wondering how to some for yourself, there's a bit of a trick involved. . . .
These bookmarks were actually printed as postcards. If you don't know about moo.com, they're an excellent online printer of business cards and postcards and the like. I swear they're not paying me to promote them, but they do offer one fantastic and frankly game-changing feature: you can get many different images printed for the same price. For example, if you order forty postcards, each one can have a different picture for the front (though only one consistent design for all of the backs).
I ordered a set of twenty postcards, each one set up (in InDesign) to have two different commentary track designs on the front, e.g. a photo, an explanation, or an outtake. Twenty postcards with two designs each equals forty bookmarks. The backs of all of the postcards had to be the same, but since I was slicing them in half, I was still able to create two (slightly) different designs, each one with basic info about the book.
So if you'd like to make your own Commentary Track Bookmarks, here's the how-to:
1. Design postcards, with two bookmarks on each card. Make sure each bookmark design, front and back, takes up exactly half the card--this will make things so much easier later on. Placement is very important. I'd also recommend adding discreet trim marks to denote the middle of the card.
2. Order your postcards from moo.com.
3. Use a paper cutter or X-Acto knife or similar to slice the postcards in half. Voilà! Bookmarks.
4. Insert bookmark into the book at the relevant page.