If you have a popular book or have developed a series of books, you may want to expand your revenue opportunities by offering merchandise centered on it. There’s really no limit to what you can merchandise, though coffee mugs, bookmarks, and tote bags probably will prove to be the most popular sale items.
You can build such a page using your website host’s template – it’s as simple as posting thumbnails and product descriptions with prices. But this then requires you to go out and order all of these book-related items, to warehouse them, and then to set up some pay system. And you didn’t become a writer to become a retailer.
A much easier route is to create an online store at a provider like CafePress or Zazzle. They’ll provide products that you simply slap your book logo onto, offer a website page for you to display these items in catalog form, give customers a way to pay with their credit cards, and they’ll handle all of the orders. These online store providers then send you a cut or royalty for sales made.
Setting up such a storefront will take some time. I probably spent an entire afternoon and the better part of an evening creating the online store for my “Hikes with Tykes” series. If you’ve got a teenager or college-aged kids, you may want to talk them into building the storefront for you. It’s actually lots of fun to do – but it’s also a distraction from your writing.
The other downside to these storefronts is that getting them to look like your website is nearly impossible. That’s probably not such a big deal, though, so long as you give your storefront the same name as your website and use a similar color scheme.
A link to your online store should appear on your website. It can simply be called “Online store” or “(book series name) Merchandise.”
To set up a storefront, first decide who will be your online store host. Reviews of CafePress, Zazzle, and other providers appear online and are well worth reading before jumping in.
Once you decide who will host your online store, you’ll have to create an account with that company, provide information about where your royalty can be deposited, and set up the storefront template. All of this can be done online.
The last general step is to decide what merchandise you’ll sell. Among the items you might consider are: aprons, bed sheets, clothing (especially T-shirts and hats), coffee mugs, iPod cases, journals, Kindle sleeves, laptop covers, license plate covers, mouse pads, pajamas, photo cards, postcards, posters, puzzles, steins, shot glasses, stationery, stickers, teddy bears, tote bags … well, you get the idea.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.