Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Does a Clamshell Have to Do with Marketing Your Book?

Recently, at a writer's conference, I learned a little about clamshells.

No, I'm not going to speak about clams found on an ocean floor or even gathered on a sandy beach, these clamshells have to do with selling your book(s).  

Photo by: Pretty/Ugly Design

When you put together a clamshell for book sales* you're looking at a case that holds your book, an article, some testimonials about your book, a CD, etc. When I put together my first clamshell it was on the cheaper end (and not really a clamshell); I bought a paper folder and arranged everything in that. And the results looked okay, but more like something I used to assemble in high school for a report.

A step up from the paper folder was the a slick plastic folder; again, I had to step up the cost, but the items looked that much nicer. In both cases, however, the book fit in awkwardly, though I was able to place a first chapter in the folder nicely, plus every other item I've mentioned.

*A folder with the above information works nicely for a media kit. Media kits are usually presented to radio and television stations, magazines and newspapers where you'd like a write up, etc.

Hard bound binder with plenty of pockets and plastic inserts, can be used. Get a folder that has a place to slide in a picture of your cover. Folders like these can be found at office supply stores. Purchase CD clamshells for your CD(s) and make sure everything is handled as professionally as possible.

Photo by: puuikibeachm courtesy of Flickr
Your next best bet to selling your product in bulk may be shrink wrapping. Many copy centers provide this service, though your marketing contents will be stacked one on top of each other and not as nicely displayed. If you choose this option, your marketing materials will need to be smaller than your book. You could put a CD on top of the book and maybe a business card, but you'll probably not want to add anything larger than your book that you'll need to fold to fit unless you are backing the stack with larger sized cardboard. Purchase CD Clamshells for your CD(s).

A plastic clamshell to hold your material is a bit more pricey than a standard, plastic or high end folder, and even shrink wrapping, but if you are going the way of presentations and speaking engagements you just might want to invest in the upgrade. Plastic clamshell cases can be purchased online but they are difficult to find for books. I found plenty of CD clamshell cases, and clamshell cases for take out food, but not near enough options for authors interested in the clamshell option for their book.

If you decide to put together a clamshell for your product, consider some of the places I am looking at for my future book packaging needs:

BLAIR http://packaging.blairpkg.com/category/custom-contract-packaging
ANDEX http://www.andex.net/clamshell-sizes.php
BLACKBOURN http://www.blackbourn.com/presentation-packaging.html. Check out their online catalog!

When it comes to your presentation, a great package is really the icing on the cake. And you can decide what your books and other information is worth when buying in bulk.

What to put inside:

Your book
Media related items: Book reviews, testimonials, articles, the first chapter of your upcoming book & upcoming speaking events
A CD of you reading your book
A DVD of you reading your book; perhaps a speaking event that was recorded previously
Your business card or postcard
A bookmark or other small promo item

In a clamshell :), I would suggest not using folders as part of your sales. Low-end folders should be used for media purposes only. It's really a good idea to start out right and make your work look as professional as you can from the get-go.

Right now I sell everything I have published singly. Nothing is in a clamshell, placed in a nice binder or shrink wrapped, and I figure single is always better in the beginning until I decide to fork out the dough for something better.


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