There’s a Washington Romance Writers retreat coming up here at the end of the month (which is only 10 days away…where has this year gone??). Right about this now is when I usually start thinking, “What sort of swag do I have to give out?” If growing up in publishing with Sherrilyn Kenyon has taught me one thing, it’s Always Make Sure You Have Cool Swag.

I’ve been slowly crunching numbers and debating things in preparation for Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow later this year at Dragon*Con (bubbles and t-shirts and free bags of swaggage, oh my!), but at some point the pots need to come to a boil and that needs to start somewhere. The somewhere I chose yesterday was bookmarks.

A couple of years ago, Sherri designed some gorgeous bookmarks for me to promote Beauty & Dynamite. She recommended that I do them through — I got something like 1000 bookmarks for a decent price. 1000 lasts a long time — I still have a bunch I’m giving out to people (I should hope most of you have one by now). I dug the bookmark she made out of my email files and used it as a template to make some new bookmarks.

Since I don’t have any art for SUNDAY yet, I created nine bookmark styles based on the short stories I just put up on Amazon and B&N. One side of the bookmark is images from five of the covers. The other side of the bookmark is an excerpt — typically the first few sentences from the story — and the cover (I’m rather proud of all those covers I designed last week). The it just has my name and website. Doesn’t need more than that, really. On some there is enough room for me to sign the bookmark…on others there’s not, but I’m happy to let the fiction speak for itself.

I went back to egprint and realized that while the cost of the bookmarks  is relatively cheap, they do charge you a buttload on shipping ($14-15). I remembered that one of my online groups had discussed various bookmark and promo item websites recently, so I dug out those emails and made a list. Here are some things that I found that may be useful to you:

1.) “Standard bookmark size” is not always the same. some are 2×6, some are 2×7. At times you will be offered a 2.5 width, but be wary, as some sites count this as “oversized” and charge more. (I had already created my bookmarks on a 2×7 template, so this factored into my choice.)

2.) This may seem like common sense, but it’s cheaper if you have the ability to design the bookmarks yourself. Sites like and came highly recommended, but their price ranges were far too high for my needs.

3.) You have to pay attention to shipping. Some sites won’t even tell you what the shipping is until you’re almost through the checkout process (which is a bit of a scam, I think). From yesterday’s investigation, you will pay anywhere from $10-$15 on shipping 500 bookmarks. Remember, these prices are charged PER BOOKMARK. Had I done all 9 of the bookmark designs at egprint, the shipping would have been $133 — more than half of what 9000 bookmarks cost. Also remember, the sites will probably tack on a sales tax, so you have to consider that in your budget as well.

4.) [thanks to Lex Valentine, for reminding me about this!] When creating your print items, dpi (dots per inch) is very important. The web supports 72 dpi, but for printing you’re going to want something much higher in resolution. Nothing above 360, though, so that’s a good number to set your template to.

Here are the sites I looked at: — 2×7 — 500 = $25.00 — shipping = $14.85
Next Day Flyers — 2.5×7 or 2×6 — 500 = 41.95 — shipping = $12.07
Got Print — 2×8 — 500 = $27.96 — shipping = $9.23 — 2×7 — 500 = $26.27 — shipping = $12.21

Ultimately, you’re going to pay around $40-45 for 500 bookmarks. Since I had already used egprint once before and were satisfied with their product, I chose one version of the bookmark and ordered 1000 for a total of $45.57. If I like how they look when they come in, perhaps I’ll consider periodically ordering more designs so that I can have a full set before Dragon*Con.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

6 Responses to “Bookmarkery”

  1. Lex Valentine Says:

    One thing to remember when it comes to buying promo items is the card stock (Next Day Flyers and Got Print have great cardstock, Vista does not) and where you live in relation to where the vendor is. Next Day Flyers and Got Print are both in Southern California so you can order items at the slowest and lowest shipping cost and still get them next day if you live in SoCal.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that people try to use their cover art to make a book card or book mark and the end result isn’t really that attractive. The images are fuzzy or pixelated or stretched. Printers usually require that the image you upload is high resolution (300 dpi usually.) Most cover art given to authors is set for web display and is 72 dpi. It will help your swag considerably to ask the art department of your publisher for high res images and you can even let them know what printer you’re using and what you want to make. Some publishers will send you a graphic to use (for bookmarks MLR Press and Cobblestone Press will send you a print ready graphic.) Sometimes you can ask the artist to create the graphic for you and they charge you a fee. (I did this with Anne Cain for my Liquid Silver book.) Just remember that the cover art you use on your website probably won’t work for making book cards.

    One last thing I learned…Oriental Trading has the coolest stuff that can be used with your swag!

    Great information in this post! Hopefully, others can chime in with their info to help make this a one-stop for people wanting to know how to make their swag.

  2. Princess Alethea Says:

    Oh, very good point, Lex — I remember checking my dpi when I was mucking about in Photoshop. I’ll edit the post to reflect that one. It’s important.

    And you bet — I adore Oriental Trading Company! I’ll definitely be going there. Where else can one find glow-in-the-dark alien tattoos, I ask you?

  3. Mona Karel Says:

    Don’t forget to check locally. We have a printer in Albuquerque that does their own high quality work and is scrambling to stay in business. They run constant promotions, ranging from two sided business cards to bookmarks to posters. All high quality work, and they are HERE so no shipping costs. Just something to consider when looking at various resources.

  4. Princess Alethea Says:

    Also a very good point! I’m still new to this whole DC area…it’s worth some investigating.

  5. Mary Says:

    If you ever want to do postcards or mini cards, check out They allow you to do multiple images in the same batch.

  6. Princess Alethea Says:

    Thank, Mary! I’ll put them on my list.

    I had a friend who got a great deal on postcards once — she designed them to look like two bookmarks. Then she just cut them in half and VOILA!

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