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.