Guest Post: The Potential of Handmade Merchandise

I’ve been an avid follower of Icy Sedgwick for quite a while now, her Friday Flash Fiction pieces are fabulous over on her blog and I was more than impressed with her latest offering, The Necromancer’s Apprentice.  Today on the blog, Icy shares her ideas on Handmade Merchandise – see she’s a pretty awesome crafter as well as writer!  Thanks Icy for appearing on Frugally Peachy and please do check out her work!

Apprentice_coverPublishing used to be much more straightforward. A publisher took on your book, and their marketing department would swing into gear, getting the word out and getting the cover in front of potential buyers. Nowadays, even getting a traditional deal with a publisher is no guarantee that it will receive much of a marketing push, unless you’re Lee Child or E. L. James, and a lot more of the onus is placed squarely on the author. It’s even more of a challenge if you sign with an independent publisher, or if you decide to go it alone and publish yourself.

I’ve got two books out, although my marketing strategy currently places the emphasis on the more recent title – The Necromancer’s Apprentice only came out in March, and while I’ve been undertaking the usual such as tweeting the occasional link (careful not to spam), conducting blog tours, writing guest posts (such as this one), and even holding a book launch in my hometown. That’s all well and good, but I can’t help thinking I can do more. So this is where my idea of merchandise comes in.

Merchandise is nothing new. In the movie Spaceballs, Yoda-like figure Yoghurt explains that merchandise “is where the real money of the movie is made”. Think of all the lunch boxes, colouring books, action figures, video games and clothing that accompany major Hollywood releases. Literature isn’t really as ‘hot’ on merchandise – books like the Harry Potter series, Twilight and Lord of the Rings only really have merchandise as a tie-in with the movies. True, there is a plethora of literature related jewellery on Etsy, but little of it is specific to titles, or designed to promote the books – they’re more to promote the wearer’s love of literature. So is there any way of making merchandise to sell a book? I’ve seen it done before, as my friend Synde Korman makes jewellery to promote Carrie Clevenger’s Crooked Fang novel, but I did start to wonder if I could make something to promote The Necromancer’s Apprentice. After all, people who find my goods on Etsy might be interested enough to then read the book, while people who read the book might decide to support it further by buying associated products.

MummiesI started off with these little guys – a pair of crocheted mummies. The mummies in the book are bloodthirsty and far from cuddly, but these two cute critters accompanied the paperbacks at the book launch in June. They’re not listed on Etsy just yet, but I’m hoping they’ll help pique interest. After all, I love to knit and crochet, so why not combine my love of crafting with my love of books?

I also decided to make a bottle pendant, using coloured resin, to tie in with the bottled enchantments that the book’s villain, the Necromancer General, keeps in her vaults.

BottlePendant

I made these anatomical engraving pendants some months ago but I’ve decided to absorb them into my Necromancer’s Apprentice range as I think they really fit the book.HeartPendant I’ve also got plans to design sigils to add to pendants as the use (or misuse) of sigils is an important part of the plot, and I’d like to crochet some more of the figures. There is a lot I can potentially make.

I think that’s also hopefully part of the appeal. These products aren’t just handmade – they’re handmade by the author of the book. I also hope that they have value outside of the book, so you don’t need to have read the book to necessarily appreciate them – they’re just a bonus if you have.

What do you guys think about the idea of handmade merchandise tailored to specific book titles? Would that be exciting if you’d read the book, or might it pique your interest if you hadn’t?

Bio

Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and lives and works in Newcastle. She spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies, considering the use of set design in contemporary horror, as well as knitting up a storm. Icy had her first book, a pulp Western named The Guns of Retribution, published in 2011, and her horror fantasy, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, was released in March 2014.

Links

Website

Amazon

Etsy

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: The Potential of Handmade Merchandise

  1. Katherine Hajer (@eyrea)

    A small publisher where I live has had handmade tie-in items with two of the three books they’ve published, and I think it’s a very smart move. One author made little figures (sort of like your mummies, but in a different style and of course different characters), used them to make an animated book trailer, and then sold/gave away with a book purchase little badges featuring photos of the figures. I know I sent a lot of traffic their way when people asked where I got my badges. She also made the books covers that were the prototype for the book cover I made for one of the #craftblogclub challenges.

    The other authors (two authors wrote one book together) silkscreened cartoon drawings of the main characters onto tote bags, plus they made bookmarks and dolls.

    I think the items you made are really smart, and having read the book, they definitely go with them! The anatomy etching jewelry looks wonderful. The DIY angle hits a lot of targets easily: it’s further self-expression, it shows off how well-rounded and multi-talented the author is, and it makes something that has been mass-produced for centuries (books) into something specialised and handmade.

    Reply

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