Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Personal Branding: The Poster (Part 1)

“Do you have a poster you could bring?” my friend Beverley asked. “We’ll have a room dedicated to the graduating classes of the ‘Sixties.” We were discussing our upcoming all-high-school reunion, an event held in June 2011 for anyone who had ever attended or taught at our alma mater.

I didn’t have a poster to announce my first book, but wasn’t that next? After all, I’d invested in author photos, a website, business cards, and bookmarks. I knew I’d need a poster later when I began my rounds of bookstore signings, so maybe the occasion of our reunion could move that task up a bit.
Why would an author want a poster? Let me explain; or maybe you already know if you’ve ever been in a bookstore during a signing when the author was not well known. Once in West Virginia I attended such an event. The author sat at a small table near the customer service desk with a stack of his books next to him, as lonely as the Maytag repairman.
A poster can point the way to your table from elsewhere in the store. It can be set up near your signing station to identify you. Many bookstores provide signage, but others may not. Do you want to take the chance?

Aura Imbarus, whose memoir was published in 2010, has been my trailblazer. Her website includes a photo of her poster for Out of the Transylvania Night, displayed on an easel--my next purchase. Remember, the publisher publicizes your book and you publicize yourself.

Before my poster was even printed, I ordered its companion piece, an inexpensive portable easel. The one I chose has bungee cords inside the legs. You simply take it out of its bag (an additional purchase) and shake it. Like magic, the easel assembles itself. Woo hoo! I have a tent like that; the poles snap together in seconds.
The design of my poster would feature a giant photo of me, along with the cover image from It Started with Dracula. By then I was used to seeing my own face on business cards and bookmarks, but seeing it a foot high would be a first. The printed poster would be two feet wide by three feet tall, mounted on a rigid surface called Ultraboard for durability. My new easel would hold it just fine if no children, animals, or a slight breeze came along.
My designer had left a white area at the bottom of the poster, full width and five inches high. I thought it was a mistake. “No,” he said, “that’s so you can write on your poster.” Fortunately, I found that out prior to printing. The printer agreed to add a dry-erase coating, and I went to my local Staples for a starter kit of markers, an eraser, and cleaning fluid. See how this grows?
My designer had recommended that I use a local printer to avoid shipping the poster from California to Ohio. That should have been my first clue,
To be continued in Personal Branding: The Poster (Part 2)

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