Merchandising. It’s one of those unattractive, commercial words that can make a writer shudder. Most writers have enough to cope with in dealing with the basic promotional work needed to sell their books. But if, like me, you create artwork for your books as well as writing them, there’s a whole extra dimension lurking in that word merchandising. Artwork can be reproduced on all sorts of objects, from bookmarks, to notebooks, to greetings cards, to mugs and calendars, and many other possibilities. As an artist, it makes the best use of your work, providing a bit of income while also acting as promotional material for your books. If you have a suitable outlet for it, what’s not to like?
Well now, I have produced a lot of artwork – and I mean a lot – for the two books I have currently in publication, for the third one that will be published later in the year, and for a fourth one recently completed. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and I could probably find something for almost any sort of promotional merchandise. I have asked my publisher if they would be interested in investing in some of this and they are considering it. If the answer is yes, I’m quite happy for them to go ahead with it. If the answer is no, well, I could do it myself.
Now here’s the tricky question: would this be a good use of my time? Or would I be better off using that time to write and illustrate more books? I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’m inclined to think I’d be better off sticking to the creative side rather than fretting about merchandising. To be honest, I don’t need the stress. The one decision I have made is that I’m willing to create some original artwork specifically to sell. That is actually an enjoyable thing to do, will look attractive on a stand at a book fair, and could be sold over the internet, too, without undue hassle. So, I sent off for a set of artists’ mounts and cellophane packaging. I’ll create artwork to fit them and dip a toe in the water that way. Not quite ‘merchandising’, exactly, but a step in that direction that sits comfortably with my creativity. I’ll let you know how I get along.
The Herbarium and The Chesil Apothecary are available from www.veneficiapublications.com