Build Your Brand by Creating Author Merchandise

Friday, April 26, 2024

You may not have even considered creating author merchandise as a promotional tool, as merchandising is still a relatively new concept in the world of self-publishing. However, think about the power of merchandise in promoting all of your favorite brands, tv shows, or movies. Per Indie Wire, Star Wars retains its 2012 Guinness World Record title as history’s most successful film merchandising franchise. It amassed an unfathomable $32 billion from lucrative merchandise.

For indie authors, merchandise is probably not going to make up a large percentage of your profit, but it can be a fun and powerful marketing tool. If you’re thinking that creating merchandise might be more work than it’s worth, here are just a few of the benefits. 


  • Creates a sense of community among your readers
  • Provides another way to engage with your readers
  • Sparks conversation, which gives you word-of-mouth advertising, boosts your author brand, increases the recognizability of your book, and strengthens your passive income.

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What Should I Put on My Merchandise?

Before you can start printing, you’ve got to decide what words or image you want to use. Find out what quotes, characters, and scenes from your book are most popular among fans. What you like most might not be representative of what your readers enjoy. Make it easy on yourself and go with what already has a high level of appeal. Spend time on fan forums on Reddit, or in the comments on your social media. People will make their own inside jokes within the fandom and these are extremely popular as a sort of secret code that only other fans will recognize.

Another tactic is to create merchandise that allows people to relate to your work or put themselves into the world you’ve created. For example, think of the shirts that show which Harry Potter house someone is in, or which Game of Thrones family. Take that concept and make it your own, based on the worlds or characters you've created. Whatever you decide to do, your merch needs to be diversified. Make a variety of products with a variety of designs.

What Products Should I Create?

These days you can put an image or words on almost any product. Much like print-on-demand with IngramSpark, you can get your book title, a quote, or an illustration printed on a product and shipped to you or drop-shipped quickly, easily, and usually for a reasonable price. This technology is beneficial to self-published authors. If you can imagine an item that would promote your book, it’s worth a Google to see if someone prints on it.

Here are some available items you might want to consider:

  • Puzzles
  • Stationery
  • Stickers
  • Bookmarks
  • Mugs and cups
  • Pillows
  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Socks
  • Notebooks
  • Coasters
  • Candles
  • Blankets
  • Posters
  • Jewelry

There are a number of sites you can use to actually get the products made. Take a look at these businesses to get an idea of what's out there:

  • Vista Print
  • Printful
  • Printify
  • RedBubble
  • CustomInk
  • CafePress
  • Sticker App
  • Sticker Mule
  • 48Hour Print
  • UPrinting
  • Bookplate Ink
  • Ownprint
  • JewelryThis
  • YouOnly Jewelry

How Do I Create My Designs?

If you plan on using a really simple design or if you’re an artist yourself, you can use Canva or Adobe Express to create your own designs. Otherwise, it's wise to partner with a professional who can make your ideas come to life. Search Behance, 99 Designs, or Fiverr to find a designer to work with.

Ask for a sample before printing, because something that looks great on screen is often much different from how it actually looks in person. And don’t waste your hard work or money; use that design everywhere on everything. Get that brand recognition!

Promoting Your Merchandise

Once you’ve got the product in hand, you need to promote your promotional material:

  • Create an unboxing video to showcase the high-quality merchandise and your excitement.
  • Consider making some items exclusive so customers can only get the item if they purchase it from your website, or at a book signing or literary festival.
  • If you've created something that was more costly to have made, such as jewelry, make it a limited edition release.

With the technology available today, having your own line of book or author merchandise is within reach for self-published authors, and it’s an amazing way to market your book, your author brand, and create another stream of income. We hope you’ll try out some of the ideas here!


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IngramSpark Staff

IngramSpark® is an award-winning independent publishing platform, offering indie authors and publishers the ability to create, manage, and globally distribute print and ebooks.