Here we are, in the thick of the holiday shopping season, and we indie authors are faced with a dilemma: What do we suggest for fans of our work who have already bought all of our books?
One option is to design stuff with images from our books, and either give them away or sell them. Zazzle is one place where you can do that. I’ve made a few things on Zazzle previously – buttons and bookmarks for giveaways, mainly – but this year I wanted to try my hand at some other merchandise. So I opened a store. It’s pretty easy, and you can do it with just one product.
I decided to make my first product a mug, because who doesn’t already have enough mugs? Wait – don’t answer that. The real reason was that I thought the cover image would fit pretty well on one side of a mug. Although it would work pretty well on a t-shirt or tote bag, too. Or a cell phone case! Or…um. Let’s just start with the mug.
I thought I’d use the cover of Seized, because I often get comments on the image. Which brings me to this caveat: Make sure you have the correct rights to your cover image. Just because you bought a stock photo, it doesn’t mean you can re-sell it hundreds of thousands of times, even if you edited it. Just be aware of that, in case your products catch on.
The first step is to sign into Zazzle, or create an account and then sign in. On the Your Account page, you’ll see two blue buttons: Create a product and Create a store. I’m just getting my feet wet, so I’m going to click Create a product.
That brings up a screen with all sorts of different products you can personalize and sell. I picked mugs, and then the 11-ounce “ringer” mug.
Basically, you want to keep all of the important bits of your image inside the green box. The vertical green lines inside the box are there to help you position your graphics on the mug. My image is a little too big, so I’m going to click-and-drag the corners until it all fits inside the green box. And I want my customer to see the image when they pick up the mug, so I’ve pushed it to the right. (You could also use the editing buttons at the bottom, if you’d rather.) You can preview how your mug will look by clicking through the Preview photos on the left side.
Mine looks pretty good, but the back side is blank. I could put my book cover there, too, but I’m going to add my imprint logo instead. You could also add a text box, but I’m here to tell you that Zazzle’s list of fonts is limited. You’ll be better off creating an image with the fonts you want.
I’m happy with this, so I’m going to click Done at the top right – and poof! Here we are, on the product page. I could buy some right now, or edit my design some more – or I could release my mug into the wild. Since releasing it is what I came here to do, I’m going to click Sell It.
And now we get more choices! A “Post Products for Sale” page comes up, allowing me to describe my product and who I’d like to sell it to. The “Change options” drop-down allows me to pick which types of mugs my design will be available on. (I don’t have anything against beer drinkers – I just couldn’t imagine my book cover looking good on a stein.) I also get to pick my store name. (It took me forever to figure out that I couldn’t use spaces in my store name – just letters, numbers, and the underscore.)
Farther down the page, I get to pick product tags (which are the same as keywords), my audience, and whether to allow the “Customize It” button to show up on my product. That button allows people to drop their own graphics into my design and buy it for themselves; it doesn’t change my product at all. I can also see that I’ll make a whopping 68 cents per mug I sell at $16.95.
Zazzle then sent me an email confirming my address, and another approving my mug for sale. Isn’t it shiny? It’s available in seven different styles. And if you buy one, I promise not to spend your 68 cents all in one place.
But seriously, I was ridiculously pleased with the way this mug turned out. Even if you don’t plan to sell anything, places like Zazzle are an option for personalized prizes. Maybe I’ll create some tote bags next…