Free for All: Collateral Goods


Once upon a time, musicians used to make their money on the albums that they sold.  Now, though, most musicians make their money on concerts.  Some make substantial money on “collateral goods” — T-shirts, belt buckles, other physical goods sold at concerts or elsewhere.  Some musicians have found it financially wise to give away their music, so that more people attend their concerts and buy their collateral goods.

Klasky-PerfectPitch200x300And authors might be heading in the same direction…

Okay.  Not exactly.  While some authors give away books (or sell them at super-discounted prices), we generally do so to introduce readers to our series.  We still charge for the other books in the series.  For example, the first book in my Diamond Brides series, Perfect Pitch, debuted at $0.99, a $2.00 discount off its standard price.  (To date, the price has not reverted.)  Catching Hell, the second book, debuted at its full price, $2.99.


And most authors don’t go on tour, like concert musicians.  If we’re extraordinary lucky, our publishers might send us on a reading tour.  If we’re feeling especially rich, we might finance our own reading tours.  But an author’s reading tour is extraordinarily successful if she reads to 100 people at one stop; most readings have a handful of attendees, if that.  And the vast majority of those readings are provided for free; attendees don’t pay.

But things are changing.  Oh, readers aren’t reading to stadiums full of fans.  Rather, services are springing up to bring readers and authors together.  Services like Togather and Book the Writer bring authors and readers together in person (charging the readers and/or requiring them to buy a set number of books.)

And authors are selling collateral goods.  The grand-daddy of all collateral goods might be the theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Orlando, Florida.  But successful books like Fifty Shades of Grey have generated lines of clothing and other, um, accoutrements.  A tearoom in California has created a specific blend of teas to celebrate Patrice Greenwood’s cozy mysteries. 

When I developed Diamond Brides, I kept collateral goods marketing opportunities in mind.  I had my cover designer create a team logo for the Raleigh Rockets:

Raleigh_Blue_RocketI worked with Cafe Press to build a store of Diamond Brides goods (T-shirts, mugs, water bottles, and a really cute teddy bear), featuring the full team logo, the rocket design, and the Raleigh “R”.  Readers can buy those goods, and I can award them as prizes for contests.

How about you?  Do you go to book events at local bookstores?  Have you ever invited an author to attend a book group or similar event in your home?  Have you ever bought collateral goods?  Are there any you’d love to see developed?

You can buy Perfect Pitch here.

You can buy Catching Hell here.

You can follow me on Twitter, or friend me on Facebook, or read my blog.

Formal Head Shot Square

Mindy Klasky learned to read when her parents shoved a book in her hands and told her she could travel anywhere in the world through stories. She never forgot that advice.  Mindy’s travels took her through multiple careers – from litigator to librarian to full-time writer. Mindy’s travels have also taken her through various literary genres for readers of all ages – from traditional fantasy to paranormal chick-lit to category romance, from middle-grade to young adult to adult.  In her spare time, Mindy knits, quilts, and tries to tame her endless to-be-read shelf. Her husband and cats do their best to fill the left-over minutes.


12 comments to Free for All: Collateral Goods

  • got to ask why Raleigh? I live in NC, and a good part of that time in the Raleigh area . I love to buy shirts for my favorite authors/series. I must own 20 or so book related shirts 🙂

  • This is actually something I’m planning on doing. I’m fortunate that my brother has a print shop so that I can probably get a good discount on the cards and bookmarks and shirts and such.

  • sstogner – Raleigh is a major city without a major league team, so it made sense for me to put the Rockets there. (Poor Raleigh baseball fans — you have to look as far north as DC or as far south as Atlanta!)

    Daniel – There are some great resources out there, for those of us without printers in the family, but I can imagine the fun you’ll have working out designs with someone who truly knows the business!

  • Razziecat

    I would love to have T-shirts or other goods based on my favorite books, but I’m not aware of any! Oh wait, except for Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series; and I think CJ Cherrhy has some things out. That’s all I know of, though. I like to design jewelry based on books I love (just for myself – I can’t sell things like that, of course).

    Unfortunately I’m not aware of many book signings where I live, and when there are any, they never seem to be for SF/F authors. 🙁

  • Razziecat

    *Erk, that’s Cherryh* ;P

  • mudepoz

    I think coming up with the goods is almost as much fun as the writing.
    Then again, I am working with a basset hound. Easy to make fun of.

  • Razziecat – book signings are definitely becoming more rare. Some chain stores won’t host them now unless the author can guarantee $300 in sales (which is a lot!) Sigh…

    Mudepoz – We find all sorts of ways to be creative, don’t we? Maybe we’re just procrastinating. Nope. Never. 🙂

  • This is something I’ve often thought about doing, but I worried that the CafePress shirts would fade or wear out too quickly. Are you finding that they hold up to ordinary wear?

  • Misty – I have some that I bought when my Glasswrights’ Series launched in 2000. They’re faded a bit after jillions of trips to the washer and dryer, but they’ve held up pretty well over almost-15 years. (The other things — mugs and caps and stuff — have not shown any wear or tear.

  • The shirts I got from Cafepress, and the bag too, from when I was doing SFX makeup are still in decent shape. That was a few years ago. It did fade a little, but after a few years of wear and tear I kind of expect that on any shirt. Although my bro said there’s a newer method of screen printing he did on this shirt he made for me based on some artwork I did ( ) that he said shouldn’t fade or peel for a long time. I might ask him again what method that was.

  • I tried to do the t-shirt thing for Thieftaker with only limited success. I think I could probably do a better job marketing them, but I don’t know how. So expect an email, Mindy. I’m impressed with all you’re doing for the Diamond Brides series. I hope it all pays off for you.