Friday, June 10, 2011

Merchandising for Writers: The Nimbus 2000, Bella's Ring, Mockingjay Pin

Harry Potter Broomstick Bookmarks sold at this site

Confession time: How many of you own fiction fan trinkets? 
Arwen's necklace?
Sold here

Bella Cullen's wedding ring?
Sold here
Katniss' Mockingjay pin?
Sold here
I bet I'll get more of you on this one:
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans?
Sold here (buyer beware of vomit flavored ones)
So when our own Michelle McLean posted on her blog about having a locket created to resemble the one she dreamed up in her regency mystery/romance - well, first I swooned over the prettiness:
Sold here by creator Bonny Anderson
And then I got to thinking about how awesome it is when something you create from the depths of your imagination becomes tangible. It must be totally surreal and beautiful. Sure, on the one hand, Harry Potter merchandising is kind of insane because of its sheer scope. And the people who bought snowy owls, well, good for them. BUT think of JK Rowling and how much fun it must have been when Jelly Belly candy company actually formulated grass-flavored jellybeans. Never been done before. Straight out of her fantasy world. So cool, right?

There's a reason people flock to the merchandise that reminds them of their favorite books and characters. It's that coolness factor in fiction - wanting to BE the character, just for a few choice moments. Bella's engagement. Harry's most victorious Quidditch game. Katniss... well, I never wanted to be her, but maybe that moment when she's in the cave with Peeta. Or shooting an arrow into the gamemakers. Yeah, I'd buy her bow and arrow set. Or cookies made with love by Peeta, if that were possible. :) 

So here's the thing we can take away as writers from what we've seen in book and TV merchandising...

Write something cool or pretty or unique into your story. Don't think of it as a gimmick. It's the spirit in which you add it that matters. Make it something meaningful to your world, your characters. 

Maybe your main character is averse to guns and all kinds of violence, but he does carry around a sonic screwdriver and use his wits to get out of tough spots.
Sold at BBC
It's not a gimmick. It's character development and plot mechanism. But it sure makes for excellent fan merchandise. Heck, I'm considering a sonic screwdriver purchase. They sell sonic screwdriver pens, too!

What do you think? Would you buy, have you ever bought, fan merchandise? Why or why not?

And think for a moment: Is there something in your current manuscript that could bring your character to life for fans? Evie's pink bedazzled taser, Batman's utility belt, Edward's Volvo... 

The possibilities are endless.


  1. I don't have much book merchandise (what Harry Potter stuff I have was given to me), though I did love Arwen's necklace enough to consider buying one. *blushes*

    I would never want anything like Bella's engagement ring. That must be the ugliest thing I've ever seen. =D

  2. Aw, I like her ring. But I'd like it better if it looked antique as it's meant to be in the story. Antiques are allowed to be a little gaudy.

    Arwen's necklace is probably the one I've most coveted. So beautiful and whimsical. You'd have to feel like a princess wearing it. *sigh* I'm silly, aren't I?

  3. Well, aside from my gorgeous necklace, I'm purchased perfume from Jessica Verday's The Hollow series, and the silver ring that Jamie gives Claire in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

    I do keep merchandising in mind when I write. I don't force anything into the story, but yeah, if my MC is going to get a necklace from her love interest, it's definitely added to my marketing idea file :)

    Really, any author can pick something out of any story to use for merchandising. And if there aren't any easily merchandizable items, you can always do something like t-shirts (Team Edward/Jacob) or hats or mugs with a favorite quote or character catch phrase or something on them. There is always something you can take from your story that you can use to help market it.

    And really, it's one of funnest parts of marketing a book :D

  4. oops, I've purchased...not I'm purchased lol

  5. Awesome, Michelle! You're so marketing savvy and I LOVE it! Creative marketing is my favorite. Very good point about how there's usually already something in the story that can be made into a fan trinket. Sometimes consciously thinking about it helps me to make my story a bit more fun, more coolness factor.

    And I love t-shirts! My husband found a Mars Investigations t-shirt I was strongly tempted to buy so I could pretend to be Veronica Mars. It can be such a simple thing.

  6. If I'm honest it's something I've never really thought of when I'm writing.

    But I do love t-shirts, too. Anything quirky and I'm interested.

    Now, must dash and add collectable pins for all my characters to wear in my wip!

  7. LOL! Quite right, Ian. Awesome. :)

  8. I have a Klingon Bat'leth.
    I guess the only thing in my book that would make a good 'trinket' would be the Cosbolt, a space fighter. That would be cool to see!

  9. I cave into merchandise, I admit so I love it when a book has something that can be brought to life here and give us a piece of the world that we love. Plus, it helps the fansites out for stuff to giveaway.

  10. When thinking of my new story no object comes in mind that would be good for marketing, but, there is a symbol I have in it that I've though of getting as a tattoo myself. I can think of a few ideas though of objects that might work. Much less painful. lol

  11. What a great post Katrina...

    I've been collecting everything HP since 2003. I started with the first editions from England and then the merchandise. Mugs, sculptures, patches, dishes, banners, watches, scarves, pendants, etc.

    Then I went to Wizarding World in Orlando and bought tons of fun things there... a pigmy puff, chocolate frogs, stamps, quills, etc.

    In my first novel I did create a fun things that could be marketed. My mc always carried a bright blue canvas tote bag. There is also an animal character that can be a sensation.

  12. I do have Arwen's necklace! And matching earrings.

    Hubby and I have a sword collection - a lot are from movies. A lot of LOTR ones and The Princess Bride. Bought hubby a HP shirt, tie, and mugs.

  13. Great post! I blog on this too! I think merchandise for writers is really taking off, there are more and more authors doing this. I really like your idea of thinking about merchandise even at the writing stage, it's a good idea.


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