Did you know that you can make extra money on the side by designing and offering book products to readers on your website? Not only that, but if your products relate to your books, you get additional book promotion when people buy and use your products!
The Nitty Gritty
To sell these products, we recommend having a menu item on your website that says something like “Book Products” or “Book Swag” and that links to your Zazzle store or Cafe Press shop. We do recommend setting up a store or shop on these sites, so you can point your fans to a page that has only your products listed.
Zazzle allows you to design and sell an unlimited number of products on their site. The designs you use on Zazzle are nonexclusive, so you could use that same design on other sites without a problem.
When people buy from your Zazzle store, you receive royalties. Because Zazzle is providing and producing the product, you of course don’t get 100% of the sale. You can specify on Zazzle what percentage of royalties you want, but the higher you put the royalties, the higher the price of the item will be (because Zazzle has to pay for producing the product and still make a profit!). So you’ll need to strike a balance.
If you become an Associate with Zazzle, you can earn an additional 15% commission when you refer a customer and they buy something on the site, even if it’s from your own Zazzle store, which is free to create. When you purchase your own products, you can use your royalty balance or pay with a card.
To see what your Zazzle store could look like, check out Book Cave’s store!
Similar to Zazzle, Cafe Press allows you to design and sell book products on their site. If you set up a Cafe Press shop, then you set the item price, and your royalties are the difference between Cafe Press’s base price and the total price. When you buy from your own shop, you are only charged the base price. There is a base free for a storefront, equal to 10% of your total royalties up to ten bucks. They also have prepaid plans you can use to save money when you start to sell more products.
If you sign up to be a Cafe Press affiliate, you can earn up to 15% commission on products purchased by people you refer. However, you do not get that commission if the product is purchased from your own Cafe Press store. (But if you also share the product on the general CafePress Marketplace, and then link to that listing instead of linking to your shop, you do get the commission.)
Not sure what book products you can design and offer on your site? Here are some ideas!
If you have artwork of your characters, upload them to products on Zazzle or Cafe Press. Fans love having products that are uniquely from a book they love.
If you’ve commissioned art from an artist, make sure you own the rights to use the artwork in this way.
Your Book Cover
If you’ve got an awesome book cover, put it on a product in Zazzle or Cafe Press! This would work well on a book bag or even a bookmark. Again, be sure that they copyright for the image your cover uses allows you capitalize on it this way (if it’s a stock image, you may need to get an extended license).
Quotes from Your Books
If you have some great quotes in your books that readers love, add them to products to sell. You can experiment with different fonts to make it look nice. Quotes are especially popular on t-shirts and bags.
Items Your Characters Use
What are some items your characters use that your fans would recognize? Does your character have a favorite shirt? Lucky keychain? Worn bookmark? Special mug? Recreate that product in Zazzle or Cafe Press to sell to your readers.
General Book-Related Products
You can also use general book-related ideas to create products, such as quotes about reading, quotes from famous books, pictures of books, and so on. Again, be sure you have the correct copyright license for any image you use.
As part of a giveaway to bring more readers to your site, you could offer one of your products on Zazzle or CafePress as one of the prizes.
Have you made extra money through designing and offering book products on sites like Zazzle and CafePress? Let us know in the comments below!