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How to get quality promotional bookmarks for just under a penny or just over a cent. :)

Leading on from my blog about helping Gina at booksignings called 'Being a writer's husband at booksignings', I thought I'd write up a blog about how to get bookmarks for just over a cent each in the hope it would help any of you who do booksignings and wanted some extra promotional collateral. :)

If you like this guide, please visit Gina's Red Room page or her own website. We are also on Twitter. Her Twitter name is gcolliasuzuki and mine is rcolliasuzuki - why not connect with us? :)


A while ago, after a lot of hunting about, phoning suppliers, browsing websites and comparing prices I was surprised at the cost of bookmarks if custom made.

Gina (my wonderful author wife!) came up with the ingenious idea of ordering glossy postcards and then guillotining them instead. The cost reduction is huge! With careful ordering you can get a quality book mark for around one to two cents each!

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do this through Vistaprint, who I believe are either American or Canadian with printers placed strategically worldwide.

Vistaprint send out new promotional links or emails up to a few times a week by email to subscribers and customers, offering a multitude of ‘free’ printed items.  The emails state that this ‘sale must end’ or an offer is ‘never to be repeated’, only to be repeated again a few days later and some codes will outlast their date by weeks or months. Basically the emails look like spam but if you are a bookmark buyer these emails are very important so don’t be put off. You can unsubscribe from them anytime though.

We chose Vistaprint because their ‘free’ offering of both their postcard and oversized postcard products seem to be one of the most common offers they make and the size of postcards is perfect to make 2 or 4 bookmarks at a time.

I’ve put together this guide to help you get the ‘free’ cards as cheaply as possible whilst also avoiding additional or unnecessary costs or services. What we are aiming to do is pay for the minimum amount of shipping and additional services costs which will also have tax thrown on top at the end of the ordering process.
Once you get used to the way Vistaprint works it’s very simple to re-order or add new items and you will be ordering happily for years!

I hope this guide helps you. :)

To design and order a standard sized postcard and then an over sized postcard. This is the equivalent of 2 or 4 bookmarks per postcard. Each bookmark is printed full colour, glossy on the front and is black and white or full colour matt on the back. The card is Premium 215 gsm glossy stock.

Getting started.
First of all you need a promotional link to follow. These vary constantly and can be found on various websites to try, just put ‘vistaprint code’ into Google and you’ll see what I mean.

To make things easier for you I’m putting a link here (last updated for this link was 19th June 2010) for the time being to get you started if you prefer. It may not work but give it a try anyway. I’ll also add new links to this blog as time goes on to help people get on their feet. :)

Once you have a promotional link, click it and you will probably be automatically routed to the relevant site for your country, e.g. .com for the US, .co.uk for the UK, .jp for Japan, etc. If not, you can select the nearest country from a link at the top right hand of the page which will give you a choice of 20 countries.

How do I know if the link or code worked? If you go to the postcard section of the website (under Marketing and Signage) you should see the words ‘Now Free’ next to the crossed out product price, like this:



You might not see this screen and go directly to the postcard screen, depending on the link. If it hasn’t worked at all, you will need to hunt for another code on the internet and try it again.

Once you have a screen that shows you have 'Free' postcards, click on ‘Get started’ by the Standard-Size  Postcards. (it might also be called Marketing or Personal standard postcards)

 The next screen you see should look like this:


If a pop-up window appears, click on ‘Use your photos and logos’.

If there is no pop-up window and just a huge selection of designs like the image below, find the design that says ‘Upload Your Own Design’ and select it.



Once you have clicked through, the screen below is what you should be looking at now:


I strongly recommend that you look at the ‘Upload Help’ link and ‘See accepted file types’ help files. This area of the tutorial is far too deep for me to explain here as everyone’s needs and resources will vary. Reading the helpfile will let you focus on the specific things that apply to you.

These will help you to identify the best types of files, images, quality, etc that you need.

There are also some templates you can use but they are limited to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat Distiller users.

Having a good image to upload is important. Uploading is free but you will have to pay a one-off fee (just a few dollars) the first time you use an uploaded picture. Once you have paid for that image, you can use it without extra cost on any product on their website as long as the graphic is suitable.

If your design uses a special font, I would recommend you upload the text and image together.

For the best quality, images should be saved to a resolution of 300 dpi or more from your graphics program.
Vistaprint’s basic design screens allow you to add text, move things around, add more pictures, etc. but it is very basic and only has a few standard fonts available.

For the standard postcard, you need to design the front and back based on the following dimensions:

The final bookmark size you will cut from the postcards are 139 mm x 53.5 mm

In order to design the postcard you need to put either two or four designs as follows:

Standard sized postcard is 139mm x 107mm (makes 2 bookmarks)


I got this wrong 1st time around and ended up with upside down text on over 300 postcards!! The design above is correct with the front design in one direction and the back design going in the other direction.

Over sized postcards is 216mm x 139mm (makes 4 bookmarks)
Guppy Front

Guppy back

Note: The image for the back is the correct way round, as shown above, for the over sized postcards.

Once you have designed the image you want, upload it to Vistaprint using the ‘Browse’ facility shown in the image above. If you need to use a design that you have uploaded before, just click on the link that says ‘Use previously uploaded design’.

Once you upload your image, it will be placed in your new design template like this:


If you are happy, you can start editing. If not, upload another file, crop or rotate it until you are happy.

Now you are in the fun bit! This is the design screen where you can customise to your heart’s content! Add text, images, move things around, rotate text and images and be a bit creative. You can also save your design as you go along, just in case you don’t have time to do this right now and want to come back later.

When you are happy with your masterpiece, type your initials into the design approval box shown below, and then click on ‘Next’.

You are now on the design screen for the rear of the postcard.

Double click in the large design area where it has a picture of a computer mouse and it says ‘Double-Click to Upload Your Own Design’ and then upload the image you want (if you want a design on the rear of course) or use a previously uploaded one.

Select Full-Colour of Greyscale. Greyscale is free.

Edit this again if you wish - add text, pictures, change the layout, etc, etc. again.

If you are designing the standard postcard to create two bookmarks, make sure that the image is in the opposite direction the front of the postcard as shown above.

If you are designing the over sized postcard then the image direction should be like this:

Guppy back

When you are happy with your masterpiece, type your initals into the design approval box and then click on ‘Next’.

Now you are in the order processing part.


1. Quantity
Unless you urgently need higher quanitites, only order the free amount which is 100 for standard postcards or 50 oversized postcards.

Select ‘No thanks’ for ‘Discounts and offers’. You will still get offers emailed to you anyway.


2. Postage
This is where the costs are. Slowest is cheap, quickest is the most expensive. Delivery can be made in 3, 7, 14 or 21 days. At the end of the shopping process, bear in mind that these costs will also have tax added to them!!

Try to order your postcards at least 21 days advance of you needing them. In our experience you will usually have the items delivered at 1-2 weeks quicker than expected but you cannot count on these earlier deliveries.

It takes some experimentation but you will be able to find an optimum delivery charge for 2, 3 or 4 products ordered.

For your reference, standard postcards and oversized postcards are classed as 2 independent products which will both be ‘free’ when you check out as long the original link you followed to get to the Vistaprint website is valid for these free products.

3. Printing options

Black and white print on the back of the postcard is free. Select this option. If you want a colour option, the price will be shown here and can be selected if you wish.

Click on ‘Next’

4. Envelopes
You have 3 options here - Matching envelopes (expensive!!), plain envelopes (also expensive!) or none.

Select the “I don’t need envelopes’ option.

Click on ‘Next’

5. Matching Documents
Ignore everything on this page which shows your design on a multitude of different products.

Click on ‘Next’.

6. Accessories
gnore everything on this page which shows your design on a multitude of different products again.

Click on ‘Next’.

7. Partner offers
gnore everything on this page which shows a variety of products from Vistaprint partners.

Click on ‘Next’.

8. Shopping cart
You will see the items you have ordered and you will have the option to increase quantities here. Unless you are desperate for significant quantities, don’t do it!!

If you only have 1 product, e.g. Postcards, then click on ‘Continue shopping’ and go through the same process as above but this time order the Oversized Postcards.

This will make your order more cost effective (in the UK, making an order for two ‘free’ products will result in shipping costs that make the cost per bookmark (once you guillotine the postcards) a mere 1 to 1.5 pence each! You will have enough postcards to make 400 bookmarks!!

Do not order the same product twice in the same order, you will be charged full price for the second lot, e.g. 1 x standard order of postcards plus 1 x standard order of over sized postcards = cheap!  2 x standard orders of postcards plus 1 x standard order of over sized postcards = expensive!

Once you have the minimum of two products in your cart, click on ‘Checkout’.

9. Shipping
Select 21 days if you can wait that long.

Enter your shipping address

Tick the box at the bottom if the billing address is the same.

Enjoy special offers from VistaPrint:
YES! I want VIP treatment with outstanding discounts, and great marketing and style tips by e-mail. It's absolutely FREE of charge!
Yes, occasionally make my e-mail address available to other reputable organisations whose special offers, products or services I might find interesting.


Also, never, ever sign up for £10 or $20 ‘off your next order’ offers and do not join the Vistaprint Insider Club unless you want money taken out of your account every month for a service that provides discounts and services related to a whole host of non-Vistaprint products like meals, days out, entertainment, etc. I have never met anyone who uses these services and they have a hell of a time trying to have the payments stopped.

I wouldn't recommend clicking on this!

Click ‘Next’

10. Fill in the billing address if different to the shipping address

Click ‘Next’

11. Enter payment details

Click ‘Next’

12. Order confirmation
The final temptation! At order confirmation stage the system will ask if you would like to increase quantities or order something extra at a discounted rate. You will be told you have a time limit! tick, tock, tick, tock. Just ignore this, seriously. Don’t order the extra (unless you want to spend more than necessary of course!).

If you need more postcards, oversized postcards, flyers or posters, just start the shopping process again from scratch. Go to ‘My Account’ (link in the top right hand of the screen) and click on either ‘Order History’ or ‘Portfolio’ and just re-order the things you need.

I know it’s a pain to go through the 8 screens that ask you if you want this, that or the other , but it only takes a few moments and then you have made a second order, or the third, or the fourth. Believe it or not, the cost of shipping plus tax is less than the discounted prices or standard prices that you would normally be charged.

And that's it!

In 3 weeks time you will receive your wonderful postcards which you can then cut down to bookmarks. A cheap guillotine only cost us around £9 and it's still going now. :)

Don't worry about ignoring all of those special offers by the way. Now you are a customer you will receive regular special offer emails anyway. :)

I hope this helps some of you. :)

 If you like this guide, I feel a real sense of happiness in helping fellow Red Roomers. It would also be really nice (if not totally spiffing! LOL!) if you could swing by Gina's Red Room page and have a look at her blog or her titles. The link is http://www.redroom.com/author/gina-collia-suzuki.

 Happy book selling!!

17 Comment count
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Ryoma, this is a magnificent, thorough primer on an inexpensive way to promote a book. Look for it on the Advice for Writers page in the Marketing and Promotion section.

I've already recommended this post to one Red Room author who tweeted today about a good source for inexpensive promo bookmarks. Bravo!

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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Thanks Huntngton!

I'll be so pleased if this guide helps Red Room authors. It just makes so much sense to share knowledge like this.

Hehe, I'm so chuffed!

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Thank you for handy tips

Hello Ryoma,

You are not only helping Gina, but the rest of us too. Keep up the good work!

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Hello Sumathi Mohan

Thank you for your kind words, such support is always appreciated and never taken for granted.

May I ask how I should address you? Should I call you Sumathi, Mohan or Sumathi Mohan?

I hope you are having a good week. :)

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Thanks Ryoma. What a great

Thanks Ryoma. What a great tip and excellent explanations. I am going to tackle this with a designer friend.

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Thanks for your post Jennifer. :)

I hope all is well with you and wish you the best with getting bookmarks posted.

I really hope the above post helps. I know it seems long winded but it is necessary to navigate through the many 'temptations' that Vistaprint use to 'encourage' people to spend money with them. LOL!

In the end you will be rewarded with wonderful promotional bookmarks for relatively little investment. :)

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i also appreciate . . .

. . . you taking the time to walk us through it, Ryoma. It's a little overwhelming when I scroll through all the screen shots and steps -- but then, upon closer look, you make it seem quite doable. How long does it take you and Gina to go through this process (from Getting Started to Order Confirmation), typically? Just curious! And thanks!

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Hi Evie

Thanks for posting. :)

The short answers are:

New order - 5-10 minutes if you know what you are uploading (design-wise) and are used to doing this (possibly on a second or third product that you are setting up).

Repeat order on a product you have already ordered once - about 1 minute.

The longer answers is this;

For a new design the longest part is the design itself. If you have a design to upload already, maybe a book cover and some promo blurb to put on the back, it's very easy. Just upload it.

If you are starting from scratch then it takes as long as it takes.

As long as everyone follows the instructions about what NOT to click, then I believe they will avoid any problems.

Hope this helps!

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I'm a friend of Gina's and wanted to let you know that your article is outstanding in content and clarity.
(hopefully) Your friend, too! Kathy

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Hi Kathy

Thanks for your kind post. :) I hope this will be useful for you.

Yes, Gina has spoken of you, it's a pleasure to meet you. It's especially nice to meet you here in the Red Room.

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Ryoma, this is so

Ryoma, this is so resourceful. You're a genius!

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Aww, shucks!

You're just too kind! :)

I hope you find this useful. :)

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Referenced on My Blog

This was awesome! I referenced this entry on my blog. Thanks!

Kelly Wilson
Author of Live Cheap & Free! Strategies to Thrive in Tough Economic Times

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Hi Kelly

Thanks for posting and for referencing this entry on your blog. :)

Lovely looking site you have there, and so many tips! Always a good thing.

I read your entry and I don't know if it helps but I've just updated the link in section 1 so the 'free' postcards offer may work for you. :)

Good luck in you endeavours by the way.

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This is a really excellent,

This is a really excellent, thorough guide for anyone not familiar with Vista Print. I have been making my bookmarks for some time now (I do three on the extra large postcar5d0, I live in the UK and the only problem is 1. We don't seem to get the free offers available in the US. There are offers but they're not as numerous as they are over there. 2. For some reason after my first few orders I no longer get the special offer reminders. Because the free offers aren't always available, I've occasionally found it cheaper to actually order fromthe US site. Even paying Air Mail charges works out cheaper than ordering at full price from the UK site. (They did email me to ask me if I knew there was a UK site. I politely informed them of the reason why I was using the US one. They never replied. So, if you live in the UK you have to be a bit more devious. I've had pens, Teeshirts and promotional postcards as well as the bookmarks though, at a fraction of the price I'd have paid with any other supplier.

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Thanks for posting!

Great tips Hywela!!

We live in the UK too and the link I put in section 1 is the one they email to me. I am hoping that our wonderful US colleagues in the US can use this too as I have used US codes in the past and they worked on the UK site.

I get new links sent every week and will be updating the link in section 1 just in case. I hope this will help people who are starting out or need a current code. The best code I use (I need free A3 posters) is one that'expired' in December 2008 and it still works! Woohoo! LOL! I dodn't post it here 'just in case' it doesn't work for anyone else. :)

I'm going to have to investigate the US prices to the UK now! Ha! Great tip, really great. :) Thanks!

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How to get cheap bookmarks without the trouble

My suggestion is to use www.gotprint.com - I've ordered several thousand bookmarks from them and the last order I did was 2500 for just over $25 (some change but not sure exactly how much right now) plus shipping - you upload your files and they print them and ship to you - I never pay for anything but ground and the slowest shipping possible. I think my shipping was under $12 from Californiat to South Carolina. I can place an order and within a week or 10 days I have a bunch of bookmarks. Now if I were to add back printing on mine (I don't right now but will be with the next batch I order) for full color printing front and back - 2500 bookmarks will cost me about $30 ($29 and some change) plus the shipping.

I've heard folks talking about using the rack cards from vistaprint to do the same thing you did with the postcards but here's the thing - you have to do the cutting yourself and that can be a pain in the butt whereas with gotprint.com you get the bookmarks already cut. The one drawback to having them printed from gotprint and I've suggested they do this at some point is that they are not bundled or wrapped or anything - 2500 loose bookmarks. When I get my bookmarks, I usually put them in bunches of 50 for my purposes of taking to events and having on hand - I leave the back blank for signing but have scanned two backs (one red and one blue) so that I can start ordering full color both sides to be printed up instead of signing all those bookmarks.

I've used the free postcards and other things from vistaprint and am not knocking the freebie deals, et cetera but to me to make the bookmarks using the postcards or rack cards is too much work. It's easier to put everything in a template and upload a single file and let someone else do the printing and cutting and stuff - lol. The bookmarks are very high quality too. If you would like to see what the bookmarks look like, please visit my blog - http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com and scroll to the bottom - both bookmarks are there - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?