In the June 11th issue of Fortune magazine, an article entitled “Blogging on Drugs” highlights the success of whistleblower turned blogger Peter Rost M.D., in exposing unethical practices of Big Pharma companies. His blog is called, appropriately, Question Authority. And for those who have always been suspicious of the intentions of Big Pharma, it makes interesting reading. The article calls Dr. Rost a “professional pain in the ass.” He has also written a book based on his years in the drug business – The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman (Amazon rank #158,430), which he promotes on his blog (Technorati authority 187). His posts have garnered the attention of Congress which is investigating into some of the practices revealed on the blog. The popularity of his blog has led him to sell merchandise, with the Question Authority brand name. The items offered for sale include a tote bag, T-shirt, stamps with his picture, infant bibs, mouse pads and teddy bear.
For authors who build a loyal following with their blogging, this should offer another revenue generating prospect. Leverage the success of your blog (and your book if you’ve published one) to create and sell a line of merchandise. It has gotten easier to create and sell basic merchandise items. For example, at Cafepress, you can select the merchandise you want, upload your artwork to have printed on it, and open a storefront. Cafepress takes care of the logistics of credit card transactions, fulfillment, and returns / exchanges. Then they send you a check each month for whatever merchandise you’ve sold. You can pick from a number of standard categories – apparel, stickers, buttons, magnets, housewares, prints, posters and cards, hats and bags, etc. You can tailor items you sell to fit the characteristics of your audience.
Ancillary merchandise is one more marketing technique for authors and publishers, taking its place next to the book trailer and the blog tour as one more way to gain exposure and sell books.