Today’s post is about swag. You know, that stuff authors give out at events to get people to remember them.
I have several events coming up, so I had to think long and hard about the swag I’m going to give away. It’s not an easy decision for me, as is true with many other authors, because I want something that stands out and I can’t spend a lot on it.
There are authors out there who give away tote bags, bookmarks (and not just any bookmarks—the dangly kind with a charm on the end), cute little spiral-bound notebooks with a book cover printed on the front, even seed packets (which are great for authors who write about farmers and gardeners, but I’m not one of those authors), but I don’t have the kind of money one needs to give away things like that.
So at the risk of being the most boring author out there, I’ve ordered postcards. Again. Each one is printed with one of my book covers on the front and my photo and social media URLs on the back. I love how they look—I just wish I could do something really out-of-the-box. But out-of-the-box is expensive.
I’ve also ordered bookmarks. Again. These have the covers of each of the three books in my current series. Like the postcards, I think they’re nice-looking bookmarks. I hope people use them.
But in addition to the postcards and the bookmarks, I have managed to include two more interesting things.
First, I did a little research and learned that some of the most popular items for authors to give away are pens. Thus, I have ordered pens with my name and a small graphic of a rose on them. This is the same rose photo I use on my website’s Contact Me page and some of my newsletters. It’s not just any rose; it’s a rose from a bouquet my husband gave me when I signed my first contract with a publisher. It means a lot to me and I love the photo, so I use it often.
Second, my most recent book and my next book are both set in Scotland. What comes to mind when I think of Scotland? Sure, the beauty, the majesty, the lochs, et cetera, et cetera. But I can’t give those things away.
What comes to mind next? For me, it’s shortbread (it’s always about the food, as far as I’m concerned). Buttery, crumbly, delicious shortbread. I found a website (worldmarket.com) where I could buy twenty individually-wrapped two-packs of Walker’s Shortbread Cookies for about $11.00. Since I only needed fifty packages (this particular swag is for gift bags at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in August), I could get away with spending $33.00 or so and still have some cookies left over for another event. My plan is to staple a package of cookies to one of my Scotland-themed postcards.
What do you think? Is it memorable, or would you do something different?
I’ve got a book club appearance coming up in a couple weeks. The club is discussing my book set in Hawaii. I’d like to take a homemade dessert with me that the members can share at the meeting—something with coconut or passion fruit or macadamia nuts. I don’t know how big the group is, but I figured if I make a large pan of something, there will be enough for everyone. Smaller, more personal events like book club appearances make it easy for me to take something because I love to cook and I love to come up with foods that connect somehow with the setting of the book the club is reading.
Incidentally, I do host giveaways once in a while through my newsletter. For the giveaways, I like to do something a bit more elaborate than postcards and bookmarks. For my last giveaway (to celebrate the release of my book set in Hawaii) I had a reusable shopping bag that I stocked with tropical-themed items and Hawaiian foods (pre-packaged, like macadamia nuts and candies). For my next giveaway I’ll probably award a tote bag with some Scottish-themed items.
I’d like to hear what other authors are using for swag. What do you give away, if anything? Is there something you received at an author event that was particularly memorable? Share your ideas in the comments below—I’d love to hear them and I’m sure other writers would, too.