Beginning in April, I’m going to need some author swag. (I wrote a post about swag last July—read it here—and since I’m always thinking about it, I’m writing another one)
Here’s the thing about swag: have you ever bought a book because of the stuff the author gave away with it? Do you even remember most of the swag you’ve been given?
My husband’s theory on swag is as follows: “I don’t know why you bother. No one buys books because the author gives away pens or bookmarks or anything else. They buy books based on word-of-mouth if they don’t already know the author.”
I’m paraphrasing (except for the first sentence, which is a direct quote).
He makes a good point, but there’s more to the argument than just getting people to buy books. There’s the name recognition factor, which has to be worth something, right?
A lot of the swag I pick up is at conferences. The piles of postcards, business cards, bookmarks, pens (see aforementioned July post—I cancelled my pen order), flyers, etc. seems endless, and there’s something to be said for an author who can think outside the box and give away something that stands out. One especially memorable giveaway was a seed packet printed with the author’s book cover. The main character is an organic farmer, so that swag makes perfect sense and I won’t forget that author’s name (Wendy Tyson, by the way).
Last year I gave away little packets of Scottish shortbread attached to postcards for Highland Peril, my book set in the Scottish Highlands (see aforementioned July post for some lovely photos). I’d like to think that was a great idea, but I’m basing my opinion on my obsessive love of shortbread.
At Christmastime I gave away handmade gift tags as swag. They were stamped, inked, sparkled, buttoned, and beribboned, and I thought (and still think) they were perfect. I was promoting a Christmas novel, so the giveaway had to have a Christmas theme, too.
And that, I think, was the best swag I’ve given out. It was themed, fun, and—best of all—handmade. I wrote my website URL in tiny letters on the back of each tag so that people could locate the brilliant artist who created it.
So I think I’m sticking with handmade swag for my upcoming appearances. I haven’t decided yet what I’ll make; maybe I’ll do more gift tags, maybe bookmarks, maybe something completely different. Sure, it takes a little longer, but I’m amazed at how much fun I have making things to give away. And it’s cheaper to make my own swag, too, which is always good. And finally, I can tailor the swag to individual events. I hope people find my handmade giveaways memorable.
What do you think? Any ideas for handmade swag? Do you have giveaways when you make an appearance at a conference or other author event? What kinds of giveaways do you prefer?