Sunday, August 18, 2013

Swag - What Works for You?


Swag – or promotional items given away at events – is a topic we’ve been discussing recently on an email loop I belong to, and when I attended the RT Convention in Kansas City earlier this year I was amazed at the all the different things on offer.  The creativity of some authors was astounding and I came home inspired, wanting to try out some ideas of my own!

There was, of course, the usual array of postcards, bookmarks, pens and key chains, but it was fun to see how varied you can make them so that they stand out in the crowd.  It also quickly became clear to me that badges (the metal variety with printed logos etc) were extremely popular with US fans.  I hadn’t thought to bring any because they’re not big in the UK, but if I go to the States again I most definitely will!

It was an eye-opener to see what else could be done to promote one’s book – bags (really nice shoulder ones as well as the usual little carrier bag types), plastic glasses, T-shirts, mugs, rulers, tape measures and little booklets, to name but a few.  Collector’s cards were intriguing and then there were the sweets and chocolates – always a favourite with me :-)  I particularly liked little chocolate bars printed with the author’s book cover.

But do swag items really work when it comes to selling books?  After a recent conference I attended here in the UK, I talked to some of the other attendees and they said they would just go through their ‘goody bags’ and throw away most of the promo stuff unless something caught their eye specifically.  That means a lot of it is for nothing, but you might just be lucky and be the one who has designed something that catches a reader’s interest.  So can you afford NOT to do it?  I don’t think so.  And at some conferences, like RT, the readers get to help themselves from promo tables so presumably they only take home things that appeal to them?

For my new novel (a young adult contemporary romance which makes a change from historicals) I’ve had fun creating some promo material with the help of one of my daughters.  We’ve experimented with various things and I’m considering some other ideas as well, but it all takes time and money so even if it’s fun, I guess it’s best to think carefully before jumping into something.

What are your favourite types of ‘swag’?  What would you definitely keep and what would you throw away?  And does any of it make you actually buy the book?  I’d love to know!

20 comments:

  1. A real eye-opener, Christina. I had no idea any of this existed! So much to learn! (So little time).

    Thanks for the insight.

    Liv x

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    1. I learned so much from going to RT - a definite eye-opener for me too :-)

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  2. Lol, have signed in to Google with my dog's blogger account - hence the Sophie.

    Duh!

    Liv x

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    1. Ah, yes, I wondered about the name change :-) xx (Your dog has a blogger account???!!! Mine is jealous now :-D)

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  3. Hehe! I love that a little dog has commented on this post! A very interesting topic, I'll be coming back to see what people thinks works best. I'm afraid I'm guilty of only keeping the items in a goody bag that really catch my eye so I would think twice now about including postcards of my own covers.

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    1. Yes, my dogs are now clamouring to have their own accounts but I'm pretending to be deaf :-)

      Re: the swag, it's difficult isn't it? So hard to know what will appeal to readers the most!

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  4. Another blogger concluded that bound stories or samples of stories were more effective in logging book sales. It's not cheap, however, even if you don't count the cost of giving away your writing for free!

    Still, when I think of all the money I have spent for cards and bookmarks and mugs and stuff, I'm thinking $600 spent this way might be more effective!

    I have pretty keychains made up with photos of my characters (from etsy.com) that I like to use for contest prizes. Although I like the mugs too!

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  5. Thank you Susana, that's very interesting! I was actually thinking of doing something like an extract so it's good to know that might be useful. Love the sound of your keychains! Must check out etsy.com - thanks :-)

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  6. I heard the key cards were very popular, for some reason people kept losing them, and needed new ones. I have seen one for real, I can understand why. For me I think a book mark is a good idea, If there is one free I pick it up.

    Also I do think key chains are a good idea, plus it is something you will always use, plus advertise the novel that you are promoting.

    Lorraine x

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    1. Thanks Lorraine, that's good to know! I do like bookmarks so will probably continue to have those done and as you say, key chains are always useful :-)

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  7. Nancy Goldberg LevineAugust 18, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    I like pens, bookmarks, and someone suggested postcards for e-books. I got a free pen in the mail that had a flashlight and was personalized--if I ever make enough money on sales, I'd like to give those away--they are so cool!

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    1. Haven't seen any of those but that does sound cool! Must have a look for those - thank you, Nancy!

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  8. I only ever keep stuff I can use. Bookmarks are good, so are mugs and pens. But the mugs have to be a decent size as I like a good-sized cup of coffee. I also like the idea of chocolates with book covers on them - who doesn't like chocolate! I'd be unlikely to keep a keychain with a book or character photo on it - I'd want something that was more personalised if it's something I'd be using all the time. As a reader, I like to get those little booklets with the first chapter of a novel in them. That way, if the first chapter hooks me, I know the rest of the book is worth buying. There's always a risk buying books from an author you've never read before that you won't like their style and will feel like you've wasted your money.

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    1. You're right Monique, I like those too - will have to look into that! Thank you :-)

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  9. Fascinating...like the like of the first first chapter giveaway!

    lx

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    1. Yes, so many good suggestions - now it's just a question of finding time to do something! xx

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  10. Interesting. I like the idea of a sample chapter. I think the problem with a lot of goody bag bits (eg. postcards) is that they are very disposable when you actually come to gather things up to pack to go home. I think having something with a bit more substance definitely discourages people from chucking it away, but then that also adds to the cost for the writer. But I agree with Monique - I'm definitely more likely to keep stuff I can use (or eat!)

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    1. Thanks, Alison, that makes total sense :-) And yes, I'd never throw away chocolate!

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  11. In one of the other worlds I live in giveaways are very popular, BUT as the owner of toooooooo many rubbish sports bags, t-shirts, sarongs and similar, less stuff but a better quality is always going to be more appreciated. The knack is to be original.

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    1. Yes, that's definitely the difficult part! Trying to think outside the box here ... :-)

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