Swag for the Romance Author, Part 1: Author Swag

We all love presents.  Who doesn’t love to get something for free?  How many of you go to Sam’s Club or Costco at just the right time to get those food samples?

Swag does the same thing for romance authors—gives you a taste of the product (book) or a memento of the author so when you see the name of the author or the book, you remember that freebie and maybe take a chance on the book.

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Swag comes in two varieties:  Author Swag and Book Swag.  They do the same thing, promote you the author and your books, but are a little bit different in purpose.

Author Swag is designed to get the name of the author before the public.  Usually the name and a logo or brand that you want the reader to associate with you and your work.  Later this spring I’ll be getting pens with my name and brand–Jenna Jaxon Romance–Because Passion is Timeless and the URL to this blog.  That way whoever has the pen will be reminded about Jenna Jaxon, not a particular work of mine.  But if they want more info on my works, they can find me.

Two rules of thumb for swag:  watch your costs and when possible go for the items that last.  Swag can get very expensive.  Weigh the cost per piece vs. how effective the item will be to promote you.  And with a couple of exceptions, buy swag that won’t be easily forgotten.  Example:  a post-it note pad.  Everyone loves to get them.  It’s popular and handy, but when you’ve used them all, your name is no longer in front of the reader.

Below are some typical items you can use for basic swag, most pretty inexpensive.  And believe me, cost matters!

Business Cards:  This is a must for every author.  My good friend, author Ella Quinn, hands them out to everyone she meets wherever she is.  They are part of the business of being an author, so keep them with you at all times.

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You can get them cheaply at Vistaprint http://www.vistaprint.com/category/business-cards.  How much cheaper can you get than FREE?  Vistaprint carries a line of business cards using their stock designs.  If you want to use one of those, you pay only for shipping.  Or, if you want to use your own design, you can get 500 business cards on matte finish for $12.49 + shipping and processing.  It’s a little higher if you want a glossy card.

Magnets:  Vistaprint also does a business card sized magnet.  25/6.99, 50/11.99,100/20.99  Let your name stare them in the face every time they open the fridge.  I really like magnets.  They’re lasting and if you can get it on the reader’s refrigerator, you’ve got an almost permanent reminder of you and your work.

Pens:  Pens are a common author swag item that you can buy in bulk to get the best price and since it’s your name you’re promoting, it never goes out of fashion (as a book would).  You can get as fancy as you want or as simple .  And let’s face it, everyone always needs pens.  Because everyone loses pens.  So if your readers lose the pen with your name on it, then someone else also gets the value of seeing your name.  More promo for you at a minimal cost to you.

4imprint.com has stick pens, 500 for .15 each or $75.00.  The fancier you get, the more expensive per piece.  However, the fancier the pen, usually the greater the interest in the item.

Stickers:  4imprint also has an oval Sticker of your design in rolls of 1,000 for 135.00. You can use these to seal every envelope, as a book-plate for book signings, a sticker proclaiming a book has been signed by the author, to seal swag bags.  The possibilities are almost endless.

Candy:  Candy is always a crowd pleaser. Even if you don’t have your name on it (very expensive) people will remember that you gave them a sweet treat. You can stick a couple of Hershey kisses into your swag bags or have them in a dish at book signings.   You can again get as simple or as fancy as you like.  You can put things like M & Ms in little favor boxes (used at weddings) and use a label with your name on the box.  It makes an impression and that is the point of swag.

Next week I’ll move on to Book Swag and pin point some good items to consider when promoting a specific book or series.

Leave a comment telling me what your favorite piece of swag to give or receive is and one commenter will receive my deluxe swag pack. :)

Betrayal1Betrayal3Betrayal2The worst betrayals come from within.

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26 Responses to Swag for the Romance Author, Part 1: Author Swag

  1. I am such a swag hag! I love swag of all sorts. My favorite are useful items, such as mirrors, key chains, combs/travel brushes, coffee mugs, tote bags, book related jewelry, t-shirts, magnets, and just about anything to do with the book! I do have to say I get so disappointing when an author sends me a bookmark, or some other paper swag, and did not sign it. Sadly, it goes in my donate box, because if I saved all unsigned paper swag, I would have a closet full! I usually donate them to libraries, schools, or wherever they are appropriate. kbinmich AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Great post. I designed business card and now need to get them printed. I love the idea of magnets too. I’m thinking I might do those to. Every little bit helps.

  3. Carrie-Anne says:

    Those are a lot of good ideas to think about. I’m sure my favorite aunt and maternal grandparents would love to get magnets, pens, and bookmarks. As a typography geek, I’d have to pay special attention to getting the perfect logo and typefaces on a business card. I may be changing my pen name soon, so I’d have to make sure it’s exactly what I want when I make swag!

  4. Reblogged this on Nikka Michaels and commented:
    Love this info on swag.

  5. I love pens. I got mine from Earthly Charms for about $.13 each. I also have Keeper Kards. They are post cards with the book cover on the front and blurb with a place to sign the card on the back. Dianna Love started them. I’ve never gotten magnets because I don’t use them, but I may have to if they’re so popular as well as candy.

    Yes, I give out my business cards all over. I even had one guy from Belgium who was on the ski gondola ask for one. Tweeted and shared

    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      LOL, Ella! I’m surprised you didn’t paper the slopes with them. :) But you set a really good example. I need to be more aggressive with my promo. I will have to check out Earthly Charms! I loved your green pens. Just recently I loaned one to a student and he kept it. I threatened to fail him if he didn’t give it back. LOL I think he thought i was serious! But I do need another one because he now can’t find it!

  6. elfahearn says:

    I ordered heart-shaped rubber bottle openers with my name emblazoned on the front. They’re expensive, but they last forever and have been hugely popular. While they’re good for getting my name out they’re not book specific, so I’ve printed up excerpt booklets. They’re really expensive. At RT the trick will be to get my swag into the right hands. I just ordered business cards from Vistaprint. Despite a coupon for “$10 off,” 250 cost me about $25. That was irksome, but so much less expensive than the rest of my loot. Again, though, not book specific. I’m thinking of getting those big cards with room to excerpt a scene.
    I’m actually doing a presentation on swag at RT. It’s a fascinating subject.

    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      It is a fascinating subject, Elf. I’d wondered about doing a workshop on it at RWA next year perhaps. I really like scoping out all the different types and ferreting out the best prices. The bottle openers sound like a really good choice. Where do you get your chapter books printed?

      • elfahearn says:

        I went to Staples, which was probably a mistake. I think Vistaprint might do it for less. They run about $1.60 each, so you really have to be judicious about handing them out. Thing is, excerpts are the only thing that’s ever motivated me to buy someone’s book. I want a sense of their talent and style, not just the plot of their novel.

  7. lizaoconnor says:

    Very helpful blog. Thanks

  8. Great ideas, Jenna! I’m always at a loss when it comes to swag-hence the reason I only have business cards, pens and magnets. Love the idea of candy! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to the next post!

  9. I just did magents and they are a huge hit. Great post!

  10. Pingback: Swag for the Romance Author, Part 1: Author Swag | Collette Cameron Author

  11. Daryl Devore says:

    Thanks for all the great idea.
    Tweeted.

  12. I like book covers, postcards, pens, etc…but the favorite bit of swag that I have ever received from an author was an embroidered handkerchief! I love it and it is in my purse at all times! :)

  13. great ideas, Jenna! I love the book cover postcards/cover flats I purchased for my Texas series – and you reminded me to order more!

  14. margeryscott says:

    Jenna, great post! Thanks for the reminder to order business cards before RWA in July.

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