The final category in my series on promotional swag is what I term Exotic Swag. This type of promotional item is usually done for a special occasion–such as RWA or RT conventions–and is usually more expensive than typical author or paper swag. But at these larger conventions, the exotic or practical items are what gets taken away. Paper swag is often left behind at such conventions, so you need to plan when and where you want to put your hard-earned dollars to get the most exposure from your swag.
Items in this category include anything you can think of, pretty much, to help sell you and your book. these items can include, but are not limited to: cell phone screen cleaners, cookies, post-it notes, pens, gummy candies shaped like something in your book, lanyards, drink holders, bottle openers, take measures, mints, tea bags, key chains, manicure sets. The list is virtually endless.
There are some decisions you can make to help you get the biggest bang for your buck. Catch people’s attention by making the swag both practical and related to your book or you. If there is some theme to the book–cooking for example–incorporate a cookie recipe or shaped cookie cutter. If your book is set in Regency England, paste a promo label on an English Breakfast tea bag. Author Katherine Bone handed out stress-relief balls in the shape of bones with her name and info.
Current thought says to give away items that will last. A pad of post-it notes with your
name or books name on each sheet will keep the name before the reader only until the notes are all used. The same goes for things like mints or candies, other food items, chap sticks (although these do last a while), and bath salts.
If you want to spare yourself the expense of having your items personalized, yet want to make your swag memorable, use a swag bag to bundle several items that include things like signature cards, candy, novelty items, or pens. Swag bags themselves can be anything from a clear baggie to specialized
cellophane treat bags. A great site for these is mygirlfriendshouse.com. They sell a wide variety of designs and sizes on these bags: hearts, flowers, chili peppers, lip prints, etc. at $10.45 for 100 bags.
One final consideration I’d like to address is cost. How much should you spend on swag? If you have unlimited funds, the sky’s the limit to what you can purchase. For those on a budget, however, you need to be rather canny. You don’t want to spend so much on swag for one book that you cannot make the money back in sales. Price out all components of your swag (include such things as the bag, the items, distribution costs if they have to be shipped to the site include postage) and figure how many sales you can reasonably expect from the convention or event.
I’m taking lavender sachets to RWA this year to promote my medieval serial novel Time Enough to Love that will be released as a print book as well as an e-book bundle (three novellas). Lavender figures prominently in the book and a sachet is something that will last for a while in a sock or underwear drawer, reminding the reader of my book. Price of all components is about $175 for 300 sachets and signature cards I will attach to them. If the e-book bundle itself is priced at $4.99, I will need to sell 50 bundles to make back my investment. I think I’ll be able to do that.
But you need to be careful. Swag is just as seductive to authors as it is to readers. Don’t get carried away with ordering so much or such expensive swag that you will not be able to recoup your investment.
I hope this little series on swag–which I do find fascinating–has helped give you ideas about what can be done to promote your books and yourself creatively and inexpensively.
What has been your all-time favorite piece of swag you’ve gotten? (Mine is a bath tea bag–a sachet you put in your bath water. It gave me the idea for my lavender sachets.)