To Swag or Not to Swag — THAT is the question!

As I get closer to my book release, my focus is shifting from edits to marketing, and more specifically, swag.

Now some of you may be asking: what the heck is swag?

Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Six months ago I thought it was what guys like Mick Jagger have — but no, that is swagger. I’m talking swag — the stuff authors and publishers hand out to promote a book.

The most common swag are bookmarks and stickers, but there are so many things authors can have printed up with their book cover on it these days — hats, tote bags, mouse pads, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, notebooks . . . . and that’s just to name a few!

All that swag can be cool, but it can also add up, and despite what many believe, authors don’t make all that much money. So I’ve been deliberating a lot about what swag to spend my money on. If I couold afford it, I’d put my cover on everything because I love seeing it. (It is such a cool cover! And it’s MINE!)

But since I can’t do that without my husband having a heart attack at the amount I’ve spent, I need to narrow it down. And so I pose the question:

What swag do readers actually like getting? And more importantly, what swag gets readers to buy a book, if at all, since ultimately, that is the goal?

I would love any and all comments on this subject. The more POV the better!

5 Responses to “To Swag or Not to Swag — THAT is the question!”

  1. Natalie Aguirre

    Personally, I don’t really like swag except for bookmarks which are a good way to promote your book. I think it’d be better to spend the money on a few of your books to offer in giveaways on blogs. And I’d recommend that you pick blogs with big readerships to offer them for. Even the big blogs like The Story Siren and Mundie Moms don’t get too many comments without giveaways, so I think the books could be a good marketing tool.

    Here’s two links I saved on marketing from Elana Johnson that you might find helpful:

    • Laura

      Awesome links, Natalie. Thanks! Yes, I definitely will do some book giveaways. I love bookmarks, so those are a for sure for me too. As for all the other swag — seems people either love, love, love the stuff or they always toss it!

  2. Graeme Ing

    Bookmarks are definitely the number #1 swag: Small, cool-looking and practical. Easy for you to ship too, I imagine. I agree with Natalie that giving away the book itself is better, but would probably reserve a handful of mugs, buttons and mouse pads to give out as special prizes. I wouldn’t go mad on them though.

    It seems increasingly popular for authors to make swag and I wonder how much it influences readers. I sadly predict an ever-escalating merchandising binge, which detracts from the real point: The book itself.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I can see how you could go overboard on merchandise! And really, what you want is for the book to be recognized and ultimately, purchased 🙂 I finally decided on bookmarks — but am also doing some things that realate to parts in the book like watermelon bubble gum and magnifying glasses that can be used as bookmarks 🙂

  3. Brittany

    ” Hi Everyone : )
    In case you’re ever looking for something new or different I make book swag for authors : ) I really enjoy it and I have an album dedicated to book swag in my Facebook store if you’d like to see some of my stuff ; ) Here is a link to one example if you could just take a quick peek:
    I make Keychains, magnets or necklaces with your book covers (only to be purchased by the authors) for release dates/giveaways, book conferences and book signings. I have created for 12 different books so far and am currently working with two new authors after only doing this for a few months : ) I’m so happy to say every one of them would recommend my work! I offer bulk prices on top of cheap prices for quality swag! Thank you! B.


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