I was recently at a writer’s and reader’s conference in Jersey where they had a swag table. People descended upon that table like vultures! We all wanted free stuff–and we all knew the best and most creative items would be the first to go. It got me thinking…what stands out to me as a reader when I’m taking stuff. I don’t tend to want EVERYTHING. Because I know it’ll just end up in my trash anyway. So, here were a few items that stood out to me.
1) Bookmarks and business cards are obviously staples. Okay, they’re not the most creative thing–but we all need them. However, you need to make sure your looks good. With so many bookmarks to choose from at that table, I only took the one or two that looked really high end and beautiful. Use a high quality paper, not a standard cardstock. My cards and bookmarks are all a pearlized paper. Also, if your book cover does not fit the bookmark/business card template, don’t force it!! The area around your image is called negative space and it can be used in design to let your eyes rest from a busy image. For example, this is the front of my business card.
You can see here that my book cover would not have fit correctly on the card without distorting the image. So, instead of forcing it to fit, I created an interestingly shaped frame for the image and placed my website beneath it.
2) Post-it Notes. Who DOESN’T use post-it notes? I grabbed those things like bacon at the breakfast bar. Someone once told me that “swag” isn’t something you put together because clearly someone who picks up the pen you made will go out and buy your book…the idea behind usable swag is so that the person will continuously see your name in every day items. Your name will subliminally be stamped into their brain and then when they do go to the bookstore, they might remember you. Much like we might find a commercial annoying, but we find ourselves still singing the jingle. So, anyway. Yeah. Post-it notes–they tend to be popular. And still only a nominal fee to get them printed.
3) Magnets! They basically accomplish the same thing as a business card but they are MUCH less likely to get thrown in the garbage. I personally ALWAYS take magnets and I can always USE magnets.
4) Chapstick or lipgloss. There’s no argument that most of us at these conferences are women. Especially at RT and RWA and RomCon. Lip/beauty stuff is AWESOME advertising. Whenever my parents went to conferences, they would always grab extras of those great items like this for my sister and me. So, when you have something that’s a winner like this, it can extend beyond the person who is actually there at the conference.
5) Pens. Yeah they’re boring, but I ALWAYS take them. And that is the goal, right?
There are tons of other items you could use–be creative. What items play a major facet in your story? Tea and coffee? Candy? Knitting? How could you incorporate those items into your story? My main character drinks a caramel latte–maybe I’d put together a packet of instant coffee and a piece of caramel candy.