Swag - what works?
I've heard that authors should have business cards, and I've seen mixed commentary on whether bookmarks are worth buying/distributing.
And I've seen a variety of swag suggestions on blogs--pens, sticky notes, lip balm, mirror compacts, etc.
So, as a newbie author with an ebook, I'm wondering what types of swag get the most "bang for your buck."
What has worked for you, either as an author doing promotions or as a reader at conferences/readings, etc.?
And what stuff are you likely to just throw out or not even pick up?
One thing I think is a dangerous idea: flash drives loaded with novel excerpts and extras. It sounds good on the surface. Anyone with any security knowledge would never load one onto an important computer without wiping the flash drive.
Expensive stuff, swag. And I can't say it's ever induced me to buy the book it's promoting.
I do use bookmarks (and postcards, which I use as bookmarks). So I like them. But I don't buy books because of them. I buy books because they're well-written and interesting.
I think swag doesn't so much promote your book as reward those who are already interested. So, take bookmarks. If you hand them out willy-nilly, they're going to end up buried in the bottom of people's purses or in the garbage. But if you have a conversation with someone about your book and they express interest, a bookmark helps them remember to order it when they get home. It's also a tool they can use to tell others. So I think the best tactic is to think about your target audience and what would best help them - to remember your book and share with others. That's gonna look a little different for each audience.
As a reader, there are only two things I might take. The first would be a card or bookmark, if I want the details to look up later (or you're an author I like and the card is pretty). The second would be a signed bookplate, when it's an author I like but I didn't have a book to get signed.
I cannot stress this enough.
Originally Posted by Old Hack
The best advertising is word of mouth. If I read a good book, I'll tell someone else about it.
I can see for advertising, but I'd be more incline to buy someone's book after knowing them, rather than buying it because I had a bookmark or other stuff advertising it.
Don't Fear Failure.
"Look at the sound of all these people on fire. I want to be on fire, do you want to be on fire?" -- Most Roads Lead to Home, Listener.
"The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Remember how many books you are going to have to sell to make back whatever money/time you spend on swag.
Everything yields to treatment.
Yeah, I think it's important to keep it simple. But I thought I would add that a few relatively inexpensive bits - bookmarks, trading cards etc - could bump interest in a giveaway.
I've got designs for bookmarks but I've not printed any yet. I'm waiting until my book has brought in more revenue.
Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions and advice. I totally agree that the writing...and continuing to write...are what counts most. And swag can be expensive.
I think I may do a fairly small order of postcards just to have something tangible (for an ebook), perhaps with one of those scan codes for smartphones. But I won't spend much time or money that could certainly be focused elsewhere more effectively.
You can get bookmarks relatively inexpensively through places like VistaPrint (I made my own from Vistaprint postcards and a paper cutter). A friend who's a design major helped format the cards with pictures of my book covers, the logline, and a link to my website. I passed some out at a convention and got a brief hit uptake, and one or two sales. Upon reflection next time I'd like to pass the bookmarks out more systematically, to people who express interest and want to follow up, rather than just leaving them out for anyone--or no one--to take.
Do you know how to do one of those scan things for smart phones? Cos I would really like to know so I can use it myself...
Originally Posted by ARoyce
Business cards are for handing to people with whom you plan to do business when you meet them face to face, so they'll have your name, email, and phone number (without having to look for a scrap of paper to write it on).
If you aren't going to meet people with whom you might do business face to face, you don't need 'em.
I haven't actually gotten one myself yet, but if you search online for "QR code" there are apparently some online code generators.
Originally Posted by areteus
I was looking into QR codes too, I noticed that both Vistaprint and moo.com are now offering these.