Hope everyone is having a marvelous Monday! Robin and I are both fully submerged on very tight novel deadlines, and we both have BIG presentations looming next week. Wish we were doing them together-- that would be insanely cool! Robin is jetting off to Dallas to do a presentation at the Museum of Art-- does she have the best publicist or what? I am headed off to the Raisin Capitol of the World, Fresno, California. Tres glamour! Seriously, I am very excited to be a keynote for a group of librarians at their annual retreat. Librarians, in my book-- RULE the world, or they should, for god's sake.
I am mainlining green smoothies to stay well throught it all, and feeling very grateful to Robin for keeping me supplied with the best homegrown spinach ever. We are both seeing green these days, thanks to her spouse's bumper crop. All very fitting, given that St. Patrick's Day is nearly upon us. I am praying for the luck of the Irish that we both meet our deadlines easily, get the very fun presentations behind us, and are soon sitting together behind enormous salmon salads, happily recharging.
So, our topic de jour-- Swagology, or as my hair stylist calls is Schwa-a-agology. Either way, swag generally refers to the free promtional booty one can find at conventions, or conferences-- and for the sake of our conversation, on your author signing table. It is a hot topic among authors and illustrators, and there is usually a bit bemoaning about how little the publishing houses are able to help with the financing of swag. In the writerly circles in which I run, which include a goodly group of esteemed writers, we might see an occasional poster, perhaps some reimbursement for postcards-- but generally, all the costs come from us.
And, the purpose of swag? That depends on who you ask. For me, it serves as both a welcome and an icebreaker in connecting with kids or adults who are looking at the book table. (Or in the case of lurking introverts, trying to look like they are NOT looking at your table.) And, as a former kid that had no disposable income, I love being able to give a child something totally free, no strings attached. I give out postcards, candy, stick-on gem earrings, small notebooks, fun erasers, and pencils. Only the postcards have my promotional information on them. I keep meaning to order personalized pencils, and then I just never get it done. I'd rather just give out cool pencils. (But I'm absolutely not advising this-- I'm just confessing here, folks.)
Robin has beautiful items, and I get SSE next to her (Serious Swag Envy) She has gorgeous pencils, scary/cool tattoos, Egyptian symbols, black cats, bookmarks, postcards. She's good at this. And, she usually raffles off a really nice gift set of a few of these things packaged together. (RL, am I forgetting anything?)
For those of you pre-published and those up and coming, I think swag works best when there is a specific and personal point to it. Since this will likely be your money you're spending, make sure that you know why you're doing this. I don't think I've ever heard of good swag being the thing that launched a book from obscurity to the Bestseller List. I'd recommend that you start out small and conservatively, and see what items seem to be popular. I think buying in bulk is good, but if your order requires a forklift to get it into your garage, you might want to slow down a bit.
Consumables items are the best-- things people can actually use, not just some medium for putting your name on it. That's why pencils, pens, pads, bookmarks, book thongs, snacks, stickers, and tattoos are great. Postcards are good, too, but I'd encourage you to actually leave space on the back for a child (or adult) to use the postcard. As a kid, I always hated when I got something cool like that, but there was no room for me to write on it. I will sometime even put stamps on them, and make sure there is plenty of room for a child to write a message to their remote BFF. Or, put your editor's name and address on the back, and ask the child to tell your editor if they liked the book and why.
There are a number of sites we've talked about previously that are great for perusing and ordering inexpensive items. I don't think you can beat Vista Print for ordering postcards, business cards, pens, pencils, sticky pads, tons of great items. I've always enjoyed fabulous customer service which them, which goes a long way with me. The Oriental Trading Company has just about anything that you could possibly think of, particularly in terms of looking for book tie-ins. Two other sites that I like are Zazzle and epromo.
We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about Swagology, and any fave sites that you use.
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Big congratulations out to Beth Cato who is the winner of last Monday's contest-- Please Help Luther! :-) We recieved a number of terrific posts and suggestions. Thanks so much, everyone! It was tough to choose. I had to empanel a very special judge to help. If you haven't read the comments from that post, and public speaking can be a challenge for you, do go back and check them out. Beth's suggestions were practice-practice-practice, try to have some fun-- even at your own expense, use sturdy note cards, visit the empty stage or podium in advance if you can, have a cough drop or mint on hand for desert-throat, and make sure you don't wear anything that could choke you, trip you or otherwise present a clothing malfunction.
And, we want to thank Kimberly Lynn for sending us the fun 'nervous speaker' case study. Beth and Kimberly have won a copy of the soon-to-be-released (March 19!) new novel by the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson entitled Wintergirls. If you both will email me off-line with your mailing address, I will put the orders in for you.
Have a great week!