To Swag or Not to Swag?
Posted by Jeannie Lin Jul 3 2013, 12:10 am in giveaways, promotion, RWA conference
SWAG=Stuff we all get or insert flashier word for “stuff”
AKA: Bookmarks, chotchkies, knick-knacks, giveaways:
As we head into the heart of conference seasons, this is an important question. There’s some debate about this, so let’s cut to the chase. All opinions are solely mine:
Q: Does SWAG sell books?
Q: Is SWAG an effective way to get your name out there?
A: No, not really.
Q: Does most SWAG get thrown away and forgotten.
Then why do it, oh SWAG queen Jeannie Lin with your knick-knacks and snickerdoodles and red tassels all a flutter? Why do you spend so much time coming up with cool, swagtastic promo items and schemes like the Romance Trading Card bru-ha-ha instead of writing more books?
And what’s up with this Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood playing card deck? Pretty, but did that really help your writing career? Come on!
Imagine playing solitaire with all the Ruby covers!
I will tell you this, my dirty little secret, the reason why I can justify spending so much time and energy putting swag together:
Because I LOVE it.
I love swag for swag’s sake.
What does J. Lo get for parading around in her green thing-a-majiggy? You know the one.
Does she get movie offers? Record deals? No. She might get some notice. But why does she do it? She does it because she likes strutting her stuff. In fact, I bet she LOVES it.
So now that I’ve confessed what a nutter I am, here’s my SWAG advice:
1. Don’t buy SWAG. It’s a waste of money and you don’t make a lot as a writer.
2. Ha! If rule number 1 didn’t close the deal for you, then consider this: Either don’t do it at all or GO BIG.
3. Flash your cover. If you don’t have a name, what good is “getting your name out?” Exposing people to your book cover is the best you can hope for from SWAG.
4. Dangly shiny SWAG should be there to get people to look at your cover. Look through a conference goodie bag. Which items warranted a second glance? Something with a do-hickey, right? Spend as little on your do-hickey as you can and try to make it memorable. It can be as simple as a piece of candy. It will still probably be thrown away, but that half-second glance is pretty much what you’re hoping for with your SWAG.
5. SWAG should make people feel special. Not just be another tape dispenser or nail file with your name on it. Sure those are darn useful, but they don’t set you apart or make the recipient feel like they’ve received a part of your special world. I think that’s why Romance Trading Cards were so well-received. The author puts out something above and beyond, giving readers a special sneak peek into their book.
What does SWAG do for you then if it doesn’t sell books or really get your name out?
I can only say what SWAG does for me:
1. I don’t SWAG unless I also conference. SWAG is like the bling I wear at conference to get noticed, just for a half-second. Because I don’t look as good as J. Lo in her green dress. And, you know, because I’d have to tattoo my current cover on my chest and that would hurt.
2. SWAG is me celebrating. SWAG makes me happy. I like crafts. I like organizing things and finding bargains. My SWAG is my self-indulgent reward for getting this book out. I give it out to my readers as a gift. It’s a sunk cost, just like a release party is a sunk cost.
3. SWAG gives you additional pictures to put up on Facebook and Twitter. And with that, you get a half second glance. (Seeing a trend here?)
4. Organizing SWAG and promos has allowed me to create connections with other authors. I consider those to be way more valuable than these little baubles.
5. SWAG gives me an excuse to do a giveaway.
Like this one:
Let’s talk SWAG. Three commenters will be randomly selected to receive a Ruby-Slippered Playing Card deck. 54 cards of Ruby awesomeness!
Comment and give examples of some memorable SWAG you’ve received. Or compliment us on our Ruby Playing Cards. Or tell us about some SWAG you’re considering giving out. What are you hoping to accomplish with it?