Thursday, March 23, 2017

SWAG with Julie C. Gilbert

Hello! I have Julie C. Gilbert here today to talk about SWAG. Basically, anything physical you have to promote yourself that isn't your actual books. (Excluding business cards) Awesome stuff. Someday, I'm going to get myself some.

Find her on the Interwebs:

The Wonderful World of Promotional Items

I’m not really sure where the term “swag” comes from or what it stands for, but google failed miserably in giving me an applicable definition until I added the phrase “promotional items.” This can be anything from books to pens to postcards and everything in between.

Who Needs SWAG?
It helps to have a specific outlet for your swag like a book convention, but having some postcards on hand is always a good idea. You want to turn people’s interest in your work into a relationship that will keep them coming back for more books. I think to some extent, all authors serious about making a career out of this should invest in some sort of SWAG. What and how much depends on you, your books, and the outlets you have for the stuff.

Things to Consider:
1. Budget: Promotional items are going to cost something. Even business cards are going to cost something, though those tend to run on the cheap side. I’ve used Gotprint to get postcards of book covers for various book fairs. These are great to give out. People love free stuff. Postcards will run you about $25-30 for 500. I’ve also gotten things like wristbands and pencils. 1000 pencils with a specific book title or series will cost you about $140. I forget how many wristbands I got, 500 I think. That was several years ago.

2. Ease of Mailing: Most of the time, you’ll be there in person handing this stuff out to people at a book expo or convention of some sort. However, if you ever have to mail things anywhere, just be aware that non-flat things cost a whole heap more than flat things. With postcards, I can get away with about 6 in an envelope for ~$0.70. Global stamps were about $1.15 last I looked. The bigger and heavier it is, the more expensive it will be to ship out.

3. Weight: Mass is going to affect mailing costs and your back if you have to haul it around to these various shows.

What Kind Of SWAG’s Out There?
Do people really want this stuff? YES! In no particular order.
1. Postcards
2. Pencils/pens
3. Key chains
4. Magnets
5. Mugs
6. Notepads
7. Totebags
8. T-shirts
9. Mints
10. USB sticks

Other Opinions:
What kind of SWAG do you like to hand out? What kind of SWAG do you like to get?

“Mugs seem to be the most popular, fun item. That and signed paperbacks. I most like getting mugs, paperbacks, or fridge magnets! ~Toby Neal (Author of Lei Crime Series)

“The swag I like to get and will likely hand out is: bookmarks, sticky notes, coasters, postcards.” ~Amy Allen (Author of New Beginnings, Lei Crime Kindle World Series)

“I hand out bookmarks and give a chance to get an audiobook of my historical novel TREE SOLDIER. I'm looking at swag that might reflect the forest themes in this novel and TIMBER ROSE. Might be key chains or magnets.” ~J.L. Oakley (Author of Saddle Road, Lei Crime Kindle World Series)

For budget conscious people, postcards are probably the way to go. If you want unique, go for something you don’t have a lot of like mugs and use them for contests. Make it special. Refrigerator magnets are a great idea. I’ve done that one before too.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. This was tons of fun to read! Thank you for sharing your info with us, Julie. Bookmarks are definitely my favorite kind of book swag, besides signed books ;).

    ~ Savannah

  2. Swag is fabulous. :D Thanks for sharing this advice!

  3. I designed a T-shirt for my last book. I like using Vista print. They do all sorts of things like pens, business cards, posters, T-shirts, and mugs. If you get on their mailing list they sometimes have 50% off sales.

  4. I love swag, both making it and receiving it haha ;) I literally came home with a bag full of swag when I went to BookCon a couple years ago. I typically do bookmarks/post cards myself, though once I did posters too, for giveaways, and when I launched Blood Ties I splurged and got buttons for the blog tour giveaways. Buttons are by far my favorite thing to get apart from book marks.


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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