Everybody loves to get free things, right? Authors give away free things and we call it “SWAG.” That’s important to me right now because I went to a book signing at the Haltom City Public Library on Feb. 12.
Every year they have a Romance night around Valentines. Lots of fun for the readers because besides meeting authors and buying books, they have a chance to win stuff. I gave two baskets each with two of my books in them, plus other stuff including a $15 GC for a restaurant and some “Valentiney” type stuff—coffee mugs with hearts, hot chocolate packs, a small stuffed animal, chocolate candy, and all the stuff that goes in my swag bags. (Forgot to take pictures of these! )
I spent a day getting ready. Other than buying fresh chocolate (it can go bad, you know), I had all the other ingredients I need to make up my SWAG Bags. After becoming published and before going to my first book signing (when I only had e-books—not fun at all), I struggled with what to use for swag. The first thing I purchased was bookmarks, even if “everyone” now reads e-books and they don’t need bookmarks. It was something concrete to get my name & web site out there.
Then people told me you should give away something related to your book. Well, I came up with bags of smelly stuff because that was the scent in the crystal store my heroine in VERMONT ESCAPE bought and crystal droplets—crystal store, got it? I ordered the scents from Amazon (it was the first time I’d ever ordered from Amazon.) At first I tried antique store for the crystals, but that was toooo expensive, so I settled on Michaels. I still have some of these.
Then I decided I wanted to give something that would be useful. I hit on small packs of tissues and note pads, and of course pens. I’m on my third pen now. I had a green one, then black, and now I’ve got turquoise (my signature color). Having a signature color is helpful in a large room of authors. Readers begin to associate you with your color so even when you’re not around when they see that color they think of you.
Here’s what goes into my small swag bags: tissue, notepads, Bitty Booklets, and Bookmarks (from my first two books.) Now I just make the Bitty Booklets. Get them from www.ninthmoon. She does great work. The Bitty Booklets were especially important to me because I didn’t have print books to begin with. Now they’re just a great tease.
Would you like to know the approximate cost for each bag?
Here’s the breakdown.
Notepads from Walmart-4 to a pack for 88 cents. So rounded up to .19.
Tissues 3 to a pack from the Dollar Store = 33 cents.
Stickers are 300 for $50 = rounded up to 17 cents
Bitty Booklets 43 cents.
Bags about 20 cents (this varies depending on the bags. I have super cheap ones right now, but I like that their colorful and they are turquoise.
Sheets of the stickers also from ninthmoon.
Total cost per bag: $1.42 plus chocolates
They key is to buy in large numbers to keep the price lower. So you’re out some considerable money, but the product lasts a long time.
Always, always give away chocolate, even if you don’t give anything else.
To begin with, I gave the bags to everyone—yee gods, but that was expensive. Now you have to buy a book to get the bag, but everyone who walks up to my table gets Bitty Booklets and chocolate.
I also gave away books. Four to the library, the three I didn’t have last year, and then an extra copy of my first one, VERMONT ESCAPE when the librarian said they couldn’t keep it on the shelves. Boy did that make my day.
Last year I had severe banner envy. Not anymore.
I’m sharing pics of a few of my fellow authors so you can see their swag.
CA Szarek, The Queen of Swag
Click on the pictures to make the larger so you can see the details.
The library event was Friday night. On Saturday, I went to a friend’s book club. Each of them had purchased a print copy of SECOND ACT, book 1 The Second Chances Series, which I released last spring. One of the women was on the board of a local library and asked if I could give her copies. Of course, I did. She and my friend also bought a copy of my latest book. I’m donating $2.00 of each print copy of ACT OF TRUST to 9/11 Memorial.org.
I’ll write off all the Giveaway books. Having them out in libraries is just super. I’m not making money in the writing business. Yet. I hope to, of course. I have friends who do. I write a niche book. It’s not your typical romantic suspense. I have characters in their 40s and 50s. But I like writing about them. We all have to find what works for us.
I’m not an expert in any of this business, so I hope you’ll share some of what you do for marketing, especially in the SWAG, territory. Or maybe you don’t do SWAG. That would be interesting to hear about, too. If you’re a reader what kinds of things do you like to get? Love to hear from you.