Either you totally know what I’m talking about or you are very concerned about what I’m going to be talking about. Swag, in the publishing world, is cool free stuff that is given away. It is branded items that help promote your products through ways that the receiver can enjoy in more ways than just reading a book.
Swag is marketing that everyone enjoys.
How Swag Works
Swag is nothing new. It has been around for ages. I remember as a child seeing the fans all the adults used that had the name of the funeral home printed on them. That was swag for the funeral home. It was a useable object that marketed for the company every time it was used.
That is the key — usability. In order for the concept of marketing with swag to work, the swag item has to be something an individual will use. The fan I saw in my childhood was used a lot as there was no air conditioning in most buildings back then. Therefore, marketing for the funeral home was constant throughout the week.
There are so many things that can be used as swag to market your book. Some are highly suggested for every authors. Others can be dependent on the subject of your book. You want to make it as unique and usable as you can. Think of what your target audience will use.
Bookmarks/Postcards — Every author should have bookmarks made featuring their work. Readers use bookmarks over and over again. Every time they open their book, they see it. That is marketing that occurs over and over without you having to lift a finger. They are cheap to make and easy to distribute. Postcards are used by many authors. I see them as over-sized bookmarks and can be useful promoted that way. Personally, I never have enough bookmarks.
Pens/Notebooks — You can have these printed with logos and the name of your book. I can always use another pen or notebook to jot down ideas. You can never go wrong with this kind of swag. Readers use them a lot. If you are writing books to help authors, this is a great idea. What author doesn’t need another pen or notebook? I know I will never turn them down.
Jewelry — This can catch the eye of the reader real quick. Is your story about a werewolf? There are necklaces, earrings, and pins with wolves on them. Maybe pearls are featured in the story. Give away pearl necklaces. They don’t have to be expensive. But a few given away goes a long way in marketing. Find something unique to your story and run with it. There is jewelry for men and women as well as children that can used as swag.
Specialized Items — These are ones that relate specifically to your book. A great example is a romance writer I know who wrote a book about two chefs falling in love. She gave away aprons with the name of the book stamped on them. What a cool idea! What is unique to your book that you can give away as swag? If the story is set in a nail salon, you can get nail polish with your logo. There are many ideas that can help you market your book.
When to Use Swag and How
You use swag a lot when a new book is coming out or you are celebrating a special event. You might give it away as prizes, but they are mainly just gifts you give out at live events, as a thank you to reviewers, and to leave in public places to promote your work. Remember that the goal is to have marketing being done all the time.
Use swag at events, prizes, and special occasions. You can even use it to celebrate your birthday or some unique holiday no one has ever heard about. Focus on the usability.
Make sure the swag fits your market, your product, and your audience. Make it usable. Make it unique where it stands out.
I do have to add this as I have seen way too many people hurt themselves with their swag. Be careful of what you choose for swag and where you offer it or display it. I’m not talking about an apron. I’m talking about things that can be seen as offensive or embarrassing by some people.
Let’s say you write erotica. We know where your mind goes in regards to swag. But not everything that would be great ideas is appropriate for the public. In cases like this, I’m not saying don’t use that type of swag. What I am highly suggesting is to keep it in a private group or venue. On Facebook, you might be friends with your best friend’s niece. She might be way too young to see such things. Think of who would see your swag and make sure you only display where appropriately.