Often on EMU’s Debuts, we bring you uplifting stories of our journeys and struggles and whatever scraps of collected wisdom we’ve acquired.
Not today. Today we’re gonna talk about something crass and materialistic.
We’re gonna talk about swag.*
Most of us noob authors have three questions when it comes to swag:
~ What should I buy?
~ How much should I spend?
~ Who do I give it to?
I’m one of those unbalanced individuals with an office-supply fetish, so I’m not shy about admitting that one of the things I’ve most looked forward to about the debut process is the ability – nay, the necessity – to procure swag associated with my book.
There is a universe of swag out there. I’ll be honest. I wanted it all.
I waited patiently until my cover was finalized. Until it appeared in the catalog with its very own ISBN number. But then I started counting my pennies and things got hard. What swag items would be a good investment? Which would help me connect with readers? What would people actually keep and use?
Some of my writer colleagues have been rather clever with their swag. Megan Bostic gives out mini-notebooks since journaling features prominently in her debut, NEVER EIGHTEEN. (If you ever meet her IRL, ask to see her swag caddy.) E.M. Kokie, author of PERSONAL EFFECTS, had some specialized dog tags made; one of her characters is a veteran. Lots of other writers I know do silicone bracelets, tote bags and T-shirts.
Like I said, a universe.
Sadly, the thirteenth century does not lend itself well to rampant materialism. I could probably fish some rags and chicken bones out of my trash and give them out as authentic holy relics (hey, it worked for medieval people), but something tells me I’ll do better with the lovely replica pilgrim badges I bought from a pewterer in the UK, and of course there are the drunken monkey magnets of which I am so proud. I’ve also got the more traditional bookmarks, stickers and postcards neatly arranged in boxes in my closet.
Who to give swag to? I’m still working that one out. Part of me is still dealing with the awkwardness factor: How do you hand someone something with your cover on it without it seeming pushy and forward? So far I’ve had good luck just giving it to people who’ve asked.
What about you guys? What swag do you like getting? How does swag come to you? What do you keep? Have you ever gotten a particularly memorable swag item?
* If you’re not familiar with the term, “swag” refers to the physical artifacts authors use as promotional items, usually stuff with your book cover and ISBN on it: bookmarks, buttons, stickers, temporary tattoos, real tattoos, vanity license plates, billboards…