Blog Highlights: Brainstorming Book Swag: 10 Fun Ideas

For the grand opening of this blog, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite blog posts and moments from over the years throughout the month of June.


Week Four: Marketing and Promotion





First posted on August 15, 2011

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Ah, SWAG! I’m so, so excited to have reached that point where I can dream about book swag and call it productive!

If you’re not familiar, book swag consists of the free promo items that authors give away in order to promote their book, handing them out at conferences, signings, random bookstores they happen to pop into, including them with mailings . . . really anywhere they can think to get the swag into the hands of interested readers.

There are some pretty basic swag items that most authors (or their publisher) make up, because they’re cheap, easy, and small. Bookmarks, postcards, pens, and notepads are all very popular.

While these items can certainly have their place in any book’s marketing campaign, to me it seems that book swag has the potential to be much cooler! And some authors get really into their book swag. (Example: I’ve heard of one romance author giving away lingerie—now that’s clever.)

The best book swag, in my opinion, meets two qualifications:

A) It’s useful. Whoever picks it up is going to actually want to use it, wear it, or eat it.

B) It relates to the book. Sure, you can put the cover of your, say, knitting guide on a key ring, but wouldn’t it be even more noticeable to put it on a skein of yarn?

Obviously, money, time, and manufacturing issues need to be considered, but this is the fun part of marketing, so why not think outside the box?

Here are 10 fun swag items that I would love to have made up for CINDER:

1. Stickers: I love-love-love stickers, and I hope my readers do too because I plan on giving lots away! Of course, stickers of the book cover are obvious, but I could also do androids, the moon, Asian symbolism, or perhaps “I survived letumosis!” badges, referring to the plague that plays a vital role in this series.

2. Temporary Tattoos: A similar idea that I think would be lots of fun. I’d especially love to have temporary tattoos of cyborg parts made up.

3. Team Kai Buttons: Fairly self-explanatory. Ever since the Team Edward/Team Jacob guerilla warfare broke out, what writer hasn’t wanted her male lead to have his own fanclub?

4. Shoe cushion inserts: This one’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you hear about female authors and editors crippling themselves at conferences all the time with their fancy high heels, so this would no doubt be useful, and then the label could say something like “If you were a cyborg, this foot wouldn’t be hurting.” Yes, I do think I’m clever, thank you.

5. Messenger Bags: A popular swag item at conferences are tote bags (used for carrying everyone else’s less thoughtful swag, right?), so this is a twist on that, because my MC rarely goes anywhere without her handy messenger bag slung over one shoulder.

6. Gloves: Another clothing item my MC is rarely seen without is gloves. Hers are usually grease-stained work gloves, but swag gifts could be anything from knit gloves to gardening gloves, perhaps with a cyborg skeleton design?

7. Compact mirrors: My villain despises mirrors, so this would be a fun tie-in, and lots of girls carry compacts around in their purses.

8. Japanese-style fans: CINDER is set in futuristic Asia, so I think Japanese-style paper fans would be great for events in hot or crowded areas. The design could be the book cover, or the book cover could be on the handle with pretty Asian symbolism on the fan.

9. Mini car-repair/roadside assistance kit: We might be getting expensive here, but talk about useful and tying in to the book, as my MC is a mechanic.

10. Fortune Cookies: I saved the best for last! Who doesn’t love a sweet snack? Chocolates and candy are by no means new ideas, but I love the fortune cookie for two reason: it relates to my Asian setting, and you can print teaser quotes or silly book-ish fortunes on the paper inserts.

Obviously I won’t be able to do all of these, but it’s been so much fun to brainstorm and I hope at least some of them will become a reality.

Have you ever been wowed by an author’s awesome choice of book swag? What unique book swag could you get for your WIP?