Author Swag – Promote Your Brand

This stuff's for keeps!

This stuff’s for keeps!

It’s that time again. Conference season is gearing up. Whether it’s RWA Nationals, RT, RomCon, Romanticon, ECWC or any of the numerous reader and writer events throughout the year, now is the time to figure out your budget for swag. You don’t have to plan to attend, either. If you can’t afford the conference fee, consider donating swag to the goody bags and giveaway tables. Your brand can travel the globe, even if you can’t be there to hand it out.

Many conferences have started to “go green”, meaning they will no longer accept paper items, such as bookmarks, trading cards and book covers. But it doesn’t mean they won’t accept ANY paper. Think outside the box! Door hangers, notepads, sticky notes – if it’s useful and reuseable – it’s acceptable.

A yummy recipe and a spiral notebook

 A yummy recipe and a spiral notebook

And while you’re thinking outside that box, here’s your chance to really stand out. Lots of people donate pens. Think useful but think UNIQUE. You want to be the author whose swag stuck out and people remember for years to come. Write erotica? How about condoms with your brand on them? Definitely one of the more memorable pieces of swag I remember seeing. (Sorry, no picture here – had to ditch that one before the kiddos got into my goody bag in their search for chocolate.)

If you have the budget for it, there are lots of reasonably priced places to find promotional items that you can customize to suit your own brand. 4imprint, epromos, positive promotions and even Staples offer a range of products that will help your brand reach more people. Magnets, clips, water bottles, binders, stress balls, you name it. Choose something conference attendees are going to want to hang on to.

So many choices!

So many choices!

My first foray into author swag was more of a DIY project. The little girl in my debut novel loved fairies and fairy gardens. So I put together a seed packet with my cover on it. I bought a large jug of seeds at Home Depot. I found a place online that sold little white envelopes in bulk. I ordered stickers with my cover on them from Staples. Then I called on a group of friends, had a seed stuffing party and voila! (Make sure you make it worthwhile by feeding your helpers. I ordered pizza.) Uniquely me, and hopefully something that the attendees of ECWC 2013 still remember. 😉

My DIY swag

My DIY swag

Think about your brand. What would best represent it? Are your characters chefs, bakers, etc? One author gave away pie servers. Very memorable! One author always includes dogs in her books. She donated the most adorable stuffed animal dogs with her logo on a tag around their collar. There are so many things we can do. We’re authors–imagination is our forte!

I’ll even tell you about my own idea for this year–if you promise not to steal it. I write sweet, small-town romances. So, I thought sweet … chocolate! Get it? I’ll be ordering some personalized M&M’s. It’s so awesome, because I can carry my brand further. I am all about pink and they have a few shades. Woot! They have the most amazing business card cases that you can fill with the M&M’s, but that’s entirely out of my budget. But I’m handy. I’ll figure out a way to package them and make them look pretty for the goody bags.

So come up with your swag pieces that scream your brand in a bold and memorable way. And then come find me. Yeah, you had to know I had my own agenda in here somewhere, right? I’m the 2015 Goody Bag chair for the Emerald City Writers Conference. If you’d like to donate to ECWC’s goody bags, email me at:

For some more great ideas on author swag, check out Carmen Cook’s blog posts on author swag ideas from RWA Nationals and ECWC:

Got enough ideas to get you started? Okay, now go forth and be creative! Bring me something amazing. I’ll be waiting. 😀



Learning Life Lessons From My Children

reminderSometimes we get into a funk over discouraging news or things that didn’t work out exactly how we’d expected them to. Just because we aren’t kids anymore doesn’t mean we won’t pout over times that didn’t go our way. I was having one of those pity-parties-for-one when my 10 year old helped me realize there was a different way to look at the situation.

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. And that’s just to get the book out. Then add in the promoting and marketing of the book, of your brand. It seems petty to whine that it will likely be many years before I qualify for PAN, when some authors are still struggling to get that first book published. So today I am going to write myself a list to remind myself why I am grateful to be an author.gratitude

1.  I get to do what I have dreamed about since I was in 8th grade – tell my stories. I’m going to concentrate on continuing to tell them to the best of my ability and not worry about who is actually reading them.

2.  The excitement and joy that comes with a new story idea is a heady rush. It fades over time, so it’s important to remember the feeling — because it will come again — and it is amazing.

3.  I am meeting so many great people that I never would have met if it hadn’t been for being published with Crimson. And while I may never meet some of them in person, just talking with them on social media has made a huge impact in my life.

4.  I have an outlet for my weirdness. I get to be an introvert and not have to make excuses for it. I can embrace it. 😀 And there are others like me!

5.  My work clothes are whatever I happen to have on — which on most mornings is a bathrobe or pjs. How many people can say that?

6.  I do not have a work commute unless I CHOOSE to leave the house and head for the nearest Starbucks, Panera or Cafe Ladro. And this excursion would cost me maybe a ten minute drive at most.

7.  Release day. It’s like my birthday, Christmas and every holiday rolled into one. I have memorized all my books’ release dates – they are my book babies, after all.

8.  Covers. Whenever I get depressed about sales (or lack of sales), I go to my Amazon author page and look at all the pretty covers. Those are mine and no one can take them away from me.

9.  Swag. I get to design cool stuff to give away to readers. And readers LOVE free stuff. And giving stuff away makes me feel good. Giving it away in person forces me to interact with people — and that’s a very good thing.

10.  I can Google/Bing myself. How awesome is that? I have made some amazing discoveries doing internet searches of myself. 😉 Seriously. Someone made a video of one of my books and posted it on YouTube. I wouldn’t have had a clue if I hadn’t come across it on a search engine. Made. My. Friggin’. Month!

*** And most of all, I am grateful for the support of my family. Their love and enthusiasm keep me inspired. Their patience when I am under deadline and serving cold sandwiches or cereal for the third night in a row humbles me. I couldn’t do it without you guys. Hugs, sloppy kisses and hey, I’m gonna cook you a proper meal tonight! <3happy