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.
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.
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. 😉
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. 😀