Sunday, May 25, 2014

Convention Swag - What Really Matters

Convention swag?

Okay, here's mine. Was it good? Hard to say.

It's *always* hard to say, which is why this week's topic - Conventions: Swag: What You Offer & What You Keep from Others - is so interesting. We all want to offer the memorable treat. The certain something that will be kept and - vitally important - inspire book sales. If we had that magic button, no doubt everyone would press it.

As is, it's a guessing game. A well-meant one, much like birthday-gift shopping on a miniscule budget. How to delight without breaking the bank?

This year at the RT Booklovers Convention, to celebrate the release of The Mark of the Tala, I did keychains. Because... well, useful? And pretty. I had the cover put on the rubber-stuff keychains by and then I attached the pretty blue feathers. The feather that's so symbolic in the book is actually black, but the blue seemed more fun and matched the cover.

I'm all about the pretty.

Did people like them? I think so! The pic above was taken by Joy from Joyfully Reviewed, not long after she picked up a couple from my table at the big booksigning. 
During the Pub Crawl, while my editor Peter Senftleben and I gossiped and drank hurricanes, Editorial Director Alicia Condon handed out more keychains for me. It wasn't so much that she loved my swag, but that not many authors seemed to bring any.

Because that's the ground level, as far as I'm concerned - have SOMETHING.

Seriously. Giving something away is better than having nothing. Even if it's glanced at and thrown away, you've given something.

As for the second part - what do I keep? Pens, lip gloss, screen cloths, keyboard brushes, nail files, some bookmarks.

Do they prompt me to buy books?


As a reader, I'm quite sure there are two incentives that prompt me to click the buy button on a new-to-me author: premise and reader recommendation. The lip balms, handy doodads and shiny sundries? Sure, I keep them. Maybe I occasionally note a name. Mostly I use them without another thought.

I think too much concern is placed on the question of What We Keep. The magic moment is in the giving. The special zing of a fun gift, freely given. The attention of the moment. Like the hand clasp or hug of greeting. Here and gone. An introduction. A hello.

That's why I go for the pretty, the fun, the shiny. Like a sweet treat, it gives a moment of pleasure.

A book is forever. 


  1. I agree. I have helped out at small game conventions, and at those where I could give away something small, people were very happy just with that gesture.

    That being said: your key rings are so pretty!!!

  2. I've become very particular about what I TAKE. If I get something I don't want in a con or event bag, I don't feel bad about tossing it because it was forced on me. On the other hand, if I select something from a table or whatever, I make sure it's something I'm likely to keep.

    Having said that, I rarely buy based on what I pick up either (one exception is a cover flat I picked up at the FANtastic Day Party from an author I was sitting next to--the book looked really good so I'll probably buy it and I took the flat to remember the title).

    1. I often feel the same way, Seleste! I hate throwing stuff away, but at the same time, I don't want to lug it home. I do that with bookmarks or cover flats - keep the ones I want to remember to look at again.

  3. Your keychains were some of the prettiest things I saw at RT. If I wasn't ALREADY reading it, it would have been added to my TBR shelf. Kristyn and I went through the stuff we grabbed and updated our TBR on Goodreads, and WISH LIST on Amazon... I one-clicked quite a bit too!

    1. That's great to know, Catherine!! And thanks - I'm so glad you gals liked the pretties. :-)

  4. Yes, those keychains are eye catching and beautiful :) I agree with your idea of giving something, anything. It gets readers to your table and puts your cover and name in front of their eyes. So next time they are skimming through titles they will stop on yours and say "Oh! I met them, maybe I will try this".
    Even something as small as tattoos or stickers with the cover. I think business cards give a big band for your buck. You can get 250 of them for $10 at Vista Print (where I get all my swag). Put your cover on the front and all info on the back.

    1. The business card idea is a terrific one, Sharon - a little a something for not much outlay. Thanks!