November 24, 2012

Book Swag Discussion

I know as book bloggers we all enjoy receiving swag, both to collect ourselves and to pass on to friends or local bookstores and libraries. But what type of swag do you think is the best for promoting a book?

The most common type of swag is obviously bookmarks. It makes sense to create bookmarks to promote books, and it's something that can easily be sent around the world for a low cost. At some point, though, we all have so many bookmarks that it becomes a bit of an overkill. And for me, personally, I don't tend to use swag bookmarks as actual bookmarks, because I want to keep them in good condition.

Solution? Here's one way I've found of actually showcasing some of the swag bookmarks I've received so I can appreciate them instead of just having them sit in an envelope. I have access to a laminator, so that makes things easier, but you could also glue them on paper if you didn't care about the backs showing, or put them in a plastic sheet protector.

Postcards are another similar type of swag item. I think they're good for displaying, but not necessarily much else.

Trading cards are not much different from the previously mentioned swag types, except they have a certain kitsch factor. I think especially for sports related books (such as Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally, as seen in the picture) they work really well. For fans of the book/series they're great collector items (when they feature different characters, etc), but not necessarily for drawing new readers in.

Stickers are another fairly popular swag item. If I was in school I could definitely see putting them on my notebooks or binders. Bookplates aren't considered swag, necessarily, but I think they're a great thing to have for people who can't make it out to a signing.

Sometimes posters are designed to promote books -- I think these are especially good for bookstores and libraries. Often chapter samplers are created for popular titles and are passed around at conferences/events. HarperCollins Canada even has its own magazine called "Frenzy" where they promote their YA related titles in a very unique way. They have things that you would expect, like author interviews, but they also bring in different types of quizzes and articles, or even pieces on fashion (themed to a certain title).

Magnets are one type of book swag that I find very fun, mostly because they're useful and are easily displayed. I love having a refrigerator full of magnets that relate to things I love, so it's awesome when bookish things can be included.

Temporary tattoos are another very fun type of swag to pass out, although in reality I can't see actually using them, except maybe while I was at a book event. What I do love about these tattoos is that they (mostly) aren't just plain reproductions of the book's title logo. You get the eyes from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, or the paw print birthmark from The Gathering. They're kind of an "in" thing for the book's fans to recognize, or for new readers to appreciate once they've read the book.

Pens are one of my favourite types of swag just because they're incredibly useful. You can always use a pen, and it's a lot of fun when that pen is related to your favourite book series. I love the Kelley Armstrong pens especially -- the Darkness Rising pen has all the different colours in it, and the Women of the Otherworld pen shows a different message each time you click it.

Another favourite is buttons/pins. I like to stick mine into my picture board that I have hanging in my room, but you can always put them on backpacks or jackets as well. They can be a very visible form of promotion for your book.

And then we have the miscellaneous. I've seen a few guitar pick promos lately, and while I really like the idea, I can't see them getting much promotional use (unless you can wear it as jewellery or a keychain, like the Love & Leftovers one shown above). A mousepad is a fun idea, though does anyone actually use promotional mousepads? Once you have one you're not likely to use another, unless it happens to be your favourite series or publisher. Lanyards and bracelets I can see being a good idea, because you can actually wear them and get a use out of them. Magnetic poetry for a book promo is just awesome in my opinion. Magnetic poetry is super fun, and for it to include concepts and/or characters from your book is so cool. This picture also includes one of my favourite pieces of book swag ever, which is the hand sanitizer for 'The Way We Fall'. Having hand sanitizer as swag for a book about disease is just brilliant, and I love how the swag is both clever and useful.

Of course there are other types of swag, like bags or t-shirts. What type of swag is your favourite, and what do you think works best to promote a title to potential readers? Have you ever come across a really awesome piece of swag where, like the sanitizer, it's not typical but fits the book perfectly? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I'm sure authors would too.

28 comments:

  1. I don't usually get much swag, but I like the bookmarks, when I get a lot of the same one, I keep a couple tucked away and used the rest.

    And can I just say that I totes covet your darkest powers swag? I love the cartoon-design.

    :D

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    1. Isn't the Kelley Armstrong chibi stuff the best?? So cute. She has mugs with those characters too, although I don't personally have one. The Tori one says "Witch rhymes with..." =b

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    2. Yeah, I love the chibi stuff, I wonder if you can buy the mugs and stuff like that :P
      I once won a swag pack from her actually, bookmarks for every book in the DA series, and a pen and other stuff, but didn't have the chibis.

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  2. I like signed bookmarks, but like you said, I don't like to use them or they will get ruined (a few have). I haven't really gotten a huge variety, but I do have a Prodigy flashlight and some shirts I like. I would love to get more pens and magnets as swag. :)

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  3. You have a lot of swag! I love my magnets, bookmarks, buttons and signed bookplates. I've seen some really nice handpainted artwork too (though I dont have any).

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    1. I have no clue how I got all of that. I guess it's been gathering for a few years now...

      Ooh yes, I love artsy stuff. Like even the awesome bookplates Maggie Stiefvater has that have stills from her animated trailer. I think stuff like that is very special.

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  4. Ahh, SWAG. I used to be so eager to collect it before and now that I have tons, I'm like... now what? It's kind of sad actually that I resort to scraps of paper when I have dozens and dozens of bookmarks lying around but I never seem to have them on me! I do have a couple of posters that I hang up but like you said, I think those are especially good for libraries. I loooove buttons. I have so many on my backpack and it's been a fun conversation starter plus a way for me to talk about the books :)

    I think it's especially nice when the swag is tailored toward the book. Hand-sanitizer for The Way We Fall is such a clever idea!

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    1. I mostly get excited for swag about books/series that I actually love. I can't say that getting swag for a book has ever made me pick it up based on that alone... although I have looked up series based on bookmarks I received... didn't end up reading them, though.

      And yes, love the buttons!!

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  5. I have a couple of t-shirts, but I've barely touched them, let alone worn them. And now I kinda want to laminate my bookmarks!

    And my fav swag would most def have to be the Kelley pins that you gave me- I LOVE THOSE CHARACTERS. But I'd be WAY too afraid to ever wear them on anything (especially after hearing your story of your Little Mermaid pin). ;)

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    1. Yes that's the thing, eh?? I have lost buttons and pins before, and it's made me sooo sad when it's something you can't replace... so I'm always really careful about what I put them on.

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  6. We're completely over bookmarks -- don't know what to do with all of them! -- but like you, we'd love stickers and pens, bracelets and bags. Useful, unique stuff (like guitar picks or hand sanitizer) is cool too, but mostly we don't want CLUTTER, you know?

    There was an interesting guest post about this same idea over at Word for Teens awhile ago: http://www.wordforteens.com/2012/09/guest-post-promotional-products.html

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    1. Hmmm yes, no clutter is a good thing to think about.

      Cool, I'll have to check that out!

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  7. Replies
    1. Awww... I don't even know how it happens! Some from signings/events, some from winning it, some from publishers/authors in the mail... and I guess it's just gathered.

      Hopefully the post doesn't come off as bragging or anything, because that's definitely not what it was supposed to be. I just figured visual aids were good. =)

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  8. Fun post, Ashley! I use my swag bookmarks all the time but feel bad when they get messed up from use so laminating is a good solution.

    My favorite swag items are magnets and book plates. Book bags are useful too but I don't see those too often. Nail polish that ties in with the book cover is fun too. And I love all your pens!

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    1. Oh yes, nail polish is definitely a cute idea!

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  9. I LOVE to collect and use swag bookmarks and can't get enough of them! I also like postcards because they can be used as bookmarks as well, but those are really the only swag items I like to keep!

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  10. This is a great discussion, Ashley! I love book swag. I think my favourite things are bookmarks, buttons, and postcards. BUT I do like it when an author is unique and thinks outside of the box (like guitar picks -- how cool!).

    Currently, I keep my swag in a cigar box, since I don't have a lot of it, but maybe one day I'll put it up somewhere. :)

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    1. Yes, thinking outside the box is definitely awesome, I think it makes the book or author stand out a bit if they have a couple items that are more unique.

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  11. WOW! You get a LOT of swag! I just started a new personal project this year where I use the backs of posters that I don't want anymore and put up items throughout the year. So far, I have awards (ones that aren't important enough to be framed), bookmarks, cards, and candy wrappers (YES, they are a big part of my life, LOL) It's actually just right in front of me! I did this because I love having stuff on my wall but I didn't want to ruin the paint by taping so many things on it, so I just ended up taping one poster up.

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    1. Very cool, that sounds like a good idea! I don't care too much about my walls, but I don't like ruining the actual items I hang up with tape or sticky tack.

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  12. Bookmark/postcards/paper things are the easiest to order and buy! I saw where you could personalize stress balls. I thought that would be fun. But, yeah, pens are my favorite, I think. Useful and informative! I'd like to do cuzies one day as well!

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    1. Stress balls would be a lot of fun, especially if you had a romance where the characters had a real love/hate thing going on, or something else thematically where the characters would need a little stress relief of one kind or another. ;)

      Agreed with those you mentioned being easiest to order... and obviously easiest to send to people as well. Stress balls and other objects like that would be perfect for signings/conventions, but way too expensive to mail anywhere, probably.

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  13. I also love pens and postcards. I'm always losing bookmarks, so I usually use bigger pieces of paper ;) Also, I love magnets.Great post!

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  14. I LOVE book swag but rarely find any opportunity to get this stuff

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; I appreciate each one!

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