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Every year writers spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars buying everything from can cozies to mouse pads with their latest book title emblazoned on it. Did it help sales? It is hard to know. It was only useful if the author's name stay with the potential reader. The longer the item was handled and stayed in the person's posession the higher the percentage went up that a person might investigate the author.
Clever items don't always do the trick either. One author passed out condoms at the New York RWA conference. I thought this was provocative, but there were problems with this too. Number one once the condom was used the package with the author's name on it was gone.There is also the issue of condoms being expensive, especially when passing out hundreds.
One of the more successful efforts was a survival kit for the conference, which included a baggie filled with a sewing kit, aspirin, a granola bar and tea. This was effective, but the reader had to act on it immediately because once the baggie was emptied the author vanished from sight.
I carried a pen from author, Shirley Jump, for almost two years. It was a good pen and wrote well. I think
eventually someone took it. Yes, I did buy and read Shirely's books too. Did the pen influence me? Maybe, I won it and several other items from an online contest.
Cheaply made stuff stinks in more ways than one. Anyone who has bought swag knows there is nothing cheap about it. Pens that don't work. Magnets that don't stick to your fridge. Poor grade candy that doesn't even survive shipping. Lip balms or cologne made of suspect ingredients that make your skin break out should be avoided. People will associate their bad experience with your swag with you. I know it isn't fair. Most reputable
companies will let you buy a sample or send you a sample free of charge.
Items that no longer serve a purpose is another type of swag to be avoided. One company had bottle openers. When is the last time you use a bottle opener? Another dinosaur is the mouse pad. I would consider the can cozie one too. Pencils were one of the cheapest items, but people seldom carry pencils with them. Why pay money for something that people will throw in their junk drawer never to look at it again.
An associate recently asked for swag for a bingo game at Rom Con. She explained that no one became excited about winning a promotional postcard or bookmark. Often these items are useful displaying websites and book
titles, but no one thinks of them as a gift or prize.
What works in your opinion? What works for you?
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