Author Marketing Ideas, Part Two: Swag

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Marketing can often seem tedious or darn near impossible to successfully carry out. The good news is that most people simply over-think things. There are dozens of useful marketing techniques you can utilize, which are free or nearly free, that allow you to see actual results. In this series ‘Author Marketing Ideas’ we are going to introduce you to numerous techniques and ideas you can use to market your books, blog, website, etc. Each post will introduce you to one new idea, and give you ten simple tips on how to best utilize that specific technique. Check back every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for more great marketing ideas!


Swag is something that authors give away, which typically contain the image of one of their books, or another image which readers automatically connect with that author. Swag can come in many forms. A few typical ‘swag’ items that readers give away include: postcards, bookmarks, key chains, mouse pads, pens, calenders, posters, tote bags, hats, and shirts. That doesn’t mean this is what swag is limited to, however. I’ve seen some very creative swag ideas. Just a few items I’ve seen creative authors use as swag include: condoms, lollipops, cookies, chap stick, lip gloss, phone cases, wallets, purses, earrings, bracelets, charms, and so much more.

10 Simple Tips

1. Feel free to get creative with your swag. If someone hasn’t done it before, there is no harm in trying it. In fact, you might find you get more engagement using unique, never-seen-before swag than you would if you used tried-and-true items.
2. It’s advisable to order/create new swag each time you publish a book. This way, you can use it to promote each new book, while still pushing your old ones with leftover swag.
3. Use swag in flash giveaways and/or Rafflecopter giveaways as prizes.
4. Ensure your swag is of a high quality, and that images used are not pixalated or grainy.
5. Always check for typos. Many people fail to remember that they must check their swag for typos and grammatical errors, just as they would anything else.
6. Try to incorporate your own personality into your swag items. Some authors are traditional, funky, conservative, broad-minded, quirky, loud, quiet, etc. Whatever it is that you are, try to show that somehow with your swag.
7. Always keep your audience in mind when creating swag. What would they want? The answer may be different for every author.
8. Never use stock photos. It is unattractive, unoriginal, and will definitely not set you apart from the crowd of other authors yelling “pick me! Pick me!”
9. Try to find the right balance when purchasing. While products are cheaper in larger quantities, you need to think about how much you actually need. Will you be able to hand out 3000 bookmarks? Pimp 400 shirts? Maybe, but probably not. Start small and see what your audience actually wants, and how big the demand is. Go from there.
10. To make swag work the best, you may want to try carrying a few small items with you at all times so you may give them out to individuals you meet who are interested in your work. Good things to carry around include bookmarks, postcards, and key chains.

If you’d like to read more on a similar topic, be sure to check out our post, Author Marketing Ideas, Part One: Business Cards & Signature Branding.


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