Romance By Catherine: RT Swag

Monday, April 18, 2011

RT Swag

And here you thought Swag was reserved for those lucky bastards at the Oscars... nope, swag is alive and well in the world of Romantic Fiction.

I guess on some level I knew there would be mounds of swag littering the desks of the Romantic Times Convention. Although I didn't buy space on the desks lining the halls of the Westin, I did know it was available to me.

I did buy a few bucks worth of post cards with my latest releases, a nifty difty bookmark with a hunky Highlander on it to showcase my Amazon Bestselling (plug, plug, plug) Time Travel Trilogy... but in all reality, I didn't spend all that much. I figured being the RT virgin that I was, it was best not to go crazy with what I didn't know squat about.

So lets talk swag.

Paper... much like the paperback books (tears sliding down face) are soooo yesterday. Lets face it, unless I knew and loved the author, what the H.E double L am I going to do with all that stuff? I liked the look of the trading cards and how they showcased characters instead of overall plots of books (blurbs) So, I'll hang on to those for a bit of time.

One exception - Note pads. These are useful and already next to the phone.

Plastic - As in buttons - Cherry Adair made some truly funny buttons. Ones that said things like 'I Need Chocolate! Need I say More?' and 'Hi! I don't remember your name, either.' - I've never read Cherry before, but I tell ya what... I'm gonna. First, she was so damn funny in the panel I sat in on that I thought.. 'If her voice is any way like she talks, I'm so there.' - The buttons were funny, ones I'm going to keep and yes, they have a little tiny bit of promo on the bottom with her website addy on it. (Good show, Cherry.) Silly, simple and it worked for me. Buttons with book covers on them are great if you know and love the author... but with all the books out there unless you read them, chances are you didn't pick it up. (Anyone having a different opinion, please chime in here)

Pens - Yeah, I have a ton from RT. These are keepers. I say KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid. I think this is worth the money out. I'm a geek and will look at every website the pens show me. That's one more time the authors name is in front of me and one more chance they have to show me what they write.

Candy - Duah... Need chocolate and the candy swag was gobbled up. But again, I didn't keep all the paper attached to it. Colleen Gleason, (lovely website BTW) wrapped up a book for the readers with a little red pouch attached with kisses in it. The tiny card attached to the candy is on my computer right now while posting this blog. So, it worked. I'm linking to this writers website and I've not yet read her book. I'm gonna though!

Et All - What the heck is this... Goodness, lets see, Elloras Cave put out condoms on a stick (so funny) grabbed a couple of those - Lube in tiny packages - Key chain with 'emergency' condom inside - All of these are laugh-worthy and perfect for the erotic author.

The earplugs were a funny bit of swag. Bianca D'Arc put thses out. But hey, I grabbed one and know of at least one attendee whose roommate kept her up at night watching TV who used the earplugs and went back for more. How about a partner who snores? Time to tune them out and read a good book. Funny swag!

Book Thongs / Non paper bookmarks - Shannon K. Butcher, who I sat next to at the book signing, hand made beautiful bookmarks. These slim metal bookmakers have dangly pieces of sculptured glass hanging on them. This was made personally by her, and sure, I'm keeping it, but I'd be shocked if anyone tossed theirs in the trash. They'd use this over and over again.

So, authors who spend money on swag... what do you think worked? What didn't and why? What swag do you keep and what are you going to purchase for your next convention.

Let's talk swag!


Ginger Simpson said...

The year I attended, I came back with a bag of swag, too. I picked things I thought I would use or ideas that stimulated my imagination. Simple things like a book cover imprinted on the paper of a tea-bag, of course tons of pens because we can never have enough. In fact, I'm still using some of the ones I got in St. Louis. I'm reserving my spending for bigger items. Last year I bought and sent out yearly pocket/purse calendars inscribed with "a gift from" and giving my blog and website. People love them. Don't know if it helped my sales at all, but they have a constant reminder of me the entire year. I also order pens and leave them with clerks, tellers, and wait people. They always appreciate them.


Amanda Young said...

Sounds like there was a ton of sweet goodies this year. I agree with you about the paper promo blitz. I've started shying away from bookmarks and the like recently. With so many reading ebooks, no one needs them anymore. Instead, I've been trying to focus on useable products. This year I've bought pens, bookplates for signing (people do still seem to want these), and nice little letter openers with my logo on them.

Catherine Bybee said...

Ginger: The only calender I saw was the one that Elloras Cave gave away... which is hidden behind my desk so my boys don't blush everytime they walk into my office. I think the pens are a must buy for me.

Catherine Bybee said...

Amanda: Paper just isn't worth the money. Bookplates were asked for, which was cool. I found people asking authors to sign the covers they had holding their Kindle or their Nook. That was cool.

Rachel Firasek said...

I had loads of swag from the RWA conference last year, and it sadly still in bags. I used the wooden spoon I picked up, and a few buttons are on a peg board, but other than that-meh. Great post!

Emma Lai said...

Sounds like you had a blast, Catherine. I'm not a swag person myself--though I keep bookmarks because hubby and I have an extensive personal library. I tried bookmarks, calendars, notepads, etc, but I didn't see enough difference in sales to justify the expense. I see authors offer free stuff to people who send SASE. That I think is a good idea. And, of course, the free book copies seems to work. Though that should also be used judiciously. Just my two cents.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I wasn't there and even if I had been, I tend not to pick up swag. I already have too many unused items around my house - so many things I never look at and eventually toss!
But I did send in some swag for a gift table - I printed up covers of my sci fi books on photo paper, wrote my email address and redemption codes for e-copies on the backs, and then covered them with plastic. They've all been redeemed so all it took was a little time, four sheets of photo paper and some ink from my color ink cartridge. That's it!

Shelley Munro said...

Try doing swag from New Zealand. That's even harder! I don't bother with bookmarks and the like now, but I do design small business cards with book details on that I can handout to interested parties.

I like the badge idea. I think you'd love Cherry Adair's books by the way. She's one of my favorites.

It's such a difficult dilemma. I know people like T-shirts but they're so expensive!!

Catherine Bybee said...

Rachel: I see these stuff sitting around for a while before I toss it. I needed to grab stuff, it being my first RT and all.

Emma: Free books is a good thing, but not something all of us can afford. I like the SASE idea.

Catherine Bybee said...

Julia: Homemade paper goods is a good way to go. Still cost for the ink and papers - but not as much as a printing company.

Shelley: T-shirts - snort. Not gonna happen until I get those big six figure deals. I'll try Cherry's books out. She was a hoot!

Ginger Simpson said...

The calendar I use as prizes and promo are faux-leather bound with my name, website and blog engraved in gold. People tend to really like them. I generally get them in August and they're gone by September except for the few I hold back. I'm ordering them again this year, and I'll be taking them to RT because come hell or high water, I'm going this next time. :)

Catherine Bybee said...

RT was a blast, Ginger. I learned a lot and met so many people I've talked to online. Well worth the money.

Mary Ricksen said...

I know it sounds crazy, but the best promo gift I ever got was in a grab bad of little things. It was a slim tube filled with bubble soap and a little cap with a blow thingee on it. The author told me she found them in K mart. I think she shoulda put her name on it, it was a great idea. Keep kids occupied whilst Mom looks at her book at a signing! Whoh, and if you a fool at heart like me, you'll carry it around and blow bubbles at your dear friends, who probably for the most part think I'm insane... But what a fun thing to play with. Cool!

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Catherine ~ My crit partner told me about your post and I just had to stop by. I haven't been to the RT convention yet (and I sooo want to go.) Love all the ideas for individual identification used out there. How clever! I have a button of Cherry's "Today Requires Chocolate" that I treasure and keep at my writing desk. I love her style of writing. Great post! I so glad I came by.

Autumn Jordon said...

Catherine, Great topic. I've picked up swag and gave it away to my secretaries at work. None of them have ever gone to websites to check the authors out. I wonder if its worth the dollars.

They do love free books through. And have bought the authors backlist.

The only swag items I've kept are pens, a coaster, letter opener and a jar opener.

Catherine Bybee said...

Mary: LOL, bubbles. Hey, whatever works for ya.

Sheri: Thanks for stopping by. I love to get ideas from others and share them as often as possible.

Autumn: So many things aren't worth the dollars, which is the reason for this post. To see what others pick up, look at, and use. Yeah, book downloads are great, and once you have someone who 'gets you' you may just have a fan for life.

Allison Knight said...

Over the years, I've collected all kinds of swag. Most of it useless. Now I make business cards, which I always carry, with my current book cover, and a list of my books on the back. They are inexpensive and people keep business cards.

We also make booklets like the booklets passed out by the major publishers. The cover on the front, copyright information in the front inside cover, eight to ten pages of the first chapter of the book. The back is all about where to buy or order. It's free reading materials and people take them quickly.

Meg Mims said...

Great post, and just what I needed to read as I'm prepping some Swag. Thanks!!

Patti Shenberger said...

Catherine, I admit I'm a swag lover. Pens - definitely. Chocolate - of course. Don't forget chip clips, use those time and time again. Another one is one year Gail Gaymer Martin had day planners made up. Really loved that. Another author Michelle Celmer had tissue packages with her info on them. Can always use that. Thanks for the great post on swag!

Ilona Fridl said...

I have bookmarks, but I'm at a loss of what to have for promotion. I don't have a lot of money to blow on kitchy items. What I usually do is have bookmarks with my web site on them and a dish of Dove dark chocolate and a welcoming smile.

Catherine Bybee said...

Allison: I saw those little books at RT. I did keep those but honestly haven't read any of them yet... then again, I've not even read the blurbs on the back of all the books yet.

Meg: Thanks for stopping by. There's lots of good info here.

Patti: You're the reason people do the swag gig then. LOL

Iiona: Hon, seems like there is a ton of ideas of what to do and what not to do from others in this post. Best of luck with whatever you do.

Mariposa Cruz said...


Lots of good information--great post!

The Paperback Diva said...

Great post! And I loved reading all the comments too, getting ideas. I agree about the paper--in general. Except I belong to an online group called Bookworms and what we do is send one another our swag which all goes into a single bag with something from each person. People tend to pick them up just to see what all is inside. I'd recommend this method for people outside the US too.

I give away pens. Always useful. I have a letter opener from Judi McCoy which I've had for years. I also tend to keep small totes, either plastic or cloth.

Sapphire Phelan said...

Shannon's book thongs/marks are super, aren't they?

I make magnets, with my cover on them and hand out most when I have a new book out (you can do business cards this way too). I use my busniess card program, print up, laminate them with my laminator and put magnet backs on back. People always use magnets--I do.
By way, we laminate my business cards too--had some authors saying how cool and people asked me if these nice cards for for them? Which they are for readers! LOL

bernardine3 said...

Swag - well it loaded down my suitecase another 10 lbs when I left RT but as "the Very Happy Reader" I really enjoyed all of it. Yes a lot of it goes to the recycle bin but it allowed me to share what an exciting time I had with fellow readers, pass out the hunks on the magnets to good buddies at work, allowed my daughter to have things to check out and to check out all the fantastic authors that I never knew were out there.

Since I have been back from RT, I have been going over the swag and checking each author out on the web. I never would have remembered the new ones. Yes it could be a bit much bit, I liked it!

Wow this is a lot of writing for "the Very Happy Reader"

Really enjoyed the first book Binding Vow - along with the Swag! Still have the earplugs Too!

Catherine Bybee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mariposa.

P. Diva: Yeah, paper is in a big pile for me, I'm not sure how much of it I'll ever use.

Sapphire: It is beautious! I just love it. Magnets are a great swag to use. I have to be careful what i put on the frig, though. My boys turn red.

BERNIE!!! Yeah, so fun seeing you here. How are those earplugs working out for ya? My youngest has a friend who snores so when he sleeps over, the plugs have come in handy. You'll have to let me know when you get through all the books from RT. Of all the people I met there, you're the most likely to read them all!