Should I Create Swag for My Book?Dec 15, 2021
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Swag can be tempting. It’s fun to make.
I’ve also wasted more money than I can even imagine on it. Part of the problem is that I get an idea and start having t shirts and other stuff designed before I’ve even thought the concept through. And part of the problem is that I don’t really know what to do with it. I can’t sell it, really; it’s promoting my book, after all. So am I giving it away? If so, to who? And why? What is this going to do? If I want to throw money at a launch, why not do it with something that will have a better chance of paying off?
I don’t have answers to those questions which is why I have a garage full of swag in my garage.
My Party Girl Swag
With Party Girl, I really thought I had the answer. I would create REFORMED PARTY GIRL shorts, pens and stickers and send them to the sober “influencers” that I knew. Each goodie box was painstakingly created with tissue paper in my company color’s theme and specialty boxes with my company’s logo on it.
What happened? Nothing.
Most of the people I sent them to didn’t even respond. Some, when I followed up, just said, “Oh yeah, thanks!” One very sweetly did an Instagram post about it. Why didn’t the others? No clue. Maybe bootie shorts aren’t as desired a commodity as I think they are. One good thing that happened with that expense, however, is I reached out to My 12-Step Store about selling them and they’re interested.
Still, when I did book signings at the Dry Society Gala and Voices events, in Reno and Vegas respectively, I had the REFORMED PARTY GIRL stickers and pens with me and people went crazy for them. Did they use them? No idea.
My Make Your Mess Your Memoir Swag
For Make Your Mess Your Memoir, I had bookmarks made that had the book cover on one side and then the chapter format for writing a “biz oir” on the back. I got the idea from Cameron Herold when he was on my podcast. Again, not sure of the impact that made but it wasn’t pricey.
I also had “I’m making my mess my memoir” thumb drives made. People seemed to like those. Maybe the moral is that the swag should have a practical use? Don’t know.
BTW, Vistaprint offers all sorts of things you can make that it would never occur to you to make (and arguably it shouldn’t). But because VistaPrint is really good at offering you something that could be really cool right when you’re hitting the shopping cart, I ended up with Party Girl pillows and coasters that I like but probably won’t ever use.
My Falling for Me Swag
Back when I was on TV regularly, and thus had a far more active “fan base” than I do now (and that fan base was 99.9% male, seeing as my main gig was as a sex and dating expert on Attack of the Show), I had postcards made up of all the different activities I embraced and wrote about in Falling For Me and had them sent out to anyone who bought the book in the first week. Cheaper than anything else I did and arguably more effective.
Cool Stuff Other Authors Have Done
For the sequel to Rachel’s Holiday, Marian Keyes’ publisher had special books made with a sprayed edge. Not swag but special and cool!
Marie Forleo had computer wallpaper made for her book, which is completely genius because it’s digital and free for her and makes anyone who downloads it think of her book regularly.
I still remember reading about how the people who worked at Random House when they were getting ready to lunch Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep had special green belts sent out to media to match the pink and green belt on the book’s cover (I remember this because I was bitter my publisher wouldn’t even lift a phone, let alone have a belt made, to support my book!) Alas, I just tried googling the article that mentioned this great gift Sittenfeld got and it’s been lost in thee Google machine.
Ridiculous Swag Ideas
The New Yorker finds the whole book swag thing so silly that they did a humor piece about it!
Knopf did some swag for a posthumous release of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar but, like, are there people who would wear a Bell Jar shirt??
Finally, here’s a round-up of some cool book swag ideas.
Cameron Herold on Generating Free PR and Creating a Vivid Vision for Your Book
What I Learned From the Party Girl Re-Launch