Saturday I’ll be giving a talk at the IRWA Retreat about how I make homemade swag and also observations about book signings (post coming soon). Rather than print out handouts, I figured I’d write up blog posts. That way everyone can benefit from it!
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Any author can load up Vistaprint and order sticky pads, magnetic calendars, and pens (I’m using these examples because they’re the first swag I bought as an author). And most do. Therefor when a reader returns home and goes through their massive bag of swag, a lot of times those things get tossed. The items that don’t get tossed are the ones that are useful. Unfortunately useful items often cost serious money.
The most impressive swag I’ve seen as a reader is homemade and personal to the author and/book, and useful. Here are some ideas you can try for homemade swag.
Homemade swag can be as easy as ordering stickers with your name and web address on them and placing stickers on other items. As those of you who follow me know, I’m kind of into nail polish. I bought a set of cheap nail polishes on Amazon and put my stickers on them. Instant “branded” nail polish. Nail polish is useable and no one else at the signing had them. They went like hot cakes!
If you’ve got a little bit of crafting know-how, bookmarks are always a good swag item. Readers snatch these up like there’s no tomorrow. I try for attractive designs that tie into my books, but don’t scream “I’m a marketing tool.”
You can print designs onto card stock and use an X-ACTO knife to cut them out. Make sure you put your web address and signature on the back for that personal touch.
Corner bookmarks are popular on Pinterest right now. You can make them in animal head shapes, hearts, or just write on them. Here’s a link to a template you can download, print, cut out and fold. Or if you’ve got leftover junk mail envelopes, try this super easy trick.
Is Duct tape your thing? Grab your favorite design of tape (preferably one that makes sense with your books or you) and do a twist on the junk mail corner bookmark trick above!
Do you crochet? Well you can make a bookmark! Don’t forget to weave in a little ribbon with your web address.
How about cross stitch and needlepoint? These would be awesome for my Hexed Nights series!
Even a pretty ribbon could serve as a homemade bookmark. You can fancy them up with clamps and charms.
Watch for sales on jewelry making supplies at craft stores to pick up the charms to finish off your bookmark, and try to grab ones that relate to your books.
Don’t forget to finish off your bookmarks. You can get 100 tassels for $16 here. Though I just use ribbon.
Did you know you can make your own rubber stamps?
Use your stamps when signing your books and store-bought swag for a personal touch!
Remember those stickers from the first section? You don’t have to pay the big bucks to get magnets made. Buy magnet sheets or tape and cut out your own!
Or print your own onto these magnetic printable sheets and cut them out.
R.K. Gleason has his tentacle necklaces, which tie into his True Death books.
Bobby pins + buttons = inexpensive hair clips. Here’s one a local author made.
While food & treats are difficult to “brand” with stickers and the like and they’re consumable items that disappear quickly, the memorable offerings stick in a reader’s mind. I go back to R.K. Gleason as an example. His wife Petra is a whizz at making cake pops. They’re delicious in a way that makes you want to go back and and buy a book just so you can sneak another cake ball. And she tied in R.K.’s book series by decorating the pops with little red stained bones. Mission accomplished? I think so.
At signings, chocolate and sweets is always appreciated. I bring a bag of Ghirardelli squares every time I go (and I don’t bother branding) just so I have something to chat with readers about. Striking up a conversation is the best thing you can do to keep a reader at your table and get them interested. And if they’re not interested in your genre/books but want your candy? Get them interested in your table mate and/or neighbors. Your table mate and neighbors will probably return the favor.
Stay tuned for part two of this: Book signing observations.