Many thanks to today’s guest blogger, Virna DePaul. Virna is a former criminal prosecutor and national bestselling author of paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. She writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, HQN, and Random House. In her off hours, she loves broadway musicals, spending time with her family and friends, and connecting with other romance readers.
Swag (noun, verb)
a. plunder or booty, as in promotional merchandise
b. The way a person carries herself; confidence, appearance, or style
Romance readers love swag. Which is good, because every year, romance authors go to great lengths to fill hundreds of conference registration bags with little goodies. Why? Because we’re hoping to introduce ourselves to new readers and to remind readers who are already our fans how awesome our books are.
The problem is, however, it is very possible—no, probable—that our swag will get lost among the sea of other swag in those bags. That can be a disheartening thought—just like imagining our books lost among a sea of other books would be. But romance writers are a hearty (and creative) bunch, otherwise we wouldn’t be putting our hearts and souls on paper for public consumption to begin with.
Swag is just another extension of our professional brand, one to be taken seriously. It’s a greeting and a handshake to readers when we can’t be physically present. As such, the swag should truly be a representation of ourselves and our stories.
These tips on how to stand out in the overcrowded job market apply beautifully to author swag!
1. Show your face as often as possible. The best swag puts your brand and name in front of readers. Whether it’s a bookmark, magnet, mug or t-shirt, someone should be able to look at it and immediately think of an author and her books.
2. Prove you fulfill a need. It’s best to give swag someone can actually use. Readers love pens, bookmarks, buttons, book plates, key chains, magnets, stickers, cups, t-shirts, etc.
3. Stop sitting in the victim’s seat. If you dread putting yourself out there, even on swag, it’ll show. Think of swag as an opportunity to put a smile on a reader’s face. They’ll remember you for putting it there.
4. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Readers love swag but they do get a lot of it. Take on the challenge to be creative. My most popular swag to date came from using the tagline “Books so hot you’ll need SHADES.”
What swag did I give away? Sunglasses! Creative. Fun. Useful. Bold.
An author’s swag can represent her poorly or well. Make it count. Get it and your books in front of some awesome readers!
So readers, what do you think? What’s your favorite swag?
Bottom Line: As a reader, one of my favorite swag items is rubber jar openers…love ’em!