Five Tips for Choosing Great SWAG
Hello Seekers. I’m Gabrielle Meyer and I’m thrilled to be back on Seekerville. Today, I thought
we’d talk about swag, which, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is “promotional goods
or items.” When I think of swag, my mind immediately goes to a conference or convention
where vendors give away free items to draw you into their booth and promote their product.
In the book industry, swag often means a free item associated with a book or a particular author.
There is a lot of different swag ideas. Notebooks, pens, coffee cups, stickers, chocolate,
chapstick, letter openers, flash drives, pocket mirrors and brushes, and keychains are some that
I’ve seen. The swag often has the author’s name and website printed on it, and sometimes a
As an author, how do you decide what items to give away? I’ve come up with five tips that I use
when I’m planning swag.
- Useable. Is the item something the reader can use? I’m kind of a stickler when it comesto purposeful gifts. I hate wastefulness, so I try to offer swag that is useable, often consumable. Last year, for the Mississippi River Readers Retreat, I gave away chapstick with my name and website on the label. Recently, a reader messaged me and said that she uses it every day!
- Recognizable. Is the item something that will make the reader think of me when she uses it? Does it have my name and website on it somewhere? Is there a picture of my book? Is it something so unique, she’ll remember me each time she sees it? I don’t want her to forget where it came from, because it’s meant to promote my book, after all.
- Size. Is the item easy to carry? Mail? Use on a daily basis? For my recent release, When the Day Comes, I wanted to offer incentive swag to give away when someone preordered my book from Baker Book House. Because it had to be flat and lightweight, I decided on a bookmark, but not a paper bookmark that is easily discarded. Instead, I handmade ribbon bookmarks with a clock charm to represent my time-crossing novel. The result was elegant, like my book, and drew a lot of attention. It was also easy to mail!
- Cost. Think about your budget and how many qualities items you can purchase within that budget. For the Mississippi River Readers Retreat, I needed a hundred and fifty pieces of swag. The chapstick, with the customizable labels, cost me about sixty cents per unit. I felt that it was a good use of my budget and wasn’t something that would be easily discarded.
- Consider Your Audience. This is one of the most important tips. As you plan your swag, think about the person receiving it and what they would enjoy. If you fit within your target demographic, think about what you would like. I knew that almost everyone attending the Mississippi River Readers Retreat were women, about my age, and, like me, they probably carry purses with chapstick. This was an easy choice.
Swag is a fun way to say thank you to your readers or to create buzz about your book. There is
no right or wrong swag, though some items offer a little more bang for your buck. By being
thoughtful and purposeful ahead of time, your reader—and you—will reap the benefits of good
Your Turn: What is the best swag you’ve given or received? Do you have any thoughts for authors looking for swag ideas?
Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the upper Mississippi River with her
husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love
with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people,
places, and events. You can learn more about Gabrielle and her books at
Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the
other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the
other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different
In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal
Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves,
Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any
hope of love--are put in jeopardy.
Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors.
But the only work she cares about--women's suffrage--is discouraged, and her mother is intent on
marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates
But Libby knows she's not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she
must choose one path and forfeit the other--but how can she choose when she has so much to
lose in each life?
Gabrielle is generously giving away:
- A copy of When the Day Comes
- A handmade velvet ribbon bookmark
- Handmade drop earrings
- A customized chapstick