To Swag or Not to Swag?

It’s conference season time! As an author, a lot my time is spent in solitary creation. There comes a few points every year where I actually get to go out and meet folks, including readers. This happens at book festivals, and to a smaller extent, at bookstores.

Fan conventions, though, are a different beast entirely. These gatherings invite readers to mingle with their favorite authors. They’ve been on pause (or virtual) for the last few years, so I’m excited to see them up and running again.

In fact, I’m scheduled to go to not one but three (!) this year. As a mystery writer (mainly), I’m planning on showing up at:

  • Left Coast Crime
    This convention moves around but is held in the western part of the States. I’m excited to attend this year since Mimi Lee Cracks the Code has been nominated for a 2022 Lefty Award for Best Humorous Novel.

  • Malice Domestic
    This event occurs on the East Coast in Bethesda and is geared toward traditional mysteries.
  • Bouchercon
    By far the largest of the conventions, Bouchercon pulls in a lot of fans and big-name authors.

I don’t have my full schedule yet for the various gatherings, but I’ll be on some panels at Left Coast Crime and am participating in speed dating there. At this event, authors will get a chance to circulate among tables filled with readers and speak about their books (for two minutes). Which brings me to the question of swag.

I personally am a hoarder of bookmarks. It’s funny because half of the time I just slip in a random receipt to mark my page. Still, I love them.

Other swag goodies I’ve gotten from other authors are customized magnets, sticky notes, and pens. Once I even received a stuffed toy for the purchase of a children’s book.

Do these bonus items actually sway a reader in favor of a book? I don’t know. I myself have my fair share of marketing items that I’ve purchased over the years. These include a magnifier card (Seniors Sleuth), robot magnets (Robot Revenge), and dragonfly charms (Dragonfly Dreams).

Through experience, I’ve realized that lightweight swag (that’s easy to carry or to mail out for giveaways) work better for me in the long run. For my upcoming conventions, I’ll be giving out leftover swag and new bookmarks. Should I opt for more?

Let me know: Does swag sway you to buy a book?

A Blooming Kind of Hope
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  1. Cute bookmarks! No, swag doesn’t sway me as much as enticing back cover material. But, if two books had the same level of enticement I’d probably go with the one that has swag, ?. I like stickers way more than bookmarks.

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