7 Tips for Using Swag to Promote Your Book

illustration-of-books-pvTwo weeks ago, I wrote about the best marketing materials for your book. Today, I’d like to discuss how best to use those items. Once you’ve printed bookmarks, postcards, bookplates, buttons, and more, what do you do with them? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Share with libraries, bookstores, and schools

I find that one of the best ways to use these items is to share them with those who can help promote your book, namely librarians, teachers, and booksellers. Visit your local library and leave a stack of bookmarks with your librarian. Mail postcards to bookstores in your area ahead of the book’s release. And if you write children’s books, don’t forget to hand out bookmarks or postcards to teachers and schools!

  1. Share with friends (and strangers)

One of the best advantages of bookmarks is that you can hand them out to anyone who’s interested in your book. Give them to friends who are excited to buy the book. Give them to coworkers or acquaintances who might want more information when you tell them you’ve written a book. And always carry a few around with you just in case you happen to strike up a conversation about your book with someone and want to give them information about it.

  1. Bring to signings and events

There are a several great things you can do with swag at events and book signings:

  • Have something on hand to sign for people who can’t buy the book, who forgot their book, or whose pre-order hasn’t arrived yet (which happens at launch parties). Invite everyone to come say hi and get your signature even if they don’t have a copy of the book.
  • Display swag on your signing table to make it look nice and entice people to approach
  • Bring unsigned bookmarks or bookplates. If there’s ever a lull while you’re waiting for more people to approach your table, pull out a stack and start signing them while you wait. It’s a good way to keep busy and also makes it clear to anyone who walks by that you’re an author who’s there to sign. As people walk by, offer them a bookmark or bookplate to engage them.
  1. Offer pre-order campaigns

A popular marketing strategy right now is a pre-order campaign—offering goodies to people who pre-order the book and send you a receipt as proof of purchase. Pre-order campaigns can be fun and may help you encourage people to buy; in exchange, you can send them a bookmark/bookplate/button/other fun item.

A word of caution about pre-order campaigns—they may or may not be successful as far as generating sales. And if you’re promising an item to everyone who pre-orders, make sure you can afford to provide it to a large number of people, just in case!

  1. Giveaways

Offer signed items and swag packs for promotional giveaways. People are often eager to spread the word about giveaways, and it will help you reach more readers. I highly recommend using Rafflecopter, which requires people to do things like follow your social media accounts or subscribe to your newsletter in order to enter the giveaway. This will help grow your following, so even people who don’t win the prizes may still stick around to hear news about your book(s).

  1. Hand out at conferences

I always make a set of swag packs—containing bookmarks, sell sheets, postcards, and sometimes buttons and bookplates—to hand out at conferences, especially if I’m speaking or doing a panel and can offer them to audience members afterward. For smaller conferences, I make about 25 packs; for larger ones, 50-100. Sometimes I’ll also team up with author friends of mine to create swag packs with items featuring all of our books, and all of us will hand them out throughout the conference.

  1. Mail to people who aren’t local

If there’s anyone you want to know about your book who doesn’t live near you, having a signed bookmark, postcard, or bookplate to send in the mail is a great way to provide them with information about the book. It’s also great if you have critique partners or writer friends who don’t live near you; send them something signed to show your appreciation!

What do you think? How else might you use promotional items? Have any good ideas I left off the list? Let me know in the comments!

Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer.

Related Links:

The Best Marketing Materials for Your Book

5 Tips for Promoting Standalone Books

6 Author Marketing Mistakes

7 Marketing Tips for Debut Authors

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