Monday, March 11, 2013

Tools & Tips ~ Swag
by M.R. Polish

Swag…. That would can install the deepest excitement, or the most dreaded fear in an author. What Can I possibly do? Should I do it? Do my readers even want it? The answers are YES, you should do swag! There are many possibilities in the swag world.

So this post is based on my own experiences and I wanted to share. I am a first time swagger, going into my second round with my second book releasing VERY soon! Is there anything new that I can do? That was my question when I ventured out in the scary dark corners looking for bookmarks I could put my cover on.  Well, in reality, I don’t think there is much that hasn’t been done, BUT there are ways to make it yours! So chin up!

First I looked at the fact that I wanted my swag to not only grab my readers/fans attention with my awesome covers, but I wanted to sink them into my story. Hook them and then hopefully they’ll want to read it.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been to a convention or outdoor event somewhere and there are free flyers, business cards and stickers everywhere and it’s like Christmas! We go bonkers grabbing everything we can. At the end of the day we dump our goodie bag out on our beds like Halloween bags and slap grabby hands away like a bad episode of hoarders, all the while we whisper in a deep raspy breath “my precious”.

We sort through it. Finding our duplicates and giving them to the grabby hands to keep them occupied and make neat little piles according to size.  What did we end up with? Bookmarks on our right, bookmarks in the middle, and stickers to our left. Odds and ends are in a pile somewhere above the mess waiting for it’s position with our self declared treasure.

NOW, what do we do? We look at each one as we put them in our treasure chest (most likely a Tupperware box) to be saved, dust free, untouched, forever…. Until our grandkids go through it after we are gone and get their dirty grabby hands on it and make us roll over in our graves because they throw away our treasure in the black garbage bag they brought. (I know, I am as enlightening as Death himself coming to visit) Hopefully one or two of us will be lucky enough to have someone in our blood line who has the same love of books, authors, and swag as we do/did, and they treat it delicately like they found an ancient trove.

What have we learned so far? Besides the fact that you are now checking your will to make sure your local librarian will inherit your “treasure”.  Yes, that’s it, you got it! We looked at them and stored them away. Well, I wanted to make something a little more. I wanted something for them to read.

So, thus started my never ending plan to create swag that will make my readers get excited and maybe even place my swag on their desk or behind a magnet on their fridge before placing it in the archives with the rest of the treasure. I’m okay with ending up there. I’m sure my swag will be in amazing company. You never know who else is in that box!

Front of brochure
ONE: Ever picked up a brochure at one of those events? Flip through it? Of course you have! So…. Why not do it for a book? Here is a couple pictures (don’t hate… they were taken on my kitchen table LOL)

I have my cover and name on front, then you open it up and BAM! Oh yeah… In Wolf Spell I have 3 POV for my 3 main characters…. I had 3 sides to play with soooooo…. I put in a paragraph or two from each pov! Just like that my readers are reading!
Then on the back I placed my blurb and then a place where they can find me. Oh yeah… how’s that for advertising! Now they are walking around that event picking up swag like candy while READING my stuff! What’s gonna (hopefully) happen? When they get home they are gonna look it up because they have to know what happens because I SUCKED THEM IN.
Inside of brochure 

Outside of brochure
Oh yes… take your swag to that next level… SIGN IT! You can see my horrible penmanship on the front hehehehe.  Now, what else can you do? You want to do something a little smaller maybe? Of course! Postcards! Not just for mailing you know ;)

Here are another couple bad pics from the kitchen table… on the front I chose a fun paragraph from when Ian is picking on Es about Bigfoot. Why? Because it is funny and shows a comical side to my book and everyone loves to smile (except the Grinch, but I don’t expect to see him at any convention I’m at because we have lovey dovey stuff in our books and that would mean he cares)

Front of postcard

So back to the postcard… Put a paragraph from your book on the front. Hook your readers. You know they may not read this one walking around the event (then again they might!) BUT they WILL read it at home while they are sorting their magical findings and place it in the very special pile of ‘To Keep Out’. Sometimes the precious things in this pile even make it to be placeholders or book marks in their books they are reading! (This is good because they see it often that way)

Back of postcard
You can see on the back I have my blurb (more for them to read) and where they can find the book and where to find me. Let me stress this right here. On EVERYTHING place at least your site or blog (mine is the same thing, I just own the domain name so I don’t have blogspot after it). EVERYTHING. Let no swag go untouched by your site.

REALLY bad pic, sorry ya'll! It looks WAY better in person.
Front of business card
Okay, so next I have the famous business card. These make great bookmarks or placeholders. They are small, versatile, and can go anywhere with you. I keep a handful in my purse at all times and leave them everywhere. I seriously have a trail for people to follow like Waldo. People can play the where is M.R. Polish game and can use my business cards as clues! Haha… the bank loves me. I leave one in the drive up thingy all the time. The next car in line is   playing the game and gets the thingy and gets excited “I got a clue! I got a clue! She’s been here!” Hahahaha… well, maybe they aren’t playing. BUT if they were, they’d be excited ;) But see… not only do the tellers get my cards, IF the driver hasn’t taken it, but the driver has first dibs on this treasure I have so cleverly hidden. Although, I have a great hometown bank that is cool with me playing games in their drive-thru lanes. LOL

Back of business card

Last but not least, I have a magnet. Because if all else fails, this usually doesn’t go into the box. It goes to a fridge. And let’s face it, we open that thing a hundred times a day. Even if we just opened it two seconds before, we will open it again. It think this is prime real estate for swag. Visitors have full viewing privileges and everyone in the house can see it.

Magnet - and not sure you can see it, but it has all my
"where you can find me info" on it - including my site

So now you have my take down on swag. I have just finished up some really gorgeous swag for Ageless Sea that I am excited about. If you are going to UtopYa you will get to see it there!  

For everyone else, my advice is to play with it. Make it yours. Sell it! Don’t be shoved in a treasure box till death do you part, make it so your fans can enjoy it. I am not the greatest, but I hope I have done at least that part. I want my fans to have fun, smile and enjoy what I do for them. Not just my books, but with my swag too.

So go out and make that swag your own! 

Get your Swagger on!

Posted by Bethany Lopez Author On 4:22 PM 9 comments


  1. I never would have thought about a brochure; what a clever idea! Love your swag, Misty! This is a great post!

    1. Glad you liked it, I had lots of fun with it. And the brochures are awesome... my hubby takes them to work and hands them out - mainly because I don't trust him to tell people about my books because he gets them confused lol So I told him, "don't talk, just give"

    2. Don't talk. Just give. OMG. I love that!

  2. Great swag, M.r.! Love what you've done and this gives me some much needed info!! Thanks for sharing :0)

    1. Totally! I am glad I helped, if only a little, I am happy.

  3. Apparently mine didn't post yesterday. I never thought of doing the front of the postcard as a teaser. I've thought of doing the brochure for my series, three books, three flaps....

    1. The postcard is very versatile too and has lots of promise. You should do that for your trilogy!

  4. The brochure is very clever. As an addition, I know there are a lot of trad pubbed authors (Sherrilyn Kenyon for one) who are creating photo-sized prints of their covers so those with e-copies can have something signed then put the signed cover in a photo album.

    1. that is a great idea! There are many with ecopies, so that is honestly brilliant for signings.


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