It's that time again... time for writers in my circles to prepare for national conferences: RWA meets this month in Atlanta, GA, and ACFW meets in Indianapolis in September.
Last year I attended RWA in Anaheim, my first national conference. What a blast! Networking, editor appointments, classes, awards...and the Goody Room. Holy cow, was that fun. In case you haven't been to conference, the Goody Room (which probably has a more technical-but-less-fun name) is a veritable treasure chamber.
Thousands of dollars worth of stuff is piled on tables, free for the taking. Pens, bookmarks, chocolates, chip clips, notepads, hand sanitizers, key chains, postcards, thumb drives, and sometimes novels--all left by authors (and sometimes publishers) with one goal: to promote their books, their name brands, their authors. This stuff, these piles of promotional giveaways, are called Swag.
It's not hard to make Swag. Most printing services offer it. It costs money, sure, but if it helps get your name out there, well, why not?
But does it really work?
I only have my experience to share, but when I passed through RWA's Goody Room, I did not take much. If a postcard featured a book cover that I found appealing (a Regency or an Inspirational), I picked it up. I took some pens, but realized later that one was advertisement for an erotica publishing house so I don't keep it in my purse (!). Clearly that pen didn't lead me to check out their website. I also stayed away from certain products, like plastic water bottles (who knows if they were full of BPA?) and keychains, because I absolutely do not need any more.
Out of all the Swag I picked up, I took the next step (ie, checking out a website or buying a book) with just four or five. That's it; I'm being honest here.
So is it worth making Swag if most of the people who pick up your chip clip/bookmark/pens don't check you out afterward?
Elf Ahearn has a helpful article on Swag in this past month's Romance Writer's Report. She shares statistics and tips for maximizing name recognition (targeting your sub-genre, for instance). The bottom line? People like to get things for free, and it never hurts to take an opportunity to get your name out there.
Which is why I may offer some sort of Swag next time I go to conference, even though I don't have a book out yet. Just to introduce myself to authors and readers.
What about you? Have you ever offered Swag? Do you like receiving Swag? Has it ever prompted you to check out someone's website or book?
Are you taking part in the Royal Baby Watch? I sure am. Pop over to Inkwell Inspirations where I'm hosting a party!