Sunday, June 5, 2011


What does the reader do with all the swag handed out? How does an author justify what to spend hard earned dough on. ROI- Return of Investment, needs to happen between six months preferrably to one year. That's just not for swag alone, but also for your website, maintenence, postage, any purchase you've made.

I've heard many different takes on what to buy and what not to buy. I've looked at hundreds of sites and come up with my own system that I spend minimal money on and hope to earn back during within a few months.

Romance Trading Cards- Are very popular and I have a set being designed for me now by my cover artist for Makhi who does design work on the side for extra income. I get to be her test subject for new endeavors and love it!

Key Chains- I've heard don't buy they get tossed. I've also heard readers do like them. I don't order them from a site, I order the round stickers from a site and buy the keychain casings in bulk from Michaels Craft for less than five bucks.

Buttons- I've heard the same, some like some don't. I also buy the casings in bulk from Michaels Craft for less than five bucks.

For Buttons and Key Chains to order on line one will const around six bucks to make and then for or five bucks a piece.

Chapstick- Is new to me I'd been searching for months for something less than two bucks a tube and finally was shown a site that ships them label free for twenty eight cents a tube and is made of beeswax and natural ingredients.

Vista Print- I love VP when they have their 'free' offerings. Note that 'Free' isn't really free. As long as you use their basic designs it's free. Once you load up a picture or cover art for anyone of their 'free items' it's a 4.99 charge.

Lately I've been surfing gotprint.com for bulk or even turning to Office Max to do the postcards.

BookMarks? I've heard don't buy they get tossed in the trash quick. A lot of readers are now doing mainly ereaders and less print so I haven't decided what to do there.

BookTethers? Are fun for giveaways. I've made a few still working on making them prettier! Small photo charm from Michaels Craft fits in the cover and has a plastic casing to protect it.

Mugs-Tee's and Mouse Pads- I've heard no on mouse pads, mugs are liked generally and tee shirts as long as they have a witty line or two for the series are great.

Personal Hales gifts? Twice a year I'll do a small giveaway of handmade soaps or a basket of them from a local soap shop that I love or something pertaining to Missouri that isn't found elsewhere. Since I do that and give out their cards, the give me sample soaps sometimes for free to bag and mail with promo.

Kansas/Missouri funstuffs~ Wizard of Oz card decks, shot glasses, tee's and Missouri made chocolate candy coated sunflowerseeds

Pens and Pencils? I found a site for pens 500 for 75 bucks and 300 pencils for 69 bucks. I haven't ordered them yet but I'm thinking about it.

What are some of your thoughts on swag?


Tina Donahue said...

Awesome blog, Hales - never considered, buttons, key chains or chapstick. :)

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Hales! It's so hard to determine what will be hot and what not so much.

Amber Skyze

Gabrielle Lee said...

Wow so many different choices of swag. I love getting swag especially the ones that go with a book or that the author put extra care into.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gabrielle!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gabrielle! Tina and Annon!

She said...

As a reader, pens. Authors give the best pens. I've got your name, maybe your website address, maybe your latest book title. I take them to work and they get "borrowed" because they are the best--better than what we get on the job. I get too many bookmarks so they sit in a box. Don't use chapsticks or keychains. Get pens. The best swag ever.

Fiona McGier said...

I've won swag from authors for leaving comments. I don't use book marks or postcards, I never use chapstick, and I have too many key chains already. I like to get books. Pens are okay, but if you order them in bulk they are probably too cheap to last, and if it doesn't write, it's useless and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And I don't wear tee shirts. Books do it for me.

Fiona McGier said...

P.S. I thought the round things up in the first picture were condoms! Now THERE'S an interesting idea for swag given out by erotic romance writers! LOL!

Paris said...

As an author and a reader as long as the bit of swag lets me know where to find you, I'm happy. Book marks are fun (I keep them in a vase my son made in grade-school)but most of the time I use my e-reader so they aren't functional. I do love your book tethers though and would be more likely to use it.

I love the Chapstick idea and it's something I would use. I'm always tossing one in my purse:)

I haven't thought about Swag for a long time but you've given me some great ideas!

Anonymous said...

THanks ladies and Fi that is great I might make lil condom keychains now haha!

Savannah Chase said...

It is hard to find the perfect item that people will like and keep...Great blog post...

Rawiya said...

I like the condom idea. LOL

Pens are great. I have received a magnet, pens, bookmarks, calendars. One gave me a necklace which was awesome!

I'm with Sheila, my fave is the pens.

Great post Hales

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Hello Hales. Sorry I didn't get by yesterday. I'm trying to cut back on the amount of time I spend on the internet so I can write but I saw your enticing blog and had to read it.
My favorite swag is pens. I love getting those and I use them. Bookmarks, not so much. I love the picture of the swag that looks like tiny book covers in little frame. Great blog, Hales.

Tim Smith said...

Good ideas, Hales. I'll be hitting my local craft store.

I use pens with my name and website, which I get from a local trophy shop a lot cheaper than Vistaprint or anywhere else. I do get cover postcards from Vista but only when they're on special, like "250 free." I do the same with business cards and refrigerator calendar magnets I send out at Christmas. That's about all I pass out unless I'm doing a contest.

I just returned from a huge romance authors gathering with a ton of swag from goodie bags. The unique stuff I kept - note pads, gimmicky items, trading cards and pens - but to be honest, the majority of the cover postcards, bookmarks, brochures and biz cards went into the recycle box unless something caught my eye or came from a contact I'd made.

Good post!

Tim Smith

Fiona McGier said...

I'm thinking some pithy saying on the condom wrapper, like: "Writing so hot your husband will be needing this tonight!" LOL!

Jen B. said...

My favorites are tote bags, book covers, sticky notes, insulated mugs and pens. I have just started collecting trading cards. I hope to have some of them signed for authors I read digitally. I won two t-shirts but they both say EROTIC on the front so I won't be wearing them out and about. The lip balm sounds like a great idea. I don't like keychains. I just toss them.