To #SWAG or not to SWAG? Readers and writers, what do you think?

Hi all:

For great royalty free pics, check
For great royalty free pics, check

As you know, here in Lit World Interviews you can find advice for writers, inspiration, interesting resources, book reviews, interviews, offers, recommendations… I know not only the collaborators to the blog, but also the readers and followers have plenty of experience in the world of the written word, be it as authors, readers or both.

I wanted to try to tap into the vast knowledge and also the opinions of the readers here. We’ve talked about marketing on many occasions, although mostly about ways to sell digital books. I’ve been interested in selling directly to the public for quite a while, although I hadn’t managed to get organised until recently. Now I’m booked to attend a couple of book fairs, one in April (check here ) and one in August (check here ), in different parts of the UK, and as these are my first, I’ve been wandering about SWAG, those complimentary presents writers give to readers as reminders of their books and brands.

I’ve read some articles on the matter and authors have very different opinions on it. I was wondering, authors, if you had used it, what’s your experience of it? What was more successful for you?  What did you find offered you the most value for your money? Are there particular items you recommend or tips you can give? Did you personalise everything? And readers, do you like swag? Are there any items you remember in particular? Are there things you would feel cheated if you didn’t get? Do the items you get influence you in any way? What would you like to see if it was your choice?

I have some ideas but don’t have a lot of money to spend on this and my skills are quite limited with regards to crafty things (I’d love to be able to crochet bookmarks but I don’t have much time) and I have no helpers or team. Any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks very much for reading and for your help. And if you want to share, the more comments, the better. Ah, and if you’re near the locations of the book fairs, do come for a visit! 

Author: olganm

I am a language teacher, writer, bookworm, and collaborator at Sants 3 Ràdio (a local radio station in Barcelona, where I returned in 2018), who lived in the UK for 25 years and worked for many years as a forensic psychiatrist there. I also have a Ph.D. in American Literature and an MSc in Criminology. I started publishing my stories, in English and Spanish, in 2012 and now have over twenty books available in a variety of genres, a blog (in English and Spanish), and translate books for other authors (English-Spanish and vice versa). In 2020 obtained the CELTA certificate as a language teacher, and offer Spanish and English classes. Writers and readers both in English and Spanish are my friends, colleagues, and allies, and after living in the UK for over twenty-five years, have returned home, to Barcelona, Spain, searching for inspiration for my stories. I also love owls and try to keep fit following fitness YouTube videos. Do feel free to connect with me. Here are: My website/blog:

15 thoughts on “To #SWAG or not to SWAG? Readers and writers, what do you think?”

  1. Hi Olga — another intriguing post.
    From the beginning in December, 2012 I’ve looked at all this as my “grand experiment” in Indie. Since it’s just an experiment, I didn’t want to put any money into it. So I understand that part.
    But I don’t know what SWAG is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The little promo things you give out to people, bookmarks, pens, postcards, bags, mugs…Some people make things themselves (jewelry items, keyrings…) sometimes with logo, pictures of books…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I do a few things, Olga, but I have no idea if they are successful. I’ll share them anyway 🙂
    1) I always have candy on the table so if someone comes over for a treat, I can start a conversation.
    2) I have flat rectangular magnets with a book cover, website address and book titles. They’re colorful and not that expensive. I order by mail, 50 at a time.
    3) I also do a little raffle. If they sign up for my email/mailing list, their name goes in a drawing for something related to my books (mug with the book cover on it or something like that, which is easy to mail). Don’t make a book the prize or no one will buy it in case they win. I order the mugs online too, they’re about $10 each.
    4) If I can’t quite make the sale and the person is ready to walk away, I give them a printed copy of a short story to take with them, suggesting that they try me out! Usually they leave with a smile 🙂
    Hope that helps!


    1. Thanks, Diana! I’m definitely going with the candy, chocolate option. I like magnets but want to check what they offer around (I have lots of books but I think some of them would work better than others). I also like the idea of the raffle. Must think about what I can give away. (You’re spot on about not giving books). I’ll think about the short-story angle… Thanks very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I attended a mystery writers’ reading once. They gave out loads of postcards, magnets, bookmarks, pamphlets etc. Most attendees left these behind. What a waste. I guess they came for the free coffee and cookies. As a fan or reader, I always like bookmarks. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Tess. I had hoped to go to a few book fairs before I was in one, but I don’t think the timing will work out (and it might be too late for my own appearance). Once I’m there I’ll see what other people are doing and I’ll try and keep track of what readers seem more interested in. Perhaps I’ll ask them…:)

      Liked by 1 person

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