Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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February 17, 2014

Promotion….A Necessary Evil?

Cynthia D’Alba

Cynthia D’Alba

by Cynthia D’Alba

I was sitting an RWA chapter meeting last month when the older woman beside me said, “I didn’t think I’d have to do so much promotion. I thought the publishing company took care of that.” She sighed. “Things have changed.” I just nodded but in reality,  I wouldn’t know how things used to be. I started writing in 2006 and my first book was published in 2011. All I know is how things are “now.” And “now” means the author is responsible for the majority, if not all, of the promotion that goes in a book.

First, let’s handle some reality. Promotion = book sales. Sadly, no. I wish it were true but no ads, videos, postcards nor bookmarks have ever prompted me to buy a book from an unknown author. Ink pens? I have dozens from different authors. Some of them I’ve never heard of and I’ve never looked them up to see what books they have out there. We have to bear that reality in mind as we spend precious earnings on SWAG.

This is a serious problem, at least for me. I have very limited financial reserves that I can spend on marketing/promotional items. And let’s be honest, I need to be smart with what I buy. Right now, I’m in the process of buying promotional items for “Promo Alley” at the 2014 RT Convention. The challenge is making my “stuff” stand out from the other author “stuff” lining the halls. There will be ink pens, notepads, bookmarks, and excerpts filling every table. I remember plastic wine glasses (for a book that took place in Napa Valley) and plastic bowlers (Don’t remember what book it was marketing). Chip clips and refrigerator clips littered the table tops. The thousands and thousands of dollars spent on book-related promotional material just for that one conference astounded me.

But here’s the problem…I can’t remember one BOOK being hyped nor did I run out and buy a book because of a piece of promotion. There was a marketing company that had some big refrigerator clips that I loved. I know the name of that company to this day, but individual books? Nope.

So what’s the answer then? If promotion doesn’t sell books, what does? Is promotion a necessary evil?

It is, but it can’t be the be-all to end-all for an author. Authors have to produce well-written and engaging books. In this growing digital world, an author needs to have fresh material there for a reader to buy. When print was king in the fiction world, it did take time for edits to be mailed back and forth, and the print format to set up, and the books printed and then more time to get the books into brick-and-mortar stores. But in this digital age, the time between writing and publishing has been drastically reduced. The best way to “market” yourself is to produce another book for your readers to buy.

Bottom line is I believe successful author marketing is a complicated formula of personal contact with readers (think Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, blogs, etc.), repeated exposure to an author’s name (pens, jar openers, nail files, etc), well-written books, and fresh material.

Then there’s the one sure-fire way to be successful…the right book at the right time. And that’s something we can’t control.

What’s your opinion on author promotion? Have you ever bought a book because of a postcard or book trailer or ink pen? Have you ever bought a book from an author you met and liked just because you met and liked her/him? (And the reverse…have you ever dropped an author from your autobuy list because you and met and disliked her/him?) What’s your favorite SWAG to collect at a conference?

Leave a comment and I’ll chose one person to win a jar of orange-scented hand-cream that promises to carry you away from the snow.

AND I’ve got a Rafflecopter Giveaway going. Click HERE to enter.

Cynthia D'Alba was born and raised in a small Arkansas town. After being gone for a number of years, she's thrilled to be making her home back in Arkansas living in a vine-covered cottage on the banks of an eight-thousand acre lake. She started writing on a challenge from her husband in 2006 and discovered having imaginary sex with lots of hunky men was fun.

She loves to hear from readers and there are lots of ways to find her. Online, you can find her most days at her website or her group blog.

Follow her at Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Goodreads or Pinterest. Or subscribe for her newletter. Email her at cynthia@cynthiadalba.com

To send her snail mail, write to: Cynthia D’Alba   PO Box 2116   Hot Springs, AR 71914

TexasFandango72webHer latest book is a novella, TEXAS FANDANGO, book 3 in the Texas Montgomery Mavericks series. Here’s a little more on that:

Two weeks on a beach can deepen more than just their tans.

Texas Montgomery Mavericks, Book 3

KC Montgomery was eleven when she met the love of her life. Of course, seventeen-year-old Drake Gentry didn’t know she existed, but that didn’t stop her girlish fantasies from growing and changing over the years.

Now, after enjoying a front-row seat to his breakup with his latest girlfriend, she’s been handed an all-grown-up fantasy come true—two weeks at the Sand Castle Resort. With him.

Drake most definitely noticed KC a long time ago, but the timing’s never been right. Now that he’s facing a lonely vacation that was supposed to be for two, it seems only natural to accept KC’s offer to fill in. And as far as her terms go… No strings. No expectations. No holds barred. Drake is no fool—he’s all over it.

But once they’re back in Texas there are invisible strings still hanging between them. Strings labeled attraction, affection…even love. And the more they try to untangle the knots, the tighter they’re bound together.

Warning: Beware of sunburns, whirlpool sex and sand in delicate places.

Sound like fun? Available from your favorite online bookstore or use a link below:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Nobles  |  Samhain

73 comments on “Promotion….A Necessary Evil?”

  1. Oh Cyndi, I'm so with you on this. I think the best swag is something an individual would like to display - and people are, well, individuals, and swag definitely is NOT.

    The little swag I've kept is either: from an author I know (I'd buy her book anyway) or something I'd like to have. And, as you pointed out, I don't know/care who the author is on my nail file.

    I think the best swag IS the type they'll keep, but all you can hope for is to get your name to register with a potential reader. And in today's consumer distraction world, it takes 7-9 times for them to see your name to recognize it. What does that do? When they see your book, they're more likely to pick it up, thinking, "I know that name....wonder if I'd like the book?" And read the back.

    Which comes back to your other point - best swag is a kick-a$$ book!
    Which Cyndi's are, you guys! Check her out!

    1. Thanks Laura. I collected enough swag at RT2013 to fill more than 2 grab bags of "stuff"! I've given away one bag of swag and I have another to give away (see the Rafflecopter giveaway) The first one actually went to a newbie author, which was great as it gave her some idea of what's out there! 🙂

      My swag goal is to find something that is non-paper, useful, and something someone wants enough to make room in her luggage to take it home.

    2. My first RWA conference I shipped home TWO bankers boxes of books and swag. Most of which I ended up giving away without paying much attention to it. I'm quite judicious about my swag habits now. 🙂

      I'm a huge fan of useful swag, if you must do it: bookmarks, thumb drives, pens. But I've only bought a book from swag once, and that's because the book blurb on the bookmark sounded extremely cool.

  2. I have looked up an author if a picture on a card or other promo item is particularly compelling. I did not necessarily buy the book, however. Sometimes it is just the curiosity to find out what it is about if the visual is very compelling. The other types of swag just annoy me (I'm adverse to clutter.) BUT your point is well taken: How do you get your name in front of people initially? The really good book will catch on, but it has to start somewhere.

    1. Yep. Start is HARD. I was lucky to be with a publisher (Samhain) that has a large reader base. When my first book came out, those readers gave me a chance (whew! Thank goodness!). I built off those first Samhain readers. If I'd been Indie published, I'm not sure how I would have gone about finding readers.

      I have beautiful bookmarks BUT I have to admit, I don't collect bookmarks. I've thrown away more than I want to admit. Since I read mostly digital, I have no personal need for beautiful bookmarks! I know readers will collect them, especially if signed but with the growth of digital I wonder about the long term viability of them.

      What about you?

      1. I much prefer paper books to e-books and I LOVE bookmarks. That said, I have a favorite bookmark that I use for each book I'm reading. If I pick up a book that doesn't snag my interest, then I'll grab whatever is handy (swag mark, business card, ripped piece from an envelope) to mark where I stopped.

        I think the only time I actually bought a book from a bookmark was an author I would have bought anyway - must have been too deep in the cave when her last release came out.

  3. I have to agree about swag being a necessary expense but that it doesn't garner sales, necessarily. I have heard from folks that it keeps you fresh in someone's mind. Still, I think the best promo is the free kind. Word of mouth. 🙂

    Can't wait to see you at RT!

  4. Swag would not convince me to purchase a book, although I do read free bookmarks I'm given. I've dropped authors that I enjoyed but not because of physically meeting them, but rather for (1) things they've said in posts either on their blog or on the web, (2) their behavior in writing groups I've been in with them, or (3) if they spam social media feeds with their books/publications.

    1. Okay...I'll confess...there are two authors I will NEVER, EVER buy their books because of they acted at a conference we were all at! I think you are demonstrating that many readers buy the books of people "they like".

  5. Hi Cyndi,
    I've bought quite a few books off bookmarks. If the bookmark is enticing and the blurb sounds interesting, I've purchased the book. What's nice about bookmarks is they're useful and don't take up much room. My favorite swag was a little booklet of sticky tab-notes.
    Most of my purchases have been from reviews or interviews on blogs.
    I have never dropped an author because of personality but I have dropped some if they weren't true to the characters or world building in a series.
    Thanks for a great post.

    1. Hi Bonnie. I have a couple of booklets from Lisa Jackson that are full of notebook paper. SO cute. Love them. Husband stole them from me.

      Thanks for leaving a message

  6. I have checked out a few authors that gave me a bookmark or postcard. If the piece of paper they gave me was well put together and enticing, I felt safe assuming their book would be too. On the other hand, a doodad or something kitchy would not make me look up an author.
    I thought it was interesting that you asked if we've ever dropped someone because of their behavior. Yup. There have been several authors that were downright unpleasant at readings. I left the bookstore without a book on those days. Sometimes I think people forget that they are selling themselves as well as their books.

    1. "Sometimes I think people forget that they are selling themselves as well as their books." <-- perfectly said.

      There are authors I've interacted with who left such a bad feeling that I'll never purchase one of their books.

  7. Hi Cyndi, I understand completely what you're saying. Promo items are easy to acquire, easy to collect, easy to lose, and easy to forget.

    Do you think offering free chapters or backstory-type shorts on Amazon is the way to go?

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    1. I have a prequel to my first book (1st book is Texas Two Step...the prequel is Texas Two Step: The Prequel) available for $0.99 on Amazon. It's a short story. I sell a few of those a month. And yes, I think the prequel does lead to sales.

      And free first chapters are great, but NOT (IMHO) as swag at conferences. Online, yes. Paper product, no.

  8. I completely agree. Very rarely have I bought a book because of swag. Usually I only collect swag because I want to see what other authors have done - but now that I think about it, when the time comes I probably shouldn't plan on spending too much on swag at all, LOL. To be honest, I think swag is just fun for the author to have and to hold in their hand - for my friends, it's been that feeling that they've made it. If your book is your baby, then swag is like accessorizing your baby 🙂

  9. The modern digital era has created a mixed bag for writers. First, the emergence of social media does make marketing (the act of reaching your audience) more affordable in some ways. You can blog and use a wide range of social media, interact on forums and do blog tours/webinar tours/live chats.

    Sales platforms like Amazon do have tools, techniques and approaches that can help you get your book to the "top of search results," as can fully utilizing the various tools offered for free by Google (and one really needs to take time to understand how Google search works and how Youtube, Google+, Google Places, keywords, and other tools tie into search).

    Even digital advertising, which you have to pay for, is more attractive than in the old days as you can set the budget, monitor and change key words, and really target those ads (be it on Google, FB or elsewhere).

    The flip side is the emergence of self-publishing is glutting the market and making it even more difficult to stand apart, though with most self-published books, good writing will do the trick.

    I'm not convinced of the benefits of swag, generally speaking.

    As a freelance writer, novelists are in essence self-employed small business people. Marketing is so very important but do it smart and if you are going to spend money, spend it very smartly.

    1. This is my BRILLIANT nephew! Great comments, Clay. I would love to understand more how to use all the digital tools available to me. The reality is I don't have the time (or patience) to do so. I don't think...no, make that I KNOW I don't use them to their full potential. If only I knew someone who was VP at marketing firm......

  10. I've never spent a dime on promo swag - I've never bought a book either based on that.

    If I did swag for a writer's conference I would laminate something writers found useful or inspirational i.e. creativity quotes or a list of Ten Most Overused Words and their Synonyms.

    1. I try to not do swag directed to authors. While I realize that authors read, not all readers write. My target audience is readers so my focus might be different than laminated things.

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

  11. Cynthia, I'm glad I came in after others weighed the response to this post. I actually don't like swag because I think of it like the stuff I picked up at other types of marketing conferences. I equate it with spam.

    The new authors I read come from a variety of places. Reviews, recommendations on writer's blogs or from a friend. New authors are a turkey shoot. And since I will be in the line of fire one day, I can only think of one way and that's your basic suggestion. Write a damn good book. Write another damn good book. I do cross genre and will not change my name. I intend to write a lot of books and somewhere along the way I'll develop a readership.

    If and that's a big IF ... I had a budget ... I'd spend it promoting on the social media and other blogs and soliciting reviews. And yes, some swag can be fun but that fun can be too costly for most of us 🙂

    1. Thanks! Appreciate your input. What I hear again and again...write a book, write another book, then write another book. As my editor tells me...your backlist is your retirement plan!

      And I think I'm with you on names. I THINK I'm going to write a mystery/suspense/romance this summer under D'Alba. SInce I'm "known" for contemporary westerns, might it be shock to some of my readers. But then again, readers are readers and good books are good books. Maybe they'll enjoy it

      1. Hi Florence and Cyndi - jumping in on Names - we've discussed this a LOT at our local RWA chapter, and come to the conclusion that in the old days, Publishers did this to 'own' the author (no longer a good thing, obviously).

        The ONLY reason I can think to divide your brand, and your fan base, IMHO, is if you write genres that will never cross-over...like erotic and middle grade, or Inspirational.

        Other than those two instances, I think you're hurting yourself by using different names. Go Florence!

        1. I will say that if the day comes that I write inspirational romance, I'll use another name as it would be too shocking for inspy readers to stumble across my "regular" work!

  12. I have never bought a book from swag. On the other hand I do use swag. Not that I'm terribly experienced at it, but I have good pens that people seem to like. Instead of bookmarks, I have Keeper Kards, which are the brainchild of Dianna Love. I'd like to add something else, but, like you, my finances are limited. I haven't even gotten paid yet. What will convince me to buy a book is a an excerpt on a blog, and apparently I'm not the only one. Before my first book released last September, I had readers email me telling me they loved my books. At first I didn't understand. Were they confusing me with Julia Quinn? Then one of them told me that being able to read the different excerpts I've always posted, she knew she'd love the book. Now if only I could figure out how to do that affordably for swag. I'm open to ideas.
    I tweeted. Will reblog tomorrow.

    1. I do have pens...mine and a million other ones. If you are going to do a pen, look for something "different" about your pen. Maybe a highlighter at one end and pen at the other. Or pen at one end and a stylist at the other. That sort of thing.

      I looked at Keeper Kards (doing them) but decided to pass. I did romance trading cards for my first book, order 250 and still have many 25 left.

      Interesting comment about excerpts. I generally DON"T read excerpts, so good to know that they can have an influence on readers.

      Thanks for commenting!

  13. I am of two minds about swag. While I've never bought a book based on swag, I also know that nonwriters do. I think as writers we are inundated and surrounded by swag and so, just like when I worked as a waitress at a donut shop and eventually grew to detest even the smell of donuts, we resist the "temptation" of bookmarks, pens, etc. I bought some stress balls with my name/website/tagline on them, and some rubber keychains with my YA book cover on them. This month I finally broke down and had some beautiful bookmarks designed for that book so that potential readers would know what the book is about, which the keychains and business cards didn't do. It's about name recognition for the most part, not just sales. Hopefully the person with the swag will see my name on social media somewhere and connect the dots and then buy a book. That's my hope... Good post, Cynthia!

    1. Betty, that's a brilliant point, and one I hadn't thought of - that writers are immune to swag, but readers aren't. Hmmmm, I'll have to think about that one!

  14. Your post brings up something I didn't mention. When I first starting doing sway, I did "book" sway. Stuff with the name of the book on it. As I'm looking at stuff for RT and other conferences, I'm moving away from book-forced swag to Cynthia D'Alba swag. Trying to get my name out there more than the title of my books. Books may come and go but Cynthia D'Alba is here to stay! 🙂

  15. I am always a fan of free stuff, but that's usually not enough to get me to buy a book. Meeting the authors actually works; in fact, funny story about that:
    A number of years ago, I was buying books at a convention. I'd just heard one author (Rob Thurman, for the curious) talk about her urban fantasy series, and I ended up buying all her books in one sitting. I went to the checkout with just enough money to buy them...only to realize that I had forgotten to calculate sales tax (I normally live in Oregon, which doesn't have such a tax), and couldn't afford the books.
    But the guy at the register was also an author, and he loaned me five bucks to complete my purchase, so long as I agreed to check out his books out sometime. I promised to do so, ran to the rest of my group (new books in tow), and told them what happened. We stopped by later, giving the author (whose name I can't remember for the life of me right now) his five bucks back--as well as buying both books he'd published. And looking back, those books were pretty good.
    Listening and talking to authors, that sticks in my mind. Kindness, that sticks even more.

    1. Dorian - what a great story! And a great author. You're right - kindness goes a LONG way... And it reiterates the point that we want to read books of people we like!

  16. "You have to spend money to make money." Sad, but true, and getting truer. I can't imagine a chochky (sp?) getting me to buy a book in any scenario. Then again, I hate clutter and useless things lying around. A bookmark is a good idea, though ebook readers don't have much use for those.

    I usually buy book based on Amazon recommendations. I look up a topic or a writer and that little scroll of "people who looked at X also looked at Y" titles will often turn up some interesting options. As a writer, though, I don't necessarily want to depend on passive marketing like that.

    In other words, I have no solution!

    1. "Chochky"...took me a minute to get it...tchotchke! HAHAHA That does not look like how it should be spelled, does it? 🙂

      Like you, I don't want to be depend on passive marketing either. I want to take an active role in my marketing but I want to be as sure as I can that my money is not only well-spent, but stretched as far as possible

  17. I've never been big on the swag. I believe the best promotion will always be free books or stories. If you're a decent writer this will bring you more readers. Of course for this to work you have to have written more than one book or story. And I agree completely with 'The best way to “market” yourself is to produce another book for your readers to buy.' After they've read that free book or story, you want a decent back-list for them to buy.

  18. You are so correct on the "swag" issue. Maybe the best swag is a mini book with about three chapters in it. I've seen this before and if you can hook a reader that way, that's great. But for all-round book advertising, I think great book reviews by well known reviewers works best right along side word of mouth.

    1. I like that idea but be sure to check your contract for how much (what %) of your book that it allows you to use or give away.

      Great book reviews - another thing we have no control over EXCEPT WRITE DAMN GOOD BOOKS!

  19. I've never bought a book because of swag or a tweet or an author blog or website or cute cat videos reposted on Facebook. Many I've discovered on my own by scouring shelves in the library or bookstore. The rest I've found mostly through online sources NOT written by the author. I like mysteries, so I follow Cozy-mystery.com and I subscribe to Dorothy-L. I also read reviews on Amazon and when I find a book I like, I check out Amazon's suggestions under the heading "Customers who bought this item also bought..." (But a caution: Trying to game Amazon with glowing reviews by sympathizers doesn't play well. Savvy customers read between the lines.) Perhaps the key for a writer is not so much to try to create an online community with his own Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Pinterest accounts as it is to become a part of the pre-existing community and let it carry him.

    1. Excellent comment about being active in communities where readers have common interests, like the Cozy-Mystery.com site. (Which I didn't know about and went to immediately!)

  20. I don't view promotion as evil. I think you're helping readers. They want to find something good to read and if they are you're target reader you are helping them find a good book. And promotion does exactly what it is designed to do--get your name out. It's been my experience that the best way for an author to sell directly to a reader is in face-to-face situations--such as after book readings or book launches.
    I have purchased books because I meet and liked the author. And I haven't purchased books because of the author's attitude or personality.

  21. I've never bought a book because of a pen, bookmark, etc..., but I have bought books I've seen promoted on blogs, facebook, and newsletters. Even from authors I wasn't familiar with before the post.

  22. I have bought books from authors I was friends with "before they were authors", based on reviews on Goodreads or from friends, and from people I "know" on twitter/FB. But mostly I go on a peek at the synopsis, a few pages, and maybe a review from a legit organization (not 3rd guy on Amazon). I am just entering the writer arena (children's books) and am terrified at the amount of self-promotion that is recommended! But I bit the bullet and started a blog, twitter account, and so forth. I do think name-recognition helps to drive sales, but it is certainly not what I look for first in a book.

  23. Cynthia, thank you for a great post. I am not a fan of SWAG as to me, it tends to look desperate. If I see an author giving away gift vouchers or expensive tech toys, I wonder why so desperate to pull in traffic? Great book blurbs, interaction with readers and a well crafted book will serve you better. People will always line up for free stuff to take advantage of you. Indie Authors are finding free book promotions do little to further their cause. We could be shooting ourselves in the foot.

    As Kristen Lamb's blog said this week, we need patience. Building a following and achieving good sales takes TIME. It is the lesson we need to learn the most, but don't want to swallow.


    1. Cate, you're right. But since when are authors long on patience? I've never met one who is! Swag sometimes, I think, just makes you feel better - like you're doing SOMETHING!

  24. Hi, Cynthia. I grew up in Cloudy, OK...Have you ever read/seen the opera "La Boheme?" It's romantic, but the point is: a talented guy writes his heart out, can't sell his creation, and ends up burning it for firewood. I'm very glad to have the truth of the promo situation. I can write, but not buy one thing. You've saved me. Hope to see you in Little Dixie one day. (I'm in Asia now.)

  25. My first book, Going Down In Flames, comes out in April, and I am trying to figure out this whole swag thing. So far, I created a sticker to put on a box filled with chocolate. No idea if it's an effective marketing tool, but I enjoyed eating the chocolate while I filled the boxes.

    1. Chocolate is ALWAYS a winner, but beware because many people are germophobes and won't touch it. And it's pricy.

      I'm a fan of things that don't cost the author much, yet get them some brand/name recognition. Laura's right. It take 7-9 times before someone recognizes your name.

    2. candy is tough. It almost has to be individually packaged to give away. Buy and then trying to put stickers on it after the fact is tough, and in my case, looked awful! AND I had a friend who attached her business card to bags of M&M's. People pulled off her card, left it on the table and took the candy. Not the outcome you're looking for. The only time I use candy is at a signing to draw people over to my table so we can chat. Otherwise, I pretty much steer clear of food products

  26. I, too, felt the same way when my first book was published - where was the publisher's promo? Marketing? Advertising? Where was our ticker tape parade??!!! My co-author and I published "My Kid's Allergic to Everything Dessert Cookbook" in ... 1996. So things have *not* changed! We got very little: some book covers to put in a promo folder that we put together ourselves! 2 "free" books to display at conferences we lined up to attend. One paid insert in a book-marketing magazine which netted us several telephone-radio interviews. Our swag? We baked our little brains out and gave people cookie/cake/brownie samples at all the booksignings *we* lined up. Several raffles which resulted in 0 sales. Swag is nice, but readers will remember more how you made them feel rather than trying to read the very tiny print on a refrigerator magnet or a pen! Get out there and smile!

  27. Writers need to stop promoting to other writers. The only books we really care about are our own. We need to promote to readers. Of course we know writers and belong to writers' groups, so writers are more accessible. However, it's really not the winning game.

  28. Brochures and posters, blog posts and interviews,newsletters sent to booksellers,all together are a way to bring your books in front of readers.How much you can put on a pen or even a bookmark to attract the reader?You can use a poster or a newsletter in a cross promotion(i.e books on parenting - spread the newsletter in the waiting rooms of pediatricians)

  29. Wonderful advice and quite inspirational for me as I have four books all painfully close to being ready to publish and I often get depressed thinking they will never come out. The idea of promoting a book by writing another is really helpful to me! I shall get on with pushing them out 🙂

  30. I don't know if it still holds true but years ago at RT conferences, readers loved getting their hands on great book cover posters --mostly because of the models. It's not what I'd hang up in my home but . . . hey. Anyway, perhaps offering to do a give-a-way at a signing table to those who purchased your book and had it signed might be good. I think it really might work for the YA fans. Teens love posters. And it might beef up the signing. They can be very boring to say the least.

  31. I've spent countless hours reading about promotion and the many things we aspiring authors need to be doing. All of it creates a LOT of pressure, and I often fear it will get me nowhere. I'd much rather be writing, of course, as would we all, but it seems we don't have a choice. Life is short and promoting isn't really how I want to spend it, BUT----I also hope to be read once I'm published. Oh, well...we must accept...

  32. I have only been to one RWA conference, but I highly recommend the experience. I went to authors that I already knew because I wanted signed books by them. Everyone was kind & friendly. The book marks are a great memory. The 2 things that were different that I remember were an English Tea & cookie bag from Kieran Kramer, that she gave specially to her FB fans, and little containers of hand sanitizer in different scents from Robyn Carr. Neither of these had the author's information on them, but I remember them because I had my 11 year old daughter with me, who was very bored, and these kept her busy on the train ride home. I find new authors & books by several method:. recommendations by authors I already know on FB & blogs, book blogs with or without giveaways, and from being drawn to the cover art in Target of B&N.

  33. By asking this, I reveal how far I am from 'real life.' I work in Asia, so that's some excuse: but OK: What's SWAG? Thank you, btw, for all these great comments. Martine Davis

  34. As a reader who has never attended a conference, I really don't care about swag. I have gotten some in the mail and I do use the bookmarks, but not so much the other things like magnets.

    Not that I don't appreciate looking at them. I do. I lust after a magnificent cover model along with all the other ladies. But when family and 3 year old nieces arre over all the time, half dressed men are not appropriate on the fridge. 😀

    I buy books based on authors I know; reviews from trusted reviewers; and excerpts of the book. A good blog tour can provide all of these. I've discovered many authors from blogs.

    I don't do authors on Facebook - I do have author friends who are my friends on FB, but they are the exception. FB is for my social and work friends only. Not virtual friends I will likely never meet. A great author webpage and an occasional newsletter works great for me. 🙂

    Write a kick a$$ book and get some blogger reviews, send a newsletter, post excerpts, maybe give away a few copies, but don't spend tons of money on swag destined for a drawer or the circular file. 😀 IMHO anyway.

  35. Do the promotional items work? Who knows really? I remember handing out a bookmark to a waitress, only to find a sale the next day in Amazon. 🙂 Did it come from her? I'm not really sure, but I hope it wasn't wasted! And then I've given out many others that only sometimes result in a spike. Giveaways, however, I know stop my sales. I've seen it happen. But we could really ask the same about blogging (does blogging sell books?). I have to say no, as I've seen that result myself.

  36. The best swag is a free book. There are several authors whose work I've become acquainted with as a result of a freebie e-book on Amazon. I've been so impressed by that one book that I've gone out and bought, for real money, other books by that author. The rest of it - nah. The only swag I've ever had was from the Discworld Convention - which I attend because I already love the books, and that nice Mr P.

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