Ruthie’s Reality: About Swag + Giveaway!

Ruthie’s Reality:  About Swag + Giveaway!
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Pirate JohnnyMostly when I think about swag, I think “yar,” because the word reminds me of pirates, and pirates remind me of the word “yar,” which I like very much. Yar!

But let’s not get distracted by pirates, even if we’d like to talk about what a great pirate Johnny Depp made in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. And let’s not talk about Johnny Depp, either, even though it’s tempting. Because, swag!

Specifically, I’m thinking about author swag — those goodies authors give away to readers at signings and conferences or send in the mail as prizes alongside autographed books. Swag = bookmarks, monogrammed flashlights, scented soaps, stickers, postcards with bare-chested men on them — fun freebies that remind you of the author and/or the book being promoted.

Swag galore at RWA! (courtesy Tameri Etherton)

Most conferences have swag rooms with table after table full of promotional stuff. At the Romance Writers of America conference last year in California, my favorite thing I saw was a glass cowboy boot full of margarita ingredients. So cute!

But on the other hand, I don’t remember the name of the author or the book, so possibly not the most effective way to spend promotional dollars, right?

Kit swagMore effective, I think, is the swag for Kit Rocha’s debut erotic romance, Beyond Shame. The hero of the novel is part of a gang family, the O’Kanes. O’Kane men (and women!) are elaborately tattooed, and when the heroine joins the gang, she gets marked to show her affiliation. Kit provides a whole bunch of different ways to “join the O’Kanes” by buying different promotional items, including coffee mugs. A bunch of Twitter users who enjoyed the book have switched their profile photos to pictures of themselves drinking from their O’Kane mug. Kit will also send out free cover flats, stickers, and temporary tattoos to people who fill out the form online.

Closely linked to the book, cute, participatory, and effective! This swag wins all the points.

I also like swag that lasts and reminds me of a particular author, rather than a particular book. When I met historical romance author Courtney Milan at RWA, she handed me a shot glass etched with her name and the words. “Yes. It’s that kind of conference.” I often use the glass to carry half-and-half back to my office to put in my tea (don’t ask), and I always think of Courtney and smile. That’s good swag!


For my part, I’ve got postcards for the Camelot series, and I’ve been working on mini composition notebooks (because everybody likes notebooks — and also, cute!) and tins of breath mints. And I’ll admit, it’s a lot more fun than it should be, playing around with sticker design and buying notebooks on the Internet!

Possibly I am procrastinating. Just possibly.

But all that said, I have to admit, I’m not a very acquisitive person, and when I see a whole room full of swag, I kind of want to back away. All that stuff! I’ll take a pen or a mini chocolate bar, but I’m not all that personally invested in acquiring things from my favorite authors.

Which leaves me wondering, what do you guys think of swag? Do you like it? Do you covet particularly good examples of swag when you see them mentioned online, or are you more, “Meh, I just like the books. Go away, obnoxious author”? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Three random commenters will win a little package of swag — and a book or two from my closet o’ freebies.

Comment by midnight CST on Thursday, February 21. On Friday, February 22, I’ll choose three random commenters to win. Please include your email address in the body of your comment so I can contact you if you win. Winners will also be announced here in the comments.

Ruthie Knox can be found at her website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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