A good friend and I were discussing the pros and cons of swag. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Right? There’s something about it that makes us stand up and want it even if we have no use for it. Authors and publishers use promotional items to help spread the word about upcoming releases. Swag can be bookmarks, postcards, soap, lip balm, pens, etc. It is suppose to remind us about an author or prompt us to look up information regarding a book and/or author.
I’m not a fan of swag I can’t use. I’ll use a pen, but admit it won’t prompt me to research an author. As for postcards, I like the ones you can write a message to someone and drop it off in the mail. A win-win situation for an author since two people and quite possibly the mailer carrier gets to see it. Magnets I won’t say no to since you can always use them, as well as coffee mugs. Even if you don’t end up drinking from it, you can use it to store pens, paper clips, and well just about anything. As for tote bags, I’m on the fence. I’ve attended a lot of academic conferences where they give you a tote upon your registration and I’m not sure what to do with the totes I already have. I like the idea of lip balm, but I admit I have a basket full of balm I never use and just pass it on (unused because used would be gross). I don’t particularly like temp tattoos. I’m not twelve (okay at that age they were so cool) and I’ve been known to pass off any temp tattoos to people I know with children. So don’t look twice if you see a child walking around with a D-Bags tattoo (band from SC Stephen’s Thoughtless series).
In the end, the reason why I’m not a big fan of swag is because I’m not sure what to do with it. I have a ton of bookmarks and while I’m reading forget to use them so they just sit there unused. Mini-flashlights burn themselves out and are useful to carry around when walking at night with the dog (although my phone has a flashlight app so I’ll use that instead). Matchbooks are nice to have. I have a ton of Fangtasia matches from when my sister worked at Atlantic and they had matchbooks made up for the True Blood soundtrack. I admit never bother to use a matchbook when lighting candles and use a candle lighter instead. So where do I keep the swag I do get? In a shoebox.
I will admit to swag envy. Of course when I see what celebrities get, my mouth drops and my heart pines to reach out and go through the swag bag. Then of course there’s the swag haul that makes me wish I had been there. I quickly remind myself, “swag in a box Jess.” I’d rather let all the swag go to someone who really wants it.
Do you like swag? If so, do you have a favorite type and where do you keep it? Authors, what type of swag have you noticed most readers gravitate towards?