Author SWAG!!!!

AUTHOR SWAG - SERIOUS BUSINESS

Everyone needs swag. Authors who attend conventions need LOTS of swag. So what do I take to comicons all around the country? Check it out:

CincyCon 2016

The general set-up looks like this. Market research shows people don't look down, they look across (hence the good cereal is on a top shelf while the generics are down below) so I use a book rack to get my image up to eye level. Also, use a tablecloth! It costs like $6 (Wal-Mart) and looks waaay better than the booth to my right and left. Those dangling white posters are price lists. The image poster is info on my pre-order, which is also seen on the left side. Why have stuff down there? Where I'm standing to take the picture there are a bunch of tables for people to game. Those hanging posters market constantly to people seated at the tables, right at eye level. 

Bookmarks!

 

My first bookmark. These are good, but not great. The font isn't wonderful. The biggest issue is my lack of website. I didn't have this website at the time, so I had no url to post on my bookmark. I originally ordered 1000 of these for about $50 (UPrinting) and gave them all out in less than a year.

My second bookmark. This one (obviously) promotes my horror novel For We Are Many. Again, it came out before I had this website, so I have no url on it. That's a mistake. Also, it doesn't even say Amazon.com or any other retailer. Oh well. The art is great an the bookmark is striking - it works well enough. I ordered 2000 (about $70) of these bookmarks and have handed about roughly 60% of them in 2 years.

These are the best bookmarks I have. They promo the entire Goblin Wars series and mention Amazon, B&N, and this website. These are the real deal. Striking art, good font (especially color), and all the right info. I ordered 5000 of these for about $100 and have given out maybe 200 in the past 3 weeks since I received them. I plan on giving out all 5000 in 2 years or less. 

The business card. Simple, elegant, accessible. Perfect to hand out on the fly since you can't put bookmarks in your wallet. I ordered 3000 of these for about $65 I think. 

2" x 2" stickers. These are great to hand out at conventions because people will put them on notebooks, laptops, etc. which serve as free advertisements for my brand. 500 of these cost about $35.

Once you have all your swag under control, check out the Marketing Series for tips and tricks on picking the right conventions and selling!

Have your own author swag? Post it in the comments!

Some humble advice for convention organizers...

Conventions!

For many indie authors, conventions are our lifeblood. Without selling our books at local comicons and other such events, we wouldn't be making enough money to keep producing books.

As an author and huge fan of conventions, I've been to tons of them. Some massive, some tiny, some new, some established, and everything in between. I've pretty much seen it all.

But one thing has been a constant of many conventions, especially the smaller ones, which makes little sense:

TOO MUCH PROGRAMMING

What do I mean? Too many panels, too many discussions, too many contests, movie screenings, gaming hours, celebrity meet & greets, etc.

But Stu, isn't that why many fans go to conventions? Why of course it is. The programming brings in fans from around the country. Especially the celebrity stuff.

So why limit it? Well, we don't need to cut it back much. But here are some of the complaints I've made and heard over the years of attending conventions:

  • Panels with large interest overlapping (common concern at big conventions)
  • Panels drawing 0 audience members because other panels take it all at the same time
  • People waiting in line for hours to get an autograph and missing programming
  • Vendors complaining about people always being consumed by programming and not making it to the vendor hall. This is a huge complaint.

A few conventions I have attended have also had poor floor plans. Hosting all of the panels / contests, etc in a room adjacent to the vendor hall means many people never even see the vendor hall. That's an issue.

How do we fix it? I have an idea I've tossed around to a few vendors and organizers over the years: make a vendor hour an event in the programming.

Make from 7pm - 8pm (or whenever, just not in the morning) a vendor hall hour. No programming, no contests, no dances (yes, some conventions have dances), no celebrity sessions, no screenings, nothing but vendor hall time for an hour. 

Vendors could offer promotions during that time, sales, free stuff with purchases, all that jazz. It gets people to enter the vendor hall, probably spend some money, and see things they might not otherwise see if their day is full of programming. It also lets people grab some dinner (depending on timing) which is never a bad thing.

Just some food for thought.