I did a swag post on the promotional items I got from GRL so it’s only fitting I compare to the swag bags from Rainbow Con.
I realize that authors put a lot of money into swag items at conventions and I’ll be honest – this concept really baffles me. I don’t understand it. I get that as a reader and convention goer, getting free stuff is cool. Every race I’ve ever done has always given away a bag of free goodies. However, what everyone enters the race to get is always the t-shirt, everything else is usually trashed. I feel like conventions are similar. You want the one good item and the rest is thrown away.
Yet authors spend quite a bit of money on things that are just thrown away, or hopefully recycled. I’m going to say it up front that I wish authors would pool together and do something more in line with one bigger ticket item that draws people in than all these smaller items that get trashed.
Ideas off the top of my head:
– Andrew Grey mentioned getting sponsored lanyards. YES PLEASE! We really needed them for the convention ids and I’d actually use them after the convention for a variety of reasons. Even obnoxious ones because I realize asking for tasteful items just isn’t going to happen, ever. So I’d use glaring rainbow colored lanyards too.
– A reusable bag that doesn’t have a naked person it. GRL gave these really great messenger type bags that were definitely something I’d use again (except the logo was a little bit too much for me) but the concept was spot on. Likewise reusable bags can always be used. Putting naked torsos on them is just going to get them trashed because while some people will announce their reading tastes, a lot more won’t. Putting a tasteful website url will get the point across too.
– t -shirt. While I personally need no more t-shirts (especially cheap cotton ones) I know a lot of people would be on board with a convention t-shirt that had sponsors or author names on the back who contributed. Plus if authors were to sign it people could give them away on blog giveaways. Even if someone gets rid of the shirt to Goodwill or the Salvation Army (ha!) then it still spreads the author message.
Now onto the swag that we got.
It was a bag full of stuff, but once again I’d say 80% of the swag were book cards promoting author new releases and some back titles. Let me tell you – I kept none of these.
I picked up 3 cards from the unmanned swag table – which by the way was an inspired idea! – and kept those to remember the name of the books I wanted to read. Except I got rid of them once I heard the books mentioned in various panels and wrote them down. So really the cards did nothing for me as a reader. I would have read these books anyway. I thought maybe I’d use them as bookmarks but I actually picked up some better bookmarks so the cards are getting recycled – or given away.
Then there was just.. junk. I’m not sure what else to call it. I think the ideas for the swag are good but in practice unless the person is a hoarder, there simply is no need for this stuff. It’s not practical, helpful, or in any way decorative. So what do you do with stuff like this?
And a more spread out look –
You can see there are rainbow wrist bands (again cool but who will really wear them? I’m honestly curious), crayons for the pictures we were given (cool idea but sadly not something I’d bother with), pens (trash. trash. trash), keychains (decent idea but unless I love the book cover for me that’s no), condoms (now THOSE I’m keeping), lube (heh), pins, mints, and random stuff I still have no idea what it was.
This is what I actually kept and every single thing I kept had a purpose.
I actually hunted SMP down to get the little black bag. They’d sent me one years ago after GRL and I used that cloth bag as a lunch bag for YEARS before it finally wore out. It’s the perfect size and understated enough that I loved it. I even fished it out the trash once to save it. I’m using it as I write this. The Sara Alva bag was a great size and shape. I’ll definitely use that one.
I kept the illustrated comic “The 7th of London” – very cool!
Tissue packets. I’ll always use travel size tissue packs.
Condoms, those I can give out to my friends!
The little keychain flashlight
A single pen that was kind of cool and a hand sanitizer pump.
4 bookmarks that I really liked and one small card because I adore that cover
And one laminated card that I just really liked. I need to find a use for it but it’s the one thing I just liked.
Out of all the swag on tables and in our bags, this is what I kept. The rest I will either recycle or try to do a giveaway if people are interested.
I keep saying that I wish authors wouldn’t use their hard earned money on things that just get thrown away, though I know there is pressure to market yourself and books in a way that people remember. I personally would have kept magnets if they were given, keychains of any Augusta Li cover (soooo pretty *touches*), and anything practical and useful. I try not to be a hoarder and so I don’t want a drawer full of book cards that I’ll never look at again. Or pens when I have 10,000 in my house, car, and office and never can find the ones I love anyway.
I would also keep discounts for books or free downloads. I’ll remember authors that involve me in some way, such as the cookie lady! Anastasia Vitsky who had an interactive table. I remembered her more for her cookies, pleasant manner, and fun table than any of her swag.
I’m curious though – what do you want to see as far as conference swag?