I recently attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference in San Antonia, TX. How awesome is that? Pretty great in my opinion because there a beginner such as myself can easily blend and mingle with the greats. I rubbed shoulders with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Heather Graham, Catherine Coulter, and even Nora Roberts! Yikes, I so fan girled on a lot of women that inspired me to write in the first place. Although I have yet to publish my book, I’m still counted as one of the group.
RWA sets aside a room at the conference for authors to leave swag/goodies. Items such as bookmarks, candy, calling cards, and things that attract someone to notice their publications. The most memorable swag I picked up was cozies, stress balls, and condoms. Yes, you read that right. Of all those thousands of items I picked up (including the ones mentioned), I can’t tell you who any of those authors are past the items that caught my attention. So, “Who gave out the condoms?” you ask… I couldn’t tell you who they were or what they wrote because I don’t remember. How sad is that? It’s probably only sad on my part for taking the item offered.
This brings me to my point. In looking around that room full of items that authors spent a lot of money and time to purchase, I started to question the real benefit. Does swag sell books? None of the greats that I mentioned in the first paragraph had anything in that room. Only other authors were “shopping” in that room. So how does swag get out to the general public where the bulk of the readers are? What’s the purpose if only other authors see the swag?
Alright, let me say this again, “I’m unpublished.” BUT, I’m an avid reader and the swag did not sway me to want to purchase any of those books. What sways me to read someone’s book is reviews. Would it be more beneficial for authors to give gift cards to purchase their book with a requested honest review as the only return? Or would it be more beneficial to spend the money and hire a freelance editor to help ensure the story is the best it can be? Maybe hire a publicist to place adds in magazines or build and promote a website? In my humble opinion (which you know what they say about opinions) any of those suggested would be more beneficial than spending money on swag.
Respond to this post with your opinions, leave me a way to contact you (email preferred), and one lucky person will receive a free box of books loaded with swag. The books are: Avenge Me by Maisey Yates; Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews; Expose Me by Kate Hewitt; Atonement by B.J. Daniels; and Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker.
Philisha Byrd Stephens