Good morning, Misfiteers!!!
Since my debut novel, ONE, comes out in a little less than five weeks (!!!) I've just moved into marketing high-gear. My brain is whirring with ways to spread the word to more and more people. Naturally, I've been thinking quite a lot about the most fun part of marketing - SWAG.
Back in the day, "SWAG" stood for "Stuff We All Get." In other words, swag is a physical representation of your association with a product, team, or universe. Swag can be a bumper sticker, a t-shirt, or a pen.
So, when you have a gorgeous cover like I do, it's kind of a knee-jerk reaction to slap that thing on anything you can possibly think of and then use it for giveaways because DUH EVERYONE WANTS IT.
|Yeah, okay. Mugs are cool.|
|Um....to cuddle with?|
|Well, I don't really know if that's....|
|Okay, seriously now. Stop.|
Then I calm down, remember my book is not the center of the universe and that most people don't want its cover on ALL THEIR THINGS, and think about what I as a reader like to see in swag.
I think we can all agree that one of the most awesome things about books is that they let you live in a different world for just a bit, yes? If the world is really awesome, you want to live in it, too.
So: I think the best swag is the kind that lets you believe you live in the world of the book (when you're being dreamy) and shows that you are in the book's in-crowd (when you're not.)
This is one of my favorite pieces of THE HUNGER GAMES swag. Yeah, I'm a career tribute. I'm buff and ruthless. And probably hot. And I would definitely have one of these shirts.
(and for the same reason, I didn't really want a t-shirt that said "District 12." The District 12 kids only wear, like, sackcloth. They're way too poor - and terrified - for a custom t-shirt.)
Other, less self-absorbed people love this simple, beautiful piece of THE HUNGER GAMES swag - a mockingjay pin. They love what it represents, and, brilliantly, the pin itself is featured on the book's cover. Awesome marketing without being annoying.
I've never seen a more fangirl-geeky-yet-also-coveted-and-awesome piece of swag than the Harry Potter magic wand. Jo Rowling painted such a gorgeous picture of a wand's meaning to each individual witch and wizard that it's fun to imagine what kind of wand we would have, were we not pathetic sad Muggles.
For that reason, it's even fun to engage in the same process of getting the swag, like letting a one-of-a-kind wand from a trusted American wandmakers like Colevanders choose you (yes, even if it is online. Unfortunately we are just Muggles.)
|My kids with their Colevanders training wands.|
So that's why, as much as *I* love my cover, I really think my readers would rather have something like this Biotech Hub coffee mug. Don't you?
|Yes, it says "since 2039." I'm in love.|
Tangentially related swag is less effective from a book marketer's perspective, but still insanely cool. The best example I can think of is the Hunger Games nail polish.
|My favorite is "Cinna."|
What it all boils down to is this: If I really love a book, I'm far less interested in promoting the book than I am becoming part of the book's world.
So if you're an author, I challenge you to think about how you can create awesome swag for your book WHILE STILL working in vital information about the book, so that you can still help spread the word. Your street team members will appreciate not looking like completely geeky fanboys and girls, too.