One question that will face an new author is whether or not to buy swag. When my first book released, I must admit I went a bit swag crazy. If I could put my book cover on something, I did. I had canvas bags, mugs, pens, notebooks, business cards, banners, yard signs, magnets, posters, book marks, buttons, mouse pads, post cards, and t-shirts. But after the initial overwhelming excitement wore off, I realized that swag can be expensive.
Mostly, I wanted swag to hand out to children at events as well as informative materials for the adults, so it wasn't long before I realized I didn't need coffee mugs. After all, most parents don't care about drinking coffee from a cup with a beautiful chicken in a pink dress, and most kids are not drinking coffee at all. At least, I hope not.
So after a bit of thinking on my part about what swag would be useful in accomplishing my above mentioned goals, I narrowed it down to four items I use regularly.
Business Cards: Business cards are one of the first things adults grab from my table. Sometimes because they aren't purchasing a book immediately and want to remember what I had to offer, and sometimes to pass on to someone else they think might be interested. Either way, business cards are my go to ancillary items. They are also great to offer people when you are away from home and don't have books with you for sale. I always keep a few in my purse.
Book Marks: Book Marks go with books. When I sign a book for someone I always place a book mark inside before handing it back to the purchaser. I also make sure I have plenty on hand at book events where children will be attending. There is nothing sadder to me then children leaving a book fair empty handed because they didn't have any money. This is why I often sign the markers before handing them out. A child's smile is definitely reimbursement enough for this type of swag.
Magnets: Besides business cards, I also like to buy magnets. Not only are they great items for the children to snatch of off the table, they are also less likely to be thrown out then a business card. And as they hold a child's latest and greatest art work tightly to the fridge, they are a constant reminder of my books. I would like to think that when friends and relatives visit and see my magnet prominently displayed on their loved ones fridge, they say, "Isn't that cute," which of course leads to dialogue about my books.
And last but not least,
Buttons: Not the kind that fall off of your favorite shirt, but the kind you pin on your favorite hoodie, shirt, or fishing cap. Kids love most free items, but they really seem to love buttons. I actually had a grandmother call me at my home once to say that a character button I had given her granddaughter had caused her to go from a reluctant reader to a confident reader. Apparently the young girl wanted to know more about the character on her button, so she read my first book in it's entirely, something she had never done before. She then went to school and showed the button to her classmates, told them about the book, and shared how she met me, the author. And that my friends, is what makes being a children's author worthwhile!
Aileen Stewart is the author of the Fern Valley Series which are chapter style books consisting of twelve short stories each as well as the up and coming picture book series, Quack and Daisy. She is a member of the SCBWI, a children's book reviewer at, Aileen's Thoughts, and a host of writing workshops for children in first to sixth grade.