Heading to a Writers’ Conference? 5 Must-Have Items for an Author to Pass Out

We’ve all heard the fairy tale story of the likes of J.K. Rowling, whose books made her rich beyond her dreams. Most authors struggle to not only to write their books while still holding down a job, but also to spread the word about their writing. Whether you’re self-publishing or opting for indie or traditional publishers, much of the marketing still falls to you. If you’re going to a writers’ conference, prepare ahead of time and personalize conversation-starters to pass out to other writers, editors, agents, book buyers and readers.
Pensgirl with journal
Order personalized BIC pens online and include information that will draw potential book buyers, agents and editors to your website. Even if most writers these days type at a computer, the pen will forever be a symbol of writing. Few swag items are more appropriate at a writers’ conference, and since they’re so useful and durable everyone who takes one is going to think of your name and website when they pick up their pens.

Tote Bags
You won’t be the only one giving out swag. The attendees will be getting tons of goods and books — so many, they may not be able to carry everything, even if they planned ahead and brought a bag. Pass out tote bags with your name, website information, and, if you have a book release soon, the title of your book. Those who accept the bag will be grateful to have something to carry everyone else is offerings in, and people will be seeing your name on these bags and perhaps rush your table for their own.
Bookmarks
Give out a book, slip in a bookmark. Offer free signed bookmarks even if you can’t give your books away. Bookmarks are definitely useful to the crowd gathered at writers’ conferences, and even if they don’t immediately read your book, they’re going to remember the book every time they see your bookmark. Bookmarks are affordable and easy to pack in bulk when heading across the country for a conference, and there’s typically room on a bookmark to include extras like positive review snippets.
Business Cardsbusniess card
The staple of any conference exchange is the business card. Not everyone is up for taking swag — if they take too much, their arms will be loaded down, and professionals such as agents and editors may not be willing to take the more casual swag like bags. Whenever you make a meaningful connection with someone at the conference, give her your business card, even if you also give her some other swag. If she’s interested in contacting you after the conference is over, she’ll file your business card away with all of her important contacts. That’s harder to do with a tote bag or a magnet.
Magnets
A writer at Romance University reports in her experience, there’s too much “paper” swag like bookmarks and business cards at conferences. While you’d be remiss to forget the business cards and bookmarks, you need something to help you stand out. Offer an item of greater quality, something people are less likely to toss even if they get more than one. Pens and bags are useful and are going to take your marketing campaign far, but if there’s one drawback, it’s that you can’t put your book’s cover image on them in detail. Magnets are ideal for book covers, and will prove both useful and decorative for the people who take them.
Every piece of swag should include your name or pen name and make sure you include “author of” the title of your latest or best-selling book. Information about your website and your social media profile links is also welcome. Depending on the size of the item, you might also have room for a book cover image or even a quote from your latest release. Buy these items in bulk ahead of a conference. What ever is left over, you can use as prizes in author giveaways along with copies of your book; this way the swag will prove a useful investment regardless of the conference turnout.

About the Author:

The founder of Gary Austin Advertising, Gary Austin has been in the business of promotional swag for over 25 years.