Should you create swag for your upcoming book release?

People love free stuff. On that, we can all agree. But do you need to have bookish swag? Of course not!

But offering unique and creative swag items can make an author stand out in a crowded market. Items that tie into the book’s themes, characters, or setting can also intrigue potential readers and make the author’s work more memorable.

Bookish swag can serve as a tangible representation of an author’s brand, increasing visibility and recognition among readers. Items with an author’s logo can also help reinforce the author’s presence in readers’ minds.

Ultimately, book swag serves as a marketing tool to promote both a book and its author. When readers use or display swag items, they become essentially walking advertisements, spreading awareness of an author and their work to a wider audience.

How can authors use swag?

In addition to ARC mailings, bookish swag can be utilized in a number of ways. Keeping swag on hand can be great for authors who have mailing lists and want to offer some freebies to readers who sign up for their newsletter. 

Many authors also like to conduct pre-order campaigns, and having swag to send to thank people who pre-order can be essential. Including book swag as part of a book purchase, whether through pre-orders or special promotions, can incentivize readers to buy the book. People often appreciate receiving additional value for their purchase, making them more likely to support the author’s work.

Keeping swag in bulk can also be great to bring with you when visiting with groups, libraries and bookstores. Many writers’ conferences also typically have tables where authors can donate their swag; this option is great to learn about other writers in your genre and connect with comparable authors.

Steps for creating swag

Creating bookish swag can be a fun and rewarding process for authors. Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Define your brand: Before creating any swag items, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your author brand. Consider your genre, writing style, themes, and target audience. Your swag should reflect these aspects of your brand to ensure consistency and authenticity.
  2. Brainstorm ideas: Think creatively about what types of swag would resonate with your readers and tie into your book or brand. Consider practical items like bookmarks, tote bags, or mugs, as well as more unique or thematic items that relate directly to your book’s characters, setting, or themes. Keep reading to see more ideas!
  3. Budget accordingly: Determine your budget for creating and purchasing bookish swag items. Factor in the cost of design, production, packaging, and shipping, as well as any additional expenses such as marketing or distribution.
  4. Design your swag: Once you have some ideas, work on designing the swag items. If you have graphic design skills, you can create the designs yourself using software like Adobe Photoshop or Canva. Alternatively, you can hire a professional designer to bring your ideas to life. Books Forward is happy to work with you to design swag for your upcoming book release!
  5. Source suppliers: Research suppliers or manufacturers who can produce your swag items. Look for companies that offer quality products at affordable prices and have experience working with authors or small businesses. Consider factors like minimum order quantities, production time, and shipping costs.
  6. Order and distribute that swag: Order samples if possible, then plan how you will promote and distribute items to your readers. Consider offering them as incentives for pre-orders, giveaways at book signings or events, or as bonuses for joining your mailing list or reader group. You can also sell some things directly through your website or online store.

Ideas for printed bookish swag

  • Bookplates: You can sign and also leave a personalized note for readers
  • Bookmarks: If we’re being honest, you can never really have too many bookmarks.
  • Stickers: If you have a book that lends itself to fun art — graphic novels, fantasy, children’s books — consider stickers as a fun and easy way to 
  • Pins/buttons: They’re slightly more expensive, but pins and buttons can be a good alternative if you want to take a step up from stickers.
  • Mailer boxes: If you have a few things to include with a book, you can also design a special mailer box to ship everything. These will definitely set your box aside from a normal brown, cardboard box!
  • Postcards: These are great because in addition to being used as swag, you can also mail these out to bookstores and libraries to alert them of your new book.
  • Pens: If you have an author/series logo, pens are a perfect, small item to display that.
  • Tote bags/hats: If you have a larger budget, you can look at having fabric-based swag like a fun hat or a bookish tote (just like bookmarks, can you ever really have too many tote bags?).

Get creative with your bookish swag

Below are some examples of swag Books Forward authors have utilized!

If you’re on the fence about bookish swag, really sit back and consider how it can best serve your author brand and your goals for marketing your book. Overall, bookish swag can be a valuable tool for authors to enhance their brand, engage with readers, and promote their work effectively in a competitive market. It can be a great option to utilize because it serves as souvenirs and memorabilia for readers, reminding them of their reading experience and creating a lasting connection to a book and its author.