Bookmarks and Other Swag

I’m sitting in my favorite chair (the one that kills my back when I get up), thinking about what I should write about today. Capt. Mark is busy at his computer, happily designing bookmarks for me to take to a convention in May.

I am not being productive. He is.

I’m not sure why bookmarks are popular. A lot of people read on electronic devices. When you turn it off, it remembers where you are and takes you right to that page again when you turn it back on. If I read a paperback book I dog-ear the page. Hardbacks usually get more deference. I will use a bookmark in an expensive book to mark my progress.

Bookmarks, distributed widely at writers’ conventions, have become an advertising tool. Instead of a business card, authors hand out oblong pieces of cardboard with a picture of their book covers or latest release, and maybe a brief description on the back.

I remember my first bookmarks were for a hard-cover history book I wrote called Orange County, the Golden Promise. My publisher sent me bookmarks to give away at book signings which they arranged. They had clever “did you know” messages on the back, or history questions and answers.

Today, unless you are the likes of Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling, authors arrange their own book signings. And you design and order your own bookmarks.

I attend lots of writers’ events so I have an extensive bookmark collection. My favorite one had tiny little handcuffs attached. Guess which subgenre it advertised? Hint: it isn’t about cops.

For the Romantic Times Convention in Atlanta in May I sent my publisher swag (another name for stuff that advertises one’s books). Entangled Publishing includes swag from all their attending authors in special goody bags they prepare and give away.

My friend Sharon Hamilton has the most creative swag. She writes about sexy Navy SEALs and her swag includes condoms with her latest book title imprinted on the wrapper. She also gives away t-shirts, cloth bags, dog tags, and pens. Some people give away recipe cards or Bandaid containers. Tiny sewing kits are popular. And little bags of candy.

My swag is limited to pencils (sharpened this year) with the name of one of my books on each one and bags of three Hershey’s kisses and a reusable plastic wine cork tied to a hole in my business card. Not terribly creative, but heck, my books are set in the wine country and my first book has kiss in the title. I don’t know what I’ll do when my historical novel is published. Maybe I can get a garter with the name of my book on it.

My page is no longer blank and the added bonus is I’ve been thinking about swag. What else might I do that’s different (and cheap)? I guess I’ve been productive after all.

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