Question: What are some great swag or merchandise ideas that I can give away or sell alongside my book?



Author swag and merchandise can be great ways to boost brand awareness and sales.In-person events such as festivals, fairs, signings, and conventions continue to be one of the most effective ways authors can reach readers, because readers love meeting authors face-to-face. These events give authors the opportunity to discuss and share their work, interact with fans, and create meaningful, long-lasting connections. And, of course, sell more books!

One way to stand out at such events is to bring promotional goods that complement your author brand or books. Swag (“stuff we all get”) are typically items an author gives away for free or with the purchase of a book, while merchandise includes items an author sells alongside their book or books. Offering these incentives or opportunities to purchase branded items are great book marketing tools that can deepen your connection with readers and turn them into loyal fans.

How Giving Away Swag Can Benefit Authors

Let’s face it — everyone loves getting free stuff, and it’s even better when that free stuff is from an author that you know and like!

Free promotional goods or swag include low-cost items often made from paper and purchased in bulk.  This can also include some small, non-paper items. While the non-paper items can be more expensive than paper, people hang onto them longer since they often have a practical use and are more durable.

When you have an author booth at a busy event, you can hand a colorful bookmark or postcard to people passing by and ask them what they like to read. This can be a great way to break the ice and entice people to your booth. You can also give something free with purchase or use swag as an incentive when people sign up for your author newsletter. The better the swag, the more readers will feel connected to you and remember you.

Just make sure the swag includes something related to your book such as the title, cover art, quote from your content, or your branding. When doing paper items, you can also include where your book can be purchased, your website URL, your social media handles, or even a QR code that can be scanned. Children’s authors, comic book authors, and graphic novelists can use illustrations from their work to create fun and collectable swag (with the proper permissions*).

Here are some popular author swag ideas:

•  Bookmarks
•  Business cards
Author swag and merchandise can be great ways to boost brand awareness and sales.•  Postcards
•  Stickers
•  Temporary tattoos
•  Coloring pages
•  Door hangers
•  Reusable bags
•  Pens or pencils
•  Keychains
•  Buttons
•  Hand sanitizer
•  Lip balm
•  Branded candy (gum, mints, chocolates)
•  Branded cookies

How Selling Merchandise Can Benefit Authors

There are numerous ways authors can leverage their content, services, or branding to generate additional revenue, and personalized merchandise is a fairly easy one to incorporate. This approach can work really well for authors that have a strong brand, write genre fiction, or write children’s books, comic books, or graphic novels.

If your branding includes an author or company logo, you can print it on a variety of items and sell this merchandise alongside your books at events or even online through a storefront. You can also pull meaningful quotes from your work or use character illustrations to print on items. Authors that write science fiction and fantasy can use elements from their vast worlds to create unique merchandise that readers and fans can’t resist.

Merchandise gives authors a fun opportunity to think outside of the box and expand their brand beyond just the book, while also generating more revenue. As with author swag, be sure the items complement your book and include something that can easily be tied back to you and your work. You’ll want items that readers will be proud to use, wear, or recommend to friends, boosting your brand awareness. You’ll also want to make sure the items are priced to sell, so do your research to see what other authors are charging for similar items.

Here are some popular author merchandise ideas:

•  Enamel pins
•  Posters
Author merchandise can be a great way to generate additional revenue when selling your books in-person or online.•  Trading cards
•  Magnets
•  Stuffed animals
•  Coasters
•  Car decals
•  Personalized stationery or memo pads
•  Drinkware such as mugs or water bottles
•  Apparel such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, or socks
•  Jewelry
•  Candles
•  Figurines
•  Puzzles or games

Swag and Merchandise Resources

When considering purchasing swag or merchandise to share with readers, it’s important to do your research to find good quality items. The lowest cost items are not always best, as cheaper can often mean lower quality. Be sure to request a sample of an item before ordering a large quantity and look at the vendor’s reviews or testimonials. Here is a list of popular promotional goods vendors recommended by our own network of experts, or by those in the publishing industry:

•  Printful
•  GS-JJ
There are many promotional goods vendors authors can use, so do your research to find the best.•  GotPrint
•  Sticker Mule
•  Etsy
•  Poster Ninja
•  Miblart
•  4Imprint
•  Imprint
•  PrintRunner
•  VistaPrint
•  Adco Marketing
•  Uprinting
•  Just Candy
•  Everything Promo
•  Quality Logo Products
•  Discount Mugs
•  Incredible Cookies
•  CustomInk
•  Totally Promotional
•  Spreadshirt

Giving away branded swag and selling personalized merchandise can be effective ways to create excitement for your work while also enhancing your brand awareness and sales. The list of possible items is endless, limited only by your imagination and budget.

*Unless you designed your own book cover and illustrations, always confirm with your designer or illustrator that you have the rights to reproduce any artwork or illustrations on items such as swag and merchandise. This is something to consider ahead of publishing and before entering into a contract with a cover designer, illustrator, or publisher.