Christina Farley On Creating Swag That Works

Most authors will agree that the creative part of the job is where we excel, the business and marketing side, slightly less. It’s lovely when the two can meet in the form of SWAG – Shit We All Generate. I’ve invited some published authors to share with us their secret to swag… little freebies that can sell a book longer after the author is no longer standing in front of a prospective reader. In order to create great swag, you have to be crafty – in more ways than one.

Today's guest for the SWAG is Christina Farley, who became an author because "write a book," was on her bucket list. She did, and - it was awful. But a very strange thing happened. She realized she liked writing, and after much perseverance her GILDED series was released from Skyscape. Her newest release THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE is a mystical adventure about a pulls-no-punches princess and the power of her magical pen, releasing March 28 from Scholastic.

Finding something that represents your book and hasn’t been played out by a million authors before is difficult. What’s your swag?

For the swag for THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE, I wanted to portray that whimsical, fairy tale feel as well as highlight on the theme of the power of writing.

First and foremost, I had bookmarks created. The great thing about bookmarks is that they are useful advertisement. After all, aren’t we all always in need of a bookmark? To give the bookmarks their own special bling, I ordered castle charms and attached the charms to the bookmarks with ribbon. I ordered my bookmarks through GotPrint which has great prices. The charms cost around 10 cents apiece.

I also decided to offer a pre-order giveaway as well as a book launch gift for everyone who purchased a copy of my book. The giveaway was a special swag pack that I named the Word Weaver Pack (a term used in the book). This included a poster, the castle charm bookmark, sticker, and of course a pen! I chose a crystal stylus pen, which I felt was versatile and gorgeous. The cost for each pen came out to 38 cents apiece.

An extra bonus for those who pre-ordered my book, I collected a whole basket full of my favorite fairy tale and French themed items. One lucky winner will get the basket which included a Loire Valley castle book, French purse, Eiffel Tower scarf, Eiffel Tower bracelet, Thomas Kincaid fairy tale calendar, Paris notebook, Paris pillow, and a Happily Ever After mug.


Do you find that swag helps you stand out at an event? (or) Does your swag draw people to your table at an event or conference?

I don’t think that having special swag at a table at an event draws people. But I always give a poster to every person who purchases my book and that has encouraged them to buy the book once they’ve stopped at the table.

When I hold a book launch, I always offer a special gift or prize to those who came to the party. I feel that has been a very effective tool and this has helped draw people to my past events.

What do you think of big item swag pieces versus cheaper, yet more easily discarded swag like bookmarks?

Bookmarks are a must-have I feel like for an author. They’re not only a great advertisement, but they can be useful. It’s great for kids at school events who can’t afford your book but still want to get your autograph. For other swag items, I would only use them for a specific purpose such as a draw to an event or to order a copy of a book.

What’s the most clever / best swag by another author?

I love the candles designed to match the book. There are some Itsy candle shops that offer this surface, but it’s not cheap!

And the biggest question – do you think swag helps sell books?

I think if used effectively—definitely. The key is to make sure that the swag is targeted to the book’s buyer and/or the event you are hosting. Also, really consider the costs. Is what you are giving away cost effective? My biggest advice is to have fun with your swag because it can be a fun way to celebrate all the hard work you’ve put into your book.