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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had my occasional "virtual assistant" come to her first reader/writer con with me last weekend (Lori Foster's reader-author get-together in Cincinnati. About 150 authors and 250 readers/book bloggers attended) and asked her for her impressions of the event, what worked in her opinion and what didn't. She took her swag bag (a very nice black 7 purple canvas tote from Samhain Publishing) to her friend's house to "focus group" the stuff. Here's what she told me:

1. Snarky/rude authors don't work. She was attempting to chat with someone in a very long registration line who was short with her, seemed offended that she asked if the other person were an author or a reader. "I'm a writer," the woman sniffed, and turned away. Probably a good thing she didn't have a nametag because neither Laura nor her friends would buy those books.)

2. Bookmarks and postcards with kerned corners are better than those with sharp corners (the others get dog-eared).

3. They loved practical giveaway items that you can use and last longer. She said they especially liked magnets with the year's calendar printed on them. My coasters were a hit too (thank goodness, because I bought a boatload of them). Her mom said, "You wouldn't throw this away." They also liked the doorknob "do not disturb" hangers produced by Earthly Charms.  Author Virna de Paul put her business card and romance trading cards down the pocket of a purse calendar. They loved that.

4. They didn't like stuff that was too heavily packaged/bundled (i.e. baggies full of cover flats, candy, pens all packed together.)

5. They weren't impressed with the Romance Trading Cards. "What do you do with them?" was the general question. They felt that if they'd had a 10% off coupon on something they'd have hung it on the fridge to use it. (Well, day-ang. I bought a boatload of those, too!)

6. Swag with more erotic covers made them nervous. They wouldn't display the fridge magnets, for example, in their home.


So that's the (completely unscientific) word from the woman on the street!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Delilah - I love that idea! I bet it could be as simple as a large Avery label pasted on the non-pull side. Virna's calendar was homemade (she just tucked the things down the plastic) and they loved it. For something like tissue you put in your purse, it's printer ink, bulk kleenex and labor. And it gets around the "No menage on my fridge" issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Delilah,
I found these on Amazon at 20c a pop: Classic Pocket Tissue, 8 Count Value Pack, 192-Tissue (Pack of 24)

It's too late for me and RWA National, but next time I do a regional con, I just might try this... I'd buy large Avery labels, print the cover on top, wrap around to my URL (upside down) up the front half to cover their logo but not the tissue slit.

Great idea.
 

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I've used this site before for personalized tins of lipbalm (author name and website) and I really liked them.
http://www.beau-coup.com/personalized-wedding-favors.htm

I hear the cheaper paper promo items like bookmarks and cover flats don't seem to go over so well so I steer away from them these days. I also read somewhere candy isn't a great idea because, while everybody takes one, they quickly throw away the wrapper and forget about it. But people like the creative things they can keep and use. Unfortunately I can't usually afford those things. LOL Even the personalized tins for mints and lipbalm that I thought were so clever only had a spot for text, no book covers. :-\
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You're welcome!

There is indeed an inverse relationship between the durability of the product,  Nit seems, and the price. When I looked to see what personalized tissues went for out in the ether, for example, it was 60c a pack (for 5K packs). At some point, you eat up all of your income on the promo pieces.

Thanks for the lip balm link!

I hear conflicting things about bookmarks - too many, too much vs. people really love them.  I'm also thinking about getting my stuff beyond the ueber-readers (the bloggers and passionate readers who come to cons) and out to those who don't. MOST people will never set foot in a book conference--for them, an autographed bookmark is rarer, more special.

I also asked Laura if the autographs made a difference and she said her friends weren't particularly impressed. I think it might matter if you're, you know, a big name. But I'm not, so the reaction is "so what?" Which means I can save myself some effort and time...
 

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Thanks for sharing all this.  I like the idea of using a label to personalize items, because sometimes you can find cute things really cheap at the end of the season that could be personalized.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That was an "it" in my previous post, not a "nit." Nits are free ;-)

Yeah--a clearance rack and some sticker paper can mean wonders. But I have seen that sometimes where it really looked unprofessional, too. So it's something to be careful about.
 

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Thanks so much for sharing these ideas.  I've tried bookmarks, hats, pens, coffee mugs, keychain, and a few other things.  I did a book signing at a used book store and gave away some of these items as door prizes.  The people who won weren't interested in coming back and retrieving this prizes!  Very disappointing. 

I do like the idea of the tissues.  This is something a person could fix and just have out on the table.

Again thanks for the suggestions!
 
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