Today we’re going to talk about something that’s just as important to successful writers as proper grammar and strong characterization: making a good first impression. This can be done in many ways, and several of them have nothing to do with the actual quality of your writing.
Now, don’t for a moment think that I’m suggesting your writing should be anything but top notch, and polished until it’s and perfect as you can get it. But let’s face it, the writing isn’t always the first impression someone has of an author. There are many other ways to make contact with new readers, either via a website, social media, personal appearances, or swag.
Yes, swag matters. A lot.
Let me tell you about my husband. He’s a rock star (locally, anyway) which means that we have an abundance of band t-shirts in our house. You know the shirts I’m talking about – they start out black with vibrant designs silk screened onto them. After a few washes, the fabric fades and possibly pills, and the design cracks and flakes off.
Whenever that happens, you know the band settled for the cheap shirts.
What difference does this make? Well, out of sight out of mind, for one; the main purpose of swag is so people have a handy little reminder of who you are, and what you do. And if your swag disintegrates or looks sub-par after regular use or wear, that doesn’t leave the best impression.
Sometimes we hit the nail on the head, and get swag that is both well designed and long-lasting. I worked at a liquor store over ten years ago, and one of the sales representatives gave me a Magic Hat shirt. I’ve been wearing that shirt almost weekly since then, and while the design is faded it’s still legible. Even better, the fabric hasn’t shrunk or thinned out to nothing. In short, Magic Hat sprung for the good shirts.
What does this mean for us authors? First and foremost, swag should be well designed. If you know your way around graphic design programs there’s nothing wrong with designing things yourself. There’s also nothing wrong with hiring someone who knows what they’re doing—remember, you can reuse the same designs again and again, so consider that in your cost benefit analysis. As for printing, if you don’t have a nearby print shop a quick internet search will reveal a plethora of online retailers.
Don’t be the author with the home-printed bookmarks and crooked logo. Trust me on this.
By being choosy about our swag—and making it as professional-looking as possible—you strengthen your brand and appeal to a wider audience. There are all sorts of articles out there advising authors how to strengthen their brand, and professional, well-designed swag is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.
What do you think about swag? Love it, hate it, or collect it? Tell me in the comments below!