Last week, one of the writer sites I keep up with, Killzone, had a discussion on freebie/swag tables at conventions. Here’s a link to the blog article by Laura Benedict, and I’ve put my own suggestions down below.
I dealt with and watched over the swag tables at a science fiction convention aimed at readers for many years. A lot is left behind. I still have a big pile of really nice bookmarks from the very first WHEEL OF TIME novel. Must be a collectors item, now.
Some of the things I learned is that those expensive items should be promoting you and your series, not a specific book, unless it’s your first book, so you won’t be wasting money with leftovers. Flat paper of any type, book covers, etc., is never touched unless someone already has an interest in your product.
If you have an expensive promo item, don’t put them all out at once. Stop by once or twice a day early in the conference, restock, and straighten up your goodie pile.
Bring those promo items and business cards to whatever event you speak at and offer them when you are introduced. Have a business card with your book and author info, and also have a business card with your private contact info for when you are networking.
If you want to offer a free short story or book sample, put a QR code on your book mark or whatever. A QR is one of those squares full of blocks that a smartphone can scan for info. Some sites online can generate a code for you. I printed a QR code to my website on my author name sign for when I do joint signings.
As a reader, I’m more likely to be interested in an author from a free book or short story from a site like Bookbub or one of the author collectives than a bookmark so I’m not that enthusiastic about freebie tables. Your taste may vary.