I've ordered loads of bookmarks, magnets, pens, posters, cover flats -- you name it. But when it comes down to it, how is an author to judge what works best? How much time and money should you spend?
After attending many conferences and picking up everything from homemade sachets to beaded bookmarks and business cards, I've learned a few things. At a recent conference, I saw one attendee standing next to a trash can throwing away a ton of bookmarks, cover flats, business cards and postcards. What do all these items have in common? They are all paper and with the exception of the bookmarks, they have no lasting value to the receiver. And frankly, with the number of bookmarks given out at conferences and signings, most end up in the trash.
What I've noticed people keep are the durable, useful items -- the pens, the small bottles of hand sanitizer, the nail files.
All swag is not created equal. In my humble opinion, the very best promo items are those the receiver feels they get some value from. They will keep that pen in their purse and see your name over and over, every time they use it. Same with the notepad with your website on the top or the conference totebag with your book cover. The magnet very well might end up on their fridge, where they will see it over and over.
What about you? What promo items have you kept around? Which ones do you think work best for you?