Conventions, conferences, walking down the street…if you are in business for yourself (as all writers are) then you need junk to hand people when they ask who you are and what you do. So, with our biggest convention of the year less than three weeks away, it is time to make sure my swag is ready to go.
Last night First Draught sat down and did a quick 40 minute rundown on last year’s conference in Atlanta, what we got out of it, and why we’re returning to San Antonio this year. There is a hilarious giggling fit at the very end you simply cannot miss. You can check it out here:
So, what are the must have items to take with you? Business cards of course! The more unique to you, the better. They are your calling card. When people try to remember your name and what you do hours or days later, you want something that left an impression. It can be anything from colors to the material of the card.
My card printer of choice is Moo. They make a really high quality card that feels different to the touch and stands out in a stack of cards. And you can print different images on one side (meaning for an author, you can make one business card, but put a different book cover on each one). Here are my cards from this year (top) and last year (bottom).
This year I have all three of my book covers on one side and my contact info and a picture on the other. One thing to keep in mind at massive conferences like RWA is that there are a lot of people. Your picture can help them remember who you are versus the other two hundred people they met that day. Also include your Twitter handle since so many writers live and die by the Tweets. Many attendees will sit in their room at night and go through their stack of cards “liking” and “following” everyone they met that day, then toss the cards. If you don’t have that info on your card, you may get passed over.
Last year I didn’t have any books out. So I picked sayings and meme’s that exemplified the type of stories I was writing. I included a saying and my contact info on the back. It worked out well. So no matter what stage of your writing career, get some cards and make them stand out!
Other options to consider (especially if you have books to promote!) are bookmarks, rack cards, lip balm, USB sticks, bags, nail files, makeup bags, key chains, and luggage tags. Keep in mind that most people are flying in to this conference and don’t want large or junkie things to lug back home. If you are going to spend money on swag, make it count. I couldn’t zip my luggage last year and left a pile of swag behind on my hotel bed.
The only things that made the trip home with me were the things I loved. Like this amazing lip balm I kept all year. I liked it so much that I ordered some for me this year from WithLogos.com!
In the past I’ve ordered bookmarks from Next Day Flyers and business cards (that I use as info cards) from Uprinting.com. I also plan on ordering foam posterboards of my covers from Uprinting for my reader-cons and signings later this year. I need/want to order rack cards for the signing at RWA but I haven’t made up my mind what I want them to look like yet.
One last thing to think about. You can hire someone to design all of this stuff for you or you can design it yourself. The trick to the DIY is being able to create the images in the correct dimensions. You can use something like Powerpoint (which is how I created the back of my current business cards that have my picture on them) by going into the slide size and adjusting it to the size specifications of the cards you are making. The dimensions and bleeds will be in the information for every card you are designing, regardless of the website. You can also use Paint to resize existing images (like book covers) to the correct dimensions.
Another amazing option is Canva. Click on the “Use Custom Dimensions” in the top right corner and plug in size of the card you are creating, then start designing! They also have pre-made templates for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, business cards, promotional items, and even book covers! If you haven’t checked on Canva yet, do it! They are invaluable!
What other options are out there, guys? What else can we recommend to future conference goers? Let’s do this!