Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Swag-alicious, I Am Not

This is my first real post for 7 Criminal Minds, if you don't count my introductory hello last time. And, as fate would have it, the first question is one I am doomed to fail at.

Swag. What do you do for swag, what works, how much do you spend....blech. I am going to fall flat on my face here, folks.

Actually, marketing in general is my weak point. You know how for some writers, it's dialogue, or description, or plotting, or whatever? Well, mine is probably scene description [Beyond a general description, I tend to let the reader figure it out from what the characters say and do... which some people hate, by the way], which is why Cathy Ace's May Day post was of particular interest to me.

So scene description, but also marketing.

I suck at it.

I'm good at book events -- a reading, Q&A, mingle with readers or other writers, all good. Same with panels at conferences. Sometimes I can even kill it at those things. But when it comes to marketing, I'm definitely minor league.

That definitely includes swag.

How bad am I? Well, for starters, all of my existing Frank Zafiro swag is in the left drawer of my writing desk. If that sounds impressive at all, cool your jets, because it's not. The drawer isn't even that big, so we're off to bad start. And there's not much in this not so big drawer that can be stretched into calling swag, so we're even worse off.

The box on top? Yeah, those are my business cards, courtesy of Vista Print.

Don't make fun. You use Vista Print, too. Or you lie about it.

I'm actually okay with the biz cards, though I don't think they count as swag, do they? Maybe they should, since they do the same thing swag is supposed to do, which is tell someone about you and your work. My cards do that. And yes, I could have scanned them for a nicer image, but tell me this -- is it really worth it to make a point in a blog post?

I suppose a business card doesn't give the person receiving it the same "ooh, a present" feel as other swag, but I don't care. I'm a firm believer that everyone is responsible for their own happiness. So here's a card. Be happy.

Not that these are perfect. The front image emphasizes my procedurals, even though I've got some darker, grittier stuff, too. And the author pic on the back is several years old, a hair style and facial cut style or two ago, and minus a few grays...but why quibble. More damning, the fifth River City book is listed under its working title, In the End instead of its eventual release title, The Menace of the Years. But I've still got over 400 of these left, so what can I say?

If you pay for swag, ya gotta use it.

Now, I used to have some River City pens, but they were kind of expensive, and yet somehow still cheaply made. I couldn't think of anything worse than a reader grabbing a pen to write something down in a hurry and having it run out of ink. "What's with this damn Zafiro guy? I'm never reading his stupid, dried-up pen books again!" So that experiment was a failure.

Which brings us to the good old stand-by, bookmarks. I have a few of those to brag about, for sure. Then newest ones (and the ones I have the most of) were designed by Bonnie R. Paulson for our collaboration, The Trade Off. They actually look much better than this photo depicts, but I'm not going to scan one to prove it. The design is sharp, although without the context of the jacket copy, I suppose one could think this was a Fifty Shades bondage rip off.

No bother, I'm still going to bring these suckers to B'Con and any future book signings.

The Trade Off came out in 2014, by the way, so I guess my 'gotta use it' mantra about swag should be 'gotta have some in that tiny drawer.'

My former publisher, Gray Dog Press in Spokane, WA, put out several of my River City books before they stopped publishing fiction [It's not my fault!]. They created a bookmark for the fourth book in the series, And Every Man Has to Die.

Yes, I know. I have such happy titles.

Anyway, I thought these were functional, if a little basic, and I used all but a handful of this swag.

Oh...and this book was released in 2011.

But wait! I have a half dozen bookmarks from my second River City novel, Heroes Often Fail. These are some of the coolest looking bookmarks I've ever swagged. The image is based on the book cover of the Koboca Publishing release, created by a graphic artist in Spokane. [Koboca went out of business about a year later.  Again, not my fault!].

Honestly, I wish I had more of these. I would swag the hell out of them.

Heroes Often Fail came out in 2007, so these are about three years from becoming certified antiques. So the prevailing theme here is that I've not had any new swag in a very long time.

I just realized something completed unrelated to swag. The River City series has had four different publishers. Four! The first two are no longer in business, and the third contracted to only publishing trail guides.

Maybe it is my fault.

I hope not, though, because the fourth publisher is me, and I'd like to stay above ground for while longer... but all of this is probably fodder for some other post later this year.

Back to swag.

Except...I'm out. That's it. Business cards, and some bookmarks from the Mesozoic era. That's all I know and all I've got.

Wait, I take that back. I have a stamp. It is an awesome stamp that stamps awesome things. Don't let the dusty exterior from years of disuse fool you. Look:

See? Who needs more than this? I'll stamp your books, stamp your hand, even stamp you like a rock star if you so please...this is some all purpose swag right here, people.

Yeah, I suck at swag. But I told you that up front, didn't I?


P.S. Okay, I did put together a mini-book of my novella The Bastard Mummy to give away at book events. And I do give away books, both real and virtual, to anyone who will do a review. Or to a loyal reader as a way to say thank you [see, I suck at marketing -- you're supposed to sell books].

But this post would have been terrible if you opened it up and all it said was "Books! I give away books!"

Blatant Self-Promotion, brought to you by me.

My publisher announced earlier this month that they are launching my new series called The SpoCompton Series. For more info, you can check out my short blog post about it.



Dietrich Kalteis said...

I'm with you on the self promotion, Frank – business cards and bookmarks.

catriona said...

This is all very up-cheering, Frank!