If you want SWAG for Nationals, NOW is the Time!– Rachael Davila

If you’re heading to San Antonio this July, now is the time to consider what promotional giveaway you want to hand out. If any. What is a promotional giveaway you ask? Simply put SWAG is an item with your name on it. Like a pen or mug, or the hundreds of thousands of other items that can be imprinted with your information.

Since this blog is geared to writers, Romance Writers, I’ll gear this post to you. In the business we have a few tiers: new unpublished authors, new published authors, and established authors. It doesn’t matter if you’re self-pubbed or traditionally pubbed, you still need to do your own marketing and you need a plan. Promotional products are a good addition to any marketing plan, if you have a specific goal in mind. Each tier will have different goals for their products.

The Number One question I get all the time about SWAG is what should I get? The answer always depends on what your ultimate marketing goal is. Are you just starting out and looking to network during the big convention? Are you recently published and want to promote your debut release? Do you want to build name recognition among readers? Are you an established author, hoping to break into a new genre?

With so many options the choices can be overwhelming. Which is where I come in. You wouldn’t buy a house without a realtor, would you? Like a realtor, a Promotional Products Distributor can guide you from idea to product in hand.

But with only a few weeks to go, time is running out.

You want to consider your budget. Across the tiers, some people have money to spend, while others are pinching every penny. Don’t worry! There are products for every price point.

Be realistic in your budgets. It’s not just the cost of the product. Factor in extra dollars for set up costs, shipping and tax. If you have more than one color for your artwork (or want full color), some extra costs come into play. Have a number in mind that is close to your max.

Time is important. Six weeks is the standard timeline. It takes longer than you’d think to pick a product, place the order, review and approve the artwork, produce the item and ship it. With the date of Nationals closing in on that six week timeline, there is little room to wiggle.

So, really, WHAT should I order? Good question and I’m going to give you some examples.

Meet Laura, she’s a new author without a published book going to Nationals for the first time. We discussed ordering Author business cards. They are perfect for networking with other authors, editors and agents. They give you an air of professionalism and they fit in almost every budget.

My favorite, if you have extra dollars, consider getting laminated cards and imprinted sharpie pens. Regular pens won’t easily write on the laminate, but a sharpie will write on everything. It’s a useful product that the person will use the rest of the conference. Each time, seeing your name.

Now Janet is a new author with a newly released self-pubbed book. Janet had two goals, one to get the word about her book out to the masses. She needed a large quantity, low cost item and went with full color postcards. Her other goal is for Nationals, she wanted to narrow her market and decided to do a lower quantity, higher cost item. Something people would pick up and hold on to, thus remembering her book for longer. She picked flashlight key chains that play on the title of her book.

I worked with an agent who wanted to have a fun, low cost giveaway that would encourage more connections on social media. She picked badge ribbons with the saying, “Follow me on Twitter @.” Something like this works well for name recognition, especially if you add a line at the bottom with your name and website. People will see it everywhere and ask where the person got it.

In addition to the examples mentioned, there are hundreds of thousands of products to choose. The most popular items for authors are: pens, sticky notepads, chip clips, author cards, postcards, bookmarks. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to promotional items. There are some fun, not so typical items that you might not consider but work well in Romance, like condoms, hand sanitizer, microfiber cloths, laptop/Kindle skins for autographs, web key cards to take readers to your website. Then there are the really unique items that only work in specific genres.

I have an author who writes Erotica. She ordered wooden rulers with her logo and tagline on one side and catchy references to a guy’s package on the numbered size. We’re also looking into a product that looks like a riding crop, but is actually a useful item that reaches between the seats of your car for things that fall in the cracks. Not it’s intended use, but it’s a fun fit for the genre.

I almost forgot the second most common question, How much should I get?

Since, we’re discussing items for Nationals, you need to consider how your goal translates into the options Nationals presents. Are you keeping your items with you for personal networking purposes, laying them out at your table during book signings, or dropping them off into the Goody Room for the masses?

Almost two thousand people attend Nationals. Does that mean you need to order enough SWAG for all those people? No! Not every attendee will be your target market or read what you write. If given the chance, however, they will collect your stuff, because that’s what people do, they collect stuff.

Some products have order minimums and that might be the quantity that works best for you. Or you might consider ordering enough of an item to parcel out for the goody room or to hand out to person-to-person connections during the course of your day. Another consideration is to order something that you can take to Nationals but can also be used for other promotional opportunities like book signings, contests or street team prizes. The quantity will depend on your need and your budget.

A promotional product’s job is to keep you at the top of your reader’s mind, not necessarily to sell your book. Figure out your goals and determine your budget. Get your artwork ready. Then call me or start shopping.

If you want items to hand out at RWA Nationals, the time to order is NOW. July is not so very far away in the promotional products industry. Don’t wait! Time is running out!


Rachael Davila has been in the Promotional Products industry since birth and a Romance writer for almost two years. She is combining her love of both to help her fellow authors brave the world of imprinted items! From business cards to convention giveaways, Rachael can help!

If you have any questions now or later. You can reach me at Rachael@ExtraSpecialPromotions.com or through my website: http://www.ExtraSpecialPromotions.com.


May 2014 RWASD Good News

Join us as we celebrate our chapter mates and their accomplishments!

–         Ann Siracusa is celebrating the release of A Timeless Melody on May 30th. Congratrulations, Ann!

–         Donnamaie White got a new toilet. That’s awesome, Donnamaie! (Sorcha made her write that. Or maybe it was Sorcha’s evil twin Dara?)

–         Janet Tait celebrated the book release of Cast into Darkness on April 12th. Congratulations, Janet!

–         Kristen Koster submitted a full of Beneath His Touch to the Knight Agency, per their request. Fingers crossed for Kristen!

–     Laura Connors made the top 200 of the NYC Midnight International Short Story Competition. Yay, Laura!

–     Laura Connors received a request for the first 5 chapters of Sea of Fate from Deidre Knight. Fingers crossed.

–         Lisa Kessler is a RomCon 2014 Readers Crown finalist with Moonlight. Good luck, Lisa!

 –         Melissa Cutler celebrated the book release of How To Rope A Real Man on May 6th. Way to go, Madam President!

 –         Pamela Moran is celebrating the release of Blind Sight this month. Great job, Pamela!

–         Shirley Ann Wilder signed a contract with Boroughs for Fly Me. Congrats, Shirley!

–         Sorcha Mowbray is a RomCon 2014 Readers Crown finalist with both Love Reclaimed and Murders & Acquisitions. Good luck, Sorcha!

May’s Member of the month :Terry Blain with President-elect Janet Tait


May’s “Atta Girl” : Rachael Davila with President-elect Janet Tait


Be Ready by Laura Connors

Everyone talks about the need to be prepared for eventual success as an author. In this scenario, success simply means getting your book published. When that coveted moment happens, we are told we should already have an established blog, a web site and established social media platforms such as a twitter account and a Facebook page.


It can be madness!

I totally get why it would be a good idea to have these set up early. Once the ball starts rolling on promoting your little miracle (a burden that largely falls on the shoulders of authors now-a-days) you will have little time to build a web site.  But honestly, as I make my “Laura Connors Author” website, I can’t help but wonder who in the heck will bother to read it. I’m not a published author, ergo the general consensus would be I am not an author at all. Just a wannabe writer. And there are days when I think that myself.

But I will follow this advice, offered by so many multi-published authors, because I know they are right. Besides, acting as if I am a published author will make it all the more likely to happen, right?

So let’s assume the twitter account and my author page will be filled with cat pictures until I have something substantial to tout, like my debut novel. I am okay with that. And I’m okay with a website that leaves little blank boxes for me to fill in with my books as they are published.

The problem with all this starter advice is that it isn’t complete. There are other things I think we need to be ready for when the big dream finally gets realized.

Last year, I attended a book signing that included a current NYT best selling author and several of my published chapter-mates of RWA (Romance Writers of America). While I stood in line, waiting to get a paperback signed by one of my RWA friends, I marveled at the person in line in front of me.

It was a middle-aged man.

I had first noticed him earlier, hanging around while we waited for the book signing to get started. I was impressed that a man was willing to admit he read romance novels and would even wait in public to get one signed by the author.

I considered the possibility that he was there for his wife, who maybe just happened to love one of the great authors waiting to sign books. Or maybe he was getting his daughter an autographed book for Christmas, that would certainly make a nice gift.

And then I found myself in line, behind him, while we waited for my chapter mate’s signature on her popular new paranormal release. I decided to make small talk, since I was so fascinated by the presence of this lone man. To be fair, there were other men present, obviously dragged there by their wives, and making it clear they were not in line. But this man was obviously in line, patiently waiting his turn.

So I broke the ice by mentioning that the authors had a good turnout. He nodded, turned to me, and said, “Forty two hours.”

“Excuse me?” I asked, wondering if perhaps he had been waiting an insanely long time.

“Forty Two Hours. That’s a great name for a novel, isn’t it?”

“Uh, I guess.” Where he was going with this?

Where he was going was into a long diatribe about how he and his abused brothers had been in the foster system and in the last twenty years they had seen each other for a total of forty two hours. He told me he intended to inform my friend (just innocently sitting there signing the novels she had worked so hard to write) that he would provide the title and the story and all she had to do was write it.

All she had to do.

So seemingly simple. After all, the title was already figured out. What else do you need? He was so convinced of the strength of this title that he suggested the book would sell on that alone.

Realizing I was now standing in line behind a slightly crazy person, I tried to think of something to say that would prevent me from having to engage him any longer, but would also dissuade him from putting my friend in a very uncomfortable situation.

I finally proposed that his story would best be written by someone who wrote non-fiction. Since my friend was signing her paranormal romance, she was perhaps not the best person to write his book. Thankfully, he gave it some thought and ducked out of the line before we reached her table.

But what if this happened to me and there was no friend in line to deflect the “Why don’t you write my story” types? How would I deal with that while trying to promote my own book? I was offended that he believed writing a book is so simple all you need is a title. How could I gracefully get him to go away without causing a scene or scaring the real readers in line for an autograph?

There’s more than social media and promotion that we need to have started by the time our first book comes out. We need lessons on how to conduct ourselves in awkward social situations. Maybe we should have practice autograph signings or something…


Dream big, Laura, but be ready for the crazy.


First Page Critique

Welcome all to our first first page critique!  First off a round of applause for our first brave volunteer :).  Now before we get going here, I want to lay down a few ground rules:

1) Every comment will be moderated.  This means please do NOT resubmit it unless it has been at least 6 hours.  (I have an evil day job which means I can ONLY check this at lunch time and after work- we have a back up screener but her time is limited too).

2) Remember to use good judgment on these. This does not mean, “OMG!  I love it!” any more than it means, “This sucks”.  Make intelligent, HELPFUL comments as to what you feel works and what you feel needs work.  Comments judged to be unkind will not be posted. (again- you don’t need to gush- just don’t be mean!)

The idea with these is to help all of us see what works and what doesn’t.  This will hopefully be a regular item on our blog but only with YOUR help!

Now, on to our page!

TYPE: Hot COP Short Story 

Riding along in a cruiser while an officer makes the rounds can be an interesting or a boring adventure. Or sometimes it is beyond exciting. It’s a crapshoot.

Mia Brand had managed to find herself on an interesting one. At least, so far.

This go-round, she had been given to a male cop. Now there was an understatement.

The guy wore a short-sleeve uniform. His biceps were straining the seams. His chest was higher than hers. The shirt buttons were in danger.

He had a trim waist and lean hips. How did he keep his equipment belt from falling down? He had that routine, almost unconscious cop thing that they all did. He was forever hauling it up. Since it was heavy, anywhere from 22 to 34 pounds, she could understand the tendency of the belt to want to obey the laws of gravity and drift down his thighs. She wanted to drift down those thighs.

She had decided early in the ride-along that this was a prime specimen. It didn’t hurt that he had dark blue eyes. A chiseled jaw. A touch of 5 O’clock shadow. A blinding smile and a dimple. Dark closely trimmed hair that showed a tendency to curl. It looked soft. Not to ignore a deep voice that came up out of him and made her insides twitch.

Oh yes.

She’d been stuck in a car with a virtual Adonis, although Adonis was a blond wasn’t he?

She who had given up dating men some time back, having decided a vibrator was more useful. After all, it was always ready, didn’t make stupid small talk, and had an off switch. Men didn’t come with an off switch. Not that she knew of.

Oh this was Karma. Or life getting even. Giving up men? Ha! Try this one!



Happy Mother’s Day to Our RWASD Mothers!


flower1.2Writing is hard. Long hours, often alone, lost in your own world.

flower2.2Add being a mother to that and you have women with nerves of steel and a determination all others should admire.

So today we’d like to send a round of Happy Mother’s Day and virtual flowers to all of the RWASD writer moms.  Whether you’re just starting out as a writer (or a mom ;)) or have 80 books- HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

flower window


Chris Marie Green and Janet Tait signing on Saturday!

Come celebrate one of San Diego’s Indie bookstores and see two of our own authors Saturday May 10th!

Mysterious Galaxy turns 21 with an all-day celebration on Saturday, May 10! They will have festivities, special bargains, refreshments and giveaways for attendees.

Birthday Bash events and spotlight authors include:

Our very own Chris Marie Green and Janet Tait at 1pm!  Along with other speculative authors Jeff Mariotte and Gini Koch.

The event starts at 11 am and has fun for all.

Come on over and celebrate our authors and a great local bookstore!


Brenda Novak’s Diabetes Auction, RWASD, and YOU!

It’s MAY! You know what that means? The Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction!

This is an awesome chance for writers, readers, and just plain folks to bid on very cool things and support a worthy cause.

Brenda’s son has diabetes and in order to help fund research, she pulled a mess of writers, agents, editors and others together to create a month long auction.

What can you find there?

Evaluations and critiques from editors and agents

Advance Reader copies from your favorite authors





Things from our local RWA San Diego chapter!



Melissa Cutler

Georgie Lee

Lisa Kessler

Rachael Davila

Laura Bradford

And more!

You name it is there!

Run over there now, sign up, and start bidding! List your favorites (or if I missed some local donations) in the comments below.