Con Notes Part 3 – Swag

Not stolen, not poo, and make sure it delivers an ROI

The word swag has an interesting etymology; it’s a mafia term for stolen loot.

Do you offer swag at your author signings and such? Do you think of yourself as a fence for stolen goods?

I’m more familiar with the term tchotchkes than “swag”. Swag may be a neologism or an industryism, and it’s all the same thing; trinkets to get people to your table. If you’ve ever gone to an industry (not book industry) show and heard somebody say, “You have to go to X’s booth. They have great…” then you’ve heard a comment about trinkets, tchotchkes, swag. The word “tchotchkes” is Yiddish and can mean “an attractive, unconventional woman” or “an inexpensive showy trinket”.

So why not just call them “trinkets”? Perhaps because of tchotchkes’s other, slang usage, often by eastern European grandmothers and to describe those incredible newborn poos in diapers. Cute, maybe once, but really you just want to get rid of it.

There was a woman who called herself “The Queen of Swag”. She was on a panel about self-marketing. I’d previously seen her table.

Yes, swag she had. Flyers, notebooks, coffee cups, pens, pencils, stickynotes, bookmarks, candy, spinners, tops, dolls, keychains, flashlights, shopping bags, tshirts, necklaces and the list goes on.

I have no idea what her book was or what it was about because I didn’t see it on her table. Maybe it was a book on swag?

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