GRL 2016: Guest Post Tali Spencer

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**Welcome Tali Spencer to Two Chicks Obsessed. I love Tali’s post about swag envy…I know I will be stopping by her Author’s Lounge at GRL. 🙂

Guest Post

Swag Envy

swag: goods acquired by unlawful means; loot

I’m an older author. You will notice this when you meet me at GRL. I’m the slightly mystified-looking one without much promo going on. Take swag. The term itself only really emerged in the 90s, when publishers took advantage of new technologies—printing, primarily—to produce inexpensive promotional material. For my first published book, back in when that meant mass market paperbacks, I had no swag at all. My publisher would have laughed at the idea.

In the last decade, digital publishers and self-published authors jumped on the promotional wagon and, before authors knew what hit us, it became part of our job to produce or purchase mind-blowing amounts of bookmarks, postcards, pens, mugs, trading cards, magnets and keychains with our names and/or book covers upon them.

Our imperative: Catch the Reader’s Eye. If we can catch a reader’s eye, she might find what she sees interesting enough to check out our book. Win!

Maybe. Or maybe swag just becomes another form of competition.

At my first GRL, a few years ago, I walked around the swag room and reached an ominous conclusion: my swag was… well, pretty sad, actually. Other, far more famous authors were giving away tote bags. Tote bags. Not only that, but some were handing out tee shirts, jewelry, and action figures. I think I saw bundt cakes on one table, but don’t quote me on that.

I was coming up small. Thank goodness I had ordered a custom shoulder dragon for myself and decided on the spot to hold a raffle to give that away, along with a cute mug. Whew!

Readers did take some of my postcards and bookmarks and magnets, but the one bit of swag from my table they really went for wil_570xn-499044782_npqmas individually wrapped unicorn horn hand soaps. People talked about those. The only reason I had any left was because I didn’t put them out all at once. And the best part was I felt almost as good about people liking my soaps, mug, and dragon as I did about them liking my books.

I felt like I was giving readers a gift. Thank you, it said. Thank you for coming and giving me a chance to meet you. If you have a moment, maybe you could take a look at my books.

Swag does cost money and authors work with budgets. Some have really tight budgets. Gifting readers is well and good, but swag ultimately is about getting the author’s name out or promoting one or more of their books. It has to be, or the expense is frivolous. That’s why I like the new setup for this GRL. Instead of a free-for-all swag room with all the goodies laid out on impersonal tables for indiscriminate picking, there are now Author Lounges where readers can meet the author behind the swag.

Naturally, authors are going to want to offer up their best swag. Anything it takes to lure readers in.

So visit my Author Lounges if you get a chance—one on Thursday and one on Friday. I’ll have unicorn horn hand soaps and unicorn horn rainbow bath salts. And journals. And coin purses. And bookmarks. Lots of postcards and bookmarks, all handed over with a smile.

As for me, I get to join other readers in seeing what authors far cleverer than me have come up with. At least one is bound to be giving away a tote bag.

Author Bithickasthieves2o:

Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.

Tali’s books include the three preceeding Uttor books: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, Adored, and Victory Portrait, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds,are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often publishes in anthologies, and puts up free stories and excerpts on her blog.

Visit Tali’s blog at
Pinterest: Featured Blogger

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me! Hope to see everyone at GRL. 🙂