13 Fresh Ideas for Author Swag

Posted on Feb 13, 2024

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If your book sales are rocking, you have an engaged reader base, and you’re ready to offer a little more, you might consider selling (or giving away) author swag! You shouldn’t rush into creating merchandise for a book that doesn’t have at least a little bit of a fandom, because it’s probably a waste of your time and money.

Let’s talk about when you should consider author swag, then go over thirteen great product ideas to get you started!

Should I sell author swag?

Author swag is a great way to advertise your books, interact with your readership, and build a sense of community. Here are the reasons you might consider it.

1. Sell more books

Merch means more eyes on your brand. Items like mugs, stickers, hats, and tote bags can get a lot of eyes, so distributing them to your readership has the potential to gain interest.

“Where’d you get that bag?”

“Oh, it’s from my favorite author of these sick-ass books. You should read them!”

“Wow! I will!”

Boom, sales.

2. Build community

Fans love to hang out with other fans. Recognizing each other in public is exciting! Just re-posting selfies of your new merch can be a fun and engaging experience. It’s also so encouraging as a creator to see people care enough about your content to buy a representation of it!

3. Be memorable

Not only does author swag pique the interest of new readers, but it keeps you in the forefront of your current audience’s mind. With the onslaught of content and information we are pelted with every second of the day, it’s easy to forget about what we’ve already consumed. Putting yourself in your reader’s house as a piece of merchandise can keep them thinking of you!

4. Extra cash

And of course, a little extra income never hurt anyone. Offering merchandise can add another stream of income to any book launch and provide more financial security. Some authors claim they make more money from their merch than they do from the books themselves.

Of course, giving away items also has its merit and uses, so you may pursue it in a non-profit driven way.

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Ideas for author swag

Okay, we know the benefits of author merch. Now let’s do some brainstorming! Here are thirteen items you might consider creating for your readers. I’m sure you’ve thought of #1 and #2, but #12 may surprise you! *wink*

1. Mugs

If readers and writers have anything in common, it’s bevies. Books come second. Tea, coffee, hot choccy, or microwaved water (I don’t know why my roommate does what he does), let your readers remember you and your books every time they take a sip. Mugs are an item that can be used daily for years, making it a pretty good ad spot!

Author Swag Mug, Black Letters On White Mug


Not to reveal my age, but I’ve been a bookmark fiend since the crayola-box-elmer’s-glue days. Readers are reading! Insert yourself into books that aren’t yours so they can never forget you. A good design will make your reader feel Crushing Guilt that they’re reading someone else’s book instead of re-reading yours! Just kidding, but make ‘em cuter than this classic monstrosity:

Glue Bookmark

3. Home decor

Home decor themed to you or your books might be a hard sell, but they can be lovely, vague references instead of a direct cover of your book. A beautiful print inspired by your world, a funny quote on a poster, throw pillows, pen jars—your imagination is the limit.

4. Signed copies

A basic author swag offer is signed copies of your book! Offer signed paperbacks and/or hardbacks on your website for the die-hards to get that personalization.

Or, you could even do a special book signing event, in-person, if you’re extremely well-known and people are willing to travel hours to see you and meet you.

5. Exclusive content

Exclusive content can be a good idea! Whether that’s an early draft of your book, deleted scenes, character portraits, maps, sequel previews, or short story spin-offs, you can offer a digital folder or physical item like a USB drive (could be cute?).

6. Stickers

Let your fans slap a book reference anywhere they want! Laptops, fridges, car windows, train station maps, their little sibling—nothing makes the marketing rounds like a sticker.​ The cuter, funnier, or weirder, the better. Make something memorable!

7. Totes

Speaking of making the marketing rounds, a tote is something your readers will literally carry around on their body. Plus, they’re practical! Readers love carrying books, snacks, pens, and other readerly essentials. And we all have to grocery shop! Give your fans something to remember you by and to hold the rest of your author swag.

8. Character-inspired accessories

Character-inspired accessories like jewelry, scarves, bags, pins, and keychains can add some of your brand into your fan’s personal style. Let them carry a piece of your story everywhere they go. I know I’m not the only one who had a Mockingjay pin on my bag for years.

Author Swag Pin

9. Posters

Posters might not be a good solution for every book and author, but if you have a book that reaches wild popularity, you might sell posters of your book cover or main character. Another idea could be a map, if your story takes place in a world you created. Any in-world references, like the entry rules for the boarding school your story takes place in, could be a great product to offer, if you think your audience would have a desire to display it in their home.

10. Downloadables

Downloadables are an affordable way to offer merchandise and swag to your readers. Downloadables might be:

  • previews of your next publication
  • exclusive pieces of writing like spin-off shorts, poetry, essays
  • computer and phone backgrounds themed to your story
  • an outline of your book with general plot beats for people to emulate your style

These are also great offers to incentivize readers to pre-order your newest book!

11. Coasters

We already gave them mugs, so let’s give them somewhere to put them! No one likes a water ring. Your coasters could be a subtle reference to your books, a personal quote, or in some way themed to you. Coasters are a practical addition to any reading nook, plus they’re something solid that can last in your readers’ homes, acting as a small shout out to you for potentially years.

12. Themed coffee or tea blends

We write with all of the senses, so let’s sell with all of them, too! This is on the pricier end of swag, since much more goes into the production of a physically consumable item, but if it makes sense for you, consider letting your readers immerse themselves in your story with complementary flavored drinks!

13. Candles

A more accessible option for an immersive sensory experience could be themed candles. Create a scent based on a character, a location, or a food that only exists in your book. This is a great option because a candle can be enjoyed by anyone. Make a good product, and people might buy it just for the product’s sake! Being your merch is just a bonus.

Where to have your author swag made

We know the benefits of author swag. We have some ideas for what to make. Now let’s consider where to have your author swag made.

A handful of companies currently dominate the custom printing space. Here they are:

  • VistaPrint – in business since 1995, they can print your ideas on just about anything! Pens, mugs, banners, signs, stickers, business cards, product boxes, any type of clothing, bags, cards, etc.
  • 4imprint – in business since 1987, they also can make just about anything! Very similar to VistaPrint actually. Self-Publishing School has ordered many items from 4imprint in the past (mostly for stage booths and stationary).
  • Printful – in business since 2013, they are a newer player to the custom printing game. But they have a lovely website, about 342 different products to choose from, and have delivered over 77.9M items. So, they know what they’re doing.
  • DiscountMugs – in business since 1995, they can do a whole lot more than just mugs! They have great turnaround times, great drinkware options, and solid support.
  • GotPrint – in business since 2001, they specialize in printing and stationary more than other goods. If you really want to nerd out and see what kind of equipment they use to do their printing, check out their company’s About page. Some fancy printers they’ve got there!
  • Print Ninja – in business since 2009, they specialize more in custom printing of books than anything else. If you want a comic book, cookbook, magazine, catalog, or any type of custom print run, they’re a great option. They can even do card decks, puzzles, board games, and figurines.
  • Printify – in business since 2015, they do more of your traditional items like clothing and mugs. But, they are growing quickly because they are one of the few options that connects directly with your Shopify, Etsy, TikTok, and other online storefronts. So, if you sell direct, they may be worth checking out.

In Conclusion

Staking your spot in the minds of your readers through a tangible element in their daily lives can help you and your stories become more memorable, make you some extra money, and help foster a deeper connection between you and your readership.

Figure out what author swag you want to make and where to get that swag made, and you’ll be on your way to creating lifelong fans!

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Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

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