- Standard Definition: plunder, booty; money, valuables.
- Recent Definition: confidence, style, carriage; related to swagger.
There's a saying going around the internet that “swag doesn’t pay the bills.” In Children’s Marketing, that is patently not true. Swag totally pays the bills—or, at least it helps sell books, which is what keeps the lights (and air conditioning) on in this funky-shaped building. [Note: Much of Macmillan is housed in New York City’s Flatiron Building, an angular architectural wonder that is on the National Register of Historic Places and has a perfect five-star rating on Yelp. Swag.]
Kids book swag is kind of like a party favor—if your book had a birthday bash or a wedding, it would thank you for coming and hand you a little gift on your way out that looked like one of the following:
Bookmarks: Classic swag! A bookmark doesn’t stray too far from the world of ink and paper. Almost anything can be a bookmark, including smaller books—but do this too much and you get a Matryoshka doll effect with a couple of broken bindings. Better to pick up the real deal!
Poster: When you’re not reading your book, it can still beautify your world. A children’s book poster usually consists of a spread from the book with a tagline that is funny, telling or inspiring. Since they are often displayed in libraries and bookstores, these posters may have messages which encourage you to read. Consider yourself warned.
Class Activities: Sometimes class activities are on the back of a poster; sometimes they’re on their own. You can check out book pages on the Macmillan website to see if there are bonus activities! Is this type of swag a little like the carrot sticks that one of your neighbors gives out on Halloween instead of candy? Maybe. Did that person know what was best for you? Definitely. Some of these activities were created by interns, specifically this intern, and they are FUN—and good for you.
Buttons, Tote Bags, Pencils: This genre of swag is my favorite, as it’s a killer combination of practical and expressive. Plus, sometimes tote bags contain… more swag. And books.
Alternative Swag: Here’s where things get really creative. Did you know that Shadow and Bone has its own nail polish? And that the upcoming Crewel has its own swanky purple wristband? 52 Reasons to Hate My Father had a giveaway that included heiress sunglasses like the one in the book. Step aside, Duane Reade, because Mackids has this covered. These novelty items are a ton of fun to come up with in marketing meetings—it’s an interesting challenge to design a small object that both conveys something about a whole book and is useful or cool on its own.
Now you might be asking yourself: Where can I get my hands on some swag? Easy! To get a party favor, go to a party. Check out author signings and book festivals. Buddy up with your local librarian. Consider working in publishing! The whole floor may or may not have sampled custom Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group cookies to make sure they were OK for ALA. (They were, but it’s always good to check.) Turn your swag on, and happy reading!