As our fiction publicist, I see lots of author giveaways…and I know it can be hard to come up with the perfect items to include. I’ve also seen that, in general, the best giveaways aren’t the ones with an expensive grand prize like a new gadget or expense-paid trip. In fact…those tend to attract people who have no real interest in the author or books in general, which isn’t helpful if the goal is to gather more readers to social media or a mailing list. Smaller giveaways with items that readers love (and will be excited to share about) are perfect for authors.
And as a reader, I get a lot of book-related gifts (or add them to my wish-list). From experience, I know that while books are always the best present, if you’re not sure what books a reader friend has on the shelves already, a novel-related something-or-other can be pretty exciting too.
That’s why I’ve compiled this non-exhaustive list of fun items for book lovers. Most can be any-occasion gifts, while a few are more specific to authors thinking about what to use in a giveaway.
(Not-a-Disclaimer: I’m not using affiliate links or getting sponsored by any of these people. In fact, the only products Bethany House has a connection to are the coloring books I mention. I just really like this stuff and hope you will too.)
Enjoy, readers! I won’t complain if this link gets mysteriously shared with all of your friends around Christmas or your birthday. And be sure to let us know your favorite item in the comments.
One: Fun Office Supplies
Girl of All Work has some fabulous page flags and sticky notes. Of particular note are the Crazy Cat Lady and Classic Characters page flags. (They have a great lineup of different novels, but I squealed out loud when they recently added Anne of Green Gables.)
I’ve stopped by the Minneapolis-based Frostbeard Studios several times, and I love what they’ve come up with in the world of bookish candles! They even have tea light sampler packs in different genres and types.
One of the wonders of modern technology is that pizza can now be ordered online. That means an author can pick a winner, ask for topping choices, and have a piping hot pizza sent right to a reader’s door on a chosen night. Jill Williamson did this recently, and it was so fun that I had to share!
Four: Clever Accessories
Out of Print has lots of nerdy bookish stuff, but here are a few of the less expensive items: library card socks and a heat-reactive banned book mug…when you pour hot liquid into the mug, the titles blank out!
Five: Setting-Specific Items
If you want a fun tie-in with your book, consider making a gift basket of items from its setting. Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series is set in her own home area, so she’s put together giveaway packages of items mentioned in her books or from shops and restaurants that show up.
Six: Baby Books
Besides the gorgeous artwork and the wink-wink references for those who have read the adult version of the classics, BabyLit board books are just plain fun. Educational too—your reader-to-be can learn opposites from Sense and Sensibility or Spanish from Don Quixote or counting from Jane Eyre (below). They also have puzzles, dolls, and playsets (like the Pride and Prejudice one below).
Seven: Homemade Item
A few years ago, Lisa Wingate made a decoupaged prayer box for a reader. Other authors who are crafty have include homemade cards or a cross-stitched bookmark in a giveaway. Knowing the author made it sets that item apart as priceless!
Why have a normal notebook when you can write between the lines of your favorite authors? Novel Journal prints real books in tiny font to form the lines for the journal, from Dracula to The Wizard of Oz to Sherlock Holmes.
Nine: Significant Item in the Book
Several of our authors have had fun choosing an item specific to their book, whether it’s a character’s favorite food or piece of jewelry or music related to the story. (And, no spoilers, but be sure to watch Ronie Kendig’s Facebook page for a super fun giveaway next month related to her release of Crown of Souls.)
Ten: Coloring Books
You can find a variety of adult coloring books on different themes all over the place, but here are two Scripture-based ones: an under-$6 mini pocket version and a high-quality art book. Bonus if you throw in some nice colored pencils!
Eleven: Skype with the Author
Despite what you might think, readers really do love a chance to connect with an author and ask all of their burning questions. This has been a popular “item” every time an author has offered it, especially in something like a Facebook party for fans.
Incidental Comics is one of my favorite whimsical artists, and some of his cartoons are available in poster form. Here are just a few, but there are many more of interest to readers, artists, and writers.
There are lots of local flower delivery services you could use to send something fresh and beautiful to a winner from right where you are.
But not just any tea…Novel Tea! I can personally vouch for the “War and Peach” tea, but any of these teas (and the pretty tins they come in) are likely to be a hit. Check them out for the humorous title puns!
Magnetic Poetry has several book or author-specific sets of words, to be rearranged on any magnetic surface to produce works of great genius. (The Shakespeare version on my fridge is a continual riot of iambic pentameter.)
Sixteen: Wall Decor
Litographs is my favorite for this—their prints also contain the text of the book that they represent, printed really, really tiny in the background. Here’s the Nancy Drew poster, but they have dozens of others, from modern to classic.
Seventeen: Homemade Cookies
Sure, there are services that will deliver cookies, but what could be better than something homemade by the author? (Bonus: it’s a lot less expensive!) Here’s a tip: when mailing cookies, empty and cleaned out Pringles jars make excellent packing to send them in.
Obvious State has a gift collection of 50 black-and-white postcard prints from different authors. Nothing like book-related mail!
Okay, readers: which of these eighteen items would you be most excited to receive as a prize or present?