HERE. Conferences and conventions always lead to thoughts about promo stuff. How much? What's the best? What works?
Truthfully, I suspect most of the items given away at such events end up in the round file. Paper products are especially vulnerable so book marks, trading cards, business cards, etc. usually are quickly discarded unless the reader is a collector of those specific items.
Magnets, pens, lip gloss and small items like them have a slightly longer shelf life, though pens are likely to be forgotten somewhere along the line. Of course, pens are what I call traveling promo. They change hands a lot so the exposure of an author's name is considerably wider than with other items.
I believe the promo item should be chosen for specific tasks. For instance, if I want to keep my name in front of one reader, then a magnet or mug will likely do the job. Magnets or items such as mugs or key chains are seldom immediately discarded.
However, if you want your name to spread over a wider circle of potential readers then you need a traveling item such as a pen, pencil, or a packet of sticky-notes or notepads. These items tend to travel from person to person.
I'm undecided about contests. Ultimately several people might enter the contest if the prize is sufficient. However, at the end of the day, only one person is the winner. Somehow, that doesn't seem quite fair.
There are other ways to spread the word about my books. Blogs, webpage, social media, and chats are just a few. I prefer something a more personal than a broadcast announcement about an upcoming book. Once a month I have a chat at Love Romances Cafe where I "chat" with readers (and authors) who show up. The authors post excerpts, but mostly we chat with our readers about whatever they would like to know.
Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 PM EST it this month's chat. Do you have a burning question you need answered? Or do you want to know what I'm working on now? Drop by and check it out. Heh. I'll offer you plenty of opportunities to ask questions. Check out the info in the upper right hand corner!
Or leave me a comment telling me what YOU would like to see as promo at a convention. I'm always interested to know what my readers are looking for!