I Got a Brute Squad in My Bag, Swag

Happy March, my fellow intrepid writing adventurers!
What Fascinating New Thing is going on in YOUR life?

On today’s episode of The Alethea Show, I bring you: SWAG.

That’s right, in this fabulous day and age, authors aren’t just authors anymore (but you knew that). Authors are publicists and event coordinators and social media experts and editors and copyeditors…everything from Publisher to their own Personal Assistant.

A Small Business of One…but it still takes a village. And that village deserves SWAG.

One of the first lessons I learned being best friends with Sherrilyn Kenyon was that one should always have something to give the fans at an appearance. Not just chocolates or baklava (as much as I’m sure that would be appreciated), but something more important to them: something that has your name on it. An item as small as a sticker or button or postcard can make someone’s day.

It’s something authors forget when they are lost in edits (omg I just received edit notes for the first half of TRIX & THE FAERIE QUEEN and my brain might just explode) — our fans love us. LOVE. They want to read more books…but they’d also be happy reading poems or watching videos or hearing us tell silly stories while we live-stream a scrubbed rocket launch (I experienced this on Periscope just last week).

They are Fans, with a capital F, and they will wear the t-shirt. Especially if you make a few for them! If you know a little Photoshop (or know someone who does) you’re GOLDEN.

Princess Alethea’s personal Street Team is called the Brute Squad. So I created my first line of Swag in their honor!

As of yesterday, one can purchase Princess Alethea swag at Amazon, Redbubble, and Zazzle! (If you’re going to be in one store, why not be in them all, right?)

Here’s my experience with each so far:

Amazon: In order to have an Amazon Merch account, you have to apply for it. Once you are accepted, you can make T-shirts…and only t-shirts. They are plain, and the color selection is limited, BUT IT’S AVAILABLE ON AMAZON. With Prime shipping. The Women’s XL size is comparable to the Men’s L. Upon washing the Women’s XL I received (cold water, normal wash), the graphic on the back flaked almost completely off. Happily, Amazon is good about ordering replacements, but I’m still a little shocked at the poor quality so far. Profit margin, on the other hand, is quite high.

Redbubble: I only just launched this one last night, but already I’m blown away at the number of items available at this site! I want to order every sticker available…not to mention pencil skirts, leggings, duvet covers, and pillow cases…I do not have enough money to buy all the things I want!!! Profit margin: default 20% markup, which makes the prices high but not unaffordable. You are allowed to raise or lower this per item-type as you see fit.

Zazzle: Ugh, this site is annoying, and I’m still unsure if I’ve figured it out. But I chose it over CafePress because I’ve been a customer of both and know the t-shirts from Zazzle to be of far superior quality. It seems that instead of just uploading a pic (like to Redbubble) and having it available across all items types, one has to Create a Thing, and then list it for sale in your store. One at a time. Ugh. I’ve now put this on my weekly to-do list, because I don’t have time to Make All The Things. Item selection: AMAZING. Profit margin: small. Also, you only get paid via PayPal, and only when you have reached the $50 threshold. I’m not a fan of money thresholds, having been burned by YouTube (who will never pay me the $68 they owed me before they turned of my monetization for no reason). But I’ll give it a shot.

So…what Fasconating New Thing have YOU got going on this Spring?