Does SWAG Sell Books?

Some swag I kept from RTSo it's the time of the year where I start preparing for my trip to RWA Nationals. This year will be my third year attending, but the first time I'll be attending as a published author. (Yay!) It's my fave conference of the year because I get to see so many writer friends I only get to see once a year, so I'm really looking forward to it.

But one of the things I need to tackle sooner rather than later is deciding on what kind of promo or swag (stuff we all get) to create and bring. The standard is post cards, bookmarks, and pens. But when I start looking at the prices of the stuff, I start thinking of that big bag of junk I end up with at the end of conferences. And honestly, most of those bookmarrks and paper swag ends up in the trash or left in my hotel room. The pens I keep, but do I ever really look up that author's name who created the pen? Not really. Same goes for things like post-it notes. I may use them, but it doesn't necessarily make me find out more about the author.

What does work on me is if I see an author give a workshop and I like what they have to say, I look them up and possibly buy one of their books. Or if I meet an author and have a conversation, I may then look for their books. But the free pocket flashlights, stress balls, key chains, cups, etc. do nothing. Even an excerpt booklet usually goes unread.

Even the buttload of free books that I come home with aren't immediate sales tools. I still have so many that are on my shelf that I haven't had time to read. (This, btw, doesn't mean that I will not happily take home more free books from this conference. Let's not talk crazy now. Free books. Free books! That's like waving heroin in front of an addict.)

So that leaves me wondering if I should even bother spending money on stuff people are probably going to throw away anyway. I know I need business cards for people I meet, but other than that, I'm not sure the rest is worth it.

But maybe I'm an anomaly. Maybe other people love that stuff. So I'm throwing the question out to you guys. Has swag ever sold you on something? If so, what was it? And what do you do with all the swag you get from conferences?

*Btw, the swag in the picture I kept because I either already like/knew the author, saw the author give a workshop and wanted to remember to look them up, or I wanted to use their swag to research my own potential swag.