Get swaggy with it

What’s swag? Merriam-Webster says it’s “Not just the swag that refers to free promotional items given to attendees, but also the swag that refers to stylish confidence. It’s likely that the sense of swag which means “loot” comes from a term thieves used to describe stolen goods.”

For authors, “swag” can mean anything from your book cover to bookmarks to free downloads.

In a guest post by Dawn Reno Langley on Jane Friedman’s blog, she writes:

Any kind of material used to market your book is considered swag—including little giveaway items that remind readers of your work. Book swag comes in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the basic paper bookmark to personalized bottles of expensive champagne. Some readers collect magnets that depict book cover art. Crafters design keychains featuring book covers or author photographs. Collectors treasure the subject-specific book swag, such as personalized candles, jewelry, or handbags.

In the OSV book world, swag can be your book cover used to tease readers on your author or Facebook page, or a webcast, or a freemium download of a sample chapter.

Dawn has GREAT advice and idea, so take a few minutes and read the entire post here.

If you want to talk swag with us, let us know!

Book trailers:New marketing tool

From Alyssa Sanchez:

Our Sunday Visitor has recently incorporated book trailers into our marketing efforts. These videos are used to extend our outreach across different forms of media and help to offer potential readers an insightful look into the book.

We often use these videos our social media platform (check out a sample on the Author Toolkit Facebook page), as internet advertisements, and in our email promotions to our growing consumer list. From quick snippets of the author or other vivid imagery shot by our marketing team, each video can help better reflect the themes of each of our books.

You can view all our book trailers on our YouTube channel.

Have ideas for a trailer for your book? Let us know!

Alyssa Sanchezis a multimedia marketing specialist for OSV.

How to write an author bio

One of the first things authors are asked for after their manuscript has been accepted is an author bio. And many authors ask: How do I write my author bio?


Back cover author bio.

Actually, you’re probably going to need more than one bio. But to get started, focus on a short, 150- to 200-word sketch, sharing who you are, your background, and any other info you think readers should know about you. Don’t be afraid to inject some personality into it, either!

Here’s a short checklist:

  • Write in the third person (unless you’re asked to do otherwise). [Mary Smith lives in Anytown, Indiana, with her husband and five children. …]
  • Be factual. Include experience that relates directly to your book. For your short bio, mention only the most recent/most pertinent experience; you can be a little more thorough in a longer bio. [Mary has worked in a parish for 10 years, mostly in religious education with a focus on teens. …]
  • Mention your education. Include your degrees in a short bio and more info in a longer one. [Mary graduated from XYZ Catholic College with a degree in theology. …]
  • Mention pertinent memberships or interests [Mary is a member of  the National Catholic Educational Association. ….]
  • Keep it short and sweet. This is the time to remember your lessons from Strunk and White.
  • Be sure to mention any unique aspect(s) of your work experience, education or personal life that arememorable. [Mary has traveled to Marian shrine sites on three continents. …]
  • Include your author website. You can also include social media handles if you’re okay with that information being public.
  • Send a good headshot photo along with your bio. This should be 4 x 6, and at least 300 dpi.

Here’s an example from the OSV Catholic Bookstore of a “short” bio for author Tim O’Malley:

Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy in the McGrath Institute for Church Life. He teaches in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He researches in the areas of liturgy, catechesis and Christian spirituality. He is the author of Liturgy and the New Evangelization: Practicing the Art of Self-Giving Love (Liturgical Press, 2014). He and his wife, Kara, live in South Bend and have one son.

Here’s a good article for more information, with examples.

Dig a little deeper with this article for a bio that will get attention on Amazon (great for your Amazon author page!).

Find some advice from Ingram here.

If you’ve never written a bio before, this author has some hand-holding advice. And this author has some things to avoid.

If you need help or advice, or if you have advice for your fellow authors, let us know! Email Mary Beth at

OSV author webcast how-to


Connecting with your readers is important, and interviews, radio and TV shows, and podcasts are good ways to do so.

At OSV, we also use our popular webcast (also called webinar) format to allow authors to present their books and areas of expertise, and answer readers’ questions.

What’s a webcast? Simply put, it’s a live, online meeting using web-hosted software like Webex, GoTo Meeting, or ON24 (which OSV uses). Webcasts combine audio (computer or conference call), video,  Powerpoint presentations and chat rooms (for questions and comments).

Tracy Stewart

Tracy Stewart, webinar coordinator

If you’re asked to participate in an OSV author webcast, no worries! Our webcast coordinator and moderator Tracy Stewart will walk you though the process in advance of the event and answer any questions you have.

Tracy has put together a webcast video (what else!) on how our webcasts work. Visit here to login, and watch the nine-minute presentation. (It’s archived, so ignore the message that says the webcast has ended.)

Questions? Email Tracy at

Our upcoming webcasts are listed here. Be sure to register to check them out and see how they work!