Conventions, Swag, and Insecurity ~ Outside the Margins with CJane Elliott

Join Prism Book Alliance® as CJane Elliott goes Outside the Margins today.


I’m heading to two writer conventions soon—the first ones in which I’ll actually be behind a table as CJane Elliott with my books in front of me. I go to the Gay Romance Northwest Meet in Seattle later this week and in October I go to Gay Rom Lit in San Diego. I’m proud to have three completed novels in my Serpentine Series to be able to sign: Serpentine Walls, Aidan’s Journey, and Sex, Love, and Videogames. My only worry is that nobody will be coming up to my table to get them.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that writers are insecure but since I have the floor (or the soap box), let me tell you about my version. I’ve been agonizing about “swag.” Swag is that stuff—pens, trinkets, postcards—that writers bring to conventions to give away. They put it on their tables and sometimes in “swag bags” and oh boy, have I been flummoxed about what the hell I’m supposed to do for swag. I’ve polled other writers, asked friends, looked at options on Branders and Vistaprint. I’ve done stupid things, like ordered 500 Sex, Love, and Videogames oversized postcards before I realized it made more sense to do ONE postcard with all three novels on it. Then I floundered around about how to design one postcard with all three novels since I have zero design skills, and was saved by my awesome cover artist L.C. Chase who graciously did the design. It looks beautiful and I ordered 1000 of them! And then I was told that nobody cares about postcards and if it isn’t something like a hand-crocheted penis chapstick holder, forget it.

Oh well. I like the postcard anyway. Here’s what it looks like:


I also ordered pens because everyone likes pens, right? And I really like the pen I have. It’s silver and black with a purple grip and my website and tagline (The Courage To Love) on it. My pens make me happy. But I only ordered 500 and I should have ordered 1000. Lots of people come to these events, I’m told. By this time, my husband is grumping about how much money all this is costing and telling me, “You don’t have to bring swag. Just bring yourself. That’s enough.” Harumph. What does he know?

Deep down, I don’t think all this angst is about swag. I mentioned writer insecurity above. So here’s the thing. I’m not one of those popular writers in this genre, with oodles of fans who comment on every Facebook post and post happy gifs when I announce an upcoming title. My books don’t regularly hit bestseller lists. I rarely get emails or tweets from readers saying my books have changed their lives.

I do know there are people who like my writing and have made a point to tell me so, and for every one of them there are probably others. I’m hoping to meet some of these people in person at these conventions. I hope they like my cool pens and my pretty postcards. But most of all, I want to focus on them—the readers in our genre—and not on myself. I don’t even care if they’ve read or liked my books. I want to thank them for being readers—for reading books, all of our books, and loving books, and being the kind of people who would come to a writer convention because they love books so much.

So if you’re a reader and you see me at GRNW or GRL, stop and say hi. I want to thank you in person.

~CJane Elliott


Title: Sex, Love, and Videogames
Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 08/21/2015
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Genre: M/M Romance


Shy guy Jed Carter has always felt invisible next to his charismatic older brother, Kent. Kent’s master plan for Jed is simple: University of Virginia, business, sports, and ladies’ man. None of it is Jed, except for playing on the rugby team, which he joins in defiance of soccer-loving Kent. Jed comes out in his sophomore year and starts seeing Pete, an attractive junior, who uses him for sex and videogames. Jed wants more—in life and in love—and starts making his own plans. First on the list: getting to know Charlie, the handsome guy working at the local videogame arcade.

Charlie Ambrose has always felt like an oddball, and not just for his tendency to stutter. Being gay sets him apart from his African-American community, and as a “townie,” he doesn’t fit in with the college crowd. Charlie’s inspiration is his cousin, Morocco, who’s transgender and doesn’t give a fig about fitting in. Art is Charlie’s passion, and when a local videogame designer discovers him, Charlie’s living a dream. The only thing he’s missing is love. But the last person Charlie expects to find it with is a cute, white U.Va. rugby player named Jed.


Sex, Love, and Videogames on Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

About CJane Elliott

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

Catherine Dair is a full time Mom by day and spends her evenings as her alter egos – a ninja illustrator and a superhero. Her children know all about it and they are usually putting in their two cents over her shoulder. She gets the giddy pleasure of making fun art for authors, bloggers and lots of cool people. In her spare time, Catherine makes crazy designs for her Redbubble store and fiddles with her website. She gave up sleep because sleep is for sissies.

Find out more about the fun she likes to have in life (and the art she creates) at:

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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7 thoughts on “Conventions, Swag, and Insecurity ~ Outside the Margins with CJane Elliott

  1. Unfortunately, I will not be at GRL this year, but I’ve been to the last three and always picked up postcards, they are nice mementos to have and if an author is new to you, you can find out what other books they have and have the reminder. I’m also nerdy enough to make scrapbooks and/or photo albums with them! I loved Sex, Love and Videogames, although I did not realize it was part of a series, but bought the other two books as soon as I was done!
    Have fun at GRL, your pens will likely disappear (so keep one for yourself!) and I hope many people pick up the cards and the series, because the cards are lovely as are the books!

  2. Oh yes, the swag game. I feel your pain, especially in my bank account! Oh, how I feel it! I chose to do something fun for me this year. It’s a very tough thing to balance, I think, and there is a huge variety with what people do. You are not alone in your worries. *hugs*

  3. I wish I could be there at these conventions–I’d certainly stop by and say hi! I hear you on the swag woes, especially since I seem to be riding last year’s trend when everyone else is doing something new. But go, have a great time, and tell us all about it when you get back! 😀

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