GRNW is around the corner and m/m authors around the country are madly ordering personalized bookmarks, pens, lens cleaners, etc. to give away. Lately I've been pondering their practicality. The most useful swag I ever picked up was one of those rubber jar opener thingies—I use it all the time. However, I couldn't tell you at gunpoint the name of the author it was from.
I became convinced that the best giveaway for an author is a story. From now on the only swag I'll do printed booklets of short stories and sample chapters. I mean, they are only good for two things: reading and starting fires. They'll have at least a fifty percent chance to be read, probably more thanks to the prevalence of central heating.
Price wise they are at par with pens and pins. The cost depends on length but I know for fact that I can get a 5,000 word short done well under two bucks, shipping and handling included.
For anyone interested, I get my booklets printed at The Book Patch. Setting up a book there is similar to CreateSpace but simpler. Also, you don't have to put your book up for sales anywhere. Their templates are easy to use.