Six months before my book launch, I went shopping. I purchased all that I thought I would need to exhibit and sell The Talking Drum at book fairs and other events: ethnic table cloths, miniature djembes, a bowl handwoven by West African women operating micro-businesses. Then the pandemic happened. There would be no in-person events. Everything would be virtual. I tucked away the tablecloths and bowl in my cedar chest, but was able to use the djembes in the background of Zoom chats, like the one pictured above. During some interviews I’ve actually picked up the drums and shown them to participants to explain their design, origins, and methods for playing them. They weren’t merely props.
It has not been an ideal season for using swag for launch parties. But in some instances, swag could work well with a Zoom chat, I’ve made them a welcome feature of my interviews.