Not too long after my most recent book Snake came out, I designed and ordered my first set of business cards, which arrived in the mail not too long afterwards. The pictures below show both the front and the back of the business cards. (I’m sorry if the photos are blurry; my camera’s old, so sometimes getting a close-up on something blurs the shot).
I received 250 cards, which I’ve been giving out to anyone I think might be interested. I like to think that they’ve helped boost sales a tiny bit, because I’ve had a few sales since I got them (though I doubt the download from the UK has much to do with the business cards). I thought that since my business cards were doing so well, I’d write an article about designing and ordering your own cards to promote your writing. I also plan to include bookmarks in this article, as the places that print business cards also usually print bookmarks if you ask them to.
This brings me to my first point:
1. Find out what your local options are. Some of you may have local print shops who can create your cards and bookmarks for you. It’s sometimes easier to do local anyway, because you can go and pick them up yourself and work with the people at the shop. However, if it’s an independent print shop, the prices might be a little more expensive, so make sure to compare prices before choosing a place to print your cards or bookmarks. Staples and Kinko’s also make some very good cards, and their prices are usually a little more competitive. And if there’s nothing in your area, you can always go online. I got my cards off of VistaPrint, and they did a very good job for a good price, if you ask me, and they make a whole bunch of other products besides business cards and bookmarks.
2. Choose a design that fits you. A business card or bookmark should have the same sort of feel as the work you write, rather than just being a plan white piece of paper or having a picture of a bunch of books on a shelf. Think of it as selecting a cover for your book: you want it to reflect the tone, atmosphere, and characters of the story. So let your bookmarks and business cards reflect what you write. If you are a sci-fi writer, maybe you should do something with aliens or machines. If you do romance, maybe something with hearts and different hues of red and pink. Whatever it is, make sure it works.
3. Make sure all relevant information is on your cards. Name, blog address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, YouTube channel, Reddit username. If you got it, make sure it’s on the card somewhere. If you have an email where fans can reach you, or even a phone number if you’re comfortable with it, include that too (if you have or have had or think you might have obsessed fans, I’d avoid the phone number though). And if there’s room, include the names of some or all of your books. If you have too many to fit on a single card, include maybe the most recent ones, or the most popular ones. And that brings me to my next point:
4. Update as soon as there’s something to update. Got a new book out? Or maybe you’ve started a new page on a new social media platform? Time to start a new card. Yes, it’s a little bit of a hassle, but in the end, it’s a little less annoying than having to say “Oh by the way, I also recently started a page on so-and-so website/published a new book called this-and-that.” And having it on the card helps to keep it in mind for the person you give said card to. Updating them regularly also gives you the chance to try different designs and configurations for your cards (when I update them, I want to customize mine to have one of my photos from the Paris Catacombs on them. I think that’ll be very fun to do, as well as give people an idea of what sort of stories I tend to write).
5. Include a quote or something about yourself as well. On my business cards, I have a short, two-sentence paragraph describing the sort of stories I write. Doing quotes on bookmarks are especially effective, especially if the bookmark is being used to promote a new book. However, should you pick a quote, make sure it is a particularly powerful one that will entice the reader to actually check out the rest of the book. Just putting any old quote on that bookmark just doesn’t do the trick like a quote that is full of mystery and only offers a small peek into the whole story.
6. Finally, be frugal and generous with your cards and bookmarks. What this means is that you should try to give them out to as many people as you can, but try to make sure to give them to people you think would really want to read your books. It’s not an easy thing to do at first–you want to let anyone and everyone know about your work, and you never know who might be a reader–but you get good at it after a while. I learned how to do it while trying to get people interested in my meditation group at the Asian Festival last year (though that’s a story for another time).
Do you have business cards for your writing? Have they been effective?
What advice do you have on making and designing business cards?
Great advice. I leave book marks and cards about my books in cafe’s, book stores, libraries etc. Yes I’m afraid I even slip them into similar books in the book shops and libraries I visit. I think they work. I left a whole few in Fort Worth while I was on holiday and a couple of days later someone there wrote a glowing review of my first book. Happenstance? Chance? Possibly but so soon after I was there, leaving a trail of cards? I live in Suffolk, in England, so it’s not like I go to Fort Worth often. 😉
I may have to try that someday, leaving them in library books. Thanks for the tip.
It’s a bit cheeky but that’s probably why I get such a kick out of it.
And a review too, it sounds like.
Interesting. I have never thought of writers having business cards.
Now that the idea has been floated your way, do you think you might get some yourself?
I love VistaPrint. I use them for almost everything.
I have heard good things about leaving bookmarks or cards in other books that are similar to it. I haven’t done this, but I’ve heard it can get some interest.
I’m definitely going to try it the next time I get a horror novel out of the library.
Many writers forget or don’t like to talk or think about their work as a business. We bask in the creative artist pool. But the art and career of writing are both things and different as well. I know confusing. I believe that the tips and ideas you have posted here are very useful. Thank you for putting them up.
Always happy to be of service.
I was using bookmarks but found that they get bent up in my purse and men don’t like them so much as they have nowhere to put them, so I am having cards made up 🙂
I hope they work out well for you.
I use a bank bag to carry mine. Works great at keeping them clean and bent free. 🙂
Nice article. I’ve been trying to figure out if bookmarks are a good idea for an e-book, or whether it would just be confusing.
I hadn’t thought of that conundrum. I’m not sure if using bookmarks for e-books is a good idea, though. Perhaps if there’s a paperback version, so the bookmark can be used fro the book it’s representing, but maybe not for an e-book.
Then again, it could work. If you decide to try it out, let us know how it goes.
I learned the importance of having a business cards at my first conference. Luckily I read up on attending conferences, so I was prepared. I wasn’t published at the time, so created my own with an image from my website for brand consistency.
It’s just as important to collect the cards of others as it is to distribute yours. Networking is another great tool to have as an author. It opens up doors for guest posts and other types of collaborations.
Bookmarks work as well or better than business cards for promoting your book whether it’s an e-book or not. I leave my bookmarks at coffee shop and other places. They’re great to have on hand when someone asks what your book is about, etc. You can give them your bookmark. I should mention I don’t use my business cards for selling books so that’s why my books aren’t on them.
Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out. Good luck to you in the future.
I make my own using PrintMaster. Staples has high quality linen type card stock that works super. I can do just a few cards at a time this way as well. I put a cover of one of my books on the back of the card. I have several different ones that I carry with me all the time and give them to anyone that will talk to me about books.
Several different cards at once…there’s something I might have to explore.
If you write in different genres, you can give the person a card with their interests. They’re more likely to check you out.
I’ll have to try that sometime. Thanks for the tip.
Thank you for the reminder that I need to update my business cards with my twitter handle and book info. I really didn’t think about adding either to the cards. And now I have some places to leave them.
I’m glad I could help. Good luck with your new cards once you get them.