Friday, September 16, 2011

Author's Business Cards...Get Them...Use them

If you don't have business cards for yourself you really should. You can get free cards from VistaPrint (they charge you just for the shipping and put their promotional text on the back), but I recommend some example pricing from them:
  • $9.55 - 1,000 cards - 4 color front no back
  • $11.00 - 1,000 cards - 4 color front and back
  • $33.50 - 5,000 cards - 4 color front no back
  • $38.70 - 5,000 cards - 4 color front and back
As you can see there is virtually no difference between doing two sided so splurge. Here are some of my business card recommendations:
  • Have a picture of your book(s) - This is as high of a priority as your name
  • Use a QR code - if you don't know what that is see my blog post about them
  • Use your publishers logo - even if you've made your own publishing company putting a logo on the card will give you some added credibility (people won't know it's your own company)
  • Don't give out your phone number - as a writer you need to control when/how you are interrupted
  • Make it easy for them to identify your genre. Your book's graphic should do this for you but if someone (your or your publisher) dropped the ball on this then make sure they know your genre
  • Have a tagline that differentiates your book from others
  • Include your twitter, blog, and email - these are all acceptable ways to reach you.
To illustrate good business card design, let's look at Michael's cards:


Let's analyze what we have here starting with the back:
  • Michael has three books so putting all of them on the back makes the most sense. If he had two, I'd still use the back but put the QR code next to them. With one, I might be inclined to put the cover on the front and the QR code alone on the back

  • From the covers there is no mistaking these books from being in the fantasy genre. But we can augment this with a simple tagline which we did. I'll explain this particular tagline in my next post on branding.

  • I included the URL and the twitter just to round out the back so that it looks like a little standalone ad.
Now the front
  • Notice both the QR code and his current publisher's logo
  • The three pieces of information to reach him
  • A good, well balanced design (feel free to copy it for your own cards)
Once you have the cards here's the important point...get them out there. Here's some tips:
  • Every time you pay a bill at a restaurant include your card - and tip well!!
  • Drop them in every "free lunch" drawing you find - someone goes through those cards and just might go - hey this looks interesting. (After all how many times do they meet an author)
  • See someone on a computer train or bus reading a novel in your genre talk to them for a few seconds and leave your card with them
  • If you have any casual conversation where you happen to mention that you write don't leave without passing out a card
  • Are you a speaker at a panel of a conference, tell people to come up afterward and get your card
  • Going out to dinner with a friend and a bunch of their friends you don't know - given them a card when they ask you "what do you do"
For such a small expense, you really need to get yourself business cards. Make them attractive, and use them often. Besides, on those days when you're feeling kinda blue take out a card and remind yourself what you are in this for.


Christopher Wills said...

This is very useful information as I was just thinking of getting some business cards made myself. I like your ideas for what you think should go on them, you've clearly thought this out. Thanks to you my business cards will look a bit more professional.
I wonder, do you think there is any mileage in having a business card printed with a book cover as the whole of the reverse side? If one had a number of books these might even become collectable. One could send them to people who review your books or give them as prizes. One could even get a picture frame with lots of small business card book cover images on them, similar to the way people used to collect cigarette cards and display them. Maybe I have just invented a whole new industry for the publishing world...

Robin Sullivan said...

@chrisopher - Yes I think having the cover as the "whole" back when only 1 is a great idea - but don't "distort" the proportions. I'd run the long end of the spine along the long end of the card and with the "left over" space beneath it put your tagline, ISBN, Genre, or other supporting info.

Tim Dodge said...

I love the idea of handing out the cards when paying the bill at a restaurant. I'm going to do that next time I eat out. Here's another idea: If you're in a library, find a few books in your genre and slip a card inside each one. The next person who borrows the book will find it (assuming it doesn't fall out -- find a secure spot.)

Andrea Bandle said...

This is really great information, especially for indie authors looking for as many ways as possible to professionally market themselves. I particularly like the idea of putting your book cover on the back. Many people mistakenly forget to use the back of their business cards, or don't use the space wisely.

jim bronyaur said...

Oh, thanks for the links there. I had been using a different vendor and they were a tad expensive... I have about 500 cards from my first design which, uh, wasn't very good. :)

So I've been toying with getting new cards.

You've convinced me. haha

Suzanne said...

I Tweeted the link to this post and wrote about it on several author discussion lists. Everyone always talks about author business cards, but no one knows what to do about them. Robin, you do such great work on this blog. You're the marketing consultant on every author's team. :-)

J.R. Pearse Nelson said...

I thought of business cards a while back, but haven't had any printed yet. Thanks for the advice and the helpful link and pricing information. Nice blog!

Peg Cochran/Meg London said...

Great advice, thanks! I have two mystery series debuting in the fall of 2012. Unfortunately, since one is a work-for-hire arrangement, I'm using a pen name. The other is in my name. I don't have covers yet and probably won't until the new year.

Would it make sense for me to make cards with one name on the front and the other (writing as...) on the back with the pertinent info?

Or am I jumping the gun? I'm thinking they would be useful when I visit bookstores and libraries to arrange signings, talks, etc.

Margo Carey said...

Excellent blog. I wish I had something published. I've written non-fiction articles in a newsletter, have an online booklet and wrote a computer column for a local newspaper.
I'm working on a paranormal mystery now. I'd like to have business cards to hand out. Any recommendations on how I'd set them up? Should I just have my name?
Thanks, Margo

Leslie Budewitz said...

Is there an advantage to using a business card rather than a bookmark? They are smaller and easier to carry around, but I wonder whether the larger size and visible utility of bookmarks, as well as room for a little more info, might make bookmarks a better choice.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Tim - that's a great idea...In the "early days" when Michael was doing a lot of book store signings I used to put his book marks in other fantasy books...I kid you not.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Andrea - glad you found it useful

@Jim - gotprint's prices are the best I've found and their quality is exceptional.

@Suzanne - thanks for tweeting - I'd love to have more people getting in on my "tips" - The more that follow the more worthwhile it is for me to spend time on this.

@JR - Thanks glad I prodded you into action.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Peg - If it were me...I'd have one card. Put both books on the back and on the front where you have your name add a line with the pen name something like....

Michael J. Sullivan
also writting as Michael K. Mitty

just how I would do it - your idea sounds fine as well.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks for this very useful info. I had no clue about QR codes. Yes, I've seen them, but I would never have thought to put one on my promo materials.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Nancy - glad it helped you. QR Codes started out being something used in magazine ads for people to learn more. Other uses for QR Codes:

Tshirts - this is a fun one

I've even seen them just taped to a wall at a convention with nothing else - just the code so they are kid of a "treasure hunt" aspect to them.

nasir said...

Title of books at the back of business card is really a marvellous idea. I would love to have a card like this,if I become the author of some book.

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Business Card Sizes said...

I agree with some of the other commenters. There are too many great cards to pick just one. I do like Amelia Lyon’s. It has a handmade feel to it.

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