Have you ever been talking with someone about your writing and have to scribble your website on a piece of paper so they can look you up later? Or do you ever get home with a scribbled e-mail address from someone but don’t remember why you have it and what you’re supposed to do? I’ve been in both situations and it’s embarrassing. One of the best things we can do for ourselves as authors is to create business cards to hand out the next time someone asks us what we do.
Years ago I bought business cards and used them (when I remember to keep enough on me), though, after additional experience, I now see my “design” as unprofessional and out of style. With a new book about to be released, it’s time to design a new one to help market my book and let people know what I can do.
What do you put on an author business card?
As authors, there are several things we should have on our cards. Some are optional and some depend on our goals and to whom we’re passing out the cards.
- Name: Whether you write under a pseudonym or your real name, you need to have a name on the card. I’ve heard of one author who printed out different cards for each name she used or you could write “John Doe, also writing as Bob Hill.”
- Phone number: You may or may not want to include your phone number. Cards can be left about, and thus your phone number, but a number to reach you at can also be very useful to have on there, especially if you see yourself needing to write it out on your cards on a fairly regular basis. For authors who plan on handing out cards at conventions or book signings, most people there are not going to want to call you and you may not want the adoring public to have your phone number anyway. For myself, I am choosing to include my phone number as I’m also a speaker and spiritual director in addition to writing about spirituality. I figure those who are interested in my books might also be interested in my other two services.
- Address: This is not generally recommended as there is little reason for it but if you do decide to include an address, rent a post office box and include that address, never your home address.
- E-mail: Most people these days prefer to communicate via e-mail so be sure to include one. If you don’t already have a business account, create one before printing your cards. For example, instead of using your personal account at JohnDoe56@gmail.com, create one using your website domain: John@JohnDoe.com.
- Website address: Make sure to include a web address where people can look online for information about your books. If you don’t already have an author website, I highly recommend creating one. If you already have books on the market, have a page online where they can purchase your books or a link to wherever they are sold.
- Social media: As you’ve already included your website, including your addresses for sites such as Facebook or Twitter is optional. People will expect you to have these accounts though, so be sure you’ve set up professional pages and update them regularly.
- Job: Including “author” or “writer” on the card helps people identify why they’re interested in you and is especially important if you don’t have a book published yet.
- Picture: Most people remember faces a lot better than they remember names. If I’m looking at business cards at the end of a conference, having someone’s picture on their card is going to trigger my memory of them a lot faster than just a name. It’s also going to help a reader remember how you made them feel when they talked to you. Make sure the picture you include actually looks like you though—you are who you are and having a picture of what you looked like ten years ago is not going to help someone remember you when they saw what you looked like last week. A huge part of being an author is selling yourself, not just the particular book you’re working on at the moment. Whatever photo you choose to use, make sure it looks professional.
- Cover art: If you’ve already published a book or are getting ready to launch a new one, including the cover art on the back of your business card is a huge marketing plus. Isn’t this why you’re handing out business cards after all? If you’ve published a series, you can include thumbnail pictures of all of them in a row with a tagline underneath. You can even have a new card made up every time a new book comes out to help promote it.
- Blurb, phrase, or quote: Adding a line describing your writing or the book you’re promoting is a good idea if you have the room. You need something that tells people what kind of writer you are and why they should be interested in reading your book. A short phrase from a review would work well or you can make up your own. Your book description is another good source for ideas.
- QR code: Some authors include the square graphic code smart phone users can scan to go straight to a website. This can be handy especially if you are promoting e-books or have a free giveaway online. For myself, I asked friends if they ever use their phones to scan the codes and they all said no. I imagine some types of people would use this feature more than others but since my friends are also representative of my readers, I will not be including one on my card. If you choose to, you can create one at Kaywa QR Code.
There are lots of author business card examples online you can look at for ideas. Create a card that is unique and memorable. If you decide to use a template, make sure to put your own stamp of originality on it so other authors don’t have one just like it or hire someone to design one for you. It would be unfortunate to arrive at a conference only to find five other authors have cards identical to yours.
Where do you go to print up business cards?
There are numerous places to choose from when printing up business cards. Most local print shops would be happy to help you as well as chain stores such as Office Depot and Staples. Many people also use one of these online sites.
Different businesses will offer various options so shop and compare prices and printing choices. If you can afford it, choose a higher quality card. It makes a difference to those who receive it.
Where do you hand out your business cards?
You’ll be shocked at how handy author business cards can be. Whether you’re talking with someone at the grocery store or at a workshop, people will ask about what you write and you’ll be able to give them a card so they can look you up and hopefully buy your book. Among other places, you’ll be able to hand your cards out when you:
- network at writing conferences
- promote yourself at book signings
- converse on the train and bus
- wait in line at the grocery store or at the salon/barber
- run into old friends
- give a reading
- talk with local bookstores
- teach a workshop
- talk at a school
- sell at bazaars
- attend events related to your subject or genre
- meet with editors and agents
Author business cards will be one of your best marketing tools. When designed well, you’ll stand out from the crowd and induce people to buy your book. Whether fun and colorful or straight-forward and informative, your card will represent you as a writer wherever you go.