Thursday, September 07, 2017

Business cards for writers

I have never been keen on taking cards from writers at conferences.
Generally, I like to have the initial contact be the incoming email query. Your contact info is right there:  I can add you to my address book with just a few clicks, and cut/paste rather than run the risk of mistakes that come with retyping.

For example, here's an entry in my address book. Yes, I need to remind myself who I am on occasion.

But I've cottoned on to your woodland creature ways (failing to query when asked, doubting my sincerity in asking).  So now, sometimes, a FEW times, when I think a project has promise I ask the writer for a card.

So, yes, get business cards, cause as soon as I say "I never ask for cards" I'll want to ask for yours.

BUT, there's one extra thing to do.
I learned this from a VERY savvy writer at the recent Writers Digest conference.

She put three lines outlining the premise of the novel on the back of her card.
She realized, as I now do, I'm more likely to remember your book than your name.

When I sorted through all the stuff I collected at the conference I didn't recognize her name. But I sure as heck remembered the book. I hung on to the card intending to ping and remind her to query.  When her query came in (I hadn't gotten around to pinging either!) I recognized her name and her book.

That's one smart cookie.(And yes Colleen, I'm talking about you!)

So, if you're getting cards, don't buy 500. Buy 50 or 100. You'll probably be changing the description of your novel, or even the novel you're describing. Thus you'll be reprinting.
Your cards don't need to be fancy at all.

Your name, your email, your website, maybe your phone number.
AND a description of your book.

This is why you work on getting a good log line. You don't need it in your query, but it's perfect for your biz card.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

This post prompted an immediate email from my dear friend, Betty with 2Ts Buttonweezer, Felix's wife.

"So now you know what goes on when we take our walks through the kale fields after dinner. Damn that man, I had no idea he was writing about us. I hope it's not illustrated."

Unknown said...

Too early in the morning for this. My mental image of Felix Buttonweezer does not go well with "kale fields of love." Perhaps after more coffee...

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

A simple and excellent idea. Colin should store this away in the Treasure Chest.

Colin Smith said...

Yet another good idea! I'll add it to the list for when that day comes and I'm querying again. Whenever that might be...

CARKOON AFTER DARK sounds like a truly frightening piece of work. Whatever Felix and Betty might get up to in his kale fields of love, you don't want to be around after suns-set on Carkoon. The night life really is legendary. Mythical, even. I made the mistake of petting a sphinx... no, I'm not even going there... :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

oooooo. ahhhhhhh. Time to look at my logline and shape it up!

What a great idea.

And LOLs here with The Reefmentors!

Amy Johnson said...

What's this? "Cotton" used as a verb? I did not know about that. I also did not know I needed a business card. I'm wondering where, besides conferences, a writer could use cards.

And this Carkoon talk is hilarious.

Lennon Faris said...

This is a great idea. Is there any advantage to making it a business card and not a bookmark? Maybe just size?

Amy, I can think of a few places where they might come in handy. Parties, playgrounds, bookstores, any social setting you might run into someone and talk about your book. I think it could be done in a non-pushy kind of way.

Colin Smith said...

Amy: Interesting... it seems the verb "to cotton" didn't originate with cotton fields or the fabric, but is an archaic British verb dating back centuries meaning "to take a liking to." Over time it gained the idea of "coming to understand" (as in "to cotton on to").

nightsmusic said...

I want to read Felix' book when it comes out! :)

As to the business cards, if you've got a great, full color printer, print your own. The cardstock is minimal at an office supply or that big-box-in-the-sky store that's taking over everything. They're easy to print and you can do as few or many as you want. I do that when I go to a writer's conference and put my current title on it along with my contact info. I can't ever for the life of me come up with a log line though, my loss.

Kitty said...

I'd like to see a picture of the book. In fact I made some business cards for a writer, who couldn't afford to buy his. I had the blank cards, so I put the picture of his book on one side and the info on the other. You can buy Avery® Clean Edge® Linen-Textured Two-Side Printable Business Card, White, 200/Pack for $11.29 at Staples.

Unknown said...

You're funny.

Julie Weathers said...

I've been trying to keep my head down and get this mess of a story finished, but I had to comment today. I posted a link to this post on the writers' forum since Surrey is coming up. Thank you, Janet.

Kitty Thank you for the suggestion about the Avery Clean Edge. I printed my own last time and they were ok, but I hated that perforated edge.

Kari Lynn Dell printed up some very pretty cards that had a picture of one of her rope horses on it. I think it was the horse butt or a 3/4 shot, but it was nice if you enjoy nice horse butts and I do. The cards misprinted and faded the picture, but it looked like she'd planned it that way and they were awesome.

Anyway, they were unusual and people certainly remembered them.

I have, "Sometimes spies wear crinolines" on my twitter bio, but I think I will need something else for the card.

Great, I just untangled a plot knot yesterday and now something else to think about.

You would think I know what this story is about, I'm the writer. However, I wake up each morning anxious to see what's going to happen and what surprises lie in wait for me.

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” — Philip Pullman

Have a good one, y'all.

Sherry Howard said...

Oooo. I would NEVER have thought to do that! I'm constantly changing business cards for different events though. I like to have them match the focus of the event. I wonder what people think of a bookmark as a business card.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I was very glad to have had business cards at my last conference. I was asked for them a lot. I wish they had been more up to date. Going to order some more.

Felix sure does have the Carkoon vegan Dino porn and romance market locked down.

Sherry Howard said...

My brain just processed Felix's interesting card. My now caffeinated brain!

MelSavransky said...

The good news is business cards are a fabulous idea. The bad news is now I'm drooling over letterpress and card stock options instead of, you know, writing. (One small press has a card called 'American Psycho'-- made my morning.)

Donnaeve said...

2Ns - that was a hoot.

"I have never been keen on taking cards from writers at conferences."

And I was going to say, "Nope, as a writer, I would hope it would be the OTHER way around."

And then you said, "But I've cottoned on to your woodland creature ways (failing to query when asked, doubting my sincerity in asking). So now, sometimes, a FEW times, when I think a project has promise I ask the writer for a card.

Amy Why yes! Cotton can be a verb. I took a cotton to it. (meaning I liked it) Or, used a bit differently, "they're in high cotton now." (meaning they've done well, or are doing well.)


Donnaeve said...

And other examples exist I'm sure.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: See my comment above. You'd think "to cotton" was a Southernism given the association of cotton fields and the South. But it originated in England. :)

Unknown said...

England? I was thinking Cotton Mather, author and Salem witch trials enthusiast. Once he "cottoned onto" something, he didn't let go. I do wonder where his name originated though...

Amy Johnson said...

I promptly visited Merriam Webster after reading today's post to learn more about "cotton" as a verb. Then I told the kids about it after having one of my "I can't send the kids out into the world without them knowing (blank)" moments. Now they know too. Whew! Thanks, Janet.

Amy Johnson said...

And thanks Colin, Donna, and Lennon. :)

BJ Muntain said...

About five years ago, I got a deal on business cards - 500 for $10. I still have about half of them. I like them. They look professional, they have all my important contact information, and they're pretty good quality. They don't have anything about my novel on them, though. The deal was for only one-sided cards.

So, I have a whole back space to handwrite the information about whatever work I'm pitching. I'd never thought to do that before. I may have to do that from now on. (Luckily, I have neat printing.) I'll remember this for future cards.

Joseph S. said...

Wow - I actually did something right.

Before I went to the Writers League of Texas conference in 2014 I had cards printed. Name, book title, address, telephone numbers and email address on the front.

On the back:

Days after E.J. arrives on
an island in Brazil . . .

Terrorists want to kill him
and the police want
him for murder.

A benefit to me was taking the card to the pitch sessions to hand to the agent. In my first pitch session. I saw the back of the card right before i started my pitch and found myself using the little blurb to start the pitch. It got my voice working and the narrative flowing. Nice confidence builder.

Donnaeve said...

Ah, I did miss that Colin - not sure how since I usually make sure I read your comments! Thump to the noggin' for moi.


Donnaeve said...

Yes, now we're OT, but I found this interesting. So Colin pointed out the origin of "cotton to," meaning to take a liking to...

And here's the first thing I landed on to back that up: Cotton to

But the reason for thinking it's "southern" is b/c I think just about every other phrase with something to do with cotton appears based on having originated in the south. Such as "cotton picking," used in a negative manner. Anywho, for your reading pleasure and maybe more than you wanted to know. :)

cotton picking

Janet Reid said...

BJ I know you have neat handwriting but you can save time by using lables. Find a lable size closest to the card and print them up on the computer.

I did that for years as I switched email addresses often. (Yea, back in the dial up AOL days!)

Janet Reid said...

Label is el not le isn't i?
Yea, I need to have spell check installed in my brain.

Colin Smith said...

Possible responses to Janet:

1) Sorry, I can't critique a commenter's spelling.
2) Yes, Label is Spanish, not French.
3) Yes, i is.
4) You're absolutely correct, O Most Glorious of All Sharks!

Let's go with 4, eh? ;)

BJ Muntain said...

Great idea, Janet! I'll have to look into that. Thank you!

roadkills-r-us said...

While they are moderately more annoying to keep up with on my end, I hand out bookmarks instead of business cards. They're based on each book's cover, with various contact info, a tag line, etc. And they get spread around to a lot more people, hopefully encouraging new readers.

Steve Stubbs said...

Joseph Snoe said...

Days after E.J. arrives on
an island in Brazil . . .

Terrorists want to kill him
and the police want
him for murder.

Great story idea. Here is a suggestion for making it more compelling:

E.J. just wants to vacation in Brazil. But terrorists are spoilling his fun. The police, too. They want him for murder. Next year E.J. will stay home.

If he can get home alive, that is.

That might be too much for a card. Your story would make a good query letter, though. Let us know when it comes out.

AJ Blythe said...

For once I've done something right!

I've done this for a few years now, and since doing it agents I've talked to have asked for the card for that reason - so they can remember the conversation =)

Joseph S. said...

Thanks Steve

CynthiaMc said...

I know I'm late to the party but I have a cotton story. Nobody in Florida is sleeping right now so I'm telling a bedtime story (probably to myself).

My mother grew up on a farm in Mississippi. One of their crops was cotton. Occasionally Mother would het annoyed by her citified children who had never been out to the country except to go to the lake house. (None of us ever dared point out that was because all of the farm kids including her became citified adults).

I was about ten. We were on the way to the lake house. Mother was stressy and I was whining. Mother snapped and lit into me about how I had no idea about what hard work was (in fairness to her, I didn't. In fairness to me, that's the world she put me in).

On either side of the highway were endless cotton fields. Mother said in a withering tone "You never even picked cotton." That made me laugh. Y'all, never laugh at your mother when she's lecturing you. If she had said that to me when I was twelve, I would've lowered my eyes and said "No,ma'am." But I was ten and I laughed.

Mother pulled off to the side of the road in Where the Hell Are We Mississippi and said "Get out of the car." I really thought she was going to leave me there. She got out too, grabbed me by the hand, and said "We are going to pick cotton." I don't remember where we were prior to that, but I do remember we were not dressed for picking cotton. Mother was in heels and pearls and a dress more suited to Garden Club. I was worried about my patent leather shoes and cute little dress as we scrambled through barbed wire. I scrambled. Mother leapt it like a gazelle. "This is a cotton boll," she said. "This is how you pick it." She made me pick a few. "Got it?"

This time I was smart enough to say "Yes, ma'am."

Mother ripped off a stalk with a few bursting bolls on it, handed it to me, and said "Never forget."

If I manage to make it to heaven, I fully expect Mother to say "Remember the time I taught you how to pick cotton?"

And I will say "Yes,ma'am."

To my fellow sleepless Floridians, Godspeed. Get ready. Stay safe.

Donnaeve said...

CynthiaMc I loved that story! I loved "Where The Hell Are We" Mississippi - hey, I get it. Been to MS many times. Those long rolling highways with very little to see for miles and miles except (at least the part we go to) kudzu, deep ditches, fields of soybean, cotton, tobacco and corn. And trees. And more kudzu. Cows. I love that state though.

My next book is set on a cotton farm in eastern NC. I would say you'd have been a great resource - except - sounds like that one time is all the cotton picking you ever did. Great story!

CynthiaMc said...

Thanks, Donna! Yes, that was my only cotton picking experience. Cotton is tougher than it looks. I had sore fingers for days. I kept that stalk for a long time - stuck it in a vase and used it for decoration.

CynthiaMc said...

I think we were going from Philadelphia (Mississippi, not the other one) to Lake Cavalier just outside Jackson. Probably from a funeral, given Mother's stress level and our dress code.