Business Cards and Bookmarks

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).

business card 1

business card 2

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?

Categories: Author Platform & Branding, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Marketing & Promoting, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The Phoenix Conference: Buildin’ the Dream

Janet, Ruth, Judy, and Rose

From left: Janet Syas Nitsick (me), Ruth Ann Nordin, Judy DeVries and Rose Gordon

Flying away to Phoenix for a writing conference was one special time not only in what the conference offered but also in the flying experience.

Never before had I flown first class. Dreamed about it but did not believe I would do it. However, the trip to Phoenix changed that.

I experienced a full-course meal, including wine and dessert and bags arriving first in the baggage terminal. It was a great and sure beats my last time flying where my youngest autistic son ran out the plane while waiting to take off from Omaha Eppley Airfield. You can read about this in my first book, Seasons of the Soul.

Of course, Phoenix’s scenery was spectacular. A little too hot in late May for even this cold-blooded individual with temperatures around 107 degrees. But, the sand domes in the horizon took your breath away!

But I digress. What I liked about the Buildin’ the Dream Conference was how you got to interact with fellow authors, publishers and workshops speakers. It was more informal, where you could enjoy eating in the hotel’s breakfast buffet where conferees gathered and intermingle with them or in the lobby area.

You were not going from one workshop to another in rooms so packed you barely could breathe. In addition, you did not walk a mile in high heels to find food. Everything at the hotel was at your finger tips.

The nice advantage of attending a conference like this one was the wonderful speakers, such as USA Today best-selling author Rose Gordon, a top, book-cover designer Anya Kelleye and a Phoenix attorney, Megan D. Scott, who is an entertainment and copyright lawyer.

Gordon gave two presentations. Her first was “Mistakes Authors Make – Historical.” Gordon knows how to sell and make money, thus she knew of what she spoke so you listened.

She writes Regency and American historical romances. Gordon said for you to think of the setting as your wallpaper where people wear clothing and interact to those time-period dictates. Remember, however, to focus on the romance so do not get caught in details which overshadow your storyline. Your office needs to include a dictionary, access to Web resources, a book on that age’s idioms and a trusted friend who knows more than you about the period, she said.

Adding to Rose’s last point, I have a friend who read my Lockets and Lanterns and my novella, She Came by Train. She is knowledgeable about farms, farm animals, reading by kerosene light and attending a small country school. This friend is an excellent resource. I cannot tell you how many times she caught something wrong.

Her second workshop was “Your Books, Your Business.” Gordon told attendees to write with their hearts but think with their brains. Thus make sure your book is done, edited, formatted, has an attractive cover which sells and is marketable. Study your genre, engage the readers, condense descriptions to a sentence or two and become visible like through blog tours, giveaways, promotional items and advertisements, she said. Each piece, though, has its pros and cons. An author blog, for example, is where people interact and learn about you. The con is the time involved in doing one, she added.

Anya Kelleye showed us some of her cover designs. A good book cover needs a strong focal point and must evoke emotions. She cautioned against using a script font. Instead, keep it simple. Too many images or text overtake the cover, she said. Remember, she added, your cover does not need to tell the novel’s whole story.

The lawyer, Scott, also was a great resource. Each state is unique in its own laws, she said. No matter, however, where you live when you bring your idea to physical material it is copyrighted even before it is published and recorded with the United States Copyright office, she said.

In addition, there were many other wonderful workshops. The smaller arena gave you time to talk to the speakers for a short time after their workshops. It also allowed you space to sit and take notes.

But, downfalls did exist. One was the Buildin’ the Dream author conference, and the Arizona Dreamin reader event shared the same Web site page. The two headers used the same colors and unless you paid close attention you could easily sign up for the wrong event. On their feedback form, I alerted them to this problem.

Would I go again, you ask? You bet, in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful trip. The conference was fantastic and it was awesome meeting people you interact with on the Internet, such as Lauralynn Elliott and Judy DeVries. It also was great seeing Rose Gordon again. laughing with her, Judy and Ruth Ann. They even taught me some new words. It was a lovely trip and traveling and sharing a hotel room with Ruth Ann Nordin made it the best. God bless.

 
Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Covers, Book Formatting, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Copyright, General Writing, Marketing & Promoting, Self-Publishing, Social Networking, The Reader, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , ,

Combatting the Fear of Failure

I read something a while back on a forum where someone thought something was wrong with their book because Bookbub didn’t take their book for a promotion.  For anyone not aware of Bookbub, it’s a marketing service for authors who will take the book and send out an email blast to everyone who subscribes to receive daily notices of sales.  The best thing about it is that it pairs up the genre of the book with readers interested in that particular genre.  The ads can be expensive, but I hear it pays out in results.  Here’s the link in case anyone’s interested: https://www.bookbub.com/home/

Well, I recently submitted a book in hopes of promoting it and was turned down.  I thought if I came out and publicly said my book wasn’t accepted, it would help someone who might be wondering if they are a failure because Bookbub didn’t take their book.

The truth is, Bookbub can’t take everyone who submits a book.  I can only imagine how many submissions they get a day. Considering its popularity, it’s a lot.  There’s no way they can take everyone’s book.  They have to make the hard decision on which book to take, and I bet a lot of books they receive are professionally done.

But the key is that they can only take the books they believe will have the best chance of satisfying their subscribers.  It’s not personal.  It’s business.  If Bookbub didn’t accept your book, please don’t take it as a reflection of your book.  This is not a failure on your part.

And this leads me to other things you shouldn’t take personally.  Don’t assume you’re a failure because you didn’t get an award, didn’t sell a certain number of books, or get on a USA or NYT Bestseller list.  You are not a failure just because you don’t get these things.  These things do not accurately reflect the quality of your book.

So how can you combat the fear of failure if it stars rearing its ugly head?  Here are some ideas:

Define What success Is For Yourself

I think one of the worst things we can do is let someone else define what “success” is for us.  The world has its own ideas on what makes a writer successful.  We have to make a conscious decision to tune this out.  I know it’s hard.  It’s why I often go offline or stick to a very small part of the Internet.  It helps me keep in touch with that part of me that started writing books to begin with.

Do Things You Enjoy

Also, we’re all different.  We aren’t all meant to hang out on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.  We’re not all meant to blog or hang out on forums.  There’s no way we can do everything.    Life is too short to spend your time doing things that you hate.  For example, I hate selling books at a table.  I’m an introvert.  I would much rather be at home writing.  But I have a friend who loves selling books at fairs.  She is a people person and loves to engage them.  I’d much rather blog, and she doesn’t like blogging a lot.  What’s the point in me trying to convince her to do things my way or vice versa?

We have our own interests based on our comfort level and personalities.  Life would be very boring if we all did the exact same thing.  Pick what you enjoy, and do that.  And if someone tries to make you feel like you’re a failure because you aren’t doing something they want you to do, run away from that person as fast as you can.  They will only drain you.  Stick with people who are supportive.

Only Make Goals You Have Control Over

My favorite goal is, “I will write X number of books a year.” Then I go through and figure out how I can realistically make this happen.  Writing books is what I love doing most, and I can control it.  I can’t control if others like it or how many will sell.

Don’t make “I will sell X number of copies” a goal.  Instead, do something like, “I will contact X number of bloggers about my book to see if they’ll review it” or “I will submit a book to Bookbub to see if they’ll let me run an ad” or “I will put a link to my website at the end of my ebook” or “I will write a 1-3 sentence blurb about my other books at the end of my ebook to help advertise them” your goals.  These are concrete things you can do.

Goals that rely on other people to do things for you are bad goals because you can’t control what they do.  For example, “X number of people will tell Y number of people about my book” isn’t a good goal.

Recognize the Blessings When They Come

Not winning an award, not making it to the Top 100 on Amazon, not selling a certain number of books, or not reaching some other landmark you were aiming for can be a bummer.  It’s okay to be disappointed.  You’re only human.  You can’t be happy all the time.  But don’t stay in the funk.  Recognize the other things that are working in your favor.

Good things do come along, and sometimes they come in the most unexpected ways.  My suggestion is to make a list of the good things that come along.  Maybe you got an email from a reader who said they loved your book.  (I suggest printing it out.)   Maybe you found out someone said something positive about your book to someone else or on a blog or in a forum.  Maybe there was someone whose marriage is better off today because they read your books and took the time to thank you.  There are many things in this world we don’t control but do happen to make our days brighter.  If we take the time to appreciate them when they happen, it helps to combat the “I didn’t get X” feeling of despair.  I know it’s human nature to focus on the negative, which is why I suggest making a list of the positive and referring to it often.

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This list doesn’t cover everything, but  hopefully, this will help someone who might be in need of some encouraging words.  I want to thank Stephannie Beman for helping me come up with the list.

Categories: Psychology of Writing & Publishing, The Writer & Author

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