Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Why Authors Need Business Cards

Several months after we published our first book, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, we attended a writers’ conference because we were finalists in their contest. This experience proved to be one of the most valuable events in our writing careers. We met some terrific people (some of whom have remained good friends). We networked with other industry professionals. But, perhaps most valuable, we got lots of excellent advice and information.

One of the speakers was a marketing expert. In addition to the usual recommendations (have a professional-looking website, join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), she emphasized getting business cards—and using them.

We already had cards, provided by the publisher, and had given them out during the conference, but the speaker pointed out why they were important and other ways they could be useful.

A primary reason to have cards is to establish yourself as a serious writer. Once your first book comes out, you are a published author. You need to emphasize your professionalism. Your website LinkedIn profile, author page on Facebook, and your cards all convey this idea.

For the first romance anthology, my second book, Snowflake Secrets, I made my own cards. Staples and other office supply stores carry blank cards.

At first, we had cards printed for each book and passed them out ahead of publication to increase interest. Vistaprint.com used to offer free cards for just the price of shipping. You had to use one of their basic designs, but fortunately, we liked them. This is still the least expensive source we have found. We are on their mailing list, so we also get additional special offers.

Once we were multi-published, we realized we needed author cards with our basic information on them. These are the ones we now use most often. Sometimes we use the generic designs. At other times, especially when they have a sale, we create our own design. This one is one of theirs.

For series books, we sometimes create one card to span the series. We did this for the first book of Larry’s sci-fi series The McGregor Chronicles: Book 1 – Saving Mike because we always knew he’d write more. (Book 5 is ready for publication, and he’s halfway through Book 6.)

So, how do we use them?

First, we always carry them wherever we go. If we meet someone and start to talk about our books, we can hand them a card and tell them to visit our website. (it’s listed on the card.) Since we now have seventeen published books between us, sending them to the website makes sense.

We have given out cards while standing in line at Disneyland, at the mall, and lots of other unexpected places. I recently gave on to a lady in a store. I think she used it because we sold one of the books we had discussed on about the same day we talked to her.

One of our favorite uses is when we eat in a restaurant. We usually pay with a credit card. When we sign the receipt (or leave a tip), we take out a card and write “Thank You” on the back. First, it is a nice gesture to the wait staff. Second, they may remember you. Of course, you have to leave a nice tip, but we always do.

We did this one day, and our waiter returned with two other ladies. One was the restaurant owner, and the other was an organizer of an upcoming event at the restaurant. Since the whole event focused on the history of San Juan Capistrano, about which we have written, we were glad to know about it. We attended, met some valuable contacts, and handed out more cards.

You never know when someone will use your card. We have been contacted by people who told us they had been given one of our cards by someone else.

I once worked for a company where, on the second day of employment, every employee received a box of business cards, whether or not they dealt with vendors or customers. When I asked why, I was told, “This is the cheapest form of advertising.” We have always felt the same.

Since Claire’s book, Trust the Wind, was published on her birthday, I had cards made for her as her birthday present. This time, I chose custom ones.

One of my dear author friends has separate cards made for each of her books and uses them to create interest prior to the book’s launch. She attends many author events, conferences, and book fairs where she can hand them out.

Do you have business cards? How do you use them?


  1. Of course I always use biz cards--they do work. Great post and advice.

  2. Thanks. I know you do, and you're right. They work well and aren't very expensive.

  3. You bet I use my business cards. Lorna, everything you said is spot on. I also have postcards printed for each book to send to my mailing list. I give those out during conversations also.

    1. Good idea! I put a card in every book I sign. I also make bookmarks for those who buy a book.