I tend to make business cards when I’m just starting to write a book. The reason is, every time you talk to anybody about what you’re working on, it may sound dumb or just be an idea and they will forget all about it. Unless you have a business card.
In which case you can whip it out and take immediate action – give them something tangible to hold on to (it will make an impression even if they throw it away later). When should you start marketing? Now. Telling people about it also keeps me on track towards finishing/publishing it.
But this only works if your business card is awesome, and professional.
So here are a few tips to keep in mind (based on a ‘case study’ of the cards I just helped an author with.)
Of these three cards – the book cover design I made for “Working Dad” is in the middle. The author wanted a back side with another photo – and the one on the left is his sample. The one on the right is my remake. In this post I’ll be referring to these samples.
(Two versions of the front).
1) Your business cards are as important as your book cover
So if you make them yourself, make sure they’re awesome. You can get psd templates from GraphicRiver.com; or most print companies (I use overnightprints.com have some built in templates or software you can use.
If you paid for a book cover design, see if the designer can fix something up in photoshop. If not, hire someone on fiverr.com (you may pay a little more than $5, but it will be worth it).
Don’t print them at home. Overnightprints is super cheap and the quality is pretty good.
2) Keep the text clear and simple
Don’t play with fancy fonts, colors or text effects. Very simple fonts (Garamond or a nice serif, or Lato/Open Sans for sans-serif work fine). Keep a lot of space between elements. Very small and spaced out is better than big and crammed.
You can match the fonts of the book cover, but don’t overdo it.
3) Add the benefit (or teaser, tagline)
The card needs to help sell the book. So besides looking professional, it needs to have the right content – it needs to make people interested. For a non-fiction, you do that with a great benefits promise. In “Working Dad” it’s “Earn more money than ever. Spend more time with your children.” That’s a great benefit promise, what parent wouldn’t be interested?
For a fiction, you can add a great teaser (you have one don’t you? These are so powerful – you need to spend some time on this (or money – just hire someone on fiverr.com to brainstorm with you.) A great teaser helps let the reader know the book is for them by identifying the genre, main conflict, plot point, character or setting, and hinting at the special elements of the book. Someday soon I’ll write a post like “100 great teasers for fiction.” A great cover and title isn’t enough – you need a teaser.
4) Add a “call to action”
What do you want people to do? Like a good website sales page, a business card should have one call to action. (That’s why I’m not usually a fan of double side cards, unless they are adding new information/more value.) The Working Dad card has “Join the Adventure” with a link to the website, that’s not bad. And also the author’s email.
I would probably add Facebook or Twitter handles (more opportunities to connect). You can have these without changing the main call to action. But if you had “Buy now on Amazon” on the same side of the card, then you’d have two calls to action… A little confusing.
“Buy it today!” is not a great call to action, people don’t like the word “Buy” or “Purchase.” “Get it” or “Now Available” is better.
Looking back at my cards, it’s not immediately obvious that this is a book… you might want to say “A Novel” or “Available in Paperback and Ebook formats” just to make it clear.
5) You don’t need links
Nobody is going to type out the full url to get to your book or website (or Twitter or Facebook page). People will search for the name of the book or your handles.
So you can just write (example – these aren’t real):
“Available on Amazon.com”
You don’t need the whole “http://www…..”
(if there’s room, it’s fine to start with “www. – ”
6) Pictures are good but…
You want to make an emotional connection. Hopefully you have a brilliant book cover, if so, use it. I wouldn’t add a tiny image or 3D mockup (because it will take up less room). Copy the book cover style and make it as big as possible. Make it consistent for branding. If the title is long, consider putting it horizontal so it can be even bigger. You could put the art on one side and the title on the other if there is no room.
Now that you’ve got your cover art… you don’t want to overshadow or distract from it with other pictures. In the Working Dad card, those two images are pretty similar, so it’s probably alright. Otherwise, I’d stick to just one picture and keep things simple with a color or texture on the other side.
In this other card I made recently, the cover design doesn’t really have a picture, so we added one to the back – the laughing girls really express the mood of the book, and don’t compete with the cover art. Pictures are more important than words and details (if done well) so it’s OK to cover most of the card with a picture.
7) I recommend using ‘spot varnish’ (no extra cost)
To do that you need one version of the card with the text you want to spot varnish in black, everything else white. So you just strip the background, change things to black and white and save it as another file (below is the one I made for Creativity and Camaraderie).
If you upload both of these to Overnightprints.com, the card will be matte but there will be a gloss over the text, that you see when you turn it in the light. It’s a simple, free way of making your cards much cooler and more professional (they can do it on postcards also if you print those…)