Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Get some low-budget silent salesmen. All authors need business cards and tchotchkes (trinkets)

Here's my latest business card.
Price was just $9.99 for 500 plus a few bucks for shipping, from VistaPrint.

Books are often sold one-at-a-time, and each happy purchaser can tell someone else, and each of those can tell others, and so on.

Authors -- whether self-published or traditionally published -- can't afford to be meek. You must get comfortable talking to strangers in elevators, at conventions, on airplanes or on a line at the supermarket. If you're afraid to toot your own horn, you'll have to hire someone to toot for you.

A business card is an important accessory to your tooting. It's a powerful and inexpensive 'souvenir' of a meeting that can lead to business.

  • You can have cards that promote specific books, book series, and cards that identify yourself as an author, as a publisher, an editor or provider of other services.
  • Always have several cards of each type with you.
  • If you are going to a trade show, convention, networking session or other business event, take lots of cards.
  • Separate them so you can quickly grab the right one.
    Below are some of mine.

Any time you sign or send a book, stick in three to six business cards that show the book cover and maybe "at Amazon and B&N" or your website address if you prefer to sell directly. Make it easy for happy customers to recommend the book to others. While some of the cards may be used as bookmarks, crumb sweepers or be thrown away, I assume that some will be passed on to potential purchasers.

I get my cards from VistaPrint, a major maker of business cards and other printed products for businesses which I've been buying from for many years. For the cards shown here, I uploaded a TIF image measuring 1000 by 1750 pixels, copied from the PDF of my covers. The paperback books measure 6 by 9 inches, and fit fine on the business card with a little white space above and below the cover image for promotional copy.

The price was just $25 for 1500 cards -- less than two cents each with rush shipping. If you spend a little more, you can have VistaPrint use the space on the back to print some blurbs from readers or reviewers who like the book.
  • Tip: Unless you have a close deadline, don't spend extra for rush shipping.
  • Tip: Discounts are common. Look for specials in your mail, on radio, TV, online.
  • Tip: Unless you know you'll use them quickly, don't order more than 500 cards at once. You may want to make changes or corrections.
  • If you (or a friend or relative) has a business that ships products, stick cards in every package that goes out.
  • Tip: VistaPrint has lots of other promotional tchotchkes including pads, posters, bags, mugs, hats, shirts, signs, calendars, mouse pads, etc. You can walk around as a living advertisement with your cover on your chest. Here's the mug I just ordered for $14.

My wife and I carry cards around to give to possible "customers." Marilyn has turned out to be an excellent salesperson. She motivated our dentist to order a copy from Amazon and I signed it for him when I had my teeth cleaned. My podiatrist, however, asked for a freebie. I gave it to him and he displays it in his office. So does my urologist. Nice.

Promotional bookmarks are much less useful than they used to be. They don't work with ebooks and don't easily fit into wallets.

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