Happy Friday, Readers!

Now of course you know that your book cover is your Number One Book Promotion Tool. After all, even if you’ve written an outstanding tome, if you have a cheesy, dull, or just plain ugly cover, it’s going to be hard to convince people that what’s inside that cover is a work of art. But what other items can you use to promote your book? Since I’m heading into the marketing stage of The Voyage: Book Two of the Osteria Chronicles I thought a series of posts on promotional goodies would be a fun way to occupy my Friday blogging time for a few weeks.

Promo Goodies Part One: Card Games

When it comes to promo cards, you can either make business cards or postcards (or both). I’ve done both and, personally, I find business cards more useful. However, if you have a decent-sized mailing list (physical mail, not email), postcards could be a great option for you. If you have a tiny or non-existent mailing list and order a box of postcards, well, I hope you enjoy building postcard castles.

While postcards are nice for mailing, business cards are much easier to carry around to hand out or to stick up on community boards. Thanks to their small size, you can also do a bit of “sneaky” promotion with business cards by slipping them into other books in your genre as you browse the aisles of bookstores. Think about it, if you believe Lord of the Ring fans will enjoy your book, having these fans encounter your book’s card tucked amongst the pages of The Fellowship of the Ring is a great way to make them aware of your book’s existence.

Where to Get Cards

Another benefit of business cards is that printing services for them are everywhere and are relatively cheap. Postcard printing services are also abundant, but can chew more deeply into your marketing budget…and don’t forget you’ll need postage as well.

Although I’ve seen comments from people who absolutely hate Vistaprint, I’ve been very happy with everything I’ve gotten from them. The print quality is excellent, they have a good selection of designs, the paper is high quality, prices are a little below average and the turn around time is quick. Plus, they’re always having specials. I’ve tried out services such as OfficeMax/OfficeDepot and find them pricey with inconsistent print quality. Other popular card printing services include Moo, Got Print and JukeBox, and you may also want to check out locally-owned printers in your area.

Creating Your Card

You have a couple options for building your cards: You can either work with a pre-designed template available on the printer’s website or you can fully design your own card. As with book covers, if you do not have design experience or a good eye, use a template or hire someone to create your card.

As you create your own card, you may wonder what you should put on it. The short answer: As little as possible while conveying as much information as possible. Sounds tricky, huh? Whether you go with a postcard or business card, you have a limited amount of space. Sure, you can cram it full of info and images, but the more you cram onto your card the harder it is to read.

An overcrowded card is also not very inviting, while a card with a crisp design and just a small amount of text will get people’s attention. Seriously, people are lazy, if you give them too much to read, they may not read any of it; but if you give them a couple lines of text, their eyes may have read your words before even realizing what those optical orbs were up to.

On your cards you can either put your book cover (best for postcards) or an eye-catching image that relates to your book (better for business cards). As for text, you can’t fit your entire book description on the card so don’t try. Instead, use a teaser line that will pique curiosity (see Three Steps to a Fabulous Book Description to find out how to whittle your blurb into one short sentence). Of course, include your book’s title and your name. I also like to make it clear that my cards are promoting a book by adding a line that says “Available in paperback and e-book formats.”

And don’t waste that space on the back of your card. Get a QR code (there’s loads of free QR code generators online) and link it to your book’s page on your website. It’s also a good idea (since some people may be wary about scanning a QR code) to state where the QR code will take them and what they’ll find there. For example: Please scan this code to learn more about MY BOOK and to read a sample at MYWEBSITE.COM.

Building Your Own Design

If you happen to be lucky enough to find a template with the perfect image for your book, then you can just fill in the text, size it so it’s legible, insert your QR code and place your order. If you’re not so lucky (or just love to design) you can make your own card using the exact same methods as I described in Yes, You Can Make a Book Cover in Microsoft Word, including finding a high-quality image, using text boxes and adjusting colors as needed.

The only difference is that, before you begin, create a box to contain your design. This box should be bigger than (so you can shrink it without losing detail) but the same scale as a card. For example, a business card in the U.S. is 2″ x 3″, so your “design box” should be either 4″x6″ or 6″x9″. Keeping the design to scale makes it much smoother to load your design onto the printer’s order form.

My Cards

I just loaded my own card design (done in Word) to Vistaprint this morning. Here’s what I came up with (color is the front, greyscale is the back)….

cardproofThanks for reading everyone. Next week, I’ll delve into the exciting promotional world of Media Kits! 

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