Business Cards–an Overlooked Book Marketing Tool

sample bcardThe lowly business card. It has to be one of the most overlooked, and underused, tool in an author’s promotional arsenal.

Back in college, where I studied graphic design, one of my instructors taught us to think of a business card as a billboard in miniature. It’s an advertisement for the product or service that you represent. Sadly, too many people don’t see it that way. It seems most of the business cards people hand to me are so poorly done that I immediately dump them in the recycling bin. It’s really not that hard to design a good, effective business card that promotes your book. (Or your product or service.) Here are a few tips to create a more effective business card.

Use Easy to Read Serif Fonts

If you want your message to be quickly and easily understood then it needs to be easily read. I suggest using serif fonts, like Times New Roman, Baskerville, Century Schoolbook or Garamond. They all work well, and I highly recommend using them for your most important information, such as your name, your phone number and your email address. If a fancy, decorative font makes this information too hard to read your card will end up in the trash.

If Using a Dark Background Use a Light Colored Text

Someone once handed a business card with a dark brown background and red text. Both colors had the same value, which meant there was no contrast whatsoever between the two colors. This made her phone number and email address impossible for me to read. Her card went straight to the recycling bin.

Keep the Font Size at Least 9 Points

I have been frustrated to no end trying to decipher phone numbers and email addresses printed with a 6 point, or smaller, font size. Even with reading glasses, the type is too small for me to see clearly. My graphic design instructors taught me that anything smaller than 9 points is very difficult to read. If I can’t read it, the card goes into the recycling bin.

Don’t Look Cheap

I understand money is an issue for many of us, but you want to avoid cutting costs on your business card. A cheap card is like a cheap suit, and it makes you look, well, cheap. No one wants to do business with someone who looks like they don’t have any money.

Nothing turns me off faster than to look at a business card, turn it over, and see vistaprint.com stamped on the back. That tells me they were too cheap, or too broke, to spend $50 to get some decent cards printed. At that point I’m done. The other problem with using on-line business card templates is that other people use them too. I have, on occasion, ended up with virtually identical business cards from different people who used the same template, making too easy to pull the wrong person’s card out of the Rolodex.

Another big no-no is printing out your cards at home on your printer. (Something I was once guilty of doing myself.) Again, it looks cheap. The paper stock is flimsy at best, and dot matrix printers do not have the clarity of a real press.

For you authors out there, I recommend a simple card, with your book cover, your name and contact info, including your website, or a website where your book can be purchased. You don’t need to use the artsy-fartsy Vista Print background template that everyone else is using. A plain white, ivory, or pastel background should work just fine. If your budget is small there are plenty of on-line printers, such asĀ PrintingForLess.com, who can print 500 4-color cards for about $50, including shipping. Now how hard is that?

My tip for the day.

GM