an overlooked book marketing tool
The lowly business card. One of the most overlooked, and underused, tools in an author’s promotional arsenal.
I studied graphic design in college, and 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 you represent. Sadly, too many people don’t see it that way. Many of the business cards people hand me are so poorly done I want to dump them in the recycling bin. Honestly, it’s not hard to design a professional looking business card that helps promote your book. (Or your product or service.)
Use easy to to read serif fonts
You want your message to be understood. Therefore, it needs to be easily read. As a graphic designer, I suggest using serif fonts. Serif fonts are easier to read than sans serif fonts. Common serif fonts include Times New Roman, Baskerville, Century Schoolbook and Garamond. All are attractive and easy to read. I highly recommend using them for your most important information, such as your name, phone number and email address. If a fancy, decorative font makes this information too hard to read, your card may end up in the trash.
Use a light colored text on dark backgrounds
Someone once handed me a business card with tiny red text on a dark brown background. Both colors had the same value, meaning there was no contrast between them. This made her phone number and email address unreadable, so her card went into the trash.
If you must use a dark background, use a light color for your text, such as white or yellow. Ideally, you should use a light background with black or navy blue text. Light texts on dark backgrounds are hard on the eyes.
Keep the font size to a 9 point minimum
I’ve been frustrated to no end trying to decipher phone numbers and email addresses printed with a 6 point, or smaller, font. Even with my strongest prescription glasses, the type is too small for me to see clearly. My graphic design instructors taught me that any font size smaller than 9 points is very difficult for people to read. If I can’t read it, the card goes into the wastebasket. No exceptions.
Don’t be cheap
I get it. Money is an issue for many of us. However, you want to avoid cutting costs on your business card. A cheap looking card makes you look, well, cheap, and no one wants to do business with someone who looks like they don’t have any money.
One of the biggest no-nos is printing out your business cards at home. I recall a business association meeting where someone asked the woman sitting next to me for her card. She smiled and proudly handed that person a home printed printed card. The person she gave it to responded with, “Oh, I see you’re using Papers Direct.” That was it. She was done. What could have been a good business lead instantly went sour. Don’t be that woman. A homemade business card makes you look like a rank amatuer.
Be careful with online templates
Online business card templates have become popular with those on a budget. However, other people are using the same template too. I have, on occasion, ended up with identical business cards from different people in different occupations who used the same background template. This made it all too easy for me to pull up the wrong card. If using an online template keep it simple, and stay away from the artsy fartsy Vista Print background templates with all the flowery swirls.
The best design for author business cards
For you authors out there, I recommend a designing simple card, with your book cover or logo, along with your name, website and contact info. A plain white, ivory, or pastel background should work just fine. If your budget is small there are plenty of online printing companies, such as PrintingForLess.com, who can print 500 4-color cards for around $50, including shipping. If needed, they can also help you design your cards.
Remember, your business card represents you. Oftentimes it’s the first thing people will see about you, and you want to give them the best impression you possibly can.