Thursday, December 1, 2011

Marketing Tips for the Financially-Challenged Indie Author: Business Cards

Recently, I was invited to write a guest blog on Lindsay Buroker’s website, http://www.savvyselfpublishing.com/, focusing on the subject of creating the cover images for my books.  While formulating my post, I got to thinking about the other book-related projects I have created using the (mostly) basic programs on my laptop.
Where am I going with this exactly?  Well, I’d like to start a series of posts discussing the different manners of marketing I’ve used to help promote my books.  I’m not guaranteeing that these methods will work for you (and I’ll admit, they haven’t always panned out for me), but perhaps they will give you a way to promote your own books or inspire you to come up with your own ideas.
I’ll start with the simplest project and something all business people should have: business cards!  And yes, being an independent author is like owning a business, and cards are a quick and easy way to pass on your information to readers or retailers who might be interested in your work.
Many websites and local copy stores offer services with regards to creating your own business cards.  Personally, I use overnightprints.com and vistaprint.com for my business cards.  Using an online source allows me to create exactly what I want at a really good price.  An added bonus: they deliver the finished product right to my door.  So I would suggest doing a little homework and getting an idea of prices and such before you start.
Once you have chosen a company to print out your little works of art, you are ready to start designing.  If you are using Microsoft Word (I use Word 2007), then you begin by opening a new Word document and setting the page size to the dimensions to the size specified by the printing company (here is the link to the specification page if you are uploading your design on overnightprints.com: http://www.overnightprints.com/main.php?A=uploader&new=1&p=bc&s=none).  Make sure you have your margins set to 0” all around before you start.  I also draw in a basic text box and make it slightly smaller than the page.  This way I can make sure all my text and images are within these boundaries and won’t get cut off in the printing process.
This is my single-sided business card.  I left the outline of the 'safety box' so you can see how I used it to judge my usable space.

Next, you can start working on your design. I’ve created two business card designs in the past, the first being single-sided (pictured above), the second being double-sided (pictured below). I prefer the double sided design because that way you can take up an entire side with your cover image and use the reverse side for all your other information: where to buy the book, a short synopsis, your email and/or website . . . Of course this is up to you and it all depends on how much you wish to spend (double-sided business cards cost a little more). Just remember: a double-sided card means two separate files.  To add art and such, I always use text boxes. Why? Because they give me the freedom to move images around in my working space and to get text exactly where I want it.

Here is the front of my double-sided bookmark.  It is basically the cover image of my book.  Simple and to the point.

When everything looks nice and you are pleased with your creation, save your file as a Word document AND a PDF (it’s always good to have that Word document in case you decide to change things around later).  When your PDF is ready, you can go back to the website of your choice and upload your image.  If everything goes well, you should have some fine-looking business cards to pass on to potential readers.
And this is the back of the business card, where I listed a quick synopsis, the series website, my email address and where to purchase the books.  I also cut and pasted the image of the dragon's eye, faded the edges and centered it to add a little more flare


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