Business Card Protocol

December 27, 2013

“Never leave home without it.” American Express uses this advertising slogan but it can well apply to your life as a writer, too. Always carry bookmarks, postcards, or business cards with you. You never know when the opportunity will arise to pass them out.

Today, we met up outside the post office with a former colleague of my husband’s whom he hasn’t seen in years. The men got to chatting. When the friend mentioned how he listened to audio books on his trips north, I whipped out my card. Ah ha, a booklover, I thought! Even though my mysteries are not available in audio formats (and I have asked for my rights back, in case you are wondering, but the publisher is hanging onto them), I figured he might look up my works or pass the card along to his wife.

Then I went shopping for some black leather gloves to take to New York City, when I go there next month for my orientation as President for Florida Chapter of MWA. I gave the saleslady a business card in exchange for my receipt. She was delighted to meet an author. So maybe I scored two readers out of today’s excursions, who knows?

It’s easier to carry a business card than other formats in your purse or pocket, so what should you include? I buy my cards at Vistaprint and use their templates. That makes things simpler. Since I brand myself as a Florida author, the palm tree motif suits my needs just fine.

Side One

You could put your book cover on side one and the information on the other. But I use my first side to introduce who I am as an author.


Here you’ll find my tag line, social links to Twitter and Facebook, my Website and Blog URLs, plus my email address. In the early days, I listed my PO Box address and phone number. I wouldn’t do this anymore. Few people contact me this way now. However, I do keep a couple of those cards around for conferences or events where I might make contact for a possible speaking engagement. I’ll hand those people the cards with my phone number. Everyone else gets this card, and I carry them everywhere.

Side Two

This is where the book info goes: title, author name, series, ISBNs, formats and buy links. I provide QR codes that take readers either to my Website or my Amazon author page.


What is a QR code? It’s a box with encoded information that sends customers to a page online where they obtain information or perform an action. The site may be a URL or may show text such as an excerpt from your latest book. Smartphone users must download a free QR reader app to scan the codes. How do you get your own code? Type “QR Code Generator” into your search window. Go to the site and follow directions. Save your code as a picture file to your computer. Make sure you label what it is so you can remember. Then use it on your printed promotional materials.

Since I write in two genres, I’ve put one mystery book cover and one romance book cover on my business cards. My latest title is the one that’s usually featured (Warrior Prince isn’t my latest, but you get the idea). Once you have the template on Vistaprint, it’s easy to substitute new book covers and data.

Besides handing out your business cards at conferences or putting them on your book signing table, what else can you do with these items? Stick them in the bills that you still snail mail to the vendor. Hand one with your restaurant receipt to the waitress. Give one to the post office clerk, people you meet at parties, anyone who mentions they like to read. One thing I do not stoop to doing is approaching strangers who are reading. I don’t care to intrude. Otherwise, blatant self-promotion is the rule. Don’t be afraid to toot your horn.

What do you put on your business cards?


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0 thoughts on “Business Card Protocol

  1. I keep my business cards simple. I get mine from Printing For Less, and I love the quality. Nice glossy, heavy stock, and the company is eco-friendly. (OK, that’s my plug for them!) Mine has my logo, my website and my email on the front. I like the idea of adding a QR code to my website when I get more printed. Normally, I also carry bookmarks which fit in my purse or my badge holder at conferences, and hand those out to people I meet in situations where “Oh, you’re a writer?” comes up. Women normally carry purses, so they can fit the bookmark inside. I have different bookmarks for two of my series; I should probably get some for my mystery series as well. For men, I’m more apt to hand over a business card. I’ve always got some of both with me if I have a purse. If not, it’s just my business cards.

    1. Same for me, I can carry both bookmarks and business cards when I have my regular sized purse with me. Writing different series comes with its own problems. Do you order separate sets of bookmarks for each series or combine them onto one bookmark? I do both.

  2. Nancy, putting cards in envelopes for vendors and leaving them with waitresses are great ideas.You’re right about not forcing cards on people busy reading… too pushy. I use
    Vistaprint too. They’re terrific. When USPO lost my order, Vistaprint reprinted it same day and shipped it next day air— all for free—and saved my book launch.

  3. As always, this is a very informative post and you give great advice! I also use Vistaprint, and the same thing happened to me on my recent order – lost by the post office, and Vistaprint replaced them for free, and quickly! However, I wish I’d read this post before I placed my order. I’d forgotten all about QR codes. Oh, well, they’re so inexpensive I could always reorder.

  4. As always, a very helpful post, Nancy. I used to do a business card per book, but that got costly. My favorite one that people seemed eager to take had the cover of RUNNING SCARED on one side (with my website info, etc.) and next year’s calendar on the other. The downside was these were good only a year. I once got an author’s business card with a form on the back for listing medications. I thought that was a good idea until I tried writing mine in the teensy tiny blanks. LOL I’ve also seen tip guides, charts that figure gratuities for various amounts).. I thought if I gave the reader some reason to hang on to the card, she would. The challenge is designing a card so everything is on one side only without looking crowded or busy. Tough!

    1. These are all good ideas. Personally, I have enough calendars. With cell phones, most people can access this type of info, including tip charts. People who are interested in your work will keep the cards anyway.

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