Do we writers who have yet to sell our first book need to take business cards to a writers conference? The answer I got was yes. They’re a great tool for networking and are highly recommended by publishing professionals. I attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in March and was glad I had cards to exchange.
I made some embarrassing mistakes on my first business cards that screamed newbie. (I won’t confess which ones to spare myself further humiliation.) Because of that, I’ve done some research on this matter since, so, in the hopes of sparing other unpublished writers the red-faced moments I suffered, I’ll share what I’ve learned.
The first day at Mount Hermon, I saw seasoned conferees pull out cards that they carried behind their name tags. I promptly tucked a few in my plastic pouch and impressed a couple of fellow newbies when I whipped out my cards at breakfast the next day. (Down, pride, down.)
Only those who have sold a book or are contracted have earned the right to use the title, “author.” The rest of us are writers. And we’re not “pre-published” or “aspiring” writers either, just writers, although specifying “romance writer” or other genre distinction doesn’t seem to be frowned upon.
If you write professionally, i.e. as a journalist or technical writer, or if you are published, (did you hear me sigh?) you can include that. Also, if you’re a speaker, that’s something to add.
A slogan or fancy quote is not a requirement, so if you don’t have one, don’t worry. Phew!
Old-fashioned typewriters, quill pens and parchment scrolls, etc. are strongly advised against and make editors roll their eyes. They are seen as cliche, and we know how often we’re told to avoid those.
A photograph can be a good element to add, say those in the know. It helps people put a name and face together. I saw how helpful the inclusion of a picture was when I pulled out the stack of cards I’d gathered and prepared to send follow-up emails two weeks after the conference.
All that’s needed are the basics: name, email address and website (if you have one.) Home/snail mail address and phone number are optional, and some caution against including them since we will be exchanging our cards with fellow conferees we’ve just met. If an agent or editor wants our home contact/phone number, which is rare at a first meeting, we can add that information by hand. In summary, simple and professional seem to be the bywords.
An on-line printing company recommended by one editor is GotPrint.com. For $8.95 a customer gets 250 one-sided color business cards on quality card stock with UV coating and glossy finish. A color/b&w backside can be added for about $3 more. Shipping does double the price, but considering a local print shop charges about $100 for the same order of one-sided cards, I figure $20 is a bargain.
All right, for those of you who are curious, I’ll confess. I put an old-fashioned typewriter on my first order of cards. After all, I write historical Christian romance. But, hey, I did use writer as my title. So what if my email address was kgwyn-writer@ . . .. I’m the queen of overkill. Just ask my teen-aged daughter. But I’m teachable.
Just plain firstname.lastname@example.org.