Most authors don’t realize they’re using two marketing assets wrong. Bookmarks and business cards aren’t just for keeping track of which page you were on. They are marketing tools.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to get the most out of these two marketing tools and how to use them to sell more books. 

Bookmarks vs. Business Cards

Most marketing tools we talk about on the Novel Marketing podcast are digital. But bookmarks and business cards are physical paper tools that can help your offline marketing efforts. They each have different purposes and are made for different people.

Bookmarks are for readers, and they’re meant to help you sell more books. Business cards are for influencers, and they help you connect in person or over the phone with influential people who can help you sell more books.

Business Cards

What is the purpose of a business card?

A business card makes follow-up easy. Some people exchange digital contacts, but that exchange happens less than you think. It’s much easier to hand someone a physical card while you’re saying how nice it has been to visit with them. 

While a digital contact card may disappear into your list of phone contacts, a paper business card may be pulled from a wallet later that day. Your new acquaintance will see it and remember you. If it stays on his desk until the next morning, he’ll see it again. Each business card sighting is a reminder of your meeting. 

At some point, he’ll have to decide whether to contact you, keep your card, or throw it away. No such decision is required with a digital contact card.

I attended a tech conference in Austin, and the most tech-savvy people were still using paper business cards as the primary method of exchanging contact information.

Format

After a conference, everyone you meet will have a stack of business cards. How will you make yours stand out so that your new contact remembers you? 

Front & Back

The front of your card can be glossy, matte, fuzzy, or embossed. Use the front of your card to make a visual impact. The front is where you can draw attention and shock Broca.

However, if you can, leave some white space on the back where your new contact might jot a note about who you were, where you met, or what your book was about. If there’s no white space, there’s usually no note-to-self.

You don’t have to leave the back side entirely blank. In fact, I recommend making good use of that space. People always turn a business card over to see what’s on the back, so don’t surrender that space. 

Pro Tip: Make sure the back of your card, with all that glorious white space for notes, does not have a glossy finish. Glossy paper is difficult to write on unless you’ve got a Sharpie on hand. Keep the back matte so people can write on it.

Shape

The shape of your business card is not the place to shock Broca. Most people put business cards in the credit card shaped pockets of their wallets. If your card is heart-shaped or oversized, it won’t fit in the wallet. Instead, your card will be stuffed into a pocket, where it’s in danger of being washed, or worse, get tossed in the trash.

Many printers will offer business cards in various shapes and sizes, and it’s almost always a bad idea to stray from the standard shape and size.

To make your card stand out, use thicker cardstock. If yours is a little thicker than others, you will still stand out. 

What do I put on my business card?

Name and Email

Phone Number

If you’re nervous about giving your phone number, you should probably be giving a bookmark. The purpose of a business card is to stay in contact.

Website

There’s no need to include “http://” so save yourself that space. Your website should be typed in “CamelCase,” which means you use capital letters to begin words without using spaces. Example: JoeSmith.com or NovelMarketing.com.

The “www” is also optional. If including the “www” makes your design feel more balanced, you can include it. If you have an extension on your web address like ChristianPublishing.show or .net or .book, you may want to include the www on the front end to make it obvious that it’s a web address.

Face

If the goal is to help people remember you, a photo on your card will help, but having your photo on your card isn’t a requirement. 

Book Cover

You can use your book cover as the main image, but generally, it’s reserved for bookmarks. You want the contact to visit your website, and the book cover doesn’t necessarily help you toward that end.

I recommend leaving them off your business card. You want people to visit your website and sign up for your email list. They’re less likely to do either of those things if they have your social links. Social links also take up space on your card.

Bookmarks

People love receiving free bookmarks, and every bookmark you give away serves as a promotional tool for your book. People usually have more books than bookmarks, so they’re always glad to get a new bookmark. 

Bookmarks create a sense of reciprocity. Since bookmarks cost $0.50 in a bookstore, your free bookmark functions as a small gift. It has a higher perceived value than a business card.

Your bookmark is also an opportunity to promote your book inside someone else’s book. A reader may pick up a book after months of not reading and find your bookmark inside. It’s a great reminder for readers that your book exists.

Bookmarks also create an opportunity to sell other books in your series, and they have a longer life than business cards.

Bookmark Design Principles

When it comes to designing a bookmark, less is more. You may be excited about that “extra” space as compared to your business card but resist the temptation to cram every corner with information.

A beautiful bookmark requires a simple design. Here are some tips for a simple design:

  • Avoid Design By Committee 
  • Keep your bookmark focused. A bookmark is not a catalog. That is what your website is for.
  • The higher quality the bookmark, the longer people are likely to keep it. But remember that bookmarks tend to disappear into unfinished books.
  • Use one side for a simple image and the other side for information. (Example: The cover of your newest release on the front, and multiple covers from your series on the back.)

Front Bookmark Elements

What goes on the front of the bookmark? Usually, some element of your book cover or the book cover itself. Consider using the following on the front:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Image
  • Short Blurb or Hook (Example: “What if you stood up for yourself for the first time in your life?” from James L. Rubart’s The Pages of Her Life)
  • Short Endorsement 
  • Book Landing Page URL like BookTitle.com (Example: CourtshipInCrisis.com)

Back Bookmark Elements

The back of your bookmark offers more flexibility, and you can include a variety of elements. However, don’t make it too busy. You won’t be able to include everything. Simple design is key, even on the back of the bookmark. 

  • Website Address (always required)
  • Series Book Covers 
  • Series Blurbs 
  • Author Photo & Micro Bio 
  • QR Code

What do I do with my bookmarks?

  • Ask local bookstores if they will give them away for free at the counter.
  • Hand them out at events you attend.
  • Include a stack on the book table at your speaking events.
  • Include them in SWAG bags when possible (There may be a fee.)
  • Include bookmarks with signed copies you mail.
  • Take them to local libraries to see if librarians will give them away for free. 
  • Put them in your books shelved in the library. Ask permission.
  • Place bookmarks in waiting rooms. Offer a signed copy for the office and ask permission to leave bookmarks.
  • Mail several bookmarks to launch team members along with a handwritten note of thanks.

Where can I get a professional business card and bookmark design?

Your cover designer has all the creative assets, tools, and skills to design your bookmark. 

  • 99Designs.com $149 for Business Card, $299 for Bookmark. If you are getting your cover made at 99Designs, you can pay a little more to make the project a “custom project.” At that point, you can ask the designers to give you a book cover and a bookmark.
  • Fiverr.com (Affiliate Link) Our affiliate link offers a 20% discount on your first purchase. 
  • Canva.com offers free business card templates if you want to design your own.

Where to get your Bookmarks Printed

Final Tips

Tip # 1: 

While you can design your own business card by sticking close to a template’s design, a good bookmark design usually requires a professional designer’s trained eye and skill. 

Tip #2:

Print half as many as you think you need. Authors tend to overprint business cards and bookmarks to bring the cost per unit down, but they often end up with way too many left over. You won’t save money if you have 750 unused cards lying around. You may need to change your design sooner rather than later. If your address or book cover changes, you don’t want to be stuck with 600 old business cards.

Tip#3: 

Think long-term so that your printed items are up-to-date for quite a while. Make sure all your information is correct.

Cheryl Elton, author of Pathway of Peace: Living in a Growing Relationship with Christ  

Cheryl explores key areas of life that help cultivate enduring peace—including handling stress, quieting the mind, and forgiveness. Rich scriptural insights and inspiring stories will encourage and help you develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

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