With the Romance Writers of America conference fast approaching, writers are chatting about what they should and shouldn’t bring with them. One item that came up in the discussion was whether or not writers should bring business cards to a conference.
Whether you are a published author or just starting out, a business card is a great networking and marketing tool. Whenever you have a conversation with another writer, it’s a good idea to offer to exchange business cards. But, what should you have on those cards, especially if you aren’t published?
Let’s look at a few scenarios.
The Newbie Writer: If you haven’t finished writing a book, don’t have a website, and/or social media contact information, you’ll have a limited amount of items to add to your card. You’ll want your name, the genre you write (if you know it), and a means for others to contact you. I don’t recommend adding your phone number, but an e-mail address works fine.
The Intermediate/Advanced Writer: You’ve completed at least one book, you have a website and/or blog, and you’re active on social media. Now is the time to start branding yourself, but don’t use gimmicks. For example, if you write horror, you can add a scary image to your card, but I wouldn’t use strange fonts. You want others to be able to read the card. Many people suggest adding your photo to your business card so other writers can remember you. Most likely, by the end of the conference, everyone will have a handful of cards, and it might be difficult to put a face to the name on the card. Make it easy for those with whom you’re networking. Also, make sure to add your social media contact information, professional e-mail, and website or blog. By professional e-mail, I mean you don’t want to have a Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail address on your card if you can avoid it. Writing is a business, so treat it that way. How many businesses do you see with a free e-mail account on their cards?
The Pitching Writer: If you’re pitching at the conference, you may want to include your elevator pitch on the back of your card. Yes, that will mean you won’t have white space on the back, where you could make notes, but that’s okay. Sometimes, when you hand your business card to an agent (at your pitch appointment or elsewhere in the conference), she will read the short pitch and request pages from that alone. Wouldn’t that be sweet? Plus, this is a good form of marketing. When you hand your card out to other writers, they’ll know what your book is about and whether or not they want to follow your career (so they know when they can buy your book).
The Published Author: If you have a book out or will be launching one soon, you’ll want people to have ways to contact you (website, e-mail, social media), but you’ll also want to help them find your book(s). Some people mention titles, and some add a webpage address from their site that will have links to their books and buying options.
In any case, carrying a business card around with you at a conference will make you look professional. You never know when an agent will ask you for your card, and you don’t want to fumble through your bag for a paper and pen. You want to take out your card and hand it to her. Show her you came prepared.
What do you have on your business card? What have others done with their cards that impressed you and why?
Note: I have a substantive/big picture slot available in October. If your book will be ready for editing by then, let’s talk.