3 S.R. Johannes: Bookcards, a neat marketing idea by Alicia Kat Vancil

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bookcards, a neat marketing idea by Alicia Kat Vancil

Hello my little samurai kitties!

So what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think book promotion? I can bet about 90% of you just thought of bookmarks. And for the most part, bookmarks are great. They are easy to produce, fairly inexpensive, and are the only bit of marketing that is associated directly with books. They are both nice to look at and functional. There’s just one problem; if you don’t have a book to immediately place that bookmark in, they can be a bit awkward and cumbersome. Enter the Bookcard, an idea I came up with after about two years of carrying bookmarks around in my purse. What’s a Bookcard? A Bookcard is like a small bookmark and business card for your book all in one. They fit easily into pockets, card holders, and the like, and can still be used to mark your place in a book. Nifty, right? Additionally, they can hold roughly the same information as a bookmark and most people are used to handling them. So let’s look at a few instances where Bookcards are a great thing to have.

Scenario One: Say you’re at an industry gala event (like I was a few weeks ago), and you get into a conversation with another attendee. Through the course of the conversation they ask, “what do you do?” After explaining that you are a writer, the next thing you will probably be asked is,  “what do you write?” If you have a Bookcard, you will have something shiny to hand them as you give a short (emphasis on short!) explanation of your work. Why is this visual aid important? Because numerous studies have shown that people respond better to, and remember, information that is presented to them along with a visual aid.

Scenario Two: Say you’re at a live event (conference, convention, festival etc.), and an attendee is interested in your book. However, they have a Kindle or other eReader device that they prefer to read books on instead of paper copies. Instead of telling them the name of your book—and hoping they remember it long enough to actually go download a copy—you can simply hand them a Bookcard. Now they have something pretty to remind them they were interested in said book, and you are much more likely to gain a new reader.

Scenario Three: Say you’re at a live event (conference, convention, festival etc.), and you’ve just made your short pitch to the potential reader. They aren’t ready to purchase your book at the moment because they’ve either spent all their money already, are running off to a panel or lunch, or you are standing somewhere other than at your table/booth. Instead of just letting them walk away, you can hand them a Bookcard as a parting gift, and they will be much more likely to get your book when they are able than if you just let them walk away cardless.

Elements of a successful Bookcard

Now that you have a few reasons why Bookcards are an awesome addition to your book marketing arsenal, let’s talk about the Bookcards themselves. Bookcards are a double-sided standard business card and contain the following:

Cover image
Author name
Author website url
Quote (20 words or less)
Title page font graphic or Series logo (optional)
Series name & Book number  (optional)

The Front Side

The cover image is arguably the most important part and can be presented in two different ways. You can have the image fill the entire space of the card which will usually cause a bit of it to be cut off. Or you can add black or white bars to the bottom and top similarly to how they present non-anamorphic widescreen movies on a TV. Due to the nature of the cover design for Daemons in the Mist and The Storm behind Your Eyes, I went for the colored bars option.

The Back Side

The back side of your Bookcard should at the very least have the title of the book, your name, your author website URL, and a short quote from the book. Optionally, you can also include the title page font graphic or series logo, and the series/trilogy name and book number. My book trilogy, The Marked Ones, has a graphic that represents the trilogy and appears behind the book’s name on the internal title page, so I used that graphic on the back of my Bookcards. Below it I also included the trilogy name, and what number book it was. Why do this? Because the visual helps break up the wall of text on the back, and is also more visually stimulating. Don’t have a series graphic? Don’t worry, you can use font size, color, and spacing to help break up the text.

Picking Your Quotes

Do you have a tagline for your book, like this one I have for Daemons in the Mist“Accidentally marrying a beautiful stranger—what’s the worst that could happen?” Yes? Then use it. Don’t have a tagline? Then chose a few good lines from your book. Mind you, don’t just choose a phrase you like—that you think sounds good—pick something important. Because you only have 20 words or less and you gotta make them count. 

When choosing a good line for your Bookcards make sure it either:
  • Reflects the story as a whole.
  • Gives a tantalizing taste of the narrative.
  • Gives us an insight into the way the main character thinks.

A few common questions I’m asked about Bookcards

I have a series/trilogy, how many cards do I make?
However many cards you decide to make, make the most of book one. Why? Because unless you are super famous like JK Rowling, or the event is dedicated just to you, chances are most people at the event will have never heard of you or your books. So unless the attendee thinks your Bookcards are really pretty (and if you or your designer do a great job they probably will), they will usually only pick up a card for the first book. Thus you want the most cards of book one.

I have a few books out but they are stand alones, what do I do?
Do you have a table/booth at an event? Yes? Then make one Bookcard for each book and place them near/in front of said book. No? Then pick one. Yes, one, and make that the Bookcard you hand out. Why? Because just as bookmarks are cumbersome, so are an abundance of cards. Especially when you are not at an event, but a casual setting like a Starbucks line. How do you know which one to pick? Well, you can either pick your first book, your newest book, or the one that already sells the best. Really, as long as you have a great short pitch for the book, any of those will do as a first impression. Because the person can just learn about your other books on your author website.

How many different card variations should I make?
I would say 2 or 3 for starters. I made 5 for each of my books the first time around. However, I have also  been doing events for many years, and know how many cards I go though at a big con or festival.

Who did you use to print yours?
I used Overnight Prints for my Bookcards, and I chose the Value Cards with UV gloss on both sides.  I ordered 50-100 of each design since I was making 10 different designs. Factoring in cost, current sales discounts, and shipping, and each Bookcard will run you between 10-15 cents. Not too bad I think.
*Note: If you want to be able to sign the cards or write on them at all, do NOT choose the UV coating. If you have to write on the UV coating, then the only thing that works is Sharpie...kinda.

So there you are my fine feline friends, a little bit about Bookcards, their usefulness, and a few pointers for easily increasing your readership.

About the Author

Alicia Kat Vancil grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley where she amused herself by telling stories to anyone around her—her family, her friends...random strangers. Eventually she actually started writing those stories down instead of just spending hours hanging out in fake Ikea living rooms and telling her friends about them. Somewhere amongst all the character-torturing and epic explosions she managed to get a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University and open a graphics studio (Multi-tasking for the win!).

Kat still lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two very crazy studio cats, and nine overfull bookcases. And when not running a muck in the imaginary worlds within her head, Kat can usually be found performing, watching anime, or hanging out in Twitter chats.

You can catch Kat on Twitter, G+, or visit her website.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love Daemons in the Mist. This book made me feel like a kid again through the skillful use of subtle quality writing that actually made me worry and guess about characters I had really grown to like.

Jane@Impression Emedia